I have spent the last few months researching Baby Boxes. Not the Finnish boxes that have become all the rage now, but the other kind. The kind, that “desperate mothers” can anonymously dump their newborns into at hospitals or other “safe” locations without the inconvenience of “safe haven” protocol: ER nurse or firefighter taking the handoff. Apparently, personal contact scares away desperate moms, aka potential baby killers, even when they’re being courageous and “doing the right thing;” that is, not killing their baby.
I have held off publishing anything because there is so much to write about regarding the history of baby boxes (or baby wheels) and the current spate of drop boxes mostly in Europe and Asia, and the people who initiate and support them, especially in the US. For me, the latter is the most interesting and tends to the weird, obsessive, and cultic.
I’ve been getting my ducks lined up for a series of blogs and articles, but then something too good comes along that cannot be ignored timely. Like today.
Since much of this intro is based on various Facebook posts and discussions and needs to be scrolled through. I am posting a few selected links at the end of this entry for general reference.
A Brief Background
For the uninitiated, here is a brief description of the Baby Box movement in the United States, This is an edited version of a close-to-final draft from what will be my official introductory essay:
A new “legalized” infant abandonment movement has emerged-–separate from the Safe Haven Movement that advocates for the “legal abandonment” of newborns at specific locations such as hospital emergency rooms, and fire and police stations. Baby Box groups, headed by Indiana EMT and anti-abortion activist Monica Kelsey, with the support of mainstream and radical anti-abortion organizations, the Knights of Columbus, and (in some cases ) a handful of misguided health delivery organizations with little experience in child welfare or adoption, are working to pass bills throughout the country to authorize the installation of baby drop boxes-–similar to bank depositories–where “desperate women” can ditch their “unwanted babies” with absolute guaranteed anonymity unlike the assumed or implied anonymity of Safe Haven drops.
Kelsey’s “safe haven baby box” organization has been joined by The Hope Box, a new sketchy “baby saving” group tied to the franchise cult church International House of Prayer-Atlanta (IHOP) and other Atlanta-area ministries, many of them advertised as anti-sex trafficking non-profits. The Hope Box plans include the construction of a medical receiving center with a 24/7 staff to process abandoned newborns, complete with an anonymous baby dropbox with similar intake centers throughout the state. It also plans to organize an “extraction team” dedicated to removing newborns from “dangerous situations” and getting them adopted by worthy families through their IHOP-affiliated adoption agency, Embracing Life. The Hope Box conflates sex trafficking with neonaticide and newborn discard and makes the bizarre and faulty assumption that women who discard or kill newborns are part of the forced (or unforced) sex trade. The Kelsey contingent sees drop boxes as a remedy for abortion. Both organizations believe they can by-pass current safe haven laws that require safe havened babies to be handed over to actual people, not stuffed in a cat carrier stuck in a wall
In 2015 baby drop box bills were introduced in Indiana (HB 1016) and Missouri (HB 1224)), and bills are likely for Illinois and Georgia this year. The Indiana bill, though it had unanimous support from both houses of the legislature was killed on November 18, 2015 when the Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children, whose approval was required to enact the legislation, refused to support it. This setback, however, does not mean that the issue is dead. Kelsey & Co, backed by funds from the K of C and running (a so far unsuccessful) Go Fund Me campaign that now appears to be dropped, have vowed, since baby boxes are not expressly illegal under current law, to place them at sites throughout Indiana without the state seal of approval. At last count, five sites according to Kelsey, are lined up in Indiana, including one in Woodburn, where Kelsey’s husband was just elected mayor. It is highly unlikely that hospitals and other potential facilities, however, will permit installation since the Commission made its ruling.
This, however, doesn’t mean that baby drop boxes are going away any time soon. While Kelsey remains firm in getting them popularized in Indiana without state imprimatur, Hope Box people claim they are working with Georgia legislators to introduce a bill this year. Inexplicably (or not), the Hope Box scheme has received much media coverage, but no one has looked into the organization, its founders, or asked “what in the hell are you doing” I’ll be doing that.
The Safe Haven movement, particularly Dawn Geras of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation in Illinois and Tim Jaccard, retired EMT and firefighter, founder of AMT-Children of Hope in New York and president of the National Safe Haven Alliance are adamantly opposed to boxes. As much as it pains me to write this, Baby Safe Haven-New England entrepreneur Mike Morrisey has been making radio broadcasts and dozens of comments on media pages deconstructing baby box arguments while of course, flogging his own teenage-pop-singer scheme (or is it scam?) of a “youth-driven” baby dump movement. but it’s doubtful he’s made many friends from his diatribes. (Morrisey is not affiliated with NSHA, something I’ll write about later. Ironically, many of the safe haven advocate arguments are the same ones we used to oppose safe haven bills. Homeland Security sees drop boxes as a national security threat, but it’s unclear if the agency has taken steps against them. (I’ll be writing more about the opposition, which covers a spectrum of child welfare, security, and political viewpoints, later.)
Tim Jaccard was in Indiana recently lobbying fire and safety officials against baby drop boxes bringing up very legitimate concerns of safety, cost, UL certification, and liability. Monday, he released a video, an official presentation of his arguments, and boy is it a doozy! He calls it the National Safe Haven Alliance Dangers of Baby Box Video
I call it KABOOM! (1:19)
And thus whacked one of my ducks early, but I think it’s worth it.
This doesn’t mean of course, that I’ve changed my mind about safe havens. To find my voluminous posts about them, just type “safe haven” into the search box above.
No word yet on how Monica Kelsey and The Hope Box folks feel about the video, but I can guess. Recently, Monica and her Minions have questioned the sincerity and dedication of safe haven advocates. Oddly, Kelsey has also claimed that Tim Jaccard supports baby boxes, despite the fact that he has made public statements against them for nearly a year.
Selected Links in Alphabetic Order
- Embracing Life Adoption Agency (now defunct)
- Embracing Life Adoption Agency (Facebook)
- Monica Kelsey – Pro-Life Speaker (Facebook)
- Safe Haven Baby Boxes
- Safe Haven Baby Boxes (Facebook)
- Safe Haven Baby Boxes of Illinois (Facebook)
- The Hope Box
- The Hope Box (Facebook)
Originally published in The Daily Bastardette on February 9, 2016