Don’t be too surprised when you see a “baby box,” an anonymous drop-off point for unwanted newborns, in your neighborhood soon. An Indiana woman who was abandoned as an infant years ago is now campaigning communities to provide these unusual sanctuaries – and Indiana is the first state to install the first 100 containers.
The Safe Haven Baby Box is a climate-controlled, padded and secure spot for a new parent to leave an infant anonymously. While each state has amnesty laws that would protect these mothers and fathers, most of them would have to visit a police station or a hospital to do so.
It is this face-to-face interaction that leads to some parents to leave their children in more dangerous spots, such as the woods or a garbage can.
These new high-tech incubators provide a safe alternative and alert the authorities within minutes through a silent alarm. A phone number on the lid of the box provides information on alternative options as well.
“This is not criminal. This is legal. We don’t want to push women away,” Monica Kelsey said, the woman behind the baby boxes. Kelsey, who was abandoned by her mother hours after birth, now volunteers to help other parents in similar situations. She researched a solution to her community’s problem after working at a crisis hotline and hearing about baby boxes in other parts of the world.
The project, while sparking controversy from state officials, is funded entirely by donations. The Knights of Columbus of Indiana will pay for the first 100 boxes – which cost up to $2,000 each.
In the past 15 years, more than 1,400 abandoned babies have been found across the United States. Kelsey hopes that the new boxes will keep future infants safe.
“I know when the day comes and the first baby is placed in one of the boxes that the Knights donated,” Kelsey said. “My birth mother is going to be smiling down from heaven, knowing that the child she abandoned at a hospital in 1973 is now saving abandoned babies so that they, too, can be loved and adopted.”