LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For years, Indiana has used “baby boxes” at fire stations and hospitals to give mothers in crisis a way to safely surrender newborns they cannot care for.
Soon, Kentucky will have them too.
Last week, Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law House Bill 155, the “Safe Haven Baby Box” bill.
The bill will allow for the installation of baby boxes at fire stations and hospitals where infants can be surrendered legally and anonymously. An alarm inside the box alerts 911, and first responders can find surrendered children within minutes.
Across the nation, there are nearly 70 baby boxes and baby “drawers” in Indiana, Arizona, Ohio, Arkansas and Florida.
At the start of the legislative session, 15-year-old Isabella Lamkin started a Change.org petition to encourages legislators to pass HB 155.
“The first time that I heard it got passed, I literally started crying,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin told WAVE 3 News she advocated for the bill because of her own story; she was abandoned as a baby in China and grew up in an orphanage.
“Not a lot of people understand what it was like to not have a family for half your life,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed that I would have a family.”
Lamkin was adopted nearly 8 years ago into a Louisville family. She said she wants to see a baby box in every county for children like her.
“I feel that every child should be able to have a family that loves and cares for them as much as my family loves me,” she said.
Safe Haven Baby Box founder and CEO, Monica Kelsey told WAVE 3 News she was “excited” for women in Kentucky to have the option to safely surrender their children.
“We are a no shame, no blame, no name and no judgment organization. We’re here to walk alongside you and make a safe and legal option,” she said. “This has got to be one of the most difficult things a woman does but she does it for the betterment of her child.”
Kelsey said baby boxes had been successful in other states.
“Close to Kentucky, we had a baby surrendered at Seymour fire station last year. The baby has been adopted and she’s got a forever family, her mother’s life has gone on. The residents of Kentucky see that, they see the success and they want to be a part of it,” she said.
Kelsey said Kentucky organizations have already expressed interest in baby boxes; she hopes to see a baby box installed by the summer.
Currently, the closest baby box to Louisville is in Clarksville. Anyone in need of Safe Haven Baby Box resources can call the national hotline at 1-866-99BABY1 or visiting shbb.org.