Indiana’s 113th baby box blessed in Lebanon
Baby box blessed in Lebanon, Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana’s 113th baby box will be blessed in Lebanon on Tuesday.
It is on the north side of the Center Township Fire Department at 525 Randsdell Rd. The ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. and marks the 195th baby box in the United States.
According to a press release from Safe Haven Baby Boxes, “Last year, Safe Haven Baby Boxes had 17 surrenders through the Baby Box. Safe Haven Baby Boxes was formed by Monica Kelsey in 2016 as she learned in adulthood that she was abandoned as an infant. Today, the organization fights tirelessly to protect women in crisis and their infants in a mission to end infant abandonment. A key aspect of this mission is the Safe Haven Haven Baby Box, which allows for the legal safe surrender of a baby with complete anonymity.”
The organization says it also helps women in crisis with its National Hotline, 1-866-99BABY1. The hotline provides free, confidential counseling with expertise in each state’s Safe Haven Law. Education is a key component of Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ mission.
The 195 baby boxes are installed in the exterior walls of fire stations and hospitals. Four babies have been surrendered at Carmel Fire Station No. 345 – the most for any baby box in the country.
According to The Reporter, an infant surrendered in a Safe Haven Box at a Carmel fire station in August of 2023 has been adopted by her forever family. She is believed to be the first baby adopted through a new amendment to Indiana’s Safe Haven Law that allows surrendered newborns to be placed directly with a licensed child-placing agency (LCPA) instead of the Department of Child Services. The law went into effect on July 1, 2023. The baby was surrendered on Aug. 7, 2023.
“The law prevents a child from languishing in the foster care system, instead placing them with an adoptive family within hours,” said Meg Sterchi, executive director of Adoptions of Indiana, during the update in December of 2023. “Adoptions are finalized in three months, instead of 18 months to three years.”
Safe Haven Baby Boxes says since the first Baby Box surrender in 2017, 37 infants have been placed in a Baby Box, with the numbers increasing yearly. The hotline has also assisted with over 130 surrenders at Safe Haven locations.