Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Governor calls for special session- damage via dump law 2.0 set to continue on

Ironically, just as the excrement really hits the fan, I find myself least able to carve out time for more than this bare bones blogging at the moment.

That said, I’ll write what little I do have time for.

Here are the latest sad additions to the Nebraska dump law casualty count:

  • Oct 25th- 12-year old boy from Georgia
  • Oct 27th- 15-year old girl
  • Oct 28th- 17 year old boy and 15-year old girl.

To my count, this brings the total number of kids who have in some way interacted with the dump law to date, whether counted by Nebraska DHHS or not, to 28. (Again see my earlier explanations, here and here, of how I’ve reached this number.)

By way of providing some detail, Marley Greiner on her blog, Bastardette has been picking up some of the Nebraska blogging over the last few days, particularly relating to the GA abandonment:

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Monday, October 27, 2008



Tuesday, October 28, 2008


No doubt she will have more as events unfold.

Then today, Nebraska’s Governor Heineman called for a special session (link opens a PDF) of the currently out of session legislature. (Note that some of these legislators would not be around in January when the regular session begins due to being term limited out.) The session is scheduled to begin Friday November 14th.

The revised version of the dump law, what I’ve been referring to as dump bill 2.0 would limit Nebraska’s dump window to infants three days old or younger.

I’ve already written repeatedly about how a 2.0 bill would fail to address the core problems inherent to all dump laws. Take this, from a post I wrote back on Oct 21 (Nebraska attempts to slam to barn door, only creating a new set of problems) when the “agreement” was initially announced:

As I predicted, Nebraska appears to have decided to go to dump law 2.0, the aged down version. Nebraska will still be encouraging child abandonment, just of kids too young to protect their own interests, or speak about the experience of being dumped for some years.

That does not mean these soon to be aged down dumps are less damaging.

Aging down still does nothing about so many of the core problems with the dump laws, parental rights being violated when one parent dumps and the other is out of the loop, the Indian Child Welfare Act violations, the real needs of families, and most importantly, the needs of the dumped kids themselves.

But aging down will ensure that 18 year gap between when a kid is dumped and when they hit age of majority, thus sparing the legislators, but not the kids.

If all the Nebraska legislators do is age down to version 2.0, they’ve sidestepped many issues of substance relating to the dump laws to do mere superficial tinkering, or as I put it, change the shade of lipstick on the pig.

The pig’s still there. It’s a ticking time bomb, that as more dumps happen under the new rules and the dumped kids grow older, a whole new set of problems are slowly going to become apparent, though odds are, just as in other states, they will be dismissed as ‘personal problems’ not problems inherent to the system the dump laws create.

For those of us who genuinely care about the state of child welfare in Nebraska, and want to see the state cease its encouragement of legalized child abandonment, we now appear to have just over 2 weeks to encourage Nebraska legislators to come to understand the inherent flaws in even an ‘aged down’ version of a dump law, and instead encourage them to embrace the full repeal position.

Nothing less than full repeal of Nebraska’s encouragement of child abandonment will help these kids.

It’s past time to detangle any version of a dump bill from what needs to be a second bill supporting access to for example increased access to mental health care and genuine support for families in crisis.

Repeal the dump law once and for all, then set about doing the difficult job of creating a genuine and meaningful safety net for kids and their families.

Entangling these two separate issues, legalized child abandonment and access to programs for families in crisis is a conflationary tactic. It is absolutely possible to get families in need real help without it ‘costing’ them their family ties or custodial rights. Decoupling the two actually increases the odds of people getting the help they need, as few families are willing to permanently relinquish their parental rights to help a child gain access to the system.

Falsely linking the two only enables child abandonment to continue, causing maximum damage, a lifetime’s worth of damage to these kids, all while riding on the good intentions of those seeking help.

As for the 2.0 infants, they will of course be facing a different set of issues, but will be no less abandoned, at the state’s encouragement. Their parents will also be in crisis, and no dump law is going to offer real solutions for them.

The Nebraska fiasco only exposed what lies at the core of any dump law: desperation and lack of options.

It’s past time to dump the dump laws and instead demand legislators roll up their sleeves and do the real work, building real structures towards prevention and crisis intervention.

Outsourcing Nebraska’s child welfare problems to “faith based” private agencies or “aging down” in a vain attempt to sidestep the issues the older child abandonments raise are not solutions, they’re not even band-aids.

Rather than trying to manufacture “new and better” ways of the state encouraging legalized child abandonment, the state should instead, be tackling the underlying problems that lead guardians to dump the kids in the first place.

As I keep saying, kids deserve better than abandonment.

Mere monkeying with age limits is no “solution.”

As an immediate measure, the legislature needs to repeal the dump law to prevent even further harm be done to still more kids and their families.

Then as a second step, they need to stop looking to whatever next ‘quick fix’ advocates and salespeople of various stripes would like to sell them on, and instead do the real work.

The kids are waiting, will Nebraska legislators step up?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


According to the AP, a father dropped off his 15-year old daughter at Omaha's Immanuel Medical Center tonight. No details until tomorrow. I guess poor Todd Landry, spokesperson for HHS wants to get a full night's sleep. I'll keep you updated.

The race is on now.

Anybody want to start a parlay sheet?

Earlier tonight my local Fox News affiliate ran a story on the Fiasco. Sen. Arnie Struthman, father of this monster, was on saying..get this...we never dreamed this would happen!



Herding cats! That's what the Nebraska Big Kid Dump has turned in to.

Just a few minutes ago, Nebraska HHS announced that a 15-year old girl was dumped off at Creighton University MC. There are no details yet, and news reports don't say any more than the state-issued press release here.

I intended to blog today about the Georgia case. There's some pretty amazing reporting on it in the Atlanta media. Hopefully, that will go up later today.

And honestly, I'd like to write about other things, but this it's important to get this stuff out. Everything we said would happen has come home to roost.

Monday, October 27, 2008


There's a little more information today on Nebraska's latest Big Kid dump.

This morning's Atlanta Journal-Constitution identifies the "desperate mother" as Tysheema Brown, 33, of Smyrna.

No details, though, on how she managed to drive an allegedly uncontrollable kid 1000 miles all by herself. Did she handcuff him? Lock him in the trunk? OD him on Dramamine? Did he arrive in a straight jacket?

According to Lincoln Police Chief Thomas Casady, who has been less than happy with the Nebraska Fiasco, the county attorney’s office will file a petition in juvenile court and a judge will decide whether to keep the boy under state protection or reunite him with his family.

No word if DHHS intends to contact Georgia authorities. It's a sure bet, though, that Georgia officials will get involved as have Iowa and Michigan agencies in those out-of-state cases.

Finally, you'll really enjoy this: a quote from Tim Jaccard, founder of New York's AMT-Children of Hope Foundation and now the president of the National Safe Haven Alliance (I guess Tom Atwood bailed):

When children are older they have the ability to understand what’s going on, and they’re thinking, "Mommy and Daddy don’t want me anymore, so they’re throwing me in a hospital." That’s a psychological blow.

Unlike the squeaky cute clean slates who get thrown in a hospital and are just plain glowy-eyed that they weren't thrown in the dumpster

Does Jaccard really believe that babies and big kids don't share the "psychological blow" of being dumped? That it's only big kids who are traumatized by abandonment?

Baby dump laws and sealed records are part and parcelof the adoption industry: adoption anonymity and the sealed records system. The laws were only legislated when adoptees took back their right to identity and birth records. And it's backfired.

Big kids with names and histories, especially ones with diagnosed behavioral and mental disorders are about as marketable as Chinese baby milk.

