City of Gulfport seeks to add Mississippi’s fourth Safe Haven Baby Box

City of Gulfport seeks to add Mississippi’s fourth Safe Haven Baby BoxGulfport, Miss., resident Geroge Sanchez discusses the need for Safe Haven Baby Boxes with local media. Sanchez donated funds or the city to establish a Safe Haven Baby Box. (WLOX)

A city in Mississippi is in the process of creating the state’s fourth Safe Haven Baby Box, giving parents who feel they cannot raise their child an opportunity to leave him or her in safe hands.

The board of the City of Gulfport approved a major donation from a local supporter on Feb. 20, paving the way for the Magnolia State to establish its fourth Safe Haven Baby Box, according to local news reports. 

These locations are established for parents to anonymously surrender their infants to be cared for by someone else if they are unable to raise their children themselves. Safe Haven Baby Boxes are usually installed at hospitals or first responder buildings, which allows for monitoring of the boxes and safe retrieval of surrendered babies to ensure they will be cared for. The boxes also serve as a last resort alternative to illegally abandoning babies. 

The donation came from Gerald Sanchez, a Gulfport resident, who generously provided $24,000 to fund the necessary materials to construct the new box. Following the Feb. 20 approval of the funds, the Safe Haven Baby Box is one step closer to being installed at the Dedeaux Road Fire Station 9 in Gulfport. This would leave the first responder crews responsible for retrieving and transporting any babies that are left in the box.

Sanchez explained to the media that, when first responders find a baby left at the location, they will “take that little one to the ER and check it out.” Those who surrender their children to the baby box will have “a 45-day window” to “change their mind and want their baby back.” If the decision is final, then “the child is put up for adoption to a family that wants a child but can’t have a child.” 

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The city has not yet announced the date it plans to install the location in Gulfport.

Tweet This: The City of Gulfport will install a Safe Haven Baby Box following the city's approval of funds donated by a resident to establish the box.

Mississippi’s first Safe Haven Baby Box was installed on July 13, 2023, at the Long Beach Fire Station. The project was initiated by Caitlin Kelly, a local woman with a heart for children whose parents cannot care for them. She began pursuing the installment of the state’s first box in September 2022. It is now a place for parents to anonymously leave their babies who are no more than 45 days old.

In January 2024, the state’s second Safe Haven Baby Box was installed at Simpson General Hospital in Mendenhall. Additionally, the city of Gluckstadt announced in December 2023 that it had reached its fundraising goal of $25,000 to install yet another box at the city’s police department. 

All four locations, including the most recently approved project in Gulfport, are legally protected under House Bill 1318, which updated Mississippi’s “Baby Drop-Off Law” in 2023 to allow parents to anonymously leave their babies who are no older than 45 days at designated emergency medical or law enforcement locations.

Similar laws have been passed in 14 other states, all of which have installed at least one Safe Haven Baby Box. The locations of the anonymous drop-off locations are Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Iowa, and West Virginia. Specific locations of the boxes can be found here.

Per its website, the mission of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes is to “prevent illegal abandonment of newborns by raising awareness, offering a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis and offering the Safe Haven Baby Boxes as a last resort option for women who want to maintain complete anonymity.”

To date, the group has taken more than 9,000 calls from across America through its free counseling hotline, made over 500 referrals to pregnancy help centers, helped facilitate nine adoptions and retrieved more than 140 babies in Safe Haven surrenders.

In 2024 alone, infants have been rescued from Safe Haven Baby Boxes in Alabama, Indiana and Missouri

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