HAMMOND – A newborn was left and safely received in a Safe Haven Baby Box open for less than a month at a Northwest Indiana hospital.
On Friday, the healthy newborn girl was surrendered at Franciscan Health Hospital in Hammond via a Safe Haven Baby Box that had been active for less than 30 days, according to Robert Blaszkiewicz, spokesman for Franciscan.
It is the third newborn to be placed in a Safe Haven Baby Box in Indiana in less than two years – the other two were left in the box at the Coolspring Volunteer Fire Department in Michigan City, according to Safe Haven.
The Franciscan Hospital Emergency Department and security were notified by an alarm as soon as the newborn’s mother opened the outside door to place her baby inside, Blaszkiewicz said.
"Within 90 seconds, the newborn baby was retrieved from the box and received medical care. The hospital staff worked flawlessly as they followed every hospital and Safe Haven Baby Boxes protocol established for receiving a newborn baby birthed outside a hospital," he said.
“I want to personally thank the brave mother that carried her child to term, kept her safe, and then exercised her rights under the safe haven law and surrendered her newborn in our box," Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, said. "She is healthy and perfect.”
The "brave young mom is exactly why I fight so hard to give moms more options," Kelsey said. "She contacted us within a few days of the surrender and we are providing her resources available in her area to give her the support she needs."
The mother did not call the hotline before placing the newborn in the box because she is "not from the Hammond area,” Kelsey said.
The newborn has since been released from the hospital and is in the custody of the state Department of Child Services "to start the standard safe haven surrender process for finding her a forever family," Blaszkiewicz said.
DCS is "working diligently to have this child with her adoptive family within 30 days," he said.
Anyone interested in adopting this little girl can contact their local Department of Social Services and register as a foster/adoption family.
Franciscan Health Hospital has Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Hammond and Michigan City, Blaszkiewicz said. There are currently 12 active boxes in Indiana, two in Ohio, and six in Arizona, Kelsey said. Several more are planned to open by year's end.
Indiana sites include Franciscan Health Michigan City, the Coolspring Fire Department and the Chesterton Fire Department.
Two babies have been surrendered in Coolspring Township, one in late 2017 and one in early 2018. No babies have been left at the hospital in Michigan City since its opening earlier this year.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes also staffs a 24-hour national hotline (866) 99BABY1 that "gives women in crisis the opportunity to reach out for help and get the information they need to make a lifesaving choice for their baby," she said.
Nationwide, 55 surrenders have resulted from calls to the hotline – six so far this year, according to Safe Haven.
Education and awareness of the safe haven laws and boxes can save lives, Kelsey said.
"This option helps prevent parents from making a decision that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. But safe haven laws are simply words on paper for those who need to utilize this law, but do not know it exists. Education and help in the midst of crisis are vital steps needed with the implementation of the Safe Haven Laws in our country."
For more information, visit shbb.org.
—From staff reports