Children are not chattel. No child, no matter what age, should be abandoned willy-nilly, especially with the permission and promotion of the state. Families, mothers and children are in "crisis" across this country and the only solution given is to dump the kid and walk away? Is that the bar we want set in the United States?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Nebraska media reports this morning that a 12-year old boy was dropped off at Bryan LGH Medical Center East in Lincoln The boy's mother told police she was "unable to discipline him."

So what else is new?

Well, this kid is from Georgia!

According to Nebraska HHS spokesperson Todd Landry the mother, who so far has no known connection to Nebraska, drove the boy there from Atlanta. He has been placed in a residential shelter pending investigation.

No other details have been released yet.

In case you're wondering how much these dumps cost (remember, according to dump pushers, dumping your child is a free service of the state and won't cost anybody a dime), Omaha's WOW-TV reported earlier this month:

So what is the law costing taxpayers? In a crude analysis of a 2007 Annual Report from The Nebraska Foster Care Review Board, Channel Six found on average, Nebraska spends about $2,200 a month per child in foster care. When you add the 17 Safe Haven Children and multiply that number by $2,200 the amount per month to provide care for those children so far is costing nearly $39,000 per month. It's half the cost of a special session.

(NOTE: I haven't had time to look for this report to verify)

Since then, more parents have used the dump option--or attempted to. I have news reports indicating that at least 5 potential dumpees (I believe there are more) were channeled into other" programs," but that's for another day).

Addenda: The official statement from Todd Landry went online a little while ago.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nebraska attempts to slam to barn door, only creating a new set of problems

As I posted back on September 25th:

Nebraska has finally realized it’s 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.

Almost a month later, the numbers have done nothing but rise since I first posted that.

So let’s go to this AP piece, Nebraska lawmakers agree on safe-haven age limit that has hit within the past 24 hours.

Stung by the abandonments of children as old as 17 under Nebraska’s brand-new safe-haven law, the governor and lawmakers agreed Monday to narrow the law’s broad wording to protect only the parents of newborns from prosecution.

Forty of the Legislature’s 49 senators would amend the law so it applies only to infants up to 3 days old, legislative Speaker Mike Flood said at a news conference. The age cap would change the Nebraska law from the most lenient to one of the nation’s most restrictive.

As I predicted, Nebraska appears to have decided to go to dump law 2.0, the aged down version. Nebraska will still be encouraging child abandonment, just of kids too young to protect their own interests, or speak about the experience of being dumped for some years.

That does not mean these soon to be aged down dumps are less damaging.

Aging down still does nothing about so many of the core problems with the dump laws, parental rights being violated when one parent dumps and the other is out of the loop, the Indian Child Welfare Act violations, the real needs of families, and most importantly, the needs of the dumped kids themselves.

But aging down will ensure that 18 year gap between when a kid is dumped and when they hit age of majority, thus sparing the legislators, but not the kids.

If all the Nebraska legislators do is age down to version 2.0, they’ve sidestepped many issues of substance relating to the dump laws to do mere superficial tinkering, or as I put it, change the shade of lipstick on the pig.

The pig’s still there. It’s a ticking time bomb, that as more dumps happen under the new rules and the dumped kids grow older, a whole new set of problems are slowing going to become apparent, though odds are, just as in other states, they will be dismissed as ‘personal problems’ not problems inherent to the system the dump laws create.

Governor Heineman has been hinting all along that this aging down was what was going to be done to the law:

The Nebraska law has had “serious, unintended consequences,” Gov. Dave Heineman said. “This law needs to be changed to focus on infants.”

The governor reiterated that he would prefer not to call a special session before the Legislature’s regular session in January. But he indicated he could change his mind.

“If circumstances dictate, particularly if we have several more from out of state, I won’t hesitate to make that call” for a special session, Heineman said.

Should Heineman not call a special session, Flood said, lawmakers would quickly change the law, probably within the first couple weeks of the session.

Meanwhile, dump law advocate so called “national expert”s like Tim Jaccard, are rapidly trying to distance other state’s dump laws from the Nebraska older child dumps/child welfare experimentation:

A national expert on safe-haven laws commended Nebraska officials for moving to impose an age limit, but he said action should be taken now to prevent older children from receiving the scars of abandonment.

“It affects children,” said Tim Jaccard, president of the National Safe Haven Alliance. “When children are older they have the ability to understand what’s going on and they’re thinking, ‘Mommy and Daddy don’t want me anymore, so they’re throwing me in a hospital.’ That’s a psychological blow.”

So apparently as long as the kids themselves are not old enough to cognize the act of being dumped at the time, Jaccard is fine with state encouraged abandonment. This is beyond short sighted. Just because a child does not remember the act of being dumped itself that hardly means they will not live with all the complexities of have been abandoned for the rest of their lifetimes.

The “psychological blows” may actually be WORSE in that they have no direct memory of the event. For some adoptees, early life events grow to near mythic proportions, purely due to the lack of information and the mind attempting to fill those gaps.

Further, most states dumps laws are not merely the aged down versions, they also are based upon anonymous abandoners, thereby permanently depriving the infants, (eventual kids, eventual adults) of any way to trace back to their origins, a permanent destruction of identity, culture and heritage.

The “psychological” blows of most states’ dump laws go far beyond mere abandonment to unequal treatment under law for a class of people. People permanently deprived of information other citizens take for granted, all due to the state encouragement of abandonment.

But Nebraska? Even if they age down and maintain identified dumpers, these infants/kids/adults are going to be dealing with gaps in their information not dissimilar to other adoptees. Even in teen dumps we’ve seen a lack of basic medical information being transmitted across in some cases.

I’m loathe to make the medical argument, as no added medical history form is going to fix what dump laws do.

It is important to point out though, the state has created a process whereby a class subclass of people, (not all dumped kids, but some dumped kids,) are permanently deprived of the medical information necessary to make decisions throughout their lives. That lack of information can mean the difference between life and death.

But let’s go back and talk about Tim Jaccard himself. It’s time to talk about who some of these people who push dump laws are.

Legalized abandonment organizations across the country (many of which are best described as kitchen table organizations) run hotlines. On the other end of those calls lies a process for dumping, with people like Jaccard sometimes in the middle of such.

Under the dump laws a womyn gives birth, likely in secret, perhaps unattended, if she survives, the resulting newborn is then to be taken to a hospital.

Jaccard, far beyond mere dump law advocate has been deeply involved in making abandonments happen himself, an intrinsic part of them. In People magazine back in 2003, he admitted to assisting in secret births, once in Central Park and “once in a girl’s bedroom while her parents slept down the hall. ”

Yes, that means a hidden pregnancy, Jaccard assisting the secret birth, while the girl’s parents were asleep in the same house. Then the baby being “safe havened”.

Does this sound like the kind of law that fosters good interfamily communication?

Do you think that those parents ever learned of their daughter’s secret pregnancy, or the middle aged man prowling around their house that night making the resultant baby just go away?

Jaccard and others like him are what lie on the other end of the dump laws. They are the practical application of the dump laws.

These laws encourage womyn to give birth outside hospital settings.

They provide nothing for a womyn’s health, she’s expendable. It’s all about getting the kid.

Which is not the least bit surprising considering the history of how “safe havens” grew in part out of the adoption industry.

As for the National Safe Haven Alliance, (NSHA) they, and the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) (founded by Bill Pierce, see my earlier piece which explains how Pierce, NCFA, the dump laws and Nebraska are all pieces of the same “Safe haven” puzzle) are deeply entwined. The National Council for Adoption is what I would term an anti-adoptee organization, a trade and lobbying organization, created by the adoption industry to preserve sealed records.

