Monday, September 29, 2008


The casualties pile up in Nebraska.

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:

I don't want anything to happen to kids like it happened to me."

See, child abandonment is so bad, even a kid gets it. Unfortunately, politicians don't.


ADDENDA: As I was finishing this entry, I received a breakdown of cases. Go here to read details on 11 dumpees. (Some may not agree with other news reports.) These kids who have been dumped into the "safe haven" grinder have already suffered abuse, neglect, and abandonment from those they should trust most. Now they suffer more at the hands of the state.

Every child abandonment is a failure of the state.



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nebraska’s dump law, in the past 16 days 16 legalized child abandonments

Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment law went into effect July 18th, 2008. 73 days ago.

The first two kids dumped in Nebraska under the new law, (over the weekend of Sept 13-14) a tween and a teen, were abandoned just over two weeks ago.

Over the past 16 days, 16 kids have been abandoned. (Yes including the sad case of the father who abandoned 9 at once.)

Nebraska legislators should be ashamed.

Speaking as an adoptee coming from a sealed records state, I have no way of knowing whether I was abandoned or spent time in foster care of not, but what I do know is that kids, particularly minors are going to internalize this and live with the Nebraska’s legislators’ social experimentation for the rest of their lives.

At least one story over the past few weeks pointed out that a counselor working with a dumped kid said the hardest part was for the kid to understand that this wasn’t their fault.

Kids are not inanimate objects. Kids are not things to try a policy out on and if it doesn’t work, leave those directly affected to deal with their (state created) ‘personal problems’. Only to head back to some mythic drawing board to ‘tweek’ these laws and try again, as if do-overs don’t matter. Dump bill 2.0 is not going to fix the problems inherent to any dump bill. It will only to subject the next batch of kids to the next bad batch of legislation. The kids can’t walk away from the consequences. Subjecting them to this unnecessary level of trauma is unconscionable.

Kids are not legislative lab rats.

Kids deserve better than abandonment.

If Nebraska abandonments are primarily going to be used as a state mediated way to plug families into support systems, (which should not be faith-based non-profits), then cut out the abandonment step. Make access to genuine support available long before things escalate to the point of child abandonment.

Do not put kids through this emotional ordeal, (nor ever even possibly,) require parents surrender the parental rights to gain access to help.

No state should be in the business of actively encouraging child abandonment, ever.

And yet today that’s precisely where we stand. All 50 states shamefully abandoning all basis of best practices in child welfare, adoption, and genuine concern for the kids as actual individuals and instead telling parents the answers to their problems lies in abandoning their children.

Yes, in time I will get to other posts, filled with links and details and quotes and all that important stuff, but for this one singular moment, this is a post without citation. This is a post purely about expressing rage.

What Nebraska legislators have done in their mad rush to pass SOMETHING is fuck over 16 kids.

It’s past time to stop. What they have done is fundamentally wrong. How many more kids are going to have to endure these political schemes?

These were parents who needed access to services, but not at the cost of even potentially losing their children. Not at the cost of putting any child through this. The ‘cost’ of linking up with what support may or may not be available must not be a kid wondering why ‘mommy doesn’t love them anymore?’ (Enough so as as to abandon them at a designated dump site.) The assumptions in that are all wrong, but the scars are real.

‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy’ in reality, if these past two weeks are any indication, often loves the kid fiercely, but in the end, feels they have no other alternative than to utilize the dump law.

Child abandonments are evidence that the ’system’ is failing these families.

When a child is dumped it is no ’save’, it is evidence that the system didn’t work, so much so that someone felt this was all they had left.

Dumps ’save’ nothing for these children. They break trust. The trust between parents and children and between citizens and the state.

Nebraska can do better. All 50 states can do better.

Child abandonment is evidence of a severely broken system. Passing the hard effects of that down to children, those least able to cope with such is nothing less than a cowardly shirking of duty. It is the ugly admission that some people feel the problems are simply ‘too big’, and rather than tackle them, they leave kids to deal with the consequences, personally, as best they can.

Dump laws are intrinsically bad for kids. They are intrinsically harm based.

It’s time to stop mumbling about the possibility of coming up with ‘new and improved’ ways for the state to encourage child abandonment and instead realize that there is no such thing as a ‘good’ child abandonment law.

Child abandonment is never a ’success’, it is nothing to be cheered, let alone promoted.

Every Child dump is evidence of things gone horribly wrong, of broken systems, of desperation, of regret, and of the state failing its families and children.

Now that we’ve seen the raw face of legalized child abandonment, and what it does to kids, be they 18 or infants, it’s time to strip these abominations out of our states.

