'There when needed': 1st newborn surrendered at Kentucky 'baby box'
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WKRN) — A healthy newborn baby was recently the first to be surrendered via a Safe Haven Baby Box in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The Baby Box was placed in Bowling Green in December of 2022 as the 132nd of its kind in the nation, according to a news release from Monica Kelsey, the founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. It is one of 16 Safe Haven Baby Box locations in Kentucky.
“This Baby Box location hasn’t been open for three months yet, but it was there when needed and that is the key,” Kelsey said. “We know this infant was loved by their birth mother and will be quickly adopted by a family who has been eagerly awaiting a baby.”
Kelsey said the child was dropped off within the last seven days at a Bowling Green Fire Department location, declining to be more specific to protect anonymity. She said fire department staff was able to tend to the child in less than 90 seconds.
“This baby is healthy. This baby is beautiful. This baby is perfect,” said Kelsey, who added that officials are now looking to place the child in “a forever home.”
Twenty-four infants have been placed in a Baby Box since November 2017. Nationwide, 125 surrenders have resulted from calling the National Safe Haven hotline, 1-866-99BABY1. In 2022, a record eight newborns were surrendered via a Baby Box.
Gov. Andy Beshear signed a law in 2021 that allows the use of baby boxes for children less than 30 days old. The law requires the boxes to be located at police stations, fire stations or hospitals that are staffed 24 hours a day. It also requires equipping them with a notification system to alert the first responders on site that a child has been placed inside the box.
“Each time we have an infant surrendered in one of our Baby Boxes it is an affirmation that we need anonymous surrender options,” Kelsey said. “We do not know when an infant will need to be surrendered and when that mother in crisis may want to protect her identity. However, we do know that being prepared is the safest option for this situation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.