Wayne County now has a safe place for the anonymous and legal surrender of infants.

A Safe Haven baby box was introduced June 20 at Richmond Fire Station 1, 101 S. Fifth St. The large, black box on the station’s east exterior wall is the 242nd installed in the nation and the 128th in Indiana since April 2016.

According to Safe Haven, which is based in Woodburn, 50 infants have been surrendered in baby boxes since 2017. The organization also offers a crisis line (1-866-992-2291) for struggling mothers that has assisted arranging more than 150 in-person surrenders.

Infants who are surrendered are adopted by families registered as foster families planning to adopt, according to Safe Haven. The Department of Family Services coordinates the adoptions.

A baby blocking a laser for a period of time triggers an alarm inside the fire station, contacts the county’s Emergency Communications Center and notifies selected fire department personnel. Fire department personnel and Richmond Police Department personnel can collect the baby.

The Safe Haven baby box was installed on the east side of Richmond Fire Department’s Station 1 at 101 S. Fifth St. Photo by Mike Emery

Mayor Ron Oler said a community effort was necessary to acquire and install the baby box.

“What they did here today will save lives, and nothing is more important than that,” Oler said.

Eliott LaRue, RFD’s chaplain, said the baby box would most likely be used.

“We just hope that if and when it is, that that child will be taken care of and find a loving home and lead a long, happy life,” LaRue said.

Mariah Betz of Safe Haven then declared the box open before about three dozen spectators.

According to Safe Haven, other nearby baby box locations include:

  • Connersville Fire Station 4, 124 S. Fountain St., Connersville.
  • New Castle Fire Department, 229 N. Main St., New Castle.
  • Winchester Fire Department, 113 E. Washington St., Winchester.
  • Rushville Fire Department, 120 N. Perkins St., Rushville.
  • Greenville Township Fire Department, 1401 Sater St., Greenville, Ohio.
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A version of this article appeared in the June 26 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.