Delhi, NKY get first Safe Haven Baby Boxes, which offers an option for women in crisis
Fort Mitchell and Delhi Township are now home to the first Safe Haven Baby Boxes in the area. The temperature-controlled boxes are accessible through the outside of fire stations and trigger a silent alarm when a baby is surrendered. The boxes give women in crisis the anonymous and legal means to give their baby away.
"We've had 14 babies in our boxes since November of 2017," said Monica Kelsey, CEO and founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. "Twelve of those were Hoosier babies in the state of Indiana; two babies in the state of Arkansas. And again, we're just getting started."
She said baby boxes are needed to ensure children are not left illegally abandoned by mothers who cannot care for them, pointing to several recent reports in the news of babies being abandoned in Chicago and New Mexico. The baby in Chicago was found dead. The one in New Mexico was found alive in a dumpster.
"Every state that we've been in, abandonment rates have went down," she said. "And I can't wait to see where we're in all 50 states and there is no more abandonments across this country."
Delhi Trustee Rose Stertz said baby boxes were brought to the attention of the local government by a community member.
"I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother," Stertz said. "This just hooked me. It got my heart. There should be no abandoned babies, and we, as a compassionate community, need to have an avenue for those women in crisis."
The boxes in Fort Mitchell, Ky., and Delhi Township in Ohio, mark the 96th and 97th boxes in the country respectively. Both are the fifth in each state.
Boxes are also available in Indiana, Arkansas, and Florida, and there are plans to put some in every state.
Kelsey says her own experience in a similar baby box inspired her to create and continue driving the organization. She was abandoned in a box run by a church after she says her mother was raped and impregnated by a man.
"I was an unwanted child whisked into this world by violence," she said. "But that is not my story, that is not my story. I have taken my pain and taken my story, and I've turned it into an amazing purpose: helping mothers have a safe alternative to abandonment."
Safe Haven Baby boxes also operates a 24-hour hotline to help people with questions about surrendering a baby or adoption. For more information, visit the Safe Haven Baby Boxes website.