According to Nebraska DHHS figures released a couple days ago, on September 24, the same day that 9 siblings were dumped at Creighton Medical Center, an 11 year old boy was kicked to the curb in "Burt/Douglas County" and a news report indicates another boy, 15, was dropped off in Omaha (video). On Sept. 22, an 18 year old "safe havened" himself at a Grand Island hospital. That answers one question some of us had!
DHHS apparently won't count the boy left with the police on September 1, since police stations are not "safe haven" drop-off points.
Here's the tally to date:
September 1: Male 14--left by mother at Omaha police station. Currently in foster care.
September 13: Male 11--left by grandmother--another report says mother--at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha; currently in foster care and partial hospitalization.
September 13: Male 15--left by guardian aunt at Bryant Medical Center West, Lincoln.
September 20: Pregnant female 13 left by mother at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha. Returned to mother--see below.
September 22: Male 18, turned himself in to hospital in Grand Island; too old for foster care, but can receive services.
September 24: 9 siblings, 1-17 (left by father, Gary Staton, at Creighton University Medical Center ER).
- female, 1
- male, 6
- male, 7
- female, 9
- male, 11
- female 13
- female 14,
- male, 15
- male 17
An 18-year old sister who does not live at home was not abandoned. All these children are now in foster care and several relatives have requested custody Background checks are underway here and here. Go here and here for video of home and neighbors.
September 24: Male 11--left at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha.
September 24, Male 15--left by guardian uncle at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha; uncle plans to relinquish guardianship.
Today's Omaha World-Herald has compiled data on the dumpees in the aggregate. I don't know if this data includes off-brand or late dumps.
Some facts about the children:
9 (ages 1 to 17) were from one family. The rest, ages 11 to 15, were dropped off singly.
10 had one dead parent.
1 was orphaned.
4 were being raised by relatives other than parents.
3 have been diagnosed with severe mental or emotional disorders.
While Nebraska's children are "legally" dumped by their parents at an alarming rate under this Draconian law, state legislators sit on their thumbs discounting and ignoring the damage to Nebraska children, families, and communities. In fact, a scan through of the numerous articles and blogs generated in the last couple days, tell us that leggies and their groupies believe that child abandonment is as grand idea as ipods and Blackberrys. (Ill write more about that in the next day or two. I'm traveling tomorrow).
Rep. Ray Aguilar who earlier said:
It does bring light that there are situations out there where people have no other alternatives, and it is probably a good situation that they could take advantage of this
has shown unconscionable and total contempt for Nebraska children, citizens, best practice social welfare...and the state's reputation (you'd think he'd care about at least one). He told KHAS-TV (download the video for the full affect):
It is something we can wait for quite frankly. Because if this is reported well enough and people understand this is not the proper method for them to take and find out what the other avenues that are available to them then maybe this whole thing goes away.
In other words, it is entirely appropriate for the state to encourage child abandonment.
What kind of a rabbit hole have we dropped in to?
To add absurdity on top of absurdity, DHHS now places the blame for "legal" child abandonment on "irresponsible," deadbeat and lazy parents for following the letter of Nebraska's "unique" child dump law, which the state has been bragging about and urging Nebraskans to use since the day it became law.
Today's Omaha World-Herald, offers this nugget (emphasis mine):
Leaders at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services say the cases raise no concerns about problems within the [social welfare] system.
The parents simply decided they did not want to continue on this journey with their kids," said Todd Landry, children and family services director.
He said he doesn't want to minimize the challenges the families face, but said taking a child to a hospital is not the way to deal with those challenges.
The department's initial review of the cases has not turned up problems with the state's system for responding to families in crisis, he said.
He said there has been no indication that the families had been hit by economic troubles, and said most of the children have been covered by the state Medicaid program, which could pay for services.
Apparently, Todd was too busy pointing fingers to catch the news:
Gary Staton on abandoning his 9 kids: "I was with her [deceased wife] for 17 years, and then she was gone. What was I going to do?...We raised them together. I didn't think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn't take care of them."...Staton said he was overwhelmed by his family responsibilities and had to quit his job. He said he couldn't pay the rent or utilities."I was able to get the kids to a safe place before they were homeless," he said.
or to notice that just because a benefit is available, it doesn't mean that it's accessible. (See the Herald-World article, for a rundown of Nebraska's lousy delivery system that leaves the social service needy hanging on the clothes line.)
Landry goes on:
"It's been less an issue of knowing where to turn and more of an issue of 'I simply don't want to do this job,'" he said.
Three parents and guardians said they received information about the law from professionals within the system: a therapist, a hospital social worker and a staff member with a county attorney's office.
Apparently these "professionals" think it's OK to kick around and abandon some of the most vulnerable amongst us: scared, pregnant emotionally, and mentally disordered kids. In no article I've read has there been any indication that the parents and guardians of these dumped kids were lazy deadbeats or irresponsible. They had come to the end of their tether dealing with deeply troubled children--sometimes mentally ill--teens as well as poverty, and had received little or no assistance from the broken child welfare system that claims to be there for them. None understand what a so-called "safe haven" is and were seemingly led to believe that it's a Time Out button to push when the weight of parenthood gets them down. None ,whom I've read about, had any intention of severing ties permanently with their children. They did not want to relinquish parental rights, they did not want their children adopted. They merely wanted help and were told by professionals and state-paid authority figures that the only way they could get help for their kids was to abandon them. If this makes no sense, don't worry. It doesn't.
Todd Landry and the state agency he represents, can't have it both ways. The legislature created this travesty. Politicians and the state advertised to the public that anyone can dump their kid or anybody else's kid at a hospital. But when parents take their wise advise, they're called lazy and irresponsible...or worse.
The harm the Nebraska legislature has caused to Nebraska's children and families nationwide is immense. Families have been destroyed, friendships, neighborhoods, and schools damaged. 17 kids (not including the DYS), who would have remained within their families have been legally abandoned to the long arm of the state. Trust has been broken. Abandonment is one of the worse acts that can be perpetrated against another. I cannot begin to imagine how these dumpees feel stripped of their families, homes, schools, friends, and parents. And now that the barn door is open we can expect to hear, "Watch it or it's off to Nebraska for you,"
In one regard we are fortunate. So far the hundreds of babies dumped into "safe haven" programs have been too young to articulate their anger and fear. Now we can hear the voices of the dumped and abandoned. The pregnant teen who was left at Omaha's Immanuel Hospital on September 20, has returned home. She, and her mother were interviewed by KMTV News. (video also). She told them:
See, child abandonment is so bad, even a kid gets it. Unfortunately, politicians don't.
SHAME ON NEBRASKA