"I hope you find peace in knowing that your child is safe, your child is healthy, and your child will be placed with a set of adoptive parents", said Safe Haven founder, Monica Kelsey.
According to TODAY, a newborn was surrendered to Florida's only Safe Haven Baby Box. This was the first time a baby was left inside since the device was installed in 2020, per WFLA. Ocala Fire Rescue announced "the arrival of the department's first surrendered newborn" at a press conference on January 5, per a Facebook post. The climate-controlled box was used "over the holiday," Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder Monica Kelsey said in a statement, according to NBC affiliate WESH.
Kelsey also added, "The first thing that we want is we want to address the parents who legally surrendered this infant. And right now I’m going to talk directly to her or him.” She said, “Thank you. Thank you for keeping your child safe. Thank you for bringing your child to a place that you knew was going to take care of this child. And thank you for doing what you felt was best.” She further added, “I’m sure this was not an easy option to choose, but I want you to know that we’re honoring you today because I hope you find peace in knowing that your child is safe, your child is healthy, and your child will be placed with a set of adoptive parents if it hasn't already."
Kelsey also told NBC affiliate WESH in a statement, “We are so proud of this selfless parent who has lovingly surrendered their infant via a Baby Box over the holiday! We are so happy this community was prepared for this situation. We know this baby will be so loved by an adoptive family and we are so thrilled to be a part of protecting infants from abandonment.” During a press conference held in Ocala, which is located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Fire Chief Clint Welborn shared that the baby was safely recovered and transported to the hospital. The newborn will be up for adoption.
Ocala Fire Rescue's Baby Box was installed at the department's headquarters in 2020, according to NBC affiliate WFLA. Florida's sole baby box is one of 134 found in the US. It allows people to anonymously surrender a baby to the authorities, per the outlets. Each box initially costs $10,000 before it is leased out for $200 a month, according to WKMG-TV. The boxes come with temperature controls and a silent alarm that alerts firefighters to a baby's presence in the box 60 seconds after a child is placed inside.
Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn was pleased to see the box be of help to the baby, whom he called a "miracle baby." He said, "I knew when we did this in 2020, this day would come – we all did – we just didn't know when," per the outlets. "We're glad it was there as a resource." There have been 23 infants placed in baby boxes since the program began in November 2017. The organization says it has assisted with seven adoption referrals in addition to over 100 legal Safe Haven surrenders, according to Safe Haven's website.
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images