Lawrence installs city’s first baby box


The City of Lawrence Fire Department Station 38 is now home to the city’s first Safe Haven Baby Box. The baby box provides an anonymous way for people to surrender infants.

A baby box blessing ceremony took place Dec. 28 at the fire station at 4450 McCoy St. in Lawrence. LFD Chief Dino Batalis said the baby box project started five years ago and was delayed while the new Station 33 was built.

Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier said the baby box helps care for the most vulnerable in society.

“To be able to have this option — of course you don’t ever want to use it — but the fact that it’s there makes us all feel better about what could or what might happen,” he said.

Helping to celebrate the baby box was Collier’s last official act as mayor. He did not seek reelection and his term ended at the close of 2023. Batalis also is leaving his job — he has retired after 35 years.

The day also marked the final baby box blessing of 2023.

During the ceremony, Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder Monica Kelsey said eight newborns were surrendered safely in Indiana baby boxes in 2023. She said blessing each box before it’s used is important.

“We know that the next person that’s going to be using it is going to be a mom in crisis,” Kelsey said. “I think that blessing the box before she uses it just kind of goes along with my faith.”

Since 2017, 37 infants have been placed in baby boxes. The baby box in Lawrence is the 112th in Indiana and the 191st overall in 15 states.

The day also marked the ninth anniversary of when the last abandoned baby in Indiana was found dead.

Kelsey said that baby was found Dec. 28, 2014. She was named ‘Baby Amelia’ in 2014 by Linda Znachko, founder of He Knows Your Name ministry, whose mission is to give dead infants names. Baby Amelia was honored during the ceremony.

Znachko said Baby Amelia’s footprint is imprinted in Safe Haven Boxes’ logo to honor that baby’s legacy.

“We honor (Baby Amelia) every day in this ministry knowing that she’s the last baby in this state that was ever found deceased from abandonment,” Znachko said. “And thanks to Linda for allowing us to honor her every time we bless a box with this footprint.”

Through Indiana’s Safe Haven Law, infants can be given up safely without legal repercussions. Baby boxes allow parents to do that with complete anonymity. Infants can be placed into the box, which triggers an alert to first responders, notifying them that a baby has been placed inside.