On January 5, 2023, the Ocala Fire Rescue in Florida announced that the first newborn was surrendered to the state’s only Safe Haven Baby Boxes. The child was safely recovered and transported to the hospital where they will be up for adoption. The department, which is located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, has had the device installed since 2020.
The Safe Haven Baby Boxes is a safety device that legally allows a parent in crisis to securely and anonymously surrender a newborn if they are unable to care for them. These boxes are installed on an exterior wall of a fire station or hospital, and the door automatically locks once the baby is placed inside the Baby Box. At that point, the interior door of the box allows for a medical staff member to secure the surrendered newborn.
The Safe Haven Baby Boxes aims to prevent illegal newborn abandonment by offering a last resort for parents in crisis. In addition, the organization has a 24-hour crisis hotline and provides training for first responders.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes Founder Monica Kelsey spoke at a press conference regarding the Ocala surrender. “The first thing that we want is we want to address the parents who legally surrendered this infant. And right now I’m going to talk directly to her or him,” she said. “Thank you. Thank you for keeping your child safe. Thank you for bringing your child to a place that you knew was going to take care of this child. And thank you for doing what you felt was best.”