Repeal them now.

Nothing less than full repeal.

Friday, September 26, 2008


NOTE: I am at, of all appropriate places, the annual NCFA conference in Washington. I've bailed out of the last 2 sessions to get something up about the Nebraska kid dump fiasco. I'm checking of the hotel later today, and will be back with more, and to add/fix some links and don't have time to add right now.

To date 14 children have been dumped into hospitals and police stations (not a legal dump spot) under Nebraska's "safe haven" law." None are newborns, the targeted "beneficiary" of such laws.The kids left in Nebraska "safe havens" have mostly been teenagers. On Wednesday, a father left off 9 siblings at the Creighton University Medical Center ER.

Here is a brief run-down.

September 1: Boy 14 (left by Omaha police station)

September 13: Boy 11 ( left by grandmother (another report says mother) at Immanuel Medical Center, Omaha); Boy 15 (left by guardian aunt at Bryant Medical Center West, Lincoln)

September 20: Girl, 13 left by mother at Immanuel Medical Center Omaha)

September 24: 9 siblings, 1-17 (left by father at Creighton University Medical Center ER)

But...but....that's not what we meant!

Backpedaling Cornhusker politicians seem to forget what they passed:

Section 1. No person shall be prosecuted for any crime based solely upon the act of leaving a child in the custody of an employee on duty at a hospital licensed by the State of Nebraska. The hospital shall promptly contact appropriate authorities to take custody of the child.

According to Sen. Pete Persch in an August 15, 2008 article in, the only way Nebraska "safe haven" pimps could get their bill passed was to expand the already crazy template of newborn abandonment to an even crazier law to legalize all child abandonment:

State Sen. Pete Pirsch, whose compromise amendment eventually became the law, said using the broad language was intentional, because several senators felt strongly that the safe haven protection needed to be extended to all children.

Unaware that language has consequences Pirsch continued to bray on:

In my opinion, the need to pass a safe haven bill outweighed the need for perfect language,” “The risk to babies’ lives far outweighed the possibility of a few inconvenient circumstances with older children.
Here's some stuttering quotes from the bozos who passed this law and are now scratching their heads.

Senator Ray Aguilar:
Teen mothers were hiding the fact that they were pregnant and there were situations where they would dump their baby off in a dumpster and the baby would die. That was the intent of the law; to try and protect against that.

And then he forward pedals:
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.

Senator Lowen Kruse:
It is not designed for 11 year olds or 15 year olds. And the legislature is going to have to go back in and change that a bit.

Sen. Vickie McDonald:
We discussed the possibility of something like this happening, but we did nothing to address it thinking possibly it wouldn't happen.

Sen. Brad Ashford:
I would have expected an infant case, probably more than I would a 15-old. If it does save a child, then it's worth it obviously. this is a new law. I'm sure we will have some data on what happened in these two case(s) (sic) and then we'll have t watch it over the next several months to see if it raises to the level of abusing the system."

Sen. Tony Fulton:
If word gets out that you have an unruly children, or that when you have unruly children, you can just drop them off and be clear of any responsibility, that's a problem."

And, of course, the Nebraska law' sponsor Sen. Arnie Struthman:

This was never the intent of the bill.

People are leaving them off just because they can't control them They're probably in no real danger, so it's an easy way out for the caretaker.

We really opened a can of worms. We have a mess.

This is a situation that I felt could possibly be coming. I didn't realize it would happen this quick.

Voices for Children, the child advocacy organization that remained neutral on the safe haven bill, now claims they feared the Nebraska scenario:

Omaha World Herald: "This is what we feared," said Kathy Bigsby Moore, executive director for Voices for Children of Nebraska. "It appears this law has now created a new front door to the child welfare system."

When the bill went into effect, Sarah Ann Lewis, VFC's policy coordinator told the press:

We hope the intent of the law, which is to be in the best interest of children, is followed, but we're not sure whether or not this is the best-designed policy to do that," We'd rather see mothers use the services already in the community, like adoption or counseling, instead of abandonment."

Safe Haven advocates have remained suspiciously quiet. I understand Tom Atwood discussed the issue of teen dumping last week for Nebraska Public Radio, but so far I've been unable to find a reference to his appearance. Tracey Johnson of the National Safe Haven Alliance says "We don't endorse the way it was done." I have been unable to find any statements from big dump industrialists Tim Jacard, Dawn Geras, and the Morriseys.

NOW is absolutely now the time to demand repeal of "safe haven" laws in all 50 states. Nebraska politicians are talking about calling a special session to "tweak" their abomination. That's not good enough. Ditch this thing now.

