There are only two Safe Haven Baby Boxes in the entire country. And one of them just saved a life.Screenshot/WGN News
As WGN News reported, the boxes are designed to keep a baby safe and warm until someone can respond to the alarm that is triggered when the box is used. However, installing the boxes was surprisingly controversial.
According to the South Bend Tribune, a bill in the Indiana legislature permitting the boxes to be used ran into opposition from child welfare advocates. Those who opposed the boxes (including the state Department of Child Services) cited concerns about construction and design, as well as how quick the response would be if the box was used.
The box is equipped with temperature controls (both heating and cooling) as well as motion detectors that will sense if a baby has been placed inside. Opponents, however, believe it is better for mothers to surrender their baby directly to someone who can care for it.
After legislation was passed protecting the Safe Haven Baby Boxes, the box at the Coolspring Township Fire Department had a few false alarms. Then, at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, Fire Chief Mick Pawlik got a buzz on his pager, telling him there was something (or someone) in the box.
In the video below, he told WGN:
“So I open it up and that baby just looked me right in the eyes. Now the baby is quiet, calm, and I checked her out real quick inside of the box.”
Inside the box, the baby they would name “Baby Hope” was covered in blood. She was only about an hour old.
Assistant Chief Warren Smith told WGN how thankful they were that Hope’s mother had the courage to use the Baby Box:
“I would really like to thank the mother who did this for doing the right thing. She stepped up to the plate and did the right thing. She turned the baby into the Baby Box instead of us finding the baby in a ditch or woods. We hear so many horrible stories.”
Pawlik agreed, saying that with all the bad stories they usually see as firefighters, it’s inspiring to see a good story. He told WGN:
“I don’t know what this girl went through. I have nothing but good things to say. It’s a win-win scenario.”
According to the National Safe Haven Alliance (NHSA), Safe Haven laws are intended to protect children from being abandoned in an unsafe situation. The laws prevent parents from being prosecuted if they relinquish their newborn to an adult at a Safe Haven location.
Safe Haven laws vary by state in terms of where a baby can be given up and at what age. To learn more about what the law is in your state, consult the NSHA map.
Watch the report below.