For Chelsey, the shock of finding out she was expecting so late into her pregnancy played a major role into her decision to opt for Save Haven.
"I knew right away I didn't want to keep the baby," she said. "A baby was never in the picture. I didn't have a second thought."
After reaching out to Safe Haven, she spoke with Burner and a volunteer named Damien. They guided her on how to eat healthy and take care of herself and her preborn baby, and they were there with her when she was induced at 40 weeks.
"It was definitely a scary experience," Chelsey said. "I don't think I could have done it without them. They were there for me after Chase was born. At the time, I didn't want the baby in the room with me just because I didn't want to develop a bond, but I ended up keeping him in the room with me feeding him, changing him, taking care of him. That's when I became attached, which was something I didn't want to do."
Chesley didn't think she had any other choice than to give up her baby. When it came time to say goodbye to her son, Chelsey wrote two letters: one to him and another to his adoptive parents. Burner and Damien stayed with her the entire time.
"At the hospital, I was watching her with him and we were trying to support her, and she was just crying, very tearful while she was taking care of him feeding him, changing the diapers," Burner said. "So, I asked her, 'Do you think you want to keep him? You have this choice.' She was really set that she couldn't give him the life she wanted to. But it seemed like she could, just watching her, but she was dead set.
"So the next day when I received that call saying she wanted him back, it was just a matter of 12 hours, I said 'I'm on my way to church. I want you to think about what this means for your life. I tried to prepare her for what that would look like."
Chelsey hung up the phone and spoke with her mother, who assured her she would do everything she could to help. Soon, the wheels were put in motion to reunite mother and child.
"Chelsey's situation is very special," Burner said. "Mothers usually cannot come back and get their babies. The premise of the Safe Haven law is confidentiality and the intent to never return for the newborn."
After a battery of meetings and a Department of Child Safety review, Chelsey and baby Chase were reunited. By the time Chelsey brought Chase home, she still hadn't told her immediate family she'd been pregnant—let alone given birth.
"My step dad didn't find out until I brought him home on Monday, and he didn't believe me at first," she said. "I have a brother who just turned 18. He didn't believe me as well. But he's been here with full support. He helps me with Chase with entertaining him. He's the best uncle Chase could ask for. He's there for all of us."
Chase, now 15 months, and Chelsey now live with her parents, where she's geared down to working just one job outside the home, with plans of going on to college next fall. Two months after Chase was born, his father came into his life, and he's been there ever since.
With her truly unique story, Chelsey is also highly motivated to spread the word about Safe Haven laws, as well as the National Safe Haven Alliance whose leaders were there when she needed them most.
"There is an option out there, especially when you're too scared to be able to go through an adoption knowing that you have your name down on paper," she said. "That's what scares so many young mothers to know that you have to put your name down. There is nothing but love and support from Safe Haven.
"Throughout the pregnancy and after, they were in constant contact. I couldn't have asked for anything more from them. You can find that support within others who do not judge you for the decisions you're making."
To find a Safe Haven resource in your area, call this number: