The Ocala Fire Rescue announced the arrival of the department’s first newborn baby to be surrendered to Florida’s only Safe Haven Baby Box.
The climate-controlled box, which had been installed at the department’s headquarters two years ago, was used over the holiday and facilitated the safe surrender of the infant.
Monica Kelsey, the founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, praised the parent for surrendering their infant and expressed her delight that the baby box provided a safe space for this birth parent to make the difficult decision to give up their baby.
“We know this baby will be so loved by an adoptive family, and we are so thrilled to be a part of protecting infants from abandonment,” Kelsey said.
“The process is working,” Kelsey said at Thursday’s press conference, per the Ocala StarBanner.
Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn expressed his pleasure with the baby box’s successful use and called the surrendered infant a “miracle baby.”
“I knew when we did this in 2020, this day would come – we all did – we just didn’t know when,” Guinn said. “We’re glad it was there as a resource.”
The baby box is part of a larger program that has seen 134 boxes installed in various locations across the United States, allowing people to surrender their infants to the authorities anonymously. Each box initially costs $10,000 before it is leased out for $200 a month.
Since the program began in 2017, 23 infants have been placed in baby boxes, and seven adoption referrals have been made. Safe Haven has also referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers.
According to the Safe Haven mission statement, “Safe Haven Baby Boxes mission is to prevent illegal abandonment of newborns by raising awareness, offering a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis and offering the Safe Haven Baby Boxes a last resort option for women who want to maintain complete anonymity. ”
Despite the controversy surrounding the program, Safe Haven Baby Boxes is reporting a growing interest in baby boxes in Florida and is currently in the process of discussing the installation of more baby boxes in various locations across the state.