Indiana law allows parents in crisis to surrender baby to 911 services

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INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana is leading the country when it comes to the number of Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

These locations legally allow parents in crisis to safely surrender their child without consequences.

Lawmakers legalized this service years ago and this session they approved a measure to allow parents to call 911 in these situations.

“I don’t want any child to ever be left in a dumpster or a trash can, especially in my back yard,” said Monica Kelsey, Founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

Unfortunately, that’s the path parents in crisis have taken here and across the country. It’s why Kelsey has dedicated her life to stopping it.

“I was actually in Cape Town South Africa in 2013 and I had seen a baby safe in a wall and I was so intrigued, why doesn’t America have something like this?” said Kelsey. “So, on a napkin coming across the ocean back to the states I drew a baby box. I took it to a builder in Fort Wayne, Indiana and I said, ‘I want you to build me a box’ and he looked at me like I was crazy, and he said, ‘What are you going to do with this box?’ And I said, ‘I’m going to put it in fire stations and save babies, you know? Isn’t this logical?’ He is still my builder today.”

Kelsey’s mother was a teenager when she abandoned Kelsey at birth.

“Now I believe I was made for this day to be able to save the lives of children because my life was saved,” said Kelsey. “I’m a firefighter and a medic by trade. I loved being on an ambulance and working at a firehouse but when God calls you have to answer. When I met my biological mother when I was 37 years old, it became pretty clear for me that my life was meant for something to do with abandoned babies.”

During that meeting, Kelsey’s mother explained that she had been raped by her father. She took him to court and later found out she was pregnant with Kelsey.

“So, my biological father is a rapist, and I don’t even know my ethnicity but I’m still a human being and I still have value,” said Kelsey. “My life isn’t worth less because of my beginnings.”

Her efforts have put Safe Haven Boxes all across the country like the most recent one blessed on April 30 in Brownsburg, Indiana.

“Although I hope that this is something that we never see used, if it is used just once and just saves one baby, it’s well worth all of the time, effort and money that we put into it,” said Zach Bowers, Division Chief of EMS for the Brownsburg Fire Territory.

There are multiple alarms once a child is placed in the box and it alerts dispatch right away. It will send emergency responders to the box even if no one is at the fire station. There’s also a backup generator if the power goes out.

“This box offers no shame, no blame and no names,” said Kelsey. “The very first baby box bill in 2015 didn’t look anything like we have today.”

And with a new measure just passed by the Indiana Statehouse, people in crisis can remain anonymous while calling 911 to give up custody of the baby. They just have to safely wait for help to come.

“We just kind of say this is a problem, can you fix it? And the legislators have supported us so much over the last few years,” said Kelsey. “They’re making it easy for women to keep their child safe.”

The Safe Haven 911 law goes into effect July 1, 2021.

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