First baby in the state surrendered at Safe Haven Baby Box in Ocala

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 12:21 AM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - A healthy newborn is being cared for after the child was surrendered anonymously at a safe drop-off box in Ocala.

The baby is the first child in Florida to be surrendered anonymously through the Safe Haven Baby Box program. The box is located at Ocala Fire Station 1 which was installed in 2020.

“I’m so happy to hear of this miracle baby,” said Mayor Kent Guinn. “I knew when we did this in 2020 this day would come.”

Attempts to codify safe and anonymous baby abandonment failed at the state level but Ocala passed a city ordinance officially allowing the practice.

“We were just talking about where we are centrally in the state, surrounding Tampa Orlando Jacksonville, Daytona Beach,” explained Guinn. “Who knows where that individual came from but they came to Ocala to do that. So yeah it is a big deal”

These boxes are set up across the country. So far, 23 babies have been dropped off in the boxes nationwide. Safe Haven Baby Box founder Monica Kelsey visited Station 1 after the baby was dropped off.

“I’m often quoted as saying the baby box is not a good option it’s only a good option if it’s the only option,” said Kelsey. “There are options available that are better than a baby box. I’ve always said this. But, I do know that there are parents out there that won’t do a parenting plan, won’t do an adoption plan, won’t walk into the fire station in fear they know someone so that’s where the baby box comes in but know that you have options”

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Babies are supposed to be attended to within 5 minutes and then taken to a hospital to be evaluated. The process is anonymous and details about the baby and parents are confidential. Babies are typically adopted within 30 to 45 days.

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