Marley Greiner on her blog Bastardette, has been doing ongoing reporting on all the “safe haven” organizations, the personalities behind them, and their organizational ties. Here, for example is just one post discussing a National Safe Haven Alliance fundraiser and how joined at the hip NSHA has been to NCFA:

According to incorporation papers filed with the Virginia Secretary of State, Tom Atwood, president and CEO of NCFA is NSHA’s president and registered agent. The alliance’s principal office is 225 N. Washington St, Alexandria, VA–NCFA headquarters. The invitation to the fundraiser was went out on NCFA letterhead.

Legalized dump laws are about a steady supply of infants for adoption, in most states relatively paperfree, with no ‘pesky birthparents’ likely to show up at some later date. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the dump laws has happened at the exact same time as declining international adoptions.

I don’t know how to say this any more clearly, legalized abandonment laws,

  • are anti-womyn,
  • they are anti-kid,
  • they are anti-adoptee,
  • they are anti-family,
  • they are anti-tribal,
  • they are anti-public health,
  • anti-best practices in child welfare,
  • and at their core, a reversal of any notion of sane public policy.

They ultimately come down to ends justifies the means. So what if a womyn dies after secret childbirth, the newborn was “safe havened”.

And mere aging down, only creates a new set of problems.

Then again, I suppose Nebraska legislators can just ignore the real experts on legalized child abandonment AGAIN and watch as a new set of casualties add up.

We may have to wait 18 years for some voices to come to the fore, but trust me, infants don’t like being abandoned any more than teens do.

Tuesdays’ self “havening” girl “havened” both herself and her baby, so how’s that one work?

As I blogged yesterday, last Tuesday a second teen attempted to self “haven” under Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment law.

Turns out when it comes to teens turning themselves in, Nebraska’s “haven” is little more than a cruel joke. Anyone with physical custody of a “child” (which in Nebraska is anyone under age 19) is protected under the law when abandoning said “child”, all in the name of supposedly protecting kids from potential imminent harm.

Yet if a “child” in Nebraska turns themselves in seeking help, after for example being allegedly being hit, then kicked out of her home by her mother, the lack-of-haven law apparently doesn’t apply to them, they don’t qualify.

Had this girl managed to bribe a bum off the street for a bottle of booze to take her to the hospital that would have qualified, but because she showed up alone, she’s shit outta luck.

But wait, it gets even weirder, see Teen’s Surrender Not A ‘Safe Haven’ Case, which mentions:

A sixteen-year-old girl who surrendered herself and her child under Nebraska’s Safe Haven law has discovered that the law doesn’t apply to her.


Crawford said her sister escorted the teenager and the baby.

“This is a mother-daughter argument that my sister took to the extreme and blew this out of proportion,” said Crawford.

Yes, the mother’s sister (the girl’s aunt) “escorted” our self surrendering teen, who it just so happens is also a teen mother, who brought her baby along with her to Immanuel Hospital in Omaha after allegedly being hit and kicked out of the house.

Ok, so let’s try to detangle this one.

The aunt “escorted” her to the state authorized site, but apparently the teen attempted to haven herself (and her baby.)

Could this mean the rough equivalent of for example, the aunt drove here there but she walked in by herself? How much a part of this was or wasn’t the aunt? If she was an intrinsic part of the girl getting from wherever she was to the hospital, then what? Just how much of an adult presence in the circumstances of a “havening” counts as enough for it to be counted as a “safe haven” by Nebraska DHHS? If the aunt stood 5 feet away at the time and the girl announced her intention to “haven” herself, does that still fail to pass the physical custody test? Whose idea was it for the girl to “haven” herself? Her own? Or did the Aunt bring it up?

What exactly does “escorted” mean in this context?

All of which simply means we’re left with more questions than answers.

Not surprising considering how make-it-up-as-we-go-along Nebraska’s approach to how the law is applied has been. When it has come to the practical application, despite Nebraska DHHS’s attempts to map out a process (see here, under “Other Documents”) there are simply too many unanswered variables.

Case after case is bringing all those things that were unanticipated by some, to the fore, questions such as Nebraska’s Indian Child Welfare Act obligations, or what happens when teens begin self “havening,” as Nebraska is the only state with a law with an age cap high enough whereby teens could.

So now let’s come to part two of the great unstrategized. This high school sophomore showed up with her baby in arms, attempting to self “haven” both herself and her baby. Nebraska won’t qualify her as a legalized child abandonment, but what about the baby? It was brought in by someone with physical custody, to a state authorized legalized child abandonment site. Does the baby now enter the system without her? Or are they allowed to remain together? If she doesn’t count does the baby not count as well? Or are they going to take the baby away?

Has anyone even begun thinking about all this mess?

The “report” referred to below would appear to allege physical and emotional abuse by Portia Crawford (the girl’s mother):

Court documents said Crawford didn’t take care of her daughter and grandson and didn’t give them a stable place to stay. Juvenile court attorneys said Crawford emotionally abused her daughter by calling her dumb and telling her she looked like a whore.

“I didn’t do all the allegations that they got in the report, bloody her nose and call her all sorts of names. I didn’t do all that. They blew this out of proportion,” Crawford said. “There was no neglect or abuse here, just an argument. My daughter got upset about it, that’s all that happened.”

But as for the girl herself, because Nebraska thinks she doesn’t qualify, she’s got “nowhere to go,” which is to say she has allegedly been hit and kicked out by her mother, then abandoned in her hour of need by the state, under the very law that was supposedly designed to protect kids in dire situations:

“They have nowhere to go because they’re not safe in Portia’s home,” said juvenile county attorney Nicole Goaley.

She said Crawford’s daughter and grandson will get the services they need, but they don’t qualify for the Safe Haven law. Goaley said Crawford would have to give up her daughter and grandson in order for the law to apply and Crawford won’t do that.

I hear lots of they’ll “get the services they need” but I’ll be watching to see how that plays out in practical application.

As for the “Safe Haven” law, clearly it’s unworthy of bearing the word “haven” in its title.

When a kid, clearly in a situation of not merely imminent threat, but apparently pre-existing abuse turns to it for help she is greeted with nothing but a landscape of “safe haven” failure.


As a final note, since this would apparently mean two separate kids, the girl and her baby, were attempted “havens” on Tuesday, I guess I now sadly need to revise my count up by one. To date the total number of kids who have in some way interacted with the dump law, whether counted by Nebraska DHHS or not, now stands at 24.

Repeal the dump laws.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kids number 22 and 23; Another self “haven” and other hidden dumps in the official number tally

So I’m behind but trying to catch up.

Tuesday another teen showed up at a hospital turning herself in under Nebraska’s “safe haven” law. Making this the second “self haven” case. See Teen Cites Safe Haven.

Tuesday night the teenage mom walked into the hospital after she says her mom hit her and kicked her out. The North High sophmore also claims her mom steals her welfare checks, meant for the baby. The teen’s mother insists she’s never abused her daughter or taken her money. “I shouldn’t have to explain my financial situation to anyone, even my child, as long as she got a roof over her head. She’s not neglected, she eats whenever she wants to, she take a bath whenever she wants to. Her job is to go to school and come home and take care of her child, now that she has a child,” says Portia Crawford.

Crawford claims this whole thing started over a fight with her daughter who wanted to go out for the night and leave her baby.

This is the second teen who has turned themselves in, the first was back on September 22rd, an 18 year old boy who walked into Grand Island hospital. He was turned away as too old for foster care and given a referral to services, whatever that entailed.

