Courtesy Zoey’s family

Firefighters are famous in society for their lifesaving efforts, but it’s not always by pulling people out of burning buildings, as it turns out.

One firefighter was pulling an overnight shift at his station in Ocala, Florida, when he heard an alarm go off. It wasn’t the sign to jump into the engine and rev up the sirens, rather it was the alarm that someone had abandoned a child in the Save Haven Baby Box outside.

Believing it might be a false alarm the man went outside to check, and lying there wrapped in a pink blanket was a little baby girl.

“She had a little bottle with her, and she was just chilling,” he said. “I picked her up and held her. We locked eyes, and that was it. I’ve loved her ever since that moment.”

Her name is Zoey; his name is anonymous for family privacy reasons. As it happened, this firefighter had been trying to have a baby with his wife for a decade without any luck, and he had a feeling she’d be on board with the idea his bursting heart was concocting on that fateful early morning.

However, the protocol for the Safe Haven Baby Box, a device that allows someone to safely and anonymously abandon a child—no questions asked, is that any infants found inside should be taken to the hospital.

The firefighter wrote a note explaining his desire to adopt the little one, attached it to Zoey’s blanket, and turned her over to the hospital.

“I explained that my wife and I had been trying for 10 years to have a baby. I told them we’d completed all of our classes in the state of Florida and were registered to adopt,” he told NBC News. “All we needed was a child.”

His wife cried when she heard the news, and despite his pleas to remain calm, it was January 4th, just 2 days after finding her in the box, that she was at home with them—en route for an official April adoption. The hospital explained that Zoey’s umbilical cord had been tied off with a shoelace.

These baby boxes are present in more than a dozen states and have been used 32 times since their debut not too long ago.

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“The first thing that we want is we want to address the parents who legally surrendered this infant. And right now I’m going to talk directly to her or him,” said Safe Haven Baby Boxes Founder Monica Kelsey, at a recent press conference, explaining that Zoey was the 23rd baby taken care of in this way.

“Thank you. Thank you for keeping your child safe. Thank you for bringing your child to a place that you knew was going to take care of this child. And thank you for doing what you felt was best.”

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There are no national surveys for this, but one adoption information website claims that experts believe between one and two million couples are currently waiting to adopt.

It’s difficult for most people to imagine what it would feel like to leave one’s newborn in a box at 2:00 a.m. in the morning, but it’s an inspiring site to see the comment section on the Facebook post announcing Zoey’s discovery—completely full of compassion and understanding.

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