‘Tremendous victory:’ Baby boy saved in Hobbs through Safe Haven Baby Box

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 11:22 PM CDT
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HOBBS, New Mexico (KCBD) - An investment in the City of Hobbs is paying off. Its “Safe Haven Baby Box” saved a life over the weekend, when an anonymous mother used it to surrender her newborn baby boy.

Hobbs city leaders, first responders, and a New Mexico state lawmaker praised the strength of the child’s parents at Fire Station 1 Monday afternoon.

“There’s a reason we fought for it. There’s a reason we want it in here in the City of Hobbs. And I couldn’t be happier that a citizen or someone decided to use this baby box for the best outcome of this child,” Interim Fire Chief Mark Doporto said.

Doporto says at 12:31 p.m. on Saturday, fire department administrators received a text message that the baby box had been opened. Thirty seconds later, another notification let them know something had been placed inside the box. Three minutes later, to give the parent time to leave the area and protect their anonymity, firefighters at Station 1 were called to respond.

Doporto says the baby boy was found safe and healthy, and was immediately taken by ambulance to the hospital for medical care. He was the first baby surrendered to the “Safe Haven Baby Box” in Hobbs.

“Former Fire Chief Young said if this saves just one life, and the fact that that happened in our fire station here, Station 1, is just a tremendous victory for the City of Hobbs, in our county as a whole, is a tremendous victory,” Doporto said.

The baby box is the second in the state of New Mexico. It is a climate-controlled incubator that immediately sends out alerts when it has been opened. It was dedicated in May, a year and a half after a Hobbs teen made national headlines for throwing her newborn baby into a large trash bin.

“With the negative press in New Mexico regarding the three infants that were illegally abandoned, this little boy, whether his mom knew this or not, is bringing hope back to Hobbs,” John Wickersham, the assistant fire chief in Española, New Mexico, said.

The first baby box installed in New Mexico was in Española. Wickersham is a first responder there, and a volunteer for the “Safe Haven Baby Boxes” nonprofit, which is working to get the life-saving devices nationwide.

State Senator David Gallegos is leading the way in New Mexico, working to get them in every county. He says the ability to stay anonymous while using the box is crucial.

“If we don’t protect that, there’s no reason for them to come to the safe haven box. The fear is what puts these babies into trash cans. The safe haven boxes are supposed to give them security,” Gallegos said.

Since the baby was found safe and healthy, with no signs of abuse, the state is not investigating the incident further. The child is now in the custody of New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department.

Under the New Mexico Safe Haven for Infants Act, you can bring your baby, up to 90 days old, to any Safe Haven site in New Mexico without fear of being criminally charged for child abandonment.

Hobbs city leaders want people to know the baby box works and that it is available any time. Communications Director Meghan Mooney also wants this parent to know they did the right thing in making this tough decision.

“There is no judgement and no shame from those of us involved in this process. And we would like to give our sincerest thanks to this family, as they hope for a better life for this child,” Mooney said.

Mooney says the child will not be given a name until he is adopted, and the City wants that family to feel free to name him whatever they like.

Gallegos says the next baby box is being dedicated in Belen, New Mexico in October. He says Portales, Carlsbad and Roswell are also considering it.

This baby boy is the 36th surrendered in a “Safe Haven Baby Box” in the nation.

Right now, there are no boxes like this in Texas, but police stations, fire departments and churches are also designated safe havens for children.