The news story continues:

A petition was filed to charge Crawford with neglect, her daughter is not protected under safe haven.

Welcome to the grand irony of Nebraska’s “safe haven” law, anyone with physical custody of a kid when dumping is protected under the law, but kids themselves trying to access help are not.

Neither of the two teens are being counted in Nebraska DHHS’s official dump statistics (link opens a PDF.) This is important, as clearly these self “havens” are falling through the cracks. As they simply fall out of the history, no one can get a handle on what’s been happening. They’re absolutely happening, but hidden.

The local news, for example knew nothing of the earlier instance. (Should we sooner or later expect yet a third “bizarre new twist” story when another kid does the same?)

No age is reported on the girl beyond “sophomore” and “teen,” but we can safely assume she would likely fall within the age range covered by the law.

The bottom line is these two have become invisible self “havens”. Ghosts in the machine.

Nebraska thinks these kids don’t count.

Perhaps most importantly, despite asking for help under the law, there is no “haven” on the other end for them.

Then Wednesday, another kid was abandoned at Immanuel Hospital in Omaha, a 17-year old boy.

See, Another Safe Haven Drop in Omaha


KETV’s New ‘Safe Haven’ Teen Has Criminal Record

Investigators said it appears to be a case involving a mother who decided she could no longer handle her teenage son.


According to juvenile court records, the mother told a social worker that her son “needed to be a state ward now.” She said she was exercising her right under the Safe Haven law.

Perhaps one of the more interesting details in the piece is the boy’s lack of educational history:

Omaha Public Schools said her son has never been enrolled in a district school, even though he lives in the district.

Whether this means the boy was home schooled or in a private school or simply never educated at all remains to be seen.

Once again, we have those actually dealing with the practical application of the dump laws unhappy with the lack of preventative structures long before a kid reaches a dump site:

“There needs to be a better way to address these issues,” said assistant Douglas County attorney Nicole Goaley. “I think there needs to be a preventive way to assist families in getting their children the resources they need without making them wards of the state.”

Naturally, per the title of the piece, the focus is also on the boy’s previous “run-ins with the law:”

Court records show the teenager in this latest case has had several run-ins with the law. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and being a minor in possession of alcohol. Last year, he was charged with misdemeanor theft and failure to appear in court.

The boy is in temporary, emergency custody with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Service. His case will be heard in Douglas County Juvenile Court next week.

So let’s talk numbers again.

While the Nebraska DHHS count stands at 19 kids, as I’ve said before, this is a Bastard Blog so here, I focus on the experiences of the kids themselves in relation to the dump law. My count is well above 19.

Nebraska may not count for example, the kid left at the Police station as it’s not an authorized dump site under the law, but that kid himself is no less abandoned. To the best of my knowledge he’s still in foster care. He is every bit as dumped as the rest of the kids on the official tally, but not counted.

So let’s go through my non-state approved count of dumped kids:

  • 9/1- 14-year old boy dumped at an Omaha police station (not an approved dump site)- NOT COUNTED
  • 9/13- 11-year old boy
  • 9/13- 15-year old boy
  • 9/20- either a 13 or 14-year old girl (conflicting accounts)
  • 9/22- Self haven- 18-year old boy- NOT COUNTED
  • 9/24- 9 siblings: 1-year old girl, 6-year old boy, 7-year old boy, 9-year old girl, 11-year old boy, 13-year old girl, 14-year old girl, 15-year old boy, 17-year old boy
  • 9/24- 11-year old boy
  • 9/24- 15-year old boy
  • 10/5- 15-year old boy
  • 10-5- 12-year old boy
  • 10/5- 15-year old girl brought to the hospital by her mother to be dumped, police talk her into committing her to the psych ward instead (see my blog piece) - NOT COUNTED
  • 10/6- 14-year old girl (Iowa) NE DHHS has her listed as 10/7
  • 10/13- 13-year old boy (Michigan)
  • 10/21- Self haven- “sophomore/teen” girl - NOT COUNTED
  • 10/2- 17-year old boy

(Again, see my Nebraska tag for my previous writings about many of these.)

Which is to say actually 23 kids have either been dumped , are attempted dumps, or self “haven”ed, (only to find no haven there for them.)

On this blog at least I do my damnedest to ensure “nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

As I said back on October 6th,

If there’s any one thing my blog tries to do consistently, it’s remember those so often forgotten or hidden in (or out of) the ‘official’ tabulations.

In Nebraska with its child-dump law the casualties to date have been kids. In states with baby-dump laws, the casualties are babies. Whether newborn or child, abandonment deprives these people of building blocks necessary to them, particularly later in life. The state should never set out to set up systems that intentionally deprives a subset of citizens of basic things other citizens not only have, but consider the bedrock their lives are based on.

No matter what pretty language child-dump advocates attempt to wrap their toxic legislation in, the bottom line is child abandonment is never good for kids.

As I’ve said so many times before, there’s only one thing to do a legalized abandonment law, repeal it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don’t you dare blame longtime opponents of dump bills for the Nebraska legislature’s mistake

So to attempt to do damage control in the wake of the child welfare mess in Nebraska, a new meme is being spun, that it was opponents of the bill who created this mess.

We’re seeing this from multiple directions now, including former Nebraska State Senator Chip Maxwell (R) who has moved on into his next career of sorts at the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research lobbying against embryonic stem cell research. (Also see “You can be Pro Holiness and LOVE Stem Cell Research” here.) Yesterday he blogged about the Nebraska legalized child abandonment disaster, Safe Haven: We meant to do that.

He offers up legislators “meant to do that,” claiming they:

wanted the spectacle of teenagers being dropped off at hospitals under the safe haven law to highlight the difficulties families have in getting help for troubled teens

Let’s be clear here, genuine longtime opponents of the dump laws didn’t want anything to pass. We did not want any version of it going forward. We have opposed dump laws across the board. We tried to talk some sense into Nebraska legislators before they passed the “Aged up” version, as the law went into effect, and later after the dumps began. This aged up version was their creation not ours.

Nebraska’s unique dump law was not created due to any encouragement from us. This is a mess of their own making.

We oppose all dump bills, and have consistently called for their full repeal after their passage. See my comment the day after the went into effect and my first post on the Nebraska situation, in which I started off with:

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

Some of us ourselves are adoptees. We know what abandonment can do to kids, younger, or older. We know what not having information about one’s origins means, in ways people with that information cannot fathom. We know what feelings of loss and be left or perhaps even unwanted do to kids over the course of a lifetime, we see such in the adoptee community all the time. It is precisely due to that understanding, and that empathy that we oppose all dump laws.

Never in a million years would I advise real kids actually have to go through the act of legalized abandonment just to make a point. It’s not ethical to play with kids lives that way.

I have a deep empathy with the kids and what they will endure. (Now some are already enduring.)

These 21 kids (see how I reached that number in my posts concerning gaming the numbers and the numbers spin,) and there may well be more by the time Nebraska legislators finally get around to putting an end to older dumps, are going to be dealing with the consequences of Nebraska’s failed experiment in child welfare law for the rest of their lives.

Under the aged down version, just like the rest of the country, a whole new class of kids abandoned at the state’s encouragement are going to be dealing with that for the rest of their lives. Estimates already run between 1,000 and 2,000 kids have been dumped nationwide under these hideous laws.

Do not for one instant attempt to hang these dumps around the necks of the very people who have fought these bills from the beginning.

Now as for Nebraska state legislators and their motivations regarding what they passed?

I honestly don’t know what the hell they were thinking.

But this was a legalized abandonment bill.

