Infant left in Seymour’s baby box in 2020 adopted and doing fine

On the afternoon of Jan. 23, 2020, a mother made the heartbreaking decision to leave her newborn daughter in the care of the Seymour Fire Department.

The infant was placed in a Safe Haven Baby Box located at Station 3 at 605 Meadowbrook Drive.

Equipped with an internal alarm system, the baby box notified firefighters in the station within 60 seconds a baby had been surrendered. They were able to collect the child and give her immediate medical attention before she was transferred to the hospital.

Fire Chief Brad Lucas said it doesn’t matter why the mother left her child because she did the right thing.

Because of her actions, “Baby Mia,” as she was named by Hunter Wart, the former Columbus North High School student responsible for gifting the baby box to Seymour in 2019, was adopted and is healthy and thriving with her family.

Lucas said he hopes Baby Mia’s biological mother knows her baby is safe and loved because of the choice she made.

Monica Kelsey, founder and chief executive officer of Save Haven Baby Boxes Inc., said Baby Mia was adopted by a family in Indiana but couldn’t provide any additional information.

“We can’t release their names, as they wish to remain out of the limelight,” she said.

Lucas also said he doesn’t have any details about the baby except she is healthy, was adopted and is doing good.

“And that’s all I need to know,” he said.

Baby Mia is the first and only baby so far to be surrendered in Seymour’s baby box.

The story is the perfect example of why the boxes are needed in all communities, Kelsey said.

Since Baby Mia, Safe Haven Baby Boxes has installed 35 additional baby boxes, including its first box in Florida last year, Kelsey said.

There are now 53 baby boxes in Indiana. Seymour’s is the 11th to be installed. Other states that have Safe Haven Baby Boxes are Ohio, Arkansas, Arizona and now Florida. Most of the boxes are at fire stations, but some are at hospitals and EMS stations.

In 2020, six babies were surrendered via Safe Haven Baby Boxes — five in Indiana and one in Arkansas — Kelsey said.

Ten babies have been surrendered since the first baby box was installed in 2016. Two other babies have been surrendered at fire stations with Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Nationwide, nearly 100 surrenders have resulted from calls to the Safe Haven Baby Boxes national hotline.

The Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution. As long as there are no signs of intentional abuse on the baby, no information is required of the person leaving the baby.

Indiana legislators are considering a bill that would add a baby box to any facility that has medical staff on standby. House Bill 1032, authored by Rep. Randall Frye, R-Greensburg, passed the House and now is being referred to the Senate.

“These boxes can be a lifeline for babies and mothers,” HB 1032 co-author Mike Andrade, D-Munster, said in a statement. “A woman can relinquish her baby, making the hardest decision of her life, and know her child will be taken care of.”

Kelsey said her work continues to get more baby boxes across the country and to make as many people aware of them as possible.

“We are constantly working with locations on education and awareness and working with many fire stations to bring this last resort option to their cities,” she said.

Lucas and Mayor Matt Nicholson say Seymour is fortunate to have a baby box to give mothers in distress a safe and anonymous way to surrender a baby.

The box was donated to Seymour by Wart, a 2019 graduate of Columbus North High School. Wart raised $10,000 on his own by mowing lawns and scrapping aluminum cans and other metal to purchase the box for his senior project.

He got the idea to buy a baby box after hearing a news report on the radio about an infant being surrendered in one.

Originally, he had planned to give the baby box to Columbus, but officials from that city denied Wart’s request to install it there, saying it was not the “optimal way of dealing with the surrender of infants.”

To help make sure the baby box is maintained, the Knights of Columbus Council 1252, a Catholic service organization, pledged to pay the annual $200 cost to Safe Haven Baby Boxes to cover maintenance services and liability insurance.

Lucas said he doesn’t want Seymour’s baby box to be a secret because it’s there for anyone who needs it.

“It’s good to get that awareness out there,” Lucas said. “We want people to know it’s here and it’s safe and it’s anonymous.”

Nicholson said the box did exactly what it was supposed to do.

“It doesn’t matter if it ever sees another baby. It has earned its keep already,” he said.