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Firefighter who adopted baby he found in Safe Haven Baby Box appears on TODAY

Savannah Guthrie described the beautiful adoption story as "divine destiny."
/ Source: TODAY

A firefighter and his wife in Ocala, Florida, are sharing their movie-worthy adoption story.

Vincent and Katie, who wish to only be identified by their first names for privacy reasons, appeared on TODAY June 29 with their 6-month-old daughter, Zoey. 

In January, Zoey was placed in a Safe Haven Baby Box at the fire station where Vincent was working an overnight shift. The device allows someone to safely and anonymously surrender a child — no questions asked. When used, silent alarms are triggered to notify emergency responders in the building. 

Baby Zoey as a newborn, shortly after she was left in a Safe Haven Baby Box.
Baby Zoey as a newborn, shortly after she was left in a Safe Haven Baby Box.Courtesy Vince and Katie

Vincent recognized the sound immediately and went outside to investigate. Initially, he thought it was a false alarm, but when he opened the box, there was Zoey staring up at him. She was wrapped in a pink blanket.

“I picked her up — she wasn’t crying,” Vincent told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. “That was it — I was in love with her.”

At the time, Vincent and Katie were desperate to become parents. They had been struggling for more than a decade to have a baby, and were registered to adopt in the state of Florida.

Vincent accompanied Zoey to the hospital for a mandatory examination and handed her over to the medical staff along with a handwritten letter. In the note, Vincent explained why he and Katie wanted to adopt the baby and become her parents.

When Vincent called Katie to tell her about his night, she burst into tears.

“I was like, ‘Don’t get too excited yet,” Vincent recalled while speaking with earlier this month. “My biggest fear was that the note I wrote wouldn’t stay with Zoey and she’d be gone. It was a very stressful few days.”

TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie couldn't resist cuddling Zoey during her June 29 appearance on the show with her parents, Vincent and Katie.
TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie couldn't resist cuddling Zoey during her June 29 appearance on the show with her parents, Vincent and Katie.TODAY

Zoey was placed in the station’s Safe Haven Baby Box on Jan. 2. By Jan. 4, she was home with Vincent and Katie. The adoption was later finalized in April in an emotional Zoom ceremony.

“Before you finalize, anything can happen — and we’d experienced that in the past. So when the judge said, ‘You guys are a family,’ we kind of looked at each other and we’re like, ‘We’re a family! Holy guacamole, we’re a family!’” Katie told Savannah and Hoda. “So that was easily the best day of our lives.”

"That was easily the best day of our lives.”

Katie on adoption finalization

Savannah described Zoey’s adoption story as “divine destiny.”

“God definitely put her in our lives, and gave us the opportunity to adopt her,” Vincent replied. Vincent added that he often keeps Zoey up a little later than he should, just so he can rock her and stare at her a little longer.

“Probably one of my favorite things to do is just watch her,” he said.

Vincent and Katie are forever grateful for Zoey's birth mom, who they have not been in contact with.

“We needed each other,” Katie noted. “And the way we were able to help each other was through that baby box.”

They want Zoey’s birth mom to know the little girl is loved beyond words. That’s the reason they’re sharing their story publicly.

“It’s not about me. It’s not about my wife. It’s not about our journey to have kids. It’s not about me being a first responder. It’s about this beautiful little girl who was given the chance of life, and that she’s been adopted, she’s loved and hopefully her birth mother sees it and recognizes that she did the right thing,” Vincent said in a pre-taped interview. "She doesn’t have to worry anymore. Her daughter’s taken care of and is loved beyond words.”

There are 148 Safe Haven Baby Boxes in the United States, and 31 babies have been safely surrendered, according to the organization’s website. Once authorities arrive, the newborn is removed from the box’s bassinet and immediately taken to receive medical attention, before then being placed for adoption.

Monica Kelsey, founder of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, spoke at a press conference in January, the same day that Zoey was surrendered.

“We want to address the parents who legally surrendered this infant. And right now, I’m going to talk directly to her or him,” she said at the time. “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.”