Those of us who have opposed baby dumping from the start warned that this would happen. That newborns, under the paranoia of dumpster and death, would be the first and that the age of dumpees would scoot up. Some safe haven advocates have even feared the result of their own good deeds. LA County Supervisor Don Knobe, for instance, one of the strongest "safe haven" supporters in the country, has refused to support an increase in the age time frame of abandoned infants in California and even lobbying against an increase.

Since 1999, we have seen "safe haven" laws go from a supposedly "rare" emergency child custody law to a child welfare law, and now an unruly child law.

This needs to stop right now, and the best place to start is Nebraska.

Please go to Baby Love Child for a wonderful series of analytical articles on Nebraska.

Shame on Nebraska--When "we told you so" barely begins to scratch the surface

Nebraska Dump Law: Just how deep does this rabbit hole go?

Nebraska, 11 dumps in 24 hours

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nebraska Dump Law, just how deep does this rabbit hole go?

Or, to mix my metaphors, pull a thread, any thread… .

As always, what should take ten minutes to blog, doesn’t. Taking a minute or two to follow up on some of the links out of any given news article tends to lead deeper and deeper.

It’s not bad enough that Nebraska has become the official national dumping ground for children (up to age 19) whose parents or guardians no longer care to care for them, nope, now as we get a rare peek at the system the dumped kids go into the picture becomes clearer still.

Rather than the state, which has made collection of said little dumplings possible, dealing with the aftermath of the events it set in motion, instead, once the kids are dumped they are outsourced entering into private and non-profit structures for likely ‘reformative therapies’ or redistribution. In essence, the state of Nebraska makes the whole mess possible, then hands off the day to day dealing with the kids to a private non-profit entity.

So by way of ‘a thread’ to pull on, let’s start here, Neb. Law Lets Parents Dump Kids Of Any Age (& see video on left side of page.)

Mere days after the first two Nebraska dumps (two boys aged 11 and 15) we now have two more to report, a 13 year old girl left at a hospital over last weekend and a 12 year old boy who was abandoned at a police station. The latter being important as Police stations are NOT designated dump sites under Nebraska law. Thus the Mother who dumped the boy is now facing charges in civil court (I will blog about that separately, later.)

So the Nebraska dump total is four kids in under a month none of which are under the age of 11.

Shame on Nebraska. Time to dump legislators, not kids.

Apparently Nebraska being the adolescent abandonment capital of the United States is just fine by some legislators:

Neb. State Sen. Brad Ashford says he’s “not surprised,” but has no regrets about the law.

Do these legislators not understand that the state encouraging child abandonment is an act of betrayal of its responsibilities towards some of its most legally vulnerable and politically disadvantaged citizens?

Why, pray tell is Nebraska insistent upon making it as easy as possible to rid oneself of one’s child?

Shouldn’t states instead be making it more difficult to abandon children?

Apparently not.

Reading down through the article another important tiny detail caught my eye:

Kids who are dropped off are brought to an organization called Project Harmony for evaluation, Kauffman explains.

So, by way of pulling a bit more on the thread and continuing to watch the proverbial sweater unravel, we find Project Harmony is a nonprofit, designed to work in partnership with the state. Under normal circumstances, it specializes in dealing with kids in circumstances of sexual and physical abuse and neglect.

Abandoned kids are going to be dealing not with issues of incest or sexual molestation, but with a different sense of profound betrayal, that those closest to them, often parents or other relatives in essence getting rid of them permanently, ending all legal claim to parenting or guardianship responsibilities. (Perhaps after the initial shock wears off, they may also turn their anger towards the state for making such not only possible, but easy.) I know of no program anywhere that specializes in the feelings those kids (up to age 19, remember) are going to be dealing with.

Issues of sexual abuse and legalized abandonment are worlds apart. Trying to adapt programs specializing in the former to occasionally deal with an abandoned kid coming through will only serve to increase the kid’s sense of isolation. Further, I can think of few things more isolating than taking a dumped 15 year old and putting him a room full of stuffed Tiggers and Winnie the Poohs, prior to enduring an interviewing process. As the abandoned kids enter the system one by one, they will have no ‘peers’ to decrease their sense of isolation, square pegs in round holes manufactured for someone else.

The bottom line remains, there are no facilities for dumped teens because until Nebraska did something unbearably stupid, legalize teen abandonment, such was not actively ENCOURAGED by any state.