They wanted a dump bill, they passed a dump bill, and legalized abandonment advocates, far from instantly understanding the damage that the NE law was about to cause, instead crowed about getting their 50th state, claiming Nebraska as a victory.

If anyone is to blame for this mess, and the mess in the other 50 states, it’s dump law advocates, who in their short sighted race to pass these abominations, have created a lasting legacy of a legal mess and personal scars these kids are now stuck with.

As I said before:

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Now, I'm really mad!

PETA, the great media whore of moral equivalency, is building an ad campaign around child abandonment and the Nebraska Fiasco.

From an October 20 PETA press release:

In the wake of news that a Michigan mother drove more than 700 miles to abandon her 13-year-old son in Omaha in order to take advantage of Nebraska's Safe Haven law, PETA has created a billboard stressing the importance of taking responsibility for all unwanted beings--dependent children and animals alike. The billboard features a child's eyes superimposed over an animal's face with the tagline "18 Kids, 25,000 Animals...

The decision to add an animal companion to the family should not be taken lightly, just as the decision to raise a child should be a lifetime commitment," says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "Dogs and cats can live 16 years or longer, almost the same amount of time that responsible parents invest in raising a child. Children and animals deserve better than to be dumped on a doorstep when they become inconvenient.

Here is a preview of the billboard(s), PETA intends to put up in Omaha

Is there nothing PETA won't use to aggrandize itself?

Abandoned children are not
lab rats

no matter what PETA or the Nebraska Legislature says!

This message is approved by Jonathan and Abbie
We don't like PETA or Nebraska politicians either!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Real abandonments continue despite dump law, dump advocates attempt to capitalize upon such

I want to point readers at an older (approximately October 16th?) Nebraska news segment I feel is important and have been meaning to blog about.

It’s a piece about genuine child abandonment. Not the “safe haven” laws. But as some insist upon utilizing it as an opportunity to talk about thier law, let’s talk about the failures of such in relation to genuine abandonments in Nebraska.

The segment shows how kids are yes, still being left, abandoned and on on their own in Nebraska, “safe-haven” law or no.

This (poorly titled, insinuating a direct connection, when the connection is abandonment, not the use of the law) piece, Home Alone Over Safe Haven, discusses two Nebraska kids (11 and 12 years old) left in an apartment to “fend for themselves” while their mother left for Kentucky supposedly in search of a new apartment.

Go read the full piece and watch the video for full details.

At the beginning of the video piece local reporter Dave Roberts opines,

“It’s an illegal choice in a state that offers safe haven.”

This is again, part of that (reproductive) “choice” false meme I have commented upon before being falsely applied to (post birth) children. Abandoning one’s kids like this is not in any way akin to any form of “reproductive choice,” nor are so called “safe havens.”

Both deal with actual (born) children, with their own constitutional rights.

Legalized abandonment advocates have desperately attempted to conflate the issue, particularly in relation to their school curriculum based presentations in other states. Wherein baby-dump advocates offer up legalized abandonment to young womyn as some form of third choice added to “abortion or adoption.” (And yes, even “abortion or adoption” is an intentional conflation, as womyn have only two options before birth, abort or bear to term. Relinquishing for adoption or parenting the child themselves are post birth parenting decisions, not reproductive decisions.)

Naturally, right on cue, legalized child abandonment advocate and Nebraska bill creator and sponsor Arnie Stuthman jumped the opportunity. Rather than admitting the outright failures of his law in this particular case, he instead attempted to capitalize upon it, essentially claiming that to his mind, it shows how allegedly necessary his law was. This is the strangest twist on sore winner-ism yet. The dump law advocates get what they want, they get their laws passed and then with every instance of children still being abandoned or still turning up dead, they insist their law is more necessary than ever.

For those of us who have tracked the dump laws play out state after state, we’ve watched variations on this scenario play out again and again. The more it fails, the more dump advocates dig their fingernails in.

Five days later, police still can’t find mom and the senator who wrote Nebraska’s safe haven law wonders why this woman, didn’t take advantage of it.

Senator Arnie Stuthman says, “We’re so concerned about the welfare of these children and that’s why we put this safe haven law there; although it was mainly meant for the babies and the people that could be harmed, but these too could drastically be harmed because they have nowhere to go. No where to get food.”

What both State Senator Stuthman and the local reporter fail to understand is that the mother in question was probably not the type to use the law in the first place, as using it would have meant the likely loss of her parental rights permanently.

We may very well be looking at what is really more of a child care issue, not a “safe haven” issue.

The “cost” of accessing child care must not be one’s parental rights.

Let’s look at two possibilities here.

In possibility one, (giving her the benefit of the doubt,) to her mind, she may have viewed the entire situation as temporary, sort of an “I’ll go on ahead, then come back for them.” If she did not intend to lose her kids, what she was looking for was sort of a temporary way to hit pause.

Dump laws only provide one option, loss of custody, likely permanent loss of parenthood and decision making power relating to her kids. Apparently (again, giving her the benefit of the doubt) she wanted to retain control. The dump laws do not give parents that power.

Many parents are merely looking for a time out, a place for the kids while they do what they need to do. But with the dumps laws, it’s all or nothing.

She may have viewed leaving them behind temporarily as preferable to “abandoning” them. She may not cognize herself as an “abandoner.”

(After all, what kind of mother intentionally abandons her own kids?)

On the other hand, let’s look at the second possibility here, let’s say she really was leaving for good, leaving the kids once and for all. Again, despite the local media blitz the Nebraska law has created, she did not use the law. Even if she intended to simply walk out, she did not take the kids to a dump site.

The kind of people the dump laws are often most intended for are often those least likely to utilize it.

Kids coming in through the dump sites are often well cared for, some come with personal items or even a suitcase. Often the parents or guardians show deep sorrow and remorse. That is a very different profile than those who simply walk away. Those who take the time to take the kids to dump sites tend to be those not in some process of “walking out.”

To date, we have no evidence that any of the kids abandoned were in any genuine immediate danger.

Yet the kids most in genuine danger are those who are left nowhere near dump sites, (again despite the media blitz.)

The dumps are catching kids whose parents care deeply and are looking for alternatives. For those not looking for alternatives, for those who just walk away, no dump law in the country is going to help.

As for the kids themselves,

Police put both children in protective custody. If detectives find mom, she could face criminal charges.

Which leads into another of the many unanswered questions about dump laws, are parents who abandon after the dump laws being sentenced more harshly than before the dump laws were passed because the state now views them as having rejected the state created “alternative?” Do judges who over time become frustrated with the laws not working sentence more harshly?

There’s a dissertation in there somewhere for anyone who wants to do the legwork.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Michigan dumped kid was an adoptee, NE ‘return to sender’ dumps him back into the MI System

No blogger could begin to keep up with the mess Nebraska legislators have made. Instead, this post will focus on some of the raw sources dealing with the recent dumps. I’ll slide in a little commentary, but mainly I urge readers to go look at the articles and the videos in my links, they spell out a long sad story of failure. But then when it comes to the dump laws there’s rarely any good news, for the kids anyway.

Here is an Omaha World-Herald round up of many of the recent stories they’ve done relating to the dumps and the aftermath. Lots of links, well worth the read.

As but one example, see their Oct 9th story, Grandmother: Help, not haven, sought for boy which details how one of the kids abandoned was supposedly never intended to be such:

An Omaha grandmother says she wanted to hospitalize her suicidal 12-year-old grandson — not use the safe haven law — when she asked the boy’s aunt Sunday to take him to Immanuel Medical Center.

But instead of receiving help, the boy was placed in a foster home. He is scheduled to move to a group home this weekend.

