Not every woman who gives birth is prepared to be a mother. Some new mothers, overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood and woefully unprepared to deal with the reality of a child, abandon their infants in places that are extremely dangerous, especially for newborns. That's why Indiana created the Safe Haven Law. This allows mothers to turn in their infants, as long as the child is less than 30 days old, while remaining anonymous and without any fear of any criminal charges, as long as there's no evidence of abuse. Just a few days ago, one mother did just that, leaving her newborn daughter, nicknamed "Baby Grace," in a "baby box" at the Coolspring Volunteer Fire Department.
"Baby boxes" work sort of like an incubator. The inside is climate controlled so the baby stays at a comfortable temperature, no matter the time of year, until someone is able to get to them. Once the box is opened from the outside, an alert goes out.
Lt. Chuck Kohler was just leaving his home on Sunday night when his pager buzzed with an alert that someone was at the baby box. Since he lived close by, he was able to reach the fire station within a minute. Once he got inside, "I heard a child crying," Kohler said. "I don't think there's a word for the emotion," he said about discovering the little girl cry. "I was happy, ecstatic to hear the crying, to know the baby is breathing. It was exciting, an adrenaline rush that this is really happening."
This is the second infant to be placed in this fire station's baby box. The first baby arrived on November 7, 2017, and was found by Coolspring Fire Chief Mike Pawlik. "When this box was installed, we hoped that it would never be used," he said last November after the discovery of a newborn girl, nicknamed "Baby Hope" by the firefighters. "Yet we're thankful that it exists for cases just like [this] one."
After being found by the firefighters, both babies were taken to the hospital, where they were checked over and declared perfectly healthy. "Baby Hope" is currently with a family who is looking to adopt her, while "Baby Grace" has been handed over to Child Protective Services until a forever home can be found for her.
Monica Kelsey, the founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, who was also given up by her mother as a newborn, works at the other fire station in Indiana where a baby box is installed, though no infants have been surrendered there yet. She thanked Baby Grace's mother for choosing to leave her daughter in a safe place and commended the anonymous woman's choice of giving the baby up for adoption. "A child who is adopted and loved --- it's amazing," Kelsey said. "There are thousands of babies in Indiana looking for forever families, and this is just one of them." At this time, Indiana is the only state in the US that has a Safe Haven law, though more states might follow its lead if it proves to be successful. We're just happy that both little girls are doing well and that their mothers had the good sense to leave their babies somewhere safe, where they'd be well cared for.