But sliding the dumpees over to Project Harmony serves another purpose as well. The older dumps are being reframed (just as they were being before the legislation passed) as being ‘at risk of child abuse.’ The false notion/marketing took on the theme that dumping the kids of any age was critical as it would ‘prevent abuse.’ Is it any wonder then, that the initial dumpees under the new law are being passed off into a system that focuses on dealing with abused children? Doing so reinforces the false mythology and enables the lie of these kids as ’saved’ to go forward, despite the fact that clearly what little of the stories of these kids we’ve seen in the media tell a very different story.

These were not kids in ‘danger’ their lives were not ’saved’ by being dumped. They were kids their parent or guardians were exasperated with, and refused to deal with any longer. There was no hitting, there was abandoning, an abuse no doubt many of these kids would consider far worse than any hitting.

But the mythology overrides, so off into the land of abused kids and Pooh bears they go.

Where there is no genuine harm or genuine risk, mythologies of potential risks to be ’saved from’ preventatively are created, so that every dumped child can be reclassified a ’save’.

To get a feel for the overwrought emotionalism ( & overt religiosity) Project Harmony is apparently willing to utilize, wander over to their media page and click on the Collin Raye Video, “The 11th Commandment,” (though a quick word of caution is in order, those having endured incest or domestic violence may find this video distressing. For that matter, sane people may find the video distressing, just not necessarily in the way the producers intended. Ironic, for an organization supposedly built around the notion that having to retell or re-experience such abuse is to be minimized at every opportunity, it is after all, part of their raison d’etre.)

Project Harmony also has a specific outreach/training focus on Raising Child Abuse Awareness in Faith-based Communities, (not the least bit surprising considering the number of kids who are abused in church or other religious contexts.)

For more of an overview of their program and how interwoven into the community structures Project Harmony is also be sure to see “Speaking of Children” Media Coverage (on the same media page) WOWT’s Heartland Focus. (And don’t even get me started on John Walsh.) As Project Harmony is intentionally co-located with, and interwoven with local state structures they receive:

rental income from Omaha Police Department and Child Protective Services.

It is very intentionally designed to blur the lines between state structures and private non-profit entities, envisioning such as a “partnership”.

Looking more closely at Project Harmony, on its purpose page, we find a list of “partner agencies,” one of which is Child Saving Institute.

Ok time to give that thread another yank and watch the sweater unravel further still. So what’s the “Child Saving Institute?” Well to quote one paragraph from their history page:

Child Saving Institute can trace its origins in the Omaha community to 1892 when Rev. A.W. Clark realized there was more need to help neglected, abandoned children then the men and women he intended to reform. Due to the hazards of pioneer life, epidemics, and poverty, many children were left in need of parental care. With the help of his wife, Sarah, Rev. Clark admitted the first child, a small seven-year-old girl, to the Boys and Girls Aid Society, which he soon changed to the Child Saving Institute. In 1911, with the help of a $25,000 pledge from George Joslyn, the entire Omaha community celebrated the agency’s move to a debt-free, state-of-the-art orphanage. For the next 65 years the agency provided services from that facility including a safe haven for abandoned children, adoption, and a home for unwed mothers.

Well, we’ve certainly come full circle here, haven’t we?

The orphanage and maternity camp of yesteryear still with us in its modern form.

Child Saving Institute, or CSI, maintains many of those same functions, with a program laden with infant adoption, adoption, interracial adoption, fostering, foster adoption, and “pregnancy counseling” (note the block at the bottom of the page, the “success story” result of their “unbiased counseling” is in adoption plan). CSI is ‘one stop shopping, among the services they provide are adoptive parent recruitment and home studies. They are listed among “abortion alternatives” in various directories.

If substance abuse is one of the ‘reasons’ the dumpers dumped the kid, then perhaps Project Harmony will pass the kid along to Child Saving Institute’s Journeys Substance Abuse Treatment program. Agencies accredited through CSI’s program include other non-profits and faith based programs, Catholic Charities for example.

(To gain some useful historical background about the conditions pregnant womyn in Nebraska endured, go take a look at Adoptee grateful for Nebraska Industrial Home. The article also includes a small mention of how in 1953, Child Saving Institute along with the University Hospital, were viewed as a means to pick up the slack when the state finally voted to close the Nebraska Industrial “Home”. Begun in the 1880’s, the Nebraska Industrial “Home” was the first and only state funded maternity camp in the nation at the time.)

Child Saving Institute, has located in a building that formerly housed Women’s Services P.C. clinic, a womyn’s reproductive health clinic that had offered abortions. (Interestingly, CSI also has a Planned Parenthood as a nearby neighbor.)

