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Baby surrendered at Carmel Fire Station first to be adopted under new law



Carmel, Indiana – A baby turned in in August at a Carmel fire station in a Safe Haven Box has found a forever home. A recent addition to Indiana’s Safe Haven Law (I.C. 31-34-2.5, sections 1-6) is thought to have made her the first adopted kid. The provision permits surrendered infants to be placed directly with a licensed child-placing agency (LCPA) rather than the Department of Kid Services. On July 1, the statute became operative. The infant was turned in on August 7.

“The law prevents a child from languishing in the foster care system, instead placing them with an adoptive family within hours,” said Meg Sterchi, executive director of Adoptions of Indiana. “Adoptions are finalized in three months, instead of 18 months to three years.”

If a mother is in a crisis and is unable to care for her infant, she can give it up discreetly, safely, and securely at one of Indiana’s 110 Safe Haven baby boxes. Fire stations and hospitals have the boxes installed in their external walls. The highest number of baby box surrenders nationwide is four, at Carmel Fire Station No. 345.

In an attempt to guarantee the children are placed with an adoptive family as quickly as possible, Carmel Fire Chief David Haboush urged state lawmakers for the legislation.

“We make a point of staying with the babies in the hospital until their family can be with them,” Chief Haboush said. “Firefighters exist to take care of human life, so this falls right into our wheelhouse. That is exactly what this law allows us to do.”

Hamilton Fifth District Superior Court The baby was adopted on National Adoption Day, Friday, Nov. 17, by Judge David Najjar.

“I could not be more thrilled,” Judge Najjar said at the hearing. “A lot of adoption cases will come through this courthouse today, but none like this one. I am honored to be part of this, and I am honored to say I am granting this adoption.”

“Babies are sensory beings,” Sterchi added. “They learn everything from what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. This change to the Safe Haven law allows an infant to establish security and stability as soon as possible by creating a consistent sensory experience as soon as possible.”

To speak with a certified counselor or obtain a baby box, individuals can contact the National Safe Haven crisis hotline at 1-866-99BABY1.