Firefighter Adopts Infant He Found in 'Baby Box'

Florida couple had been trying to start a family for almost a decade when little Zoey appeared
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2023 12:35 PM CDT

A firefighter on duty in Ocala, Florida, suddenly detected a silent alarm. It told him that someone had opened the state's first Safe Haven Baby Box, installed two years earlier at the MLK First Responder Campus, home to Ocala Fire Rescue. When he looked inside the climate-controlled box, which provides a safe and secure place for parents to anonymously leave their babies, the firefighter found it had been used for the first time, per WTVT. There lay a newborn girl, with a shoelace tying off her umbilical cord. That girl is now his daughter. As WKMG reports, the firefighter and his wife had been trying for almost a decade to start a family. Nothing seemed to work and they were telling themselves not to get their hopes up.

Then this beautiful baby girl "was hand-delivered to us," says the child's adoptive mother. Her husband took the baby to a hospital as outlined, then initiated the adoption process. "It wasn't real until I got the call I could go in there with her in the NICU," the mother tells WKMG. "Everything had kind of worked itself out to where we could bring her home two days later." That was six months ago. The couple, who are remaining anonymous, are now sharing their experience in the hope that the biological mother of the girl named Zoey will hear of the outcome. "She is safe, she is happy, and she is very loved," says the adoptive mother.

Abandoned herself as an infant, Monica Kelsey, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, came up with the idea to install safe drop-off locations in the hope of preventing the deaths of infants abandoned elsewhere. She says 2023 has been "a record year" with 10 babies left in some of the 153 boxes in operation across the country. Zoey was the 23rd infant left since 2017, the Ocala Star-Banner reported in January. The strategy is "working," Kelsey tells WKMG. "And this little girl is proof that these boxes are needed in Florida." The state's second baby box is now under development near Gainesville. Under state law, a parent can anonymously leave a newborn under 7 days old at any fire station or hospital without fear of prosecution. (More uplifting news stories.)

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