Finally, as we stand amidst our pile of yarn, contemplating where our sweater (and adoption best practices) went, we return back to the original article, to find what lies at the heart of the matter, the shadow that while constantly present in these dump bills/baby Moses laws one usually only catches fleeting glimpses of, Bill Pierce’s notion of “non-bureaucratic placement”:

Are there alternatives for parents who are having problems with their teenagers at home?

“There are,” Bloom says, “but it’s very difficult. A parent could institute a relinquishment proceeding. But that could take a lot of weeks or even months, a lot of expensive legal bills.

Apparently REAL adoptions are just considered too much of a hassle for some, too much paperwork, too long, too “expensive” for parents to even contemplate.

The instant gratification of washing ones hands of a kid permanently far more desirable.

As to who precisely benefits by such, other than the parents or guardians, and in what ways remains to be fully examined.

The rabbit hole just continues down.


Again, I advocate nothing short of the full repeal of all babydumping/”Safe haven”/baby Moses laws. Kids deserve better than abandonment.

11 dumps in 24 hours

Nebraska has finally realized its in over its head.

They opened the floodgates by passing the most egregious legalized child abandonment law in the country, a law that allowed children up to age 19 to be dumped. The kids can be dumped for any reason, by anyone who has bodily custody of them.

Some of us Bastards wrote at the time what an incredibly bad idea this was, and that it was simply a matter of time before Nebraska found older kids being dumped.

Well, so the past 24 hours have seen ELEVEN kids dumped in Nebraska.

As I wrote in my previous post, Nebraska, like any other state, simply has no facilities nor mechanisms, nor long term solutions to fully deal with what these kids would require. They passed the legislation without building any of the necessary structures to even begin to deal with them.

Now the kids are pouring in and people are left stammering ‘but… but, THAT’S not what we INTENDED!’

All intentions aside, Nebraska now has 11 kids who would not have been abandoned were it not for this ill-conceived legislation.

My policy recommendation, dump the legislators and the legislation, not the kids.

Instead of blogging in detail about all of the events of the past 24 hours, I’m simply going to point readers at these two pieces, UPDATE: 2 More Kids Abandoned; 11 Total In Past 24 Hours (and the video that accompanies it) and this AP piece 9 siblings among 11 kids abandoned under Neb. law, as but two of many possible examples.

Be sure to note this quote from the AP article:

Todd Landry, director of the state division of Children and Family Services, said that in nearly every case, the parents who left their children felt overwhelmed and had decided they didn’t want to be parents anymore. None of the kids dropped off so far have been in danger, he said.

The video in the first piece reiterates, the nine kids, ranging from age 1-17 were not in any immediate danger.

These kids weren’t “saved”, they were dumped.

Abandoned by both their father and the state of Nebraska.

Also be sure to check out this article, Mom Accused After Dropping Off Teen At Police Station. Among the more Orwellian aspects of the dump mentality, we find this lovely little redefinition from the mother in question:

“I hope he knows I love him and I didn’t abandon him. …I hope he knows he can come back home and I want him,”

Clearly even the dumpers have no idea what the legal ramifications of an abandonment under Nebraska’s law (had this actually been one, but she picked a non-authorized site) would mean.

Nebraska has intentionally created a child welfare disaster.

Now legislators want to go back and modify the ’safe haven law’ /baby Moses law/ “baby”dump law, a little like closing the barn door after the horses have left.

There is no ‘fixing’ these laws. Even should it be modified to apply only to “newborns” (define and prove that one…) or kids in ‘imminent danger’ (again proving that one will be no end of tricky) it will STILL deny infants their identity, circumvent all best practices in child welfare and adoption, and create a class of kids relinquished in a ‘paperfree’ manner.

Just because newborns are too young to voice their demand for their own rights doesn’t mean they should be denied them.

There is only one child-centered course of action for Nebraska to take, full repeal of their child dump law.

Passing this initial travesty was shameful, an abandonment of the state’s duties to its children, and has ALREADY resulted in kids hastily dumped into the already overburdened Nebraska foster care system.

Someone get these kids a lawyer, they’ve got one hell of a case.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SHAME on Nebraska!- When ‘we told you so,’ barely begins to scratch the surface

This is the first post in an ongoing growing body of work I have done criticizing Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment laws. You can find the rest of my posts about the (de)evolving situation via my Nebraska tag.


It’s long past time for Nebraska to repeal the worst baby dump law in the country.

Fortunately pencils come with two ends, one of which is for erasing mistakes.

As of Saturday, Nebraska has become the ‘legally dump your teen!’ capital of the United States.

This past weekend exactly what many of us who have opposed Nebraska’s “baby safe haven” law had predicted unfortunately came to pass. (This is yet another of those circumstances wherein I just don’t want to be right.)

