As 2017 comes to a close, I look back on the year and my life with a huge smile on my face. The organization I founded, Safe Haven Baby Boxes, achieved more in 2017 than I could ever dream of. I look at my life today and think to myself “How blessed am I”? You see, back in 1973 a young woman felt she was out of options and abandoned her newborn daughter at a hospital and walked away. And now her newborn daughter is all grown up and saving the lives of children who are at risk of being abandoned. And that newborn is me.
One of Safe haven Baby Boxes greatest accomplishments in 2017 was our crisis team working to perfect a National Hotline for mothers-in-crisis by putting protocols, policies and procedure’s together focusing on mothers in their last trimester of pregnancy. Most women who call our National Hotline have either; already given birth, are in the process of delivering, or have only a few weeks to make a decision regarding options before her baby arrives. Women at the end of a pregnancy face a much different type of crisis then women who recently discovered they are pregnant.
Our National Safe Haven Crisis Hotline (1-866-99BABY1) has rang over 1500 times in the last 18 months. Our counselors are specifically trained to help women in all stages of pregnancy and post-delivery. Our hotline is working to bridge the gap between the amazing work done at crisis pregnancy centers, Safe Haven Baby Boxes and organizations designed to make life the best choice by providing after care and adoption services. With the help of these organizations, Safe Haven Baby Boxes has referred many women to crisis pregnancy centers, done adoption referral’s and helped nine women surrender their newborns by a face to face hand off.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes also travels the country talking to young adults about the importance of knowing about the Safe Haven law before a crisis occurs so these mothers know their options. We believe the target audience for this message is between the ages of 14 to 34. There are many options available for women. To support our mission of ending infant abandonment, we work to give mothers-in-crisis all of their options so they can make the best decision for themselves and their child.
Another highlight for 2017 was the legal surrender of a newborn in our Michigan City, Indiana Safe Haven Baby Box on November 7. This is the first time a surrender of this type has occurred in one of our Safe Haven Baby Boxes in the United States! This alone is a time for celebration.
With all the positives happening this year, nothing compares to looking into the eyes of an infant girl and realizing that she is here today because we didn’t give up! This little girl is “Baby Hope” and her selfless mother placed her in one of our Safe Haven Baby Boxes we installed at fire stations in Indiana in 2016. This mother, for whatever reason, decided that she couldn’t be a mother right now and chose life for her child and ultimately an adoptive family. We have nothing but love, gratitude and prayers for this mom. She courageously chose a safe and legal option over abandonment.
Safe haven laws are in every state and a mother can legally surrender a newborn at fire stations, hospitals and police stations with no questions asked. Legal surrender is the last option we want a mother to choose, but are grateful it’s available when a mother thinks she has no other option.
As we enter 2018, we know our work has just began. As we get prepared to launch Safe Haven Baby Boxes in more states this year, we are thankful for the opportunity to be a small pebble in the lives of these newborns we save.
To the mothers who make such a difficult, selfless decision. Please know there is no shame, no blame and no names associated with the legal surrender of your newborn.