By Pattie Barrett, Texas Right to Life
Big things can come in small packages. Such was the case recently in Hobbs, New Mexico, when a brave new mother in crisis pulled down on the handle of a special “box” at a fire station to place her newborn son. The baby box is a temperature-controlled incubator with oxygen for parents to safely and anonymously surrender their babies if they can’t take care of them.
When this mom placed her newborn into this secure baby box and shut the door, Interim Fire Chief Mark Doporto of the Hobbs Fire Department said he got an alert, not of a life in danger but a life saved.
“I couldn’t be happier that a citizen or someone decided to use this baby box for the best outcome of this child,” said Doporto.
Fire Station One officials said they immediately brought the child to a hospital where he was deemed healthy.
This had to be a difficult decision for the boy’s mother, but she knew that the moment a firefighter lifted her precious bundle from where she had placed him, her baby would have an entirely new future, a future with hope and possibilities, a future that would include placement with loving parents equipped and ready to raise her baby.
“I mean this is exactly why we put the baby box in the Hobbs Fire Department Station One, and they just couldn’t be happier with the end result – a safe baby taken to the hospital and healthy,” Chief Doporto added.
This fire station’s Safe Haven “Baby Box” is the first in the town, installed just months ago, and only the second in the state. The New Mexico Legislature passed a bill last year to expand the baby box program after a teenager in Hobbs threw her newborn in a dumpster. She was later sentenced to 16 years in prison.
“This baby box is a huge benefit to all at-risk mothers. Sometimes, they are lacking support from family from community, whatever it may be, and we want them to have a safe place for their child to be cared for if they feel that they are not able to do so,” stated Hobbs spokesperson Meghan Mooney.
There are over 52,000 fire stations in the United States. Only a few currently offer baby boxes for new parents to safely and anonymously surrender their infants. Many states allow mothers to surrender their newborns directly at a fire station, hospital, police station, or other safe location, but the idea of these anonymous “drop boxes” is rapidly spreading.
The first state to adopt this simple “Safe Haven” alternative to abandoning babies was Indiana in 2016, which has already installed 106 Safe Haven baby boxes statewide, saving, to date, 25 children. Kentucky has similar numbers.