Less than two months after the law went into effect, kids over the age of ten were dumped. In separate incidents, the first two kids dumped under Nebraska’s new law were two boys, one age 11, the other age 15, both were “(baby) safe havened” at Nebraska hospitals.

Clearly “Baby safe haven”, in Nebraska at least, is terminology gone null and void. While baby imagery abounds from the insipid little ducky on the safe haven Nebraska myspace page to the smiling youngster’s faces on the National Safe Haven Alliance page or their signs,

the latest unsmiling dumpees faces are instead, those of tweens and teens. (But then, it’s kinda hard to get a teen’s head held cutely in the palm of a hand… .)

Last July, Nebraska’s insane dump law went into effect, allowing anyone having physical custody of a “child” (up to age 19, one hell of a redefinition of “child!” and how in the heck does one ‘have custody’ of a 18 year old anyway?) to legally abandon said “child” at specified drop off sites.

Those of us who have opposed dump laws from back in the days of the nation’s first, (in Texas under then Governor Bush, then called a “baby Moses law,”) were quick to point out that Nebraska’s dump scheme would inevitably, sooner or later, result in teens and pre-teens being dumped, likely by ‘overwhemed’, or “economically disadvantaged” adults. Well, sure enough, less than two months in, guess who shows up at the hospitals as Nebraska’s first dumps?

Meet Nebraska’s newest ‘precious little dumplings’, via an article entitled Unruly juveniles given up under ’safe haven’ law out of Monday’s Omaha World Herald,

The 2-month-old law was used twice Saturday, both times by people leaving misbehaving adolescents with whom they could no longer cope.

An 11-year-old boy was dropped off Saturday afternoon at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha. A few hours later, a 15-year-old boy was left at Bryan LGH Medical Center West in Lincoln.

Both boys are now in the custody of the State Department of Health and Human Services.

Which is to say neither of these dumped kids were ever in any danger of being killed by those who had custody of them, the usual superficial justification for baby Moses laws nationwide. No kids lives were saved by these dumps.

These were nothing more than ‘good-riddance’ dumps, dumps that finally cut to the core, saying far more about those dumping the kids, and the state that enables such, than about any of the pretenses any of these laws are enacted under.

Now, where do you suppose the idea to dump at least one of the two kids came from? Why a ‘helpful’ “counselor” of course!

The aunt said that the boy had behavioral problems and that a counselor had suggested that she take him to the hospital under the safe haven law.

This is what happens when dump laws get woven into the fabric of ’support’ services. Can’t deal with the 15 year old you have legal custody of? No problem, just get rid of him, Nebraska will be happy to take said kid off your hands.

One really has to question the credentials of any “counselor” whose ’solution’ to dealing with a teen with ‘behavioral problems’ is to legally abandon the kid, legally relinquishing all custody of said child. Really think about that, the ‘counselor’s’ ’solution’ was to say ‘get rid of the kid once and for all.’ The Aunt went along with the advice. Just how was the ’safe haven’ law presented to her? Was it sold similarly to how many parents have lost children to adoption, as merely a ‘temporary break while you sort things out’?

Reporters on the ground should be asking the basic questions about the string of events that led to the kid being dumped. To date, though, I don’t see that anyone has.

One of the more troubling aspects of the dump laws nationally has been how the information is presented to the prospects, be that via ‘counseling’ or as ‘how to dump a kid’ get woven into school curriculums.

Both of these dumped kids are now ‘fine examples’ of what Bill Pierce, the (now deceased) former head of, and founder of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and early baby Moses law advocate, once referred to as “non-bureaucratic placement(s)”.

The kids get dumped, but unlike traditional terminations of parental rights and potentially eventual adoptions, in the cases of dumped kids, parental rights are simply cut without any of the usual ‘messy paperwork’ or waiting periods to slow the process.

(Now these boys being less than desirable adoption fodder, what with being termed ‘unruly juveniles’ and all, odds are pretty slim they’d be finding a new adoptive home within the week. Young, cute, and perhaps less verbal dumplings on the other hand, are in high demand, with phone calls coming in wanting to adopt almost from the first mention on many local newscasts.)

As for NCFA itself, it is an industry trade group and lobby founded in 1980, as a direct reaction to the 1979/1980 Carter administration’s Draft Model State Adoption Act (DMSAA) which had called for restoring records access by adoptees to their own adoption records. NCFA was created very specifically by industry interests to derail and defeat the open records provisions of the DMSAA.

