Child Abandonments Surge in Nebraska

This is scary: give people the option of dropping their children off at a local hospital, no questions asked, and people will take it. Nebraska has had 35 children of all ages dropped off in hospitals since they passed a “safe haven” law this past summer, meant to prevent infants from being abandoned unsafely. Yesterday, the Nebraska legislature voted to limit the age of children acceptable for drop-off to 30 days after birth.

CBS News investigated some of the dropping-off parents and found that many were struggling with unmanageable and violent behavior from their children. Here is a link to the full story.

As a clinical social worker, it doesn’t entirely surprise me. It is clear that some parents really don’t know what to do to help their children and have struggled with them for so long that they are ready to give up, especially if they think there might be a better option out there provided by the state. Also, you have to wonder if the sinking economy and the pressure from shrinking budgets to limit mental health services are also factors in these situations.

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10 responses

  1. Kiersten, since social workers are supposed to monitor troubled families with home visits and investigations, and instead the troubled families are coming forward before something violent happens, why would the state want to shut this down? It’s a shock that people are that desperate, but would it be better if they kept the kids home when things are that bad? What do you think?

  2. I wouldn’t want to discourage people from coming forward to prevent violence, but it was the issue of the law allowing “no questions asked” for the family — sounds like basic anonymity and no expectation of providing a history and working to fix the problem. While this might be okay for infants (although still not desirable), I can see why it would be a bad idea to let families have the option of walking away without doing what they can to make things better.

  3. The Heartland of America? Or perhaps the Heartlessland of America… I am not one who favors the legislation of morality, but maybe I need to adjust my points of view. Have we as a society become so morally bankrupt that without batting an eye we can leave our children at a local hospital, with no legal obligation, no medical records, no medical histories, no sense of worth? Five, ten, fifteen years down the road can we reasonably expect these children to emerge from this nightmare unscathed? Whole? And what of their children? The ramifications of this ill-conceived idea could play out over the course of decades, generations. This “Safe Haven” is anything but.

  4. Speaking as a victim of child abuse, I will tell you that the child’s chances could far exceed the potential demise of their health, safety and welfare. There are many parents that choose not to give up their property right to their child because it’s about power. When in fact the parents don’t want the child around bothering them and vaccuming the $$$$. It goes without saying the child is the reason for all the bad happening and thus, some parents want to abandon them. Well, I for one, would have taken on the challenge of doing so at a young age. I know many whom have adopted and loveling wanted those children so bad, they were made to feel special. Of course there’s those that are sexually, verbally and physically abused.

    The way I see it, if you momma or daddy don’t want you/can’t take care of you…then you’re already in a bad situation ~ why wouldn’t you take a chance on something. The fact that Social Workers, Speech Pathologists, Guidance Counselors are all running on double to triple caseloads and there is no logical way with that in mind to adequately see Mr. and Mrs. Smith are overdose drugging their 4 year old which supposedly has ADD and they kill her.

    I find this very frustrating to make others whom have not had real exposure to the tortures of Mom who hates me, and critics blame everyone and say stay at whatever cost together.

    I don’t buy it. If they are feeling safe to give the kids away that they are abusing or have the potential to, I say let it be and there are many parents going to China and Russia looking for kids – there are plenty right here.

  5. Most of these children that are having problems with are from the families that have abusive Parents either verbally, sexually, or physically. Most of these Parents are dysfunctional and that is why the children are dysfunctional at some level. In most of these cases involved the parents either have a alcohol or drug problem and/or both and are not fit to be parents of any children.
    When these children are dropped off at a Hospital the state should remove them from the parent’s custody and thoroughly investigate the living conditions at that home and the parents with unplanned visits to that home at any time to see and check on the children that are there and remove them if they are being abused. The Parents ought to be brought up child endangerment charges at the least if they are in any way endangering those children.

  6. Just a word in response to Richard.

    No, we have not “become” so morally bankrupt. Back in the 19th Century, when everyone was a Real Christian, and God was part of our public discourse, and people prayed regularly in schools, at gov’t functions, and just about anywhere else, society was much, much more calllous about taking care of the unfortunate.

    In those days, children were abandoned regularly. Or orphaned frequently. They simply grew up on the streets, without anyone to care for them. Unless they were lucky enough to get sent into one of the hellish orphanages so wonderfully immortalized by Dickens.

    It was only after we became more secular, until after we took prayer out of public schools and at gov’t functions that society became much more concerned about the welfare of the unfortunate. At least, that’s what we were doing until the Real Christians (ask ‘em–they’ll tell you) who pray ostentatiously while stealing everything that’s not nailed down tried to take over and send us back to the “Good Old Days” when kids–and the poor in general– had the decency to starve on the streets without expecting a handout.

    Oh, and if you want to see a real sense of entitlement–check out videos of the CEOs of GM and Ford in front of Congress the other day. Imagine, they’re willing to take as little as half of their over-inflated salaries to make things right.

    That’s what they told Congress, after flying in on their lavishly appointed corporate jets. Can’t fly commercial, after all. That’s for peasants.

  7. Klaus,
    If I may stray from the secular for just a moment…
    “You’re preaching to the choir”. I am aware of the advances our secular society has made in the treatment of those incapable of defending themselves. Perhaps instead of using the expression “become so morally bankrupt”, I could phrased it as “…revisit our morally destitute past”. Words…
    Craig,
    I agree that there needs to be a level of accountablilty
    for the parents of these children, they cannot be allowed to “skate” in these cases. In this uncomfortable post 9/11 world a pocketbook or backpack left unattended outside a hospital would hasten a call and response from hazmat/police/fire/etc.., but a child left on the curb at a hospital in Nebraska raises nary an eyebrow.

  8. Sometimes we can look at our own families and see what is so easy to talk about at a remove from the situation.
    My father,who would’ve been 95 now,had a cousin who got pregnant out of wedlock back in the day and her parents didn’t know because they had little heat and she walked around with a coat on.Her sister delivered the baby in secrecy when she was 15 and they took the baby to a Jewish orphan society.The baby grew up into an executive in the tv industry and when she was 46 began to serach for her family.It took her 11 years and she met them and explained that she never married or had children because she always thought she was abandoned due to hereditary disease.Her mother was deceased,but strangely enough the sister who acted as midwife was alive and living about a mile away from her.
    My first cousin who is now thankfully dead was a career criminal and psychopathic personality who abandoned his wife and two baby daughters.The mother couldn’t deal with two kids for some reason and since she is a Mohawk Indian gave one of them up for adoption to relatives on the Conawagha(sp?)reservation.The two sisters,thanks to ignoramuses in my family grew up with no knowledge of each other.Finally in their thirties,they learned of each other,but having grown up in totally different environments and having much different paths in their lives,they were never able to establish a relationship.
    What’s the point of these stories?That children aren’t “fire and forget” missiles.I don’t mind spending tax dollars to help families remain together.Maybe what they need is accesible,but they never get to find out it’s there.
    However,the safe haven idea is preferable for infants if the alternative is a dumpster.

  9. Hey Joe, happy thanksgiving. when i was in nursing school we had a project on safe havens, and what you describe is exactly the reason laws were made to allow a woman to drop off her infant in a safe place without fear of going to jail for it.
    i have a lot of adoption in my husband’s family, and i support anything that makes it easier for women who choose adoption and families that adopt. it’s a brave choice and can benefit everyone.
    shame and secrecy leave young women vulnerable. all our children deserve to have age-appropriate sex education, assertiveness training in how to say no, and access to contraception when they are older.

  10. Happy Thanksgiving Nancy.As to your last paragraph-yes,yes,and yes.

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