New parents in crisis will soon have a safe, anonymous way to surrender infants at a Tuscaloosa fire station, thanks to funding from an anonymous donor.

Richard Rush, a spokesperson for the city of Tuscaloosa, said a Safe Haven Baby Box will soon be installed at Fire Station 1 in the heart of the city at the intersection of Greensboro Avenue and 15th Street.

(Noah Lueker, Townsquare Media)
(Noah Lueker, Townsquare Media)

The drop-off boxes are meant to serve as a last resort for new parents who decide they are not able to raise a newborn - for 45 days after the child is born, parents can anonymously surrender the infant in a Baby Box without any face-to-face interaction or fear of criminal prosecution.

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Lawmakers in Alabama passed a bill this summer that expanded the window of time during which parents can legally surrender an infant from three days to 45.

They hope to give parents in crisis a safe, legal alternative to illegally abandoning babies in dumpsters and other obviously unsafe environments - an option that is especially relevant after the state began enforcing its ban on all abortion procedures last summer.

After the safe surrender law changed, Rush said an anonymous donor reached out to a nonprofit organization in Madison, Alabama called Kids to Love which serves children in foster care. The donor wanted to fund 10 Safe Haven Baby Boxes across the state, and the city of Tuscaloosa eagerly agreed to receive one of them.

Rush said the Baby Box will only cost the city $300 annually, which is spent to have someone regularly inspect the drop-off site and make sure everything is up to code, including the silent alarm that triggers when the door of the Box is opened so first responders inside the fire station know as soon as an infant arrives.

Rush said the city expects to take around six weeks to install the Baby Box at Fire Station 1, and that it should "come online" for use in December or January.

For more on the initiative as it develops, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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