Similar to NCFA’s reactionary founding, Pierce and NCFA became early promoters of baby Moses laws in the wake of Oregon’s historic Measure 58 (passed in 1998, tied up in legal challenges until 2000), the statewide referendum that restored records access to adult adoptees, as a strategic means of circumventing the open records victory.

After all, how can one have open records when there are no records to get? Baby Moses laws ensure that children, particularly newborns and infants, are relinquished in a ‘paperfree’ manner, and made available almost immediately for fast track adoptions. Nebraska’s law goes further, allowing for those in possession of “children” up to age 19, to abandon them.

To quote the Bastard Nation position piece on legalized abandonments,

Bastard Nation believes that it is no coincidence that Safe Haven laws have been enacted just as the efforts of Bastard Nation and other adoptee civil rights activists have begun to overturn archaic state laws which seal our records from us. One prominent sealed records lobbyist wrote recently that “disappearing privacy rights” [records access] “has led most States to pass Safe Haven laws so that women and their babies have a life-saving option of anonymously taking a baby to a hospital or other safe place.” Safe Haven laws, we believe, are simply a tool to codify secret relinquishment and adoption.


While these programs and campaigns can take on a life of their own, their impetus in large part has come from conservative and highly influential adoption lobbyists such as retired National Council for Adoption President and CEO Dr. William Pierce who for over 20 years has opposed identity rights and records access for adult adoptees. It came as no surprise to us, then, when Dr. Pierce, complaining about “disappearing privacy rights in adoption” wrote last year that Safe Haven laws are a direct response to the successful movement to overturn outdated sealed records laws in the US.[1]

(Footnote , 1 William J. Pierce, “European Court of Human Rights may overturn French law that promised women confidentiality in adoption,” Extra! October 9, 2002, (url to the citation off the now dead site) Dr. Pierce is also the Director of the Richard C. Stillman Foundation for Adoption which has given modest grants to the pioneering Baby Moses Project in Texas and AMT Children of Hope Foundation Infant Burial Fund, a Safe Haven powerhouse in New York State. 990-PF Form, IRS Return of Private Foundation, 2000, 10; Activity Report, The Richard C. Stillman Foundation for Adoption 1996-1999, 10)

Bill Pierce always viewed his baby Moses laws work as crucial to and within the broader context of his anti-abortion work. In short he viewed adoption as a zero-sum-game way of working against abortion. (Pierce was a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute, heading their office in Washington, D.C.) He was also the first national vice president of ‘Democrats for Life’ one can still find a few mentions of his position in places such as this for example.

(All of which is to say, abortion access supportive individuals and organizations who have been misled into supporting baby Moses laws under the false application of the label “privacy’ take note, the real push for such, and ultimately beneficiaries of such laws are NOT those who support abortion access.)

The termination of parental rights via dump takes on important dimensions in at least one of these two Nebraska cases, as the 15 year old was dropped by his Aunt. While the boy’s mother may be dead, the father may still have held some parental rights at the time of the dump,

The 15-year-old was dropped at Bryan LGH off by his aunt, who became the child’s legal guardian after the boy’s mother died. Landry said HHS had helped facilitate the guardianship but did not have an active case.

As for the 11 year old, he was apparently an adoptee, who due to Nebraska’s insipid law, ended up in more or less a ‘returns department’ when his adopters no longer wanted him,

The 11-year-old boy was left at Immanuel by his adoptive mother, who said the boy had some behavioral problems. He had moved here from out of state and had been adopted by relatives. Landry said that HHS had helped the original state with the adoption but that the case is no longer active.

So there you have it, don’t like the kid you adopted? No problem, Nebraska now has a ‘warentee period’ of up to 19 years, wherein dissatisfied adopters can simply dump the no longer desirable child.

‘Fortunately’, the policy applies equally to biological children. No longer want the kid you popped out? Nebraska is your dream destination.

But should we really have expected less than the single most extreme “baby Moses law” in the country from Bill Pierce’s home state of Nebraska, final stop for somewhere between six and seven thousand kids on the orphan trains, the 75 year long (eugenic) child redistribution scheme, and a state where Boys Town is a major tourist destination?

Boys Town, Nebraska 2008 Large

Nebraska had held the proud distinction of having been the final hold out state, the last of all fifty to enact these deplorable bills that circumvent all notions of best practice. In part, precisely because Nebraska has had such a long history with and awareness of forms of child welfare experimentation. With a mere nine years between the first bill in Texas through to the final state to fall, Nebraska, the gutting of traditional child relinquishments was complete, nationwide.

What we have to show for that sorry mess is a 15 year old dumped, as but the latest of a wave of nationwide relinquishments, usually done at least in theory if not in practice, “anonymously” thereby creating a whole new set of ‘legally abandoned’ potential and actual adoptees.

