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Rep. Andrade: “I am blessed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to be here.”

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INDIANAPOLIS — Forty years ago, a woman was rushed to the hospital and she was told there were complications with her pregnancy. She had the baby four months premature, but because she was an immigrant, she did not have the resources to take care of the baby.

“That baby is speaking to you today,” State Representative Mike Andrade (D-Munster) said in front of the House.

Andrade co-authored House Bill 1032 on Safe Haven baby boxes, which passed the House yesterday. His story is why he is in support of a bill that would give people more options if they could not care for a newborn.

“I always tell people, ‘There’s a story behind every story, and never be ashamed of your roots or who you are or where you came from,’” Andrade said. “If you know me, you know that I’m always upbeat, and I always try to enjoy life. I am blessed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to be here.

“You never know which baby is out there that needs tender love and care, and this bill will allow a family to love that baby.”

Safe Haven baby boxes are newborn safety devices installed on the outside of a fire station or hospital. House Bill 1032 would add new locations, which have to be staffed by emergency medical service providers 24 hours every day. 

“These boxes can be a lifeline for babies and mothers,” Andrade said. “A woman can relinquish her baby, making the hardest decision of her life, and know her child will be taken care of.”

Every box has a dual alarm system that is connected to the facility and is tested at least once per month. When the door to the box is open, it triggers a silent alarm to the building and a call to dispatch, and when a baby is placed in the box, it sends a second call to dispatch. The person can also push a button for a third call to dispatch before closing the door, which automatically locks. The box is temperature controlled between 71 to 82 degrees, and air holes inside keep it ventilated. Emergency personnel arrive within five minutes.

Safe Haven Baby Box was founded by Monica Kelsey, a former firefighter and medic from Woodburn, Indiana. Kelsey was abandoned by her mother at the hospital hours after she was born, and as an adult, she learned her mother was a rape victim. Indiana was the first state to install a Safe Haven box in 2016.

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