As I was looking through news stories the other day, one after another reminding me of the sad state of our country and the tragic nature of our fallen world, I suddenly spied something rare: good news!
Rachel Paula Abrahamson, a writer for Today, had penned an article about an anonymous firefighter/paramedic who had adopted the baby girl he had discovered months ago inside a Safe Haven Baby Box in Ocala, Florida.
In January, the firefighter heard the alarm going off on Florida’s only Safe Haven Baby Box. At first, he thought it was a false alarm since no baby had been left in the box since it was installed in 2020. But there inside was a beautiful baby girl, wrapped in a blanket.
“I picked her up and held her,” he recalled. “We locked eyes, and that was it. I’ve loved her ever since that moment.”
Far from coincidence, the meeting was ordained by God, as the firefighter and his wife had longed for a baby for a decade. He went to the hospital with the baby, who would become his daughter, Zoey, and asked about adopting her. “I explained that my wife and I had been trying for 10 years to have a baby. I told them we’d completed all of our classes in the state of Florida and were registered to adopt. All we needed was a child.”
Two days later, the couple took Zoey home. “The way I found her… This was God helping us out,” he said.
The reason he shared the story was to give Zoey’s biological mother, who is unknown, some closure and peace of mind. “We want her to know that her child is taken care of and that she’s loved beyond words,” he explained.
This joyous meeting was made possible in large part because of another night, one much more harrowing.
In August 1972, a 17 year-old girl was raped and left on the side of the road to die. The teenager recovered but six weeks later found out that she was pregnant. She soon found herself at a back-alley abortion clinic, but as she stood there waiting to end the life of her child, she changed her mind.
In April 1973, she gave birth to a little girl and two hours later abandoned her baby at a hospital. That baby grew up to be Monica Kelsey, who after seeing a baby box in Cape Town, South Africa, decided to start Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
As an organization, Safe Haven Baby Boxes says its primary mission is to raise awareness of Safe Haven laws. While they differ from state to state, these laws typically allow a parent to surrender their baby to certain locations, including hospitals, and leave without penalty. Thousands of babies have been surrendered under Safe Haven laws. Kelsey’s organization says that it has received over 8,000 calls to its hotline, which also provides counseling and assistance. It has referred over 500 women to crisis pregnancy centers, assisted in 10 adoption referrals, and have had over 130 legal Safe Haven surrenders. In the last six years, 31 babies have been placed in Safe Haven Baby Boxes.
The boxes are climate-controlled, feature a basinet-style bed, and send out an immediate alert. Kelsey estimates that the average time a baby spends in one of the boxes is 90 seconds.
Currently, there are over 150 Safe Haven Baby Box locations throughout Florida, Kentucky, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Ohio.
Kelsey says everything is anonymous, which is critical as the boxes allow mothers to surrender their child without fear.
When Zoey was found, Kelsey also shared a message to the mother who left her baby in the box. “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.
Safe Haven Baby Boxes isn’t the only organization providing mothers with a safe and loving option. South Korean Pastor Jong-rak Lee started his own baby box program over a decade ago, likely inspiring many in the U.S. to start baby boxes. You can watch that story here.
It is heartbreaking as so many babies are left there, many because their teenage mothers were unable to care for them or were shamed by their families. Many of the children have disabilities. Yet it is touching to see Pastor Lee care so lovingly for these children, 10 of whom he has adopted. Lee once estimated that the ministry takes in 220-250 babies each year and the ministry has saved the lives of over 1,600 children.
Many might think that Lee would have anger towards the parents who leave their babies, but they’d be wrong. Like Kelsey’s organization, Lee feels nothing but love and appreciation for the mothers. “You could’ve chosen to abort the child, but you didn’t, and saved that baby’s life. And you brought the baby here, so we want to thank you,” Lee said of the parents.
Christians don’t want to enslave women when they push for bans on abortion, nor do they only care about babies up to birth. The Church has been doing the work of taking in abandoned children for 2,000 years. And we do it because 1) we’re commanded to by Christ and because 2) we believe that every person is made in the image of God and therefore should not only be allowed to live but also to be lovingly cared for.
If you are considering having an abortion or don’t think you can care for your child, please, I plead with you: Reach out to churches, crisis pregnancy centers, or Safe Haven Baby Boxes. Do not abort them and do not abandon them. There are many who would love to help you and give your child a chance at life. There are so many like this firefighter and his wife who would love to give your baby a loving home.
And maybe one day your baby will grow up and respond like Monica Kelsey: Honoring your merciful, loving decision by helping other mothers and babies.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.