“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18
Sometimes it’s less about what you say than how you say it.
Back in February when we published an article on Searcy considering getting a Safe Haven Baby Box from a company out of Woodburn, Ind., we were barraged with Facebook posts and emails from a rival out of the Boston/New England area claiming that it was a scam. It wasn’t the first time we had heard from this Northeastern couple. It also happened in 2021 when we published an article about an Arkansas Right to Life billboard on Main Street promoting the state’s safe haven law and having baby boxes across the state.
When we also received a call from one of the complainants, he was ultimately directed to call Mayor Mat Faulkner or members of the Searcy City Council to present his argument. He said he had done that in other cities that had purchased these baby boxes and was not well-received by them, even getting cussed at for his efforts. Considering that the Searcy council approved an agreement with the Indiana company Tuesday night concerning the purchase of one of its baby boxes, it doesn’t seem like the reception here to the complaints was much better.
Other than mentioning that other cities had dismissed his missives being a red flag, it’s easy to see why this couple’s message doesn’t seem to resonate in Arkansas. Most of the posts and emails used incendiary language, such as calling the Indiana company’s founder, Monica Kelsey, a “loser” and her company “a bigoted and racist organization,” and saying that it is not pro-life because the company does not have baby boxes in “major metropolitan areas.”
He also complains about the materials used by the Indiana company to construct its boxes, but admits that his group’s boxes cost more. Although there may be some legitimacy to some of what he says (we don’t have the resources to fully research all of his information), it mainly comes off as someone bitter about a competitor undercutting him or horning in on his business.
However, I thought it was important to acknowledge that we have received these complaints for full disclosure to you, our readers, especially since some of them were made publicly.
I have read numerous stories about these baby boxes from Indiana that also make me doubtful about the assertions, because I don’t really care how the boxes are made or what agencies haven’t signed off on them as long as they are resulting in babies being saved (and not harmed), which seems to be the case.
In January, npr.org wrote about a baby being surrendered in Florida’s only baby box, which came from the Indiana company. And there now are 13 of these baby boxes in Arkansas, with babies having been turned over at locations in Benton in 2020 and Conway last February, according to accounts from newspapers in the state.
The baby box provides anonymity for the parent to drop the child off inside of it before first responders are alerted by 911, go get the child out of the locked incubator “and immediately take the baby to an ER where it can get the care that it needs,” Searcy Fire Chief Brian Dunavan said in February. Others who have had them installed in their cities praise both the boxes and the company providing them.
The box that will be installed in Searcy, which is being bought for the city by Searcy firefighter Dillon Strayhorn’s mother, Pamela Bell, gives parents a better option than leaving their child next to a door exposed to the elements or just dumping the newborn.
Maybe it doesn’t meet some of the standards that the Boston couple says it should meet, but if one baby is saved then that’s the most important standard.
Twenty-six babies have been surrendered inside Safe Haven Baby Boxes since 2017, and that’s a good reason for Searcy officials to make the decision they did Tuesday despite any complaints they received.
It’s hard to consider something that has proven success to be a scam, and it’s hard to take such accusations to heart when they are presented so vindictively.
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