As the first signs of spring usher in plentiful sunshine and warm weather, it’s a time to celebrate new life and new beginnings. That’s why April is Safe Haven Awareness month. Since the founding of Safe Haven Baby Boxes (SHBB) in 2015, our organization has been dedicated to saving lives, and the fruits of our labor have never been more evident.
After reading story after story of newborns thrown in dumpsters, left in the woods, and abandoned near creeks, I decided to focus my own pain of being a child conceived in rape and abandoned at birth to ensure that new mothers had options when it came to the safety and security of their babies. Through prayer, hard work, and help from a small group of dedicated volunteers, SHBB was born. By pulling together, we turned talk into action, addressing the tragic consequences of abandonment by providing a safe, secure environment for scared and confused mothers to leave their babies. This is the mission of SHBB and my personal passion.
While most people believe that SHBB only is about putting boxes in buildings and getting our name on TV, our mission extends far beyond the box and a surrender. Our goal is to assist new mothers through and beyond the crisis that brought them to us. Little did I know when I first embarked on this journey that I would become friends with many of the women who used the Safe Haven Law and with the loving people who adopt these newborns. It’s a journey replete with tears and unimaginable joy. Frequently, we are asked about what happens when a mother has second thoughts after surrendering her baby. One such mother—let’s call her Heather—had just this experience.
Upon giving birth in 2018, Heather decided to place her newborn in one of our Safe Haven Baby Boxes. After a change of heart, she contacted us eight days later to ask about regaining custody of her baby. Our core mission at SHBB is not only the physical welfare of babies whose mothers can’t care for them, but about the welfare of these mothers and saving them from a lifetime of guilt and regret. In response to her plea, the entire SHBB organization rallied behind Heather. Using funds from the SHBB Legal Defense Fund, our organization hired an attorney and began the process of reuniting and supporting this mother and the child she loves so much.
In cases such as Heather’s, the reunification of Mom and baby has both legal and emotional challenges. After hearing Heather recount the details surrounding the baby’s surrender, I had no doubt that the infant was hers; however, the Indiana Department of Child Services legally is required to establish parentage. A judge ordered a DNA test on both Heather and the baby. After a few weeks, the results confirmed it—Heather was indeed the biological mother of the surrendered child.
Although the confirmation of the DNA test buoyed everyone’s spirits, our work with Heather was not yet done. The emotional challenges still facing this young woman and her baby were daunting. Heather was seriously considering adoption for her newborn. In working with Heather, it became evident that the gut-wrenching emotions she experienced when initially choosing to surrender her baby were playing out again as she wrestled with deciding what was best for her precious child. After praying, consulting with SHBB staff, and reviewing more than 10 family bios under consideration for adoption, Heather decided to place her child with a family she grew to know and love.
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Since the adoption, Heather has struggled with her decision. She is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. To allow her own heart to break for the betterment of her child is a clear example of the selflessness that mothers-in-crisis exhibit when deciding safely to surrender their babies. Through this journey, Heather allowed me to walk with her, step by step, as she made the most difficult decision of her young life. I was and continue to be honored to walk beside her. Today, Heather’s baby is thriving because a young woman had the courage to reach out, and by the grace of God, SHBB was there to heed her call.
Since SHBB’s inception in 2015, we have worked in numerous states with thousands of women just like Heather, helping them make the best choices for themselves and their babies. SHBB and the National Safe Haven Crisis Hot Line (1-866-99BABY1) have referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers across America, assisted with 6 adoptions and facilitated a record number of safe surrenders in many states. Safe Haven Baby Boxes continues to pave the way for women in this country who want 100% anonymity.
About Monica Kelsey and Safe Haven Baby Boxes
Safe Haven Baby Boxes Inc. is a 501(c)3 that was founded by Monica Kelsey who was conceived in rape and abandoned as an infant. It is her personal mission to educate others on the Safe Haven Law and save the lives of innocent babies from being abandoned. The Safe Haven Baby Box takes the face-to-face interaction out of the surrender and protects the mother from being seen. Safe Haven Laws provide for No Shame, No Blame, No Names.
The Safe Haven Law is in place to provide a safe way to surrender your healthy newborn without fear of criminal prosecution. Fire Stations, Police Stations and Hospitals are trained to be a Safe Haven for your newborn when you just don’t know what else to do.
If you or someone you know needs help, call our 24-hour National Safe Haven hotline at 1-866-99BABY1
LifeNews Note: Baby in image below is not the baby from this story to protect the baby’s identity.
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