Mother Relinquishes Baby To Turkey Creek Fire Territory
By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — A newborn baby was relinquished to Turkey Creek Fire Station No. 2 approximately three weeks ago. Fire Station No. 2, 8138 McClintic Road, Syracuse also has a Safe Haven Baby Box. It was the third child relinquished in the state this year.
At a press conference Friday, March 17, Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, explained the baby was not placed in the box, but rather handed over to a firefighter.
“We want people to know this is an option for them,” she said. “It’s the hardest thing for a parent to want to do what’s best for their child and say ‘it’s not me.’”
Indiana has had a safe haven law on the books since 2001. The law allows a parent who is unable to care for their child to hand it over to a firefighter, police officer or hospital employee if it is less than a month old. As a last option the child may be left in a baby box.
Kelsey further explained should a child placed in a box be found to be abused, the parents are no longer protected by save haven laws. Law enforcement and DCS will investigate to find the parents and bring charges if possible.
“This community has been proactive in preventing infant abandonment,” Kelsey said. “This child was not abandoned. This child was legally, lovingly and safely handed over.
“We’re proud to be here at the parent’s time of need. …We’re proud to be here for that parent,” said Fire Chief Mickey Scott.
Kelsey noted such handovers are just as difficult for first responders as they are for the parent. The child relinquished three weeks ago was handed over to Quinn Hunter, EMS Chief. “They have hearts. They just have a job to do,” Scott said, explaining such a situation is just as tough and emotional for the firefighters as it is for the parent.
Once a baby is handed over or left in the box, it is sent to an area hospital for examination and evaluation and the Department of Child Services is called in. These children are then placed in a foster care to adoption situation where they are in a foster family for 30 days while an adoptive family is found. A bill is currently under consideration at the state legislature that would eliminate the 30-day wait time for adoption.
Kelsey noted along with the baby boxes, her organization provides a 24-hour hotline, (866) 992-2291, which provides assistance with parenting plans, adoption plans, counseling and health care for the mother.
David Koontz of North Central Right to Life thanked Kelsey, Scott and the Turkey Creek Fire Territory for allowing Right to Life to partner with them. The organization has provided funding for both the baby boxes and billboard advertising of the hotline number.