It’s been less than a year since the Safe Haven Baby Box was installed in Benton and last week was the first time a newborn was legally surrendered there, at Fire Station #3 on Edison Avenue.
The Baby Box at this fire station was the first to be available in Arkansas last September and was the 15th Safe Haven Baby Box to be installed in the United States. This is the 7th newborn to be surrendered inside a Safe Haven Baby Box since November 2017.
“The Safe Haven Baby Boxes organization provides new resources for a completely anonymous surrender option to parents who may have fear or feel shame that is associated with a surrender,” stated Founder and CEO, Monica Kelsey, who was also abandoned at birth. “We continue to provide this necessary resource of anonymity with 25 active locations and more planned in the coming months. The Safe Haven Baby Box is for women who may be considering this as their only option for a safe surrender,” said Kelsey.
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.
The mission of Safe Haven Baby Boxes is to raise awareness of Safe Haven laws, provide support and resources to mothers in crisis, and ultimately to end infant abandonment. The National Safe Haven Crisis hotline (1-866-99BABY1) provides counseling and resources to pregnant women who may be considering a surrender. Since 2016, the hotline has received over 5,000 calls nationwide and from Canada. To learn how to help install more Baby Boxes, isit our website for how you can help: www.shbb.org/arkansas or call 1-888-742-2133.