GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — According to city officials, Gadsden is officially approved as one of several cities throughout the state of Alabama to install a “Safe Haven Baby Box” at one of their fire stations.
Gadsden Fire Chief Wil Reed said that child abandonment is a crisis not only in their area, but throughout the state and nationally.
Baby boxes like the one that will be installed at Gadsden’s Fire Station No. 3 allow parents of infants 45 days old or younger to safely and anonymously surrender their child.
It is a climate-controlled space that is monitored and locks from the outside after a child is placed inside. An alarm then alerts first responders who will quickly transport the child to a hospital where they will begin a new life.
Chief Reed said he hopes the addition of the baby box at the fire station will have a positive impact on both the parent and child should it ever be needed.
“The child will be placed through the adoption portal after the child is checked out of the hospital and everyone else that gets involved in this, it will just allow for this child to have the life that the mother probably wanted for that child,” said Chief Reed.
He also said there is an urgency for this alternative option for parents as there’s not a year goes by that their fire department doesn’t find abandoned children in unsafe places.
“Sometimes when mothers think they don’t have a choice they do things to children that I really don’t want to talk about. As a first responder, we have seen through the years, this allows an option so that won’t happen. It prevents harm from coming to that child. So, anything we can do to save a life as a firefighter we want to do it,” said Reed.
Kids to Love Foundation Founder CEO Lee Marshall said there will be 10 baby boxes total installed throughout the state. They will be strategically placed within a two to three hour time frame of each other.
They have been collaborating with anonymous doners to gather funding to make this initiative possible.
With Roe v. Wade overturned, Marshall said they expect more babies will be born. So, it is critical that women who choose not to be ready to parent are given options.
“One of those options we feel is adoption to be able to place their baby safely in a Safe Haven Baby Box so we can place that baby with a safe family across the state of Alabama, but more than anything, to keep the infant immortality rate down across our state,” said Marshall.
Marshall said this initial set of baby boxes are committed to locations in Tuscaloosa, Opelika, Madison, Gadsden, Mobile, Orange Beach, And Dothan. Prattville and Hoover are also set to come alongside those locations.
Their goal is to have the baby boxes installed by November.