In the Dark Ages, nuns of the Roman Catholic Church would put a “baby box” near the door of the convent where they lived. They did this because people were leaving babies on the doorstep, frequently in unsanitary conditions. The baby boxes contained swaddling clothes and were kept clean. In America today, an organization called Safe Haven Baby Boxes has revived the baby box idea with some 21st-century technology.
The Safe Haven Baby Box is installed in an exterior wall of a fire station or hospital. It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon the placement of a newborn inside. There is an interior door that allows a worker to reach the baby from the inside. When someone places a baby in the box, it triggers an alarm, so workers know to pick up the baby. The boxes are temperature controlled to prevent risk to the baby, although the average wait time to pick up the infant is three minutes.
The baby box idea has had strong support from Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. It’s an obvious response to the abortion problem in America. It allows a woman who has a baby a “red tape free” way of making sure the child has a legal adoption while keeping the birth mother anonymous. Since the program began in April of 2016, there have been 52 baby boxes installed in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Eight babies have been surrendered in Safe Haven Baby Boxes, and three were surrendered to firefighters at baby box locations. Also, Safe Haven has referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers.
There are situations where a pregnant woman does not want to kill her child but wants just to be free of the situation. This is especially true of rape, but it can be a solution in other cases. New safe haven laws exist in various states, so counselors need to know what is available to help women who find themselves in a difficult situation.
— John N. Clayton © 2020