'Picked up in 90 seconds:' Newborn surrendered in baby box

HAMMOND, Indiana -- A healthy newborn baby girl was placed inside the Safe Haven Baby Box at a Hammond, Indiana hospital less than 30 days after the box became operational, according to the hospital.

Franciscan Hospital Emergency Department and security were notified last Friday by an alarm as soon as the infant was placed in the box. Within 90 seconds, the newborn baby was retrieved and received medical care, a release said.

WLS-TV spoke with Safe Haven Baby Boxes Founder and CEO Monica Kelsey via Skype Tuesday.

Kelsey was surrendered by her birth mother when she was a just few hours old, then adopted, and she eventually created the anonymous way for parents to safely surrender their babies.

"That is my hope and my goal for this little girl, is to grow up knowing she was loved from the beginning. Her mom just felt that this was best for her, and hopefully one day, she changes the world and does something amazing," Kelsey said.

Since 2017, two other babies were surrendered at a Safe Haven Baby Box at the Cool Spring Fire Department in Indiana.

Indiana's Safe Haven Law allows people to take newborn babies to any hospital emergency room, police station or fire station without any questions asked and no risk of arrest or prosecution. The climate-controlled Safe Haven Baby Boxes are another option.

"You can surrender your child, no questions asked, and not look anyone in the eye, and your child is going to be picked up. This baby was picked up in 90 seconds," Kelsey said.

The newborn has been released from the hospital, and is now in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services. That department is working on the standard safe haven surrender process to find her an adoptive family within 30 days, said Franciscan Health Northern District spokesperson Robert Blaszkiewicz.

According to Kelsey, the newborn's mother reached out to Safe Haven and said she found out about the boxes after watching the news in Illinois last month.

There are currently 14 active Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Indiana and Ohio and several more planned to go live by the end of 2019, Blaszkiewicz said in a release.

"If you would like to adopt this little girl, contact your local Department of Social Services and register as a foster/adoption family," Blaskiewicz said. "There are thousands of kids in foster care looking for forever families."
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