And the grandmother has been ordered to show up in court next Wednesday for reasons she says she doesn’t understand.

That her grandson is considered a safe haven case is a “misunderstanding,” the woman said.

Regardless of the intent behind each and every single dump, one thing remains perfectly clear, Nebraska’s law is for the first time putting America’s catastrophically broken child welfare system on display while simultaneously putting a spotlight on many of the problems inherent to the legalized child abandonment laws. Additionally, due to the age problems unique to Nebraska’s law, this is all playing out upon kids old enough to remember every sorry detail of it.


The dump laws make a mockery of any notion of child welfare best practices. Nebraska is merely the most visible and extreme example thereof. By creating the non-anonymous and aged-up version of the laws Nebraska put the full ugliness of the dump laws on international display.

Now that we begin to see the full horror of these legal atrocities there’s only one thing left to do, REPEAL them.

One by one, state after state, pull these abominations back out of the code.

Which brings us to the Michigan boy dumped by his mother in Nebraska, make that adoptive mother, because you see, he was an adoptee.

The Michigan to Nebraska dump was not only a ‘teach you a lesson’ dump, it was also a ‘returns department’ dump. An adopted kid, no longer wanted by his adopters.

Click to Enlarge

Teri, left, and Terrence Martin of Southfield, Mich., the adoptive parents of a 13-year-old boy abandoned in Nebraska under that state’s safe haven law.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

I’m not going to get into every twist and turn of the Mess from Michigan, but I’ll provide a few links worth looking through.

October 13th-

Video from CBS 3 in Omaha (see * below)- Michigan Mom Drops off Son Under Safe Haven. While local news stations are calling it “safe haven crisis” Nebraska politicians still aren’t getting the message.

The video piece includes parts of an interview with State Sen. Brad Ashford:

We passed the law to protect Nebraska children. We didn’t pass the law to protect children from other states.


I don’t think it’s a crisis. I, again, it’s not a bad thing that children are being protected.

While Sen. Ashford may personally characterize being abandoned in the Nebraska’s ‘returns department’ as “being protected” there are at this point a number of kids who have actually been through the process who may have a bone to pick with him. Kids like this pregnant 14 year-old girl abandoned through the Nebraska system who had this to say about being dumped:

“I don’t want anything to happen to kids like it happened to me, …”

(She has since been returned to her home.)

October 14th-

Let’s start back here with New Details On Safe Haven Child From Michigan. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine,

… also says the state of Nebraska is not going to take in children from all over the country. He plans to work with child protective services in Michigan to send this kid back, while at the same time making sure the child is in good hands.

(Never mind the fact that the Nebraska law says nothing about ‘no out of state dumps allowed!’ The way the law is written it’s a free for all, anyone with physical custody can dump a kid, be that domestic or even international!)

The AP did a piece, the morning of the 14th, (this by way of WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan) Local Mom Abandons Teen in Nebraska. (Also see related video on upper right hand corner.) Once again, we see a kid not in any immediate danger-

There was no sign the boy was in immediate danger before he was abandoned early Monday, but an investigation into the boy’s situation was still continuing, Landry said.

A second piece, also from WXYZ, Michigan Mom Who Abandoned Son Identified.

KETV- Court Docs Reveal Story Behind Latest Safe Haven Case This piece goes into just a bit more detail about the ‘teach ‘em a lesson’ aspect of this dump and makes clear, the adoptive mother never intended to actually lose custody of him:

Martin told workers she would come back to get her son and now her son would know she wasn’t kidding.

As to the Judge’s comments in this piece, I don’t think loss family bonds should ever be the ‘cost’ of gaining access to support systems or mental health care. Everything he discusses in this piece can be done WITHOUT the state legalizing child abandonment.

October 15th-

Omaha World Herald-

Michigan boy left at Omaha hospital to stay in Nebraska - for now

and Michigan mother may have used safe haven law as lesson which includes:

“She told hospital staff that since local police were included she would just come back to get (her son), since now he would realize she wasn’t kidding anymore,” the affidavit says.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials confirmed that the mother had second thoughts about leaving her son. But once a child is left under the law and the state has taken custody, parents or guardians lose their right to make decisions about what happens to the child.

WXYZ, Michigan Mom who Abandoned Son Identified also see video.

October 16th-

KCBY (Oregon), Parents of Mich. boy left in Neb. lose custody.

Three Faux/Fox Detroit links, the first two are AP stories;

Court: Mom Who Abandoned Boy Can’t See Other Kids,

Official: Mich. Mom Neglected Boy She Left in Neb.,

and Children Taken from Mother Who Abandoned Son.

According to the video segment, on the third piece, the adopters were receiving (federal) adoption subsidies for the two kids to the tune of $900 a month. The adopters had apparently “tried for years” to get rid of their two adopted kids.

Note that once again, the adoption subsidies mess that I’ve already blogged about in relation to the dump laws is right in the middle of all this.

Also see, Michigan Prosecutors Don’t Want Mom to Use Nebraska Safe Haven Again

The grandmother said good-bye to the boy before his mother drove to Omaha. She left him Monday morning at the hospital with a packed suitcase and a ten dollar bill. Grandmother says, “She was taking him to a boys’ home that’s what she said a place to take boys with problems.” the grandmother says the boy’s been trouble and they tried to get help for years.

But the Michigan prosecutor found a report from 1999 accusing the mother of burning the boy with a curling iron. For some unknown reason, the state dropped the investigation.

This last bit is particularly important, it implies Michigan dropped the ball long before the dump in Nebraska. Which is to say, this may very well have been an abandonment that never would have happened had there been intervention back at the point where the adopted kid was accused of being burned by his adoptive mother.

All of which points back at the larger problems involved in follow up post placement for adoptees and how over and over again, these kids are simply left to suffer while the adopters collect the federal checks.

Oct 17th

AP by way of CNN- Parents who left teen under safe haven law lose custody

The report said Terri Martin told Nebraska officials that she took the boy there to “scare him,” yet she denied incidents of aggression.

It also said state records showed evidence that neither parent wanted the 13-year-old, who was adopted along with his 10-year-old brother.

AP by way of Faux/Fox Detroit, Court Grants State Temporary Custody of 4 Children

The report also cited a history of referrals to child-welfare officials because of reports of injuries to the teen. Carley is seeking to eliminate the Martins’ parental rights over the 13-year-old. The next court hearing is Nov. 7.

“We think there are some possibilities they could learn to parent the other three safely,” Carley said.

Nebraska has agreed to drop jurisdiction over the teen and let Michigan help him.

Yeah, that would be the Michigan child-welfare system that has apparently already failed him spectacularly. But right back in he goes, ’cause Nebraska doesn’t want him either. This is a kid who has been abandoned not merely by his adopters, but by every state tasked with helping him.

If there was an ongoing history of injuries to the kid, I ask again, what was the deal on his placement? If the adopters were receiving subsidies that would usually mean they took in an older child or sibling group or ’special needs’ kid out of the foster care system. If he was interacting with the system repeatedly due to injuries and burns, who was the person or agency responsible for keeping him with this set of adopters?

Just dumping the kid back into the broken Michigan system ‘disapears’ him right back in.

If Nebraska was at all serious about ’saving’ kids, they might not be so quick to hand over jurisdiction.

But that’s not what Nebraska’s dump law is about. Clearly.

Getting him and his siblings away from the adopters is one thing, getting him away from the system that sent him right back to those adopters after injuries and burns is apparently quite another.

Be sure to see the video piece related to this link, as there are many new details in it, including allegations of the boy having endured sexual abuse.

More video, (again see below *) New Details in Michigan Safe Haven Case, The piece details the adopters charged in Michigan with abuse and neglect.

