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Another Nebraska “safe haven” abandonment

Most of us at one point in time have considered giving our children ?back? to wherever they came from. A few parents I know have actually threatened their irritating teenagers or toddlers with such a punishment.

In Nebraska, parents of 35 children have done just that.

The idea is to reduce infanticide. Every state in the US has a type of safe haven law under which parents can leave their newborns at a hospital or police station, no questions asked. Though age limits vary, fifteen states only allow ?safe haven? until the baby is 3 days old. But Nebraska?s law, passed this July, has no age limit. And some parents have seen the light.

Last night, a 5-year-old boy was taken to a medical center. He is number 35 (compare that to New Jersey, which has only had 37 surrenders since 2000), and he is not the oldest child to be abandoned. The same day, a 17-year old girl and her 14-year old brother were also given to the state. The girl left before authorities could arrive. But that?s not the half of it (literally). There have been other siblings groups, including other teens. One day, an overwhelmed widowed father brought in NINE children, between the ages of 20 months and 17 years. Grandparents have brought in kids. So have people from out of state.

Unless the children have been abused physically, their parents cannot be prosecuted under this Nebraska law. So now, rather than scared teen moms dropping off babies in the middle of the night, there are parents who are just sick of their kids. No questions asked.

Nebraska?s director of Health & Human Services, Todd Landry, says, “We need to get back to the intent of the law?the protection of newborns in immediate danger of being harmed.” Ya? think?

These kids have no physical scars?yet. But most states? foster care systems are sadly overburdened and abuses occur. And I?ll bet all these kids who are old enough to know what?s up will develop some serious emotional issues.

I am actually in favor of the safe haven laws that allow newborns to be placed in state custody. I have always been an advocate of early adoption, and feel that most foster care cases could be eliminated if parents who are incapable for whatever reason would willingly surrender their children to loving adoptive homes at birth.

(But even with all of these well-intended laws, and legal access to abortion, babies are still being thrown away, right here in the US. In Maryland, this autumn, a one day-old baby was left to die in a field.)

I know there are a lot of different issues here. Back to the main one. Nebraska legislators are apparently going to revisit the law. I hope they restrict the safe haven for abandonment to newborns. What do you think?


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