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Exceptional Care That Transforms.

Memorial Nurse Secures First Safe Haven Baby Box in Mississippi

Caitlin Kelly, Registered Nurse

“You have to be on fire for it,” Caitlin says, as she describes her family’s passion for giving parents an anonymous option to safely surrender their infants. Caitlin is a Registered Nurse in one of Memorial’s infusion clinics, and her husband, Steve, is a Nurse Practitioner in Memorial’s ICU.

Not only do Caitlin and Steve have biological children, but they have also adopted and fostered children for several years, always feeling called to help parents in crisis. The couple has been the driving force in securing the first Safe Haven Baby Box in Mississippi.

Safe Haven Baby Boxes take the face-to-face interaction out of infant surrender and protect the parent from being seen (shbb.org). These climate-controlled boxes are installed in fire stations, hospitals, and emergency response facilities. When a baby is placed in the box, multiple alarms are sounded to alert the first response personnel.

A statewide initiative

The process to secure a box in Mississippi started 10 months ago, before a statewide law was in effect that could support the Safe Haven Baby Box. Caitlin reflects, “I just really felt like it was time to do something, and Steve and I got together and started to go from city to city to ask.” The first step included getting a city ordinance passed.

“When I met my son’s birth mother, I realized we really didn’t need to just change a city ordinance for one box, our goal should be to change the state law,” she says. “The next thing you know, we’re on the phone and we’re rewriting the Safe Haven Law Bill to change the law from seven days or younger to surrender safely without the fear of prosecution to 45 days or younger.”

The bill was signed earlier this year, an essential step toward helping parents and babies. Caitlin explains, “A lot of women do not know that they’re in crisis the first seven days after giving birth, and we see that our infant abandonments around the country take place between seven and 30 days.” In recent years, four babies were abandoned in Mississippi.

“The box is a last resort”

Safe Haven Baby Box
Safe Haven Baby Box interior

The mission of Safe Haven Baby Boxes is to educate people about the Safe Haven Law in each state. “Illegal infant abandonment is rising all across the nation, regardless of all states having a law, and no one’s educating and making people aware that the law exists. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it is very plausible to think that this is going to continue to get worse,” Caitlin shares. She adds, “The mission is just beginning.”  

“When I first started talking about it 10 months ago, there were 121 boxes in the nation. Now there are 156,” she adds. “Seven babies were surrendered in 2022 safely with these boxes, and now we’re up to 13, and we’re only halfway through the year.”

Caitlin explains, “It is okay to give life and walk away. To me, it’s the bravest and the most loving thing you could do for your child. To say, ‘I’m not able to be the one that can give you the life you deserve’ is the utmost sign of love and compassion someone can have. The only anonymous option in the nation is the box, and it takes away that fear and judgment from the stigma.”  

Ultimately, Caitlin wants to increase education about safe surrender throughout the community, specifically for first responders and emergency personnel. The first Safe Haven Baby Box in Mississippi has been installed in Long Beach at the Central Station Fire Department.

Nonstop advocacy

Safe Haven Baby Box exterior

When she and Steve aren’t on shift at Memorial, they are meeting with people throughout the state to spread awareness. Caitlin shares, “Statistically, the more boxes the state has, then the more safe surrenders it has. We have already had people calling dispatch looking for a box, and it’s not open yet.” 

Caitlin says her family was called for this mission, and a big part of that is due to Safe Haven Baby Boxes Founder, Monica Kelsey. She learned she was abandoned as an infant and has since made it her personal goal to educate others on the Safe Haven Law. Her home state of Indiana has the most baby boxes of any state in the nation. Since the first one was installed in April 2016, there have been no dead abandoned infants in the state of Indiana.

When asked if her kids are part of the advocacy work, Caitlin smiles, saying, “They see this is the real side of life, right? We’re not going to lie to our kids, people have real problems and issues, and we feel called to help with that, and they are part of that.” 

“Let’s get our hospitals, our community, our schools involved and make them aware. It’s just the beginning,” she says.


Thank you for the care and passion you pour into our community, Caitlin!

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