They claim the boy was abandoned in Nebraska after being advised to do so by a therapist and that his adopters…

…tried to find him a new home again and again.

So once again we have a ‘therapist’ whatever that might mean and whatever qualifications that might entail, telling the guardians to use the dump law.

State Sen. Stuthman (the longtime supporter and sponsor of the Nebraska dump law) wants her prosecuted in Michigan to send a message to the rest of the country.

The ‘message’ of course being that no matter how broadly the Nebraska law was written, everyone involved is now shitting bricks at the prospect of hoards of dumpers crossing state lines to bring their potential dumplings to Nebraska. Gee, usually that’s the kind of thing one might want to think about BEFORE such gets signed into law.

So now we’ve got legalized child abandonment/ ’safe haven’ advocates like State Senator Stuthman trying to close the barn door long after the fact.

It’s important to keep in mind that Sen. Stuthman and other such advocates are precisely who and what got Nebraska into this mess in the first place, all based upon their blind insistence that Nebraska ‘needed’ such a law.

Hint, no kid ever NEEDS to be abandoned.

Also note,

… the court papers outline how the family tried to give back the troubled boy since he was four even going to the birthmother.

This is interesting as it means the adopters had some form of access to the original mother.

(Nebraska) DHHS News Release Safe Haven Youth Returns to Michigan

Also importantly, NPR has a five minute All Things Considered piece, Neb. Safe Haven Law Draws More Than Infants, along with links to past stories about the Nebraska disaster.

It goes into detail about some of the kids themselves reactions to being dumped, describing the extreme duress this law is putting some of the kids through.

October 18th-

Omaha World-Herald, Teen to go home, but state will have custody

Oakland County, Mich., prosecutors are seeking temporary custody of four of the 13-year-old’s siblings still living at home. Deb Carley, the county prosecutor, said an investigation found that the parents had neglected all their children.

Well, mission accomplished, eh?

Right back into the system that didn’t think his adopters were bad enough to warrant losing him prior to the dump.

But Nebraska understands the precedent that would be set by accepting even one out of state dump, so ‘what best for the kid’ be damned. Quick! Get ‘em on a plane!

I can’t wait to see what his next digs are going to be like, foster care? Group home? Think the siblings will get to stay together?

Yeah, well, somehow I doubt wherever Michigan decides to park him until he ages out will be making CNN anytime soon.

This boy is dumped alright.

Nebraska’s washed its hands of him and the odds of him finding ‘a loving adoptive home’ back in Michigan aren’t looking so hot.


I’m having some difficulty linking the individual videos, but you can use the search feature on the homepage of CBS 3 news in Omaha to pull up the video links, just search by the video segment names:

Michigan Mom Drops off Son Under Safe Haven 10/13/08 6:44pm

Michigan Boy Latest Safe Haven Drop-Off 10/13/08 11:48pm

Safe Haven Case in Michigan Reveals Child in Trouble 10/14/08 11:44pm

New Details in Michigan Safe Haven Case 10/17/08 6:55pm


I suppose the next question should be how many more kids, unwanted, adopted, or otherwise are going to be taken on 12 hour or more car rides to be dumped by those who have physical custody of them?

If Nebraska legislators think this is “not a crisis” perhaps that has more to do with it not being a crisis for them.

For the kids, they can’t wait until January for the Nebraska legislature to step up and begin to tackle (or perhaps if they have the courage, ‘undo’ to the extent they can going forward) the crisis they created.

They can’t wait while legislators hem and haw and contemplate the possibilities.

They need an end to legalized abandonments.

And they need it now.

To date 21 kids have undergone some form of abandonment in Nebraska, even if NE DHHS only formally counts 18 of them (link opens a PDF), (see my earlier blogging on the numbers game being played here.) That’s 21 kids who would not have had to endure the turmoil of being abandoned but for the short sighted and ill-advised actions of the Nebraska legislature.

At what point do they finally recognize their little social experiment is causing harm to the kids?

What will it take before legislators finally show some spine and put an end to the mess they’ve created?

Legalized child abandonment laws need to be REPEALED. Period. No state should ever be in the business of actively encouraging child abandonment.

The kids can’t wait another day, …another hour, …another minute.

Only Nebraska legislators hold the power to put a stop to this, it’s long past time they realized their mistake and worked to prevent further damage.

As for the 21 kids already enduring the effects of this legislation, they’ll be living with it the rest of their lives.

For each and every one of them, trust me on this, I think they’d be the first to tell you, it was absolutely a point of crisis.

A crisis they will be enduring the consequences of from now on.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Staton abandonment and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Before even starting to write about this topic, keep in mind the disclaimer I’ve placed upon earlier writings I’ve done in relation to First Nations peoples and adoption:

To start from a personal perspective, I’m just a Bastard, a politically active adoptee.

Being legally prohibited from attaining my State sealed records, I have no idea what heritage cultural or genetic my biological family might contain, other than a quick glance in a mirror appears to indicate pretty clearly a hefty chunk of what would generally be termed “white” by sociological definition. The family history of those who adopted me has interwoven at times with First Nations peoples on both the American and Canadian sides of the border.

While my interest in this subject, yes at times does relate to aspects of ‘familial’ history, my primary interest in such is historical and political, speaking from both a Bastard perspective, as one who opposes forms and tactics of colonialism (religious, political, etc), and as one who supports indigenous peoples’ autonomy and demands for redress.



Ironically, the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA in relation to the dump laws was precisely what I had been intending to blog about, but hadn’t had the time to get to. Well sure enough, in Nebraska, we appear to have the first case(?) of an ICWA claim in the wake of a “safe haven” legalized abandonment.

Channel 6 News found out Wednesday the Cherokee Nation based in Oregon may have a legal claim to raise the Staton kids because they are part Native American.

(Also be sure to see the video related to the piece.)

Why haven’t we had an ICWA dump related claim before now? Perhaps because in most states abandoners are anonymous and the abandoned kids are not old enough to answer questions relating to their genealogy.

(Again, ‘aging down’ will not ’solve’ these problems. Changing Nebraska’s dump law to apply only to infants would only create a new state-created ‘pocket’ in which to hide crucial information such as a child’s genealogical background, information vital to an ICWA claim. Adoptees in closed adoptions, such as myself actually know a great deal about that, as we have no means by which to determine any First Nations ancestry we may or may not have.)

While I have been working on a longer post about the nine kids Gary Staton abandoned back on September 24th, and the aftermath of that abandonment;

  • how the kids have ended up at the heart of legal battles,
  • having to make difficult choices between remaining with their friends at their school, or staying as a family unit with the other kids,
  • how it has played out across multiple states,
  • and how it has played out between family members and Nebraska Health and Human Services,

but for the moment I’m going to set that saga aside to focus solely on the ICWA angle.

Bastard Nation, The Adoptee Rights Organization warned about how the dump laws circumvent ICWA early on, pointing out that such laws:

Contravene sections of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) which give tribes first custody rights in cases of child relinquishment.

Bastard Nation has brought the issue up many times in testimony trying to stop the dump laws. State after state, in enacting their dump laws have disregarded their obligations under ICWA.

I have also pointed out that dump laws short circuit ICWA claims in my own previous blogging. (While this particular post I’ve linked is primarily relating to Canadian First Nations children, some of whom were later adopted by American couples, it’s an important read as backgrounder and context to the history of how First Nations children have been actively resettled into white families. Dump laws must be understood within the broader context of forcible child removal as a means by which to cut off Tribes’ futures.) Bastardette has also pointed out the ICWA violation in relation to Nebraska’s dump law.

