Baby Box Installed At Syracuse Fire Station

Photo: Gary Gerard, Times-Union

SYRACUSE – Friday morning, camera crews flooded the Turkey Creek Fire Territory parking lot in Syracuse for an unveiling and blessing of a Safe Haven Baby Box.

The box became Indiana’s 11th location that allows mothers of newborns to surrender their baby without “shame, without blame and without name.”

It became quickly obvious why the crowd was there. Monica Kelsey, who founded Save Haven Baby Boxes and is a firefighter herself, told a powerful story of why she does what she does and why she brings attention to the baby boxes.

“In 1972, a woman was brutally attacked and raped and left along the side of the road to die,” Kelsey told the crowd. “Six weeks later, she finds out she’s pregnant. Devastated, alone and scared, she decided an illegal abortion was the only option.”

Kelsey said the mother began having second thoughts while at the illegal abortion clinic and changed her mind, fled the facility and never looked back.

“In April 1973, she gave birth then abandoned that child two hours later,”?Kelsey said. “That child was me.”

Kelsey has been bringing awareness of the right to lives of innocent children since 2011 and she is proud of what the baby boxes stand for.

“Fifty-eight women came through our program since we launched,” she said.

Babies can be surrendered who are 30 days or younger. The baby box is equipped with sirens that will immediately alert first responders that the door has been opened. Safe Haven Baby Boxes also have heating and cooling features and lock as soon as the baby is placed inside.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes cost about $10,000 to install. Funding was raised by the community to install one at Syracuse Fire Station #2, 8138 E. McClintic Road, Syracuse, and also at Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Station #2, 2204 E. Center St., Warsaw. Warsaw’s baby box should be open to the public in about two weeks, Kelsey said.

“It is encouraging to see the magnitude of individuals and organizational support for Safe Haven Baby Boxes in north central Indiana,” Dave Koontz, executive director of Right to Life of North Central Indiana said. “We are pleased to have Syracuse be the first in a number of expected baby boxes in our region.”

Two babies have been surrendered in north central Indiana since the first was installed in 2016.

Turkey Creek Fire Territory Chief Mickey Scott thanked the community for its support of the baby box.

“Our hope is that this Safe Haven Baby Box never has to be utilized,” he said. “But if it does, we’re here.”

The baby box has a sign with instructions posted above it.

“The footprint on the sign above the box is a baby footprint from a real baby,” Linda Znachko of He Knows Your Name said Friday. “It’s a dead baby.”

She went on to tell a story about “Baby Amelia,” who was found in Eagle Creek State Park in December 2014.

“The baby was put in the park even though there was a fire station just down the road,” she said.

She said mothers who choose this choose safety, choose health care, and ultimately, choose adoption.

Pastor David Henry of Calvary United Methodist Church in Syracuse gave a blessing to the baby box Friday.

Kelsey then excitedly declared the box is open to the public.

“This box represents no shame, no blame and no names!,” she said.

Scott wanted to extend recognition to the dignitaries present at Friday’s opening including Bill Musser with the Syracuse Town Council, Dennis Darr with the Turkey Creek Fire Territory Board and Turkey Creek Township, and Kevin McSherry with the Kosciusko County Firemen’s Association.