Couple thanks ‘Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ program for giving them a chance to create their own family – Women After 40

Every child is a blessing, but not all mothers have the resources to care for their children.

And that’s exactly what it is Safe Haven baby boxes in Indiana are in favor of: Providing mothers in crisis situations with a safe place to hand over their newborns without shame or guilt.

Installed in fire stations, these baby boxes paved the way for Tessa and Keegan Higgs of Paoli, Indiana, to complete their family.

A Safe Haven baby box

Parenthood was once just a dream for the couple, but now it’s the wonderful reality they are living.

“I can’t think of anything better than having Jax and Nola. I just can’t imagine life without her,” Tessa said of her children.

The family of four they now have is all thanks to a mother who was brave enough to realize her baby would have a better life in another family.

Tessa and Keegan Higgs with baby Nola
Source: WTHR

In 2019, a baby box brought Tessa and Keegan their final blessing – Nola, who is now three years old.

The program allows struggling mothers to surrender their babies safely and without judgement.

“She’s my heroine. I mean, if I could meet her (Nola’s birth mother) today, I’d give her a big hug and, you know, I couldn’t thank her enough,” said Keegan, a volunteer firefighter in Paoli.

The Higgs had been trying to build a family of their own for years. They were nursing their oldest child, Jax, when they found out a baby had been left in a crate in northern Indiana.

The child’s mother, whose identity is being concealed under the Safe Haven Act, happened upon a baby box billboard and called the hotline to ask for help.

A billboard for Safe Haven Baby Boxes

Tessa said that Nola was clearly very much loved by her birth mother. The baby was born at a healthy weight, free of substances, and wrapped in a warm towel.

“We have the towel. That’s the only connection we have to her biological mother. She also breastfed her baby before surrendering, so we know she was loved,” she said.

From 400 people who applied to be Nola’s parents, the Higgs were eventually selected after a panel interview with nine people with DCS.

A week later, they brought Nola home. Both children are now officially adopted.

“I couldn’t imagine our life without Nola. Well, I mean, our family is complete in my eyes!” Keegan said.

Tessa Higgs keeps the towel wrapped around baby Nola as she was handed over
Source: WTHR

These happy endings are the reason Monica Kelsey founded the program.

“When I look at my own life being abandoned as an infant, at a time when there was no safe haven law and now we have created this to allow these mothers the anonymity they want, it is very fulfilling to see the life I saved just because my life was saved,” she said.

“Seeing Nola grow up happy, healthy and beautiful has always been part of my mission.”

As someone who has seen firsthand how Safe Haven helps Baby Boxe’s families, Keegan is doing his part to ensure the mission continues.

Last autumn he helped install the first baby box at a volunteer fire brigade in Paoli.

the Higgs family poses next to a Safe Haven baby box
Source: WTHR

In July 2021, the law was changed to allow volunteer departments to install a baby box if they meet certain criteria.

“They have to be within a mile of a hospital or emergency room, have a four-minute response time, and have a camera inside the box so there’s always a camera on a baby until someone can get to the baby,” explained Tessa.

Since 2016, 19 babies have been abandoned in Indiana baby boxes and 121 have been personally delivered to a firefighter or nurse.

There are currently 110 boxes in the state, with the most recent being installed in Mitchell this month. The Higgs were present at the installation ceremony.

Click the video to learn more about the Higgs family’s baby box story. Couple thanks ‘Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ program for giving them a chance to create their own family – Women After 40

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