As an aside, Shea Grimm in her search series has also written about ICWA’s pertinence to sealed records adoptees’ attempts to regain access to their own records, see her section Using The Indian Child Welfare Act in a petition. Unfortunately this often ends up in the catch-22 of having to first know about your Native ancestry to to gain the information relating to your Native ancestry. But then, there’s very little about adoption that is logical and straightforward.

The First Nations Orphan Association is an important voice relating to issues of First Nations kids and adoption . Again, bear in mind such adoptions were often done within a context of non-consentuality. Large numbers of Native children were forcibly removed for adoption. ICWA was in part a response to those crimes committed. But now with the baby Moses laws/”Safe Haven” laws/baby dump laws, a new means of bypassing ICWA has been constructed, once again undermining Tribal rights.

The legalized abandonment laws continue that history of permanently removing children from their Tribal or genealogical heritage, far more so for the infant dumps than Nebraska’s older child dumps, as at least these older kids have perhaps some knowledge of their heritage. The dump laws provide an adoption intake path, wherein certainly for infants, questions of Tribal legal claims are never even raised, doing so in flagrant violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Tribes are not just ‘another player’ in the legal tug of war over kids, they are sovereign Nations. Cutting them out of the equation via the legalized abandonment laws is nothing more than once again creating a new way to circumvent their means to protect children’s identities and Tribal futures.

You want a four letter reason why legalized child abandonment laws must be REPEALED? ICWA.

Infant and anonymous dump laws are the bypass on ICWA.

Older child abandonments will only face ICWA challenges when Tribes have the resources and access to information to raise the claims, wrongly placing the burden of raising the claim on Tribes, rather than on the States who have obligations under ICWA.

Tinkering with age limits and other such details of these laws is not going to begin to deal with the fundamental flaws inherent to all dump laws.

Full REPEAL is the only answer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This just in!

Citing Nebraska's Safe Haven Law to take in unruly children, The Former President and First Lady, dropped off the current President, George W., hoping the action would finally give the nation some peace during the declining days of his Presidency...

"Signing those final abandonment papers was really hard," W's Mom said, "but we were at our wits end. His infantile, incorrigible behavior for the past 7 plus years almost broke his father's heart. Thank God for Nebraska!. It will really serve as "the last safe haven for the Country!"

continued here

OK. As opposed as I am to any "safe haven" law, I'll make an exception in this case. Mr. Bush's parents have obviously done the right thing for themselves and the country. Now if only Roberta McCain could come to the same conclusion. If it saves just one......

The Michigan Mom already under investigation and the failures of baby-dumps

We begin with the mother (along with an aunt and grandmother) who drove from Michigan to Nebraska to dump her son,

New twist in abandonment of 13-year-old in Nebraska/Prosecutor’s office files a neglect petition against Southfield family

turns out she was ALREADY under investigation back in Michigan prior to the abandonment.

The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a neglect petition against the Southfield family of the 13-year-old boy whose mother drove to Nebraska to abandon him under that state’s expansive and controversial safe haven law.

The filing was not released for public review before Oakland County Circuit Court closed for the day, but a hearing was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today, deputy court administrator Lisa Langton said.

While the mother is protected by Nebraska law, she could face charges in Michigan, where she and her husband have four other children. And local authorities and court records say the family already was being investigated before the teen was taken to Nebraska.

The case also is causing a rift between social services and law enforcement.

Southfield Police Chief Joseph Thomas Jr. said he and county Prosecutor David Gorcyca were upset that the Michigan Department of Human Services did not involve them immediately in a case where a child was taken across state lines.

She abandoned the boy at Omaha’s Creighton University Medical Center with luggage, extra clothes and $10.

Sadder still, this was a apparently another ‘teach ‘em a lesson’ dump. Not dissimilar to how parents have used the threat of and reality of juvenile hall in the past (see Mary E. Odem’s book “Delinquent Daughters: Protecting and Policing Adolescent Female Sexuality in the United States, 1885-1920″ for an excellent examination of how “delinquency” has historically been used against kids)

The boy told police his mother was stressed out and couldn’t deal with him anymore. He also she was trying to teach him a lesson. She has expressed remorse to Nebraska officials.

Apparently after driving 12 hours and legally abandoning her son to ‘teach him a lesson’ she is now sorry for having done so. Lovely.

This goes to the core of any legalized child abandonment law, how easy it becomes for events to unfurl rapidly. The kid will be dealing with such for the rest of his life, but for the adults involved, parents, legislators etc, it’s all about making it quick and easy.

And once again, we have private agencies in the midst of all of it:

As a student in Southfield Public Schools, the teen is “not a student with a bad profile,” and wasn’t known to be having difficulties according to Ken Siver, deputy superintendent.

But the family has files with both social services and law enforcement in Wayne and Oakland counties.

According to court records, in 2003, a neglect petition filed in Wayne County on behalf of the boy was denied. He also was prescribed mental health services for a delinquency charge in 2007.

In Southfield, both he and a sibling have open delinquency files, Thomas said.

A private agency tasked with placing the 13-year-old with relatives during a complaint “expressed concern about this child’s safety and remaining in the family in any way,” said Janet Snyder, executive director for Michigan Federation for Children and Families, a child-serving agency advocacy group.

Undoubtedly we will be hearing much much more about this case.

It’s important to keep in mind, though that the only reason we know that the mother was under investigation back in Michigan is because Nebraska’s dump law, unlike many states, does not have anonymous abandoners, and the that in Nebraska, unlike any other state, the dumped kid is old enough to speak for himself.

Had this happened in another state, with anonymous abandoners and a baby being dumped, no questions would be asked, the baby would simply enter the adoption stream and the dumper would go on about their life.

Which is to say baby-dumps can be used to cover all kinds of things.

‘Aging down’ a legalized child abandonment law is no solution. ‘Aging down’ merely increases the number of things that can be hidden under a dump law.


In a separate second story we learn of an Iowa woman who has scheduled a protest in Nebraska today:

An Iowa woman angry about Nebraska’s safe haven law is staging a protest at Creighton University in Omaha.

Judi Wheeldon of Council Bluffs, Iowa, said she hopes the protest, scheduled for 5 p.m. today, will help convince state lawmakers to convene and put an age limit in the law before the regular legislative session starts in January.

(Also see Lawmakers Not Ready For Special Session)

Iowa, of course has a baby-dump law. Targeting Creighton, which is merely a state designated intake center for the dumped kids is ultimately pretty pointless. It’s Nebraska lawmakers, not hospitals who decide the fate of this disastrous law.

If all Ms. Wheeldon is calling for is the aged down version, then the effect is that of calling for another shade of lipstick on the same old pig. Not calling for a fundamental change in the law, instead, merely a tweeking to make Nebraska’s look more like Iowa’s.

As I’ve said in all these posts about the Nebraska mess, the only real solution is a full REPEAL of the dumps laws.

Anything less just means a continuation of the current status quo, that of state’s continuing their sad and shameful course of action, encouraging child abandonment.

Monday, October 13, 2008


This just in.

The Detroit News reports that early this morning a 13-year old boy from Michigan was abandoned at a Nebraska hospital. The boy and his parent flew to Omaha for the drop-off. No details have been released other than the boy has been placed in an emergency shelter.

In the meantime, Arnie Struthman the sponsor of the state's safe haven law says he opposes the call for a special session of the legislature to revisit the law. According to him, Boys Town and the Untied Way can address issues so parents don't have to abandon children.

Later today I will post on this entry an updated list of dumpees, attempted dumpees, and any updates on this breaking story.