A baby is safe and has already begun the adoption process after being left at a Benton, Arkansas fire station.
Chief Evans stated, “There was an infant surrendered into our Safe Haven Baby Box Tuesday night. The baby was healthy and well cared for, obviously loved. It is my understanding the mother traveled from out of state to surrender her baby as her state does not offer this anonymous and safe option. To the mother, thank you for your decision and for allowing the Benton Fire Department to be a part of your journey. Please know your child is healthy and stunningly handsome. God Bless You!”
At approximately 9:27 p.m. on Tuesday May 9, 2023, firefighters at Station #3 on Edison Avenue were alerted that someone placed a baby inside the Safe Haven Baby Box outside the building. As soon as that happens, a chain of events begins, and all of the professionals are trained to make sure that baby stays safe.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes are a place to allow a mother to surrender an infant, that is heated and cooled and has a silent alarm that trips. When a newborn is placed in the box, emergency personnel are notified within 30 seconds. The child will be picked up by first responders within 3 to 5 minutes. The box is meant to be a last-resort option for women in crisis.
So the chain of events goes like this: First, there is a silent alarm that sends word to dispatch, according to Benton Fire Chief Russ Evans. Dispatch then notifies first responders. Locally, that means the Benton Fire and Police Departments, along with Pafford Ambulance. Evans said they follow the standard operating procedure set forth by the Safe Haven Baby Box law.
The Arkansas Safe Haven law (A.C.A. § 9-34-201) allows a parent to bring a child, 30 days old or younger to an employee at any hospital emergency room, manned fire station or law enforcement agency without facing prosecution for endangering or abandoning a child. A parent can also use a safety device (Baby Box) that is installed in the exterior wall of a fire station or hospital to ensure 100% anonymity for the parent. Once a baby is surrendered, the Arkansas Department of Human Services will facilitate an adoption for the baby to be placed in a permanent and loving home.
Whichever first responder first removes the child from the box, that person is responsible for the custody of the baby until they know it is in the hands of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Chief Evans stated that in this case, there were several firefighters on shift and present at the station when it happened. One of them kept the baby in his custody all the way to Arkansas Childrens Hospital and until they took custody and evaluated the health of the baby.
The child then went to the custody DHS and is now already in the adoption process. There are pre-approved families waiting for a child, so some of those families have been notified and may bring the child home soon.
It’s important to know that there is no video taken of the person dropping off the baby. This is so that people know that they will be kept anonymous. The priority is to make sure the baby stays safe and isn’t dropped off in an environment where they are at risk.
The Baby Box at this fire station was the first to be available in Arkansas since September 2019 and was the 15th Safe Haven Baby Box to be installed in the United States.
When Monica Kelsey CEO/Founder of Safe Haven Baby Box heard about the situation and the baby’s good health, she stated, “I am so thankful this parent chose a safe option for their child. We may never know the reason they used this baby box, but we do know how much they loved their baby!”
For more information on the Safe Haven Baby Box program go to SHBB.org.