Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't like your teenager? Go to Nebraska!

Recently Nebraska passed a law allowing parents to abandon their children at hospitals, without fear of prosecution. Last month a father left his nine children at a Nebraska hospital.

Today in Google News was the report of Another child abandoned at Neb. hospital. The child was a 17-year-old boy. There was no details about why the boy was dumped by his parents.

This is the last paragraph of the article:

"If the drop-off is classified as a safe-haven case, he would be the 24th child left at Nebraska hospitals since the law took effect in July. Three have been from out of state." (Emphasis mine.)

Wow.

I wonder if Nebraska will become the mecca for parents with problem children.


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Technorati tags: children, families, parenting

4 comments:

acceptancewithjoy said...

I have been commenting on this issue whenever it comes up on a blog. I am parenting a child with fetal alcohol syndrome whose behavioral problems are creating unbelievable stress in our family. I can almost understand these parents. Almost...

Every state in the nation has a "safe haven" kind of law. They were never really intended for dropping off troubled teens. They were meant to allow women who had infants who felt they couldn't keep the child for whatever reason to drop them off at a hospital instead of leaving them in a field/trash can to die of exposure and starvation. Nebraska's law is unique. In order to get enough support for passage, Nebraska's safe haven law was changed to cover all children.

It is my opinion that all of these laws are bad laws. Let's face it; women have always had more choices when faced with a child she feels unprepared to parent than allowing the child to die of exposure/starvation or raise the child all by themselves. We should have just prosecuted anyone caught doing this. But, we are a nation that want to view criminals as victims.

When I read the stories of these teenagers (most of whom were dropped off because of behavioral problems -- I know at least one has fetal alcohol syndrome) my heart breaks. I think it is terrible for a parent to walk out on their struggling kids. But, the tale is no less sad or tragic when it happens to an infant. Because here is the truth... that infant is going to become an adult adoptee. No one should have their story be that their mother dropped them of anonymously at a hospital somewhere and walked away. And, for the mother... abandonment is a permanent solution to a problem that may well have other solutions. She may be able to parent the child herself and just need help in finding resources. She may feel she needs to place the child for adoption. When a mother places a child for adoption, she is supposed to receive counseling and support. She may opt to create an adoption plan that allows her to have continued contact with a child. For sure the adoptee will have access to more information about his or her past.

I say... get rid of all safe haven laws in all states.

Angela said...

The Nebraska safe haven law was originally only supposed to protect children up to the age of 2, but they changed it because they didn't want to risk children's lives by using an arbitrary age limit, so it became "child" instead. Now that they've seen the unintended consequences, they're getting ready to amend the law to have a 3 day age limit.

Henry Cate said...

Humm... I haven't thought about getting rid of Safe Haven laws. I'd have to think about that a bit more. It do think Nebraska should drop the age range.

The problem of unintended consequences is one of the reasons why I think law makers should go very slow. The recent rush for the bank bailout was scary. I'm sure there will be unintended consequences.

Dana said...

The odd thing is, it is hardly even a "safe haven" law. Authorities have made it clear that investigations aren't over, and a lot of questions are being asked. In one family, the remaining children were taken into custody as well.

The way it is playing out, it seems more like "bait and switch" than it does "safe haven."