INDIANAPOLIS -- For the very first time since Indiana’s Safe Haven law was enacted 16 years ago, the Indianapolis Fire Department has had someone leave a newborn infant with firefighters.
The doorbell rang a little before 7 a.m. Wednesday at IFD Station 30 at 2440 Tibbs Avenue. The temperature was in the low 20s and there stood a man with an infant to hand over to firefighters.
“They warmed some blankets and swaddled the baby. They asked about the mother," said IFD Battalion Chief Rita Reith. "Kinda got as much information as they could without feeling like they were pressuring the young man to give up more than he was willing to give – or required to give.”
Reith says the firefighters were nearing the end of their shift when the young man arrived with the infant.
“It’s a one day old black male baby. It was in good health. It was clean. It was wearing a clean diaper," she said. "The umbilical cord was cut and clamped with a hair clip and the gentleman told firefighters that the baby wasn’t born in a hospital but he didn’t indicate much more than that.”
Reith says firefighters gave the man a pamphlet about the Safe Haven law to give to the mother, which explains she has a few days to change her mind and come forward. She says the man was clearly nervous when he dropped of the newborn, but did the right thing.
“We applaud this gentleman for being there and following through with the entire process to give us at least as much information as he could. The law exists to protect the child and help the parents in that type of situation,“ Reith explained.
The law allows anyone to hand over an infant to police, fire stations or hospitals within a baby’s first 45 days without questions asked. Reith says there have been too many stories of babies abandoned in the wrong places.