COLUMBIA CITY — A second woman in northern Indiana has surrendered her newborn baby in recent days with help from Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
The Woodburn-based group announced last week that one of its counselors reached through a hotline had assisted a woman in Kosciusko County with the safe, legal and anonymous surrender of her child.
Early today, Feb. 19, Monica Kelsey, the founder of Safe Haven Baby Box, confirmed another woman reached out to one of their counselors overnight that led another to surrender.
She declined to provide specifics to ensure the mother’s anonymity. A spokesperson in Columbia City, though, confirmed they assisted in a surrender overnight Monday, Feb. 18.
After being advised of several options, the woman chose to call 911 and surrender her child under Indiana’s Safe Haven law, which allows a woman to hand her baby over to authorities without the threat of prosecution within 30 days of the birth as long as the baby has not been abused.
Having two surrenders happen in a short period of time in the same area of the state is “unheard of,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said the second surrender might have been spurred by media attention, but thinks a billboard campaign promoting the group and its hotline phone number is making an impact.
The billboards — funded by Right to Life of North Central Indiana — have been placed at numerous locations in Kosciusko and Whitley counties, including some along US 30.
“The awareness is getting out there. The education is getting out there and these women are seeing the number on those billboards and they’re utilizing it,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said they receive money from various groups, but that Knights of Columbus is their biggest financial supporter of baby boxes. Right to life groups — including others in Allen and LaPorte Counties — have stepped up significantly behind the billboard campaigns.
Kelsey, who established the group in 2015, was abandoned by her mother and has gone on to champion the cause as an alternative to abortion. She credits that with her working relationship with right to life groups.
“Right to Life groups see the hope in my story and they understand the mission and they see lives are being changed simply because my life was saved,” she said.
Kelsey’s group helps distribute specialized boxes designed for surrenders and has placed boxes in several Indiana communities. She said they are working with numerous other towns that are considering baby boxes.
She said the baby boxes are viewed as the last good option counselors discuss with women. Other more preferable options include advice on parenting or adoption.
Warsaw City Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on whether to support the installation of a baby box at the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory station on Center Street in Warsaw.
Whitley County does not have any baby boxes, but officials have discussed the idea, Kelsey said.