The Nebraska bill had been stalled, until the original provision, limiting the age of the potential dumpee downward towards newborns was changed to the current abomination.

State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he had not anticipated that many older children would be dropped off when he agreed to remove the age limit in the original safe haven proposal.

Other articles such as this from the Daily Nebraskan, Safe haven law raises abandonment concerns shed further light on the thinking, (or lack thereof) at the time,

Arnie Stuthman, a Nebraska state senator from Platte Center, Neb., proposed the bill. He said including older children in the law wasn’t in the original bill, but he “compromised” and added the provision in hopes of preventing child abuse.

Before the bill passed, objections were raised.

The Nebraska Children’s Home Society, ( see for example, this PDF from their web page, and this article, NE Children’s Home Society opposes safe havens) and Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization has tirelessly fought baby Moses laws both in Nebraska (see BASTARD NATION’S SUBMITTED TESTIMONY: OPPOSITION TO NEBRASKA LB 6–SAFE HAVEN 1/19/07) and in state after state.

Perhaps more importantly, go read Marley Greiner’s (The Executive Chair of Bastard Nation) personal blog Bastardette, and her series of posts about precisely this inevitability. Ms Greiner has been tracking Baby dumps (via her personally published “Baby Dump News: A Weekly Chronicle of Baby Abandonment”), and working against the scourge of baby Moses laws/baby dump laws nationwide with Bastard Nation for years now.

Keeping in mind that Nebraska’s baby Moses law took effect July 18th, 08. She saw what was coming and Cassandra-like tried to warn of the new law’s likely effect. Unfortunately her warning fell on the deaf ears of those either convinced that Nebraska’s impending child welfare disaster was either a good thing, or never going to occur.




Also be sure to glance through some of the Bastard Nation materials on babydumps, it’s become positively ‘quaint’ to look back on the days when the fear was that with increasing age windows on dumps, oh horror, TODDLERS might be dumped!

See, as but a few examples,

BN’s position on Legalized Baby Abandonment,

BN’s early statement on Legalized Abandoment Laws from back in 2000,

the BN action alert on such also from 2000

BN opposing the raising of dump ages back in 2004 in this piece, entitled Oh No! Toddler Dumps!

Marley and BN warned over and over of how Pierce’s perverse dream of ” non-bureaucratic placements” and demand for ever rising age limitations would sooner or later result in abandoned teens. Within nine years of the nation’s first dump law(1999) that dark future is here, now. We’ve moved from the legal possibility to an actual “legally abandoned” 15 year old.

While tween and teen dumps may elicit unwarranted ’shock,’ and may even bring Nebraska lawmakers back to revisit the bill (See the Sept 15th AP piece, 2 boys left at Neb. hospitals under ‘haven’ law, in which State Sen. Stuthman and others are quoted as being “open to revisiting the legislation”) the unseen and often unvoiced full horror of the law is that it intentionally encourages legalizes child abandonment AND effectively works to short circuit the fundamental identity rights of adoptees.

The full consequences of which cannot be given first person political voice until the first generation of legally dumped kids reaches the age of majority. The consequences to these kids are dire, if often rendered invisible for the time being.

There is no ‘going back to the drawing board ‘that can ‘fix’ a baby Moses bill, they are to their core harmful to those least able to speak on their own behalf.

There is only one adoptee or kid/eventual adult centered possibility of what to do with legalized abandonment laws, dump them.

Anything less than full repeal only perpetuates the ongoing disaster.


Here are a few other raw sources on the Nebraska Teen and Tween dumps over the weekend,
AP Two boys abandoned under Nebraska’s ’safe haven’ law 9/15/08

The 11-year-old is still at the hospital and the 15-year-old is in an emergency shelter until the courts figure out who will have custody.

Woman Dropped Off 15 Year Old Boy At Safe Haven KLKN

They say the child had no sign of physical abuse so no charges will be filed.

But there are many who feel the law is problematic and say this case only solidifies their concerns.

The executive director of the Nebraska Children’s Home Society, Karen Authier, issued a statement saying:

“This child is old enough to know what’s happening to them, it’s a big concern and we believe there are better solutions.”

Health and human services also released a statement today saying, in this case, this is not what the law is intended to do, it’s for children that are in immediate danger.

11- and 15-Year-Olds Left at Separate Hospitals Under New Safe Haven Law

This piece contains two video segments (See left column)

Lincoln police tell Action 3 News the 15-year-old’s mother is deceased and the father’s whereabouts unknown.