A place of hope: Second Safe Haven Baby Box installed in Westfield


First passed in 2000, the Indiana Safe Haven Law allows a person to surrender their infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution. In 2017, Indiana expanded the Safe Haven Law to allow for baby boxes at hospitals, and in 2018 those locations were expanded to include fire stations with available 24/7 emergency medical services.

Members of the Westfield community gathered June 17 for the dedication and blessing of a Safe Haven Baby Box at Westfield Fire Station 81, 17001 Ditch Rd. The box is the 239th Safe Haven Baby Box in the country and the 127th installed in Indiana.

“I am very passionate about giving mothers an option to safely surrender babies anonymously and lovingly,” said Mariah Betz, assistant project coordinator with Safe Haven Baby Boxes. “To date, we have had 49 babies surrendered in our Safe Haven Baby Boxes and we have helped over 150 parents surrender, in-person and hand-to-hand, in multiple states.”

Baby boxes are safety devices permitted under the Safe Haven Law that are installed in an exterior wall of a designated fire station or hospital. The boxes have an exterior door that automatically locks upon placement of a newborn inside and an interior door that allows a medical staff member to secure the child from inside the building. When opened, the door trips a silent alarm inside the building to alert staff.

A nonprofit organization, Safe Haven Baby Boxes was started by Monica Kelsey, a Woodburn native who discovered she was abandoned as an infant. When she saw a baby box in operation in Cape Town, South Africa, Kelsey was inspired to start the organization to educate the public on safe haven laws, provide a crisis line, provide resources and create safe places for parents to legally surrender their infants.

Molly Grollimund of He Knows Your Name, an Indianapolis-based ministry that claims the remains of unknown persons and provides for burial services, said the footprint on each Safe Haven Baby Box belongs to Baby Amelia, an infant who was abandoned at Eagle Creek Park in December 2014. Grollimund said the baby’s remains were claimed by Linda Znachko, founder of He Knows Your Name. It was at the infant’s funeral where Znachko and Kelsey came together to work on a solution for abandonment.

“Her mother had a crisis pregnancy and Baby Amelia was left outside on a cold winter night,” Grollimund said. “Likely, Amelia’s mother was driven by fear and perhaps feeling that she had a lack of options. Every mother in crisis needs options; the ability to choose a safe and anonymous surrender. And that (is what Westfield Fire Department) continues to provide.”

Westfield Fire Chief Rob Gaylor said the new box is part of the continuing relationship between first responders and the organization.

“This is our second partnership (with Safe Haven Baby Boxes), and hopefully not our last,” Gaylor said. “We’re just seeking a way to give back to the community and provide mothers a way and a means to get some assistance for their child that they so desperately need.”

Westfield Deputy Mayor Danielle Carey-Tolan echoed that sentiment. 

“This is truly an exciting day for us, to include our second baby box here in Westfield Washington Township,” Carey-Tolan said. “It’s honoring to know that we have a place where moms can go and have a vital resource when there are no other resources for them to have. With the proven success (of baby boxes) time and time again, we are just honored to have this as a staple and… we hope to have more in the future.”

Grollimund said the baby boxes provide not just a solution, but hope.

“Abandonment is criminal. But safely and anonymously surrendering a baby is not,” Grollimund said. “To the future mama who may one day have to make the difficult decision to safely and anonymously surrender her little one through these Safe Haven Baby Boxes, we champion them. We thank them for choosing life for their baby.”

The baby box is the second in Westfield. The other is at Westfield Fire Department 83, 17944 Grassy Branch Rd. Safe Haven Baby Boxes also are located at Zionsville Fire Station 92, Carmel Fire Department Station 45, Noblesville Fire Station 74, Fishers Fire Station 397 and Lawrence Fire Department Station 38.

“Thank you to the Westfield Fire Department for giving families another option to surrender their newborns,” Betz said. “This box offers no shame, no name and no blame.”

baby box blessing
Matt Gaylor, lead pastor at NSpire Church in Westfield, reads a blessing for the Safe Haven Baby Box installed at Westfield Fire Station 81. (Photo by Marney Simon)


Safe Haven Baby Boxes allow parents to surrender an infant anonymously. There are no cameras installed at the locations and there is no face-to-face interaction during the surrender.

According to its website, the Safe Haven Baby Boxes organization’s primary goal is to raise awareness of the Safe Haven Law by providing boxes for safe surrender of infants as well as a national 24-hour crisis hotline, which to date has referred more than 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers, assisted in nine adoption referrals and has received more than 150 legal surrenders.

The crisis line is available free of charge for calls or texts at 866-99BABY1. 

Since the first Safe Haven Baby Box was installed in April 2016, no abandoned infants have been found deceased in the state of Indiana.  

Learn more about Safe Haven Baby Boxes at shbb.org.