The founder of an organization that has installed boxes where mothers can leave unwanted infants said she is undeterred by a warning from Indiana that they are illegal and intends to widen their availability.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes is also setting up a fund to provide legal support to people who surrender an infant in a baby box, placing it in public care.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes placed two temperature-controlled boxes in Indiana communities last April. They aim to provide a place for women to leave infants they feel they cannot care for. The boxes are programmed to alert emergency responders once a baby is inside.
Founder Monica Kelsey says women she’s talked to want that total anonymity.
"We have to start listening to these women and listening to what they’re telling us… you know we could tell them ‘Nope, you have to follow the law and walk into a fire station’ – who are we protecting then? We’re not protecting the child."
A recent letter from the Department of Child Services to a fire department in Woodburn Indiana, which houses one of the boxes, said the boxes don’t comply with Indiana’s Safe Haven Law. That allows the anonymous surrender of an infant under 30 days old to an emergency services provider, including police, a fire department or a hospital.
In response, Kelsey has established a legal fund for any person who might face prosecution if they used a box. She says her counsel advises the boxes are legal, and the group plans to expand their number in Indiana and other states.