The men at Fire Station No. 1 stay ready for emergencies that cause them to spring into action at the drop of a hat. Three years ago, the call for help was different than their usual fire or medical incident.
They received notice that a baby was going to be dropped off to them under the Safe Haven Law, also known as the Baby Moses Law. The law gives parents who are unable to care for their child a safe and legal choice to leave their infant with an employee at a designated safe place—with no questions asked.
A designated safe place is a hospital, fire station, free-standing emergency center or emergency medical services (EMS) station.
On Jan. 6, 2020, the Cleburne Fire Department received its first baby who was surrendered under the Baby Moses Law.
“We keep baby supplies at the station, so we were prepared, but it’s different when it’s actually happening,” said Lt. Stephen Bicknell. “I grabbed a piece of paper, learned about the child’s medical history and followed the necessary procedures.”
Bicknell went on to explain that the six other firefighters who were there instantly became stand-in dads and all chipped in to help. One of the firefighters who drove the baby to the hospital said it was an emotional time.
“I’d like to think we’re pretty tough dudes,” said Bradly Waldrip. “I looked over at my fellow firefighter as we were driving, and I said, ‘If you lose it, I’m going to lose it.’ My daughter was 4 years old at the time, so I know how tough this had to have been for the baby’s guardians.”
The baby was taken to the hospital, and a foster family took in the baby within 24 hours. The family later decided to adopt the child.
Around the three-year anniversary of that unforgettable evening, the adopted parents reached out to the Cleburne Fire Department to schedule a reunion with the child and the firefighters who helped on that life-changing night.
The remaining firefighters were Lt. Bicknell, Waldrip, Jordan Weaver, Corey Bauman, Daniel Azevedo and Ryan Stewart. They all met with the child and her adopted parents on Jan. 8, 2023.
“I was happy,” said Stewart, a fire engineer. “We usually don’t get closure with our jobs. We didn’t know if we’d ever see her again. For her to be reintroduced to us as a 3-year-old is a gift.”
The firefighters had a great time reuniting with the child and getting to know more about her parents. They noted that this was the best-case scenario and shows what the Baby Moses Law can accomplish.
“The birth parents made the right decision to give the baby a better life, and we don’t judge,” Stewart added. “It saved a child’s life.”
The Baby Moses Project was established to address an alarming increase in newborns being abandoned in perilous places. The mission of the project is to publicize a confidential and safe alternative to newborn abandonment.
More than 170 babies in Texas have been surrendered under Texas’ Safe Haven Law since 2009, according to data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Read more about the law here.