Thursday, November 20, 2008

LB 1- Damned if you do, and Damned if you don't


Please see these two action alerts on what can still be done about the Nebraska dump law, there is still time to demand nothing short of a full repeal/age it down to Zero!


So it's the night before the final vote, and for those of us who care about what happens to children in relation to the dump laws, we're left with a horrible realization;

Legalized child abandonment has become over the past nine years not merely fully normative, but unquestioned and unquestionable policy everywhere in the United States except Washington D.C..

The entirety of the "debate" about Nebraska's dump law took place between varying shades of WHEN, or at what developmental stage child abandonment was a good thing, not IF/WHETHER child abandonment was a good thing.

There was never any question of should we stop the legalized dumping of children? Child abandonment was and remains bedrock policy.

Instead, we have been treated to 7 days of what is the best timing for dumping children?

Clearly to the State Sentators in Nebraska it was never a question of whether legalized child abandonment would be allowed to continue.

Which is why we now sit here, stuck with the fetid corpse of any notion of child welfare embodied by LB 1.

To vote FOR LB 1 is to vote for "little kid" legalized child abandonment (30 days old or younger.)

To vote AGAINST LB 1 is to retain the existing system of "all kids up though big kids" legalized child abandonment (17 years or younger.)

But voting either way is a vote for continued legalized child abandonment.

There is no way to vote against the act of child abandonment itself.

of the state senators to date has introduced any bill or amendment trying to put an end to legalized child dumping in Nebraska.

Clearly, they have learned nothing over the past few months LB 157 has been in effect.

They assuage their disquiet (those that are disquieted that is) by telling themselves the fairy tale that if a child is too young to remember the ACT of being dumped then being dumped doesn't do damage.

Such is of course complete nonsense, but I suppose it helps them sleep at night.

Again, think about that NOT ONE.

NOT ONE Nebraska State Senator felt disquieted enough to actually add a "age zero point zero" amendment to LB 1. They never even tried.

Even those who with one breath said they opposed the "Safe haven" laws with their next breath said they would support a version of them. These are Legislators who haven't the strength to take a stand. They haven't the power of their so called convictions.

Legalized child abandonment was never in question.

This was all a $68,761 vain exercise in trying to find "new and improved" ways to abandon children.

Well way to go Nebraska Legislators.

I'd single you out for shaming, but apparently the rest of the country's Legislators when it comes to the legalization of dumping kids have lost any notion of child welfare as well, (except of course, Washington D.C. ironically enough, the last real haven kids have left.)

But in many ways, the real "debate" has yet to even begin.

Because dump laws like LB 1 don't "solve" a damn thing, they only create a whole new set of problems.

Problems Nebraska, like most of rest of the country does its best to avoid. Pesky little unresolved "issues" with the dump laws like:

  • the ways the Nebraska "safe haven" law circumvents the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • the child's lifelong needs, such as need for medical, social, genetic, and cultural history
  • how the "safe haven" laws can be used to cover crimes such as rape and incest
  • how they erode the parental rights of non-abandoning parents or other guardians. Nebraska's dump law is particularly reprehensible in that it allows pretty much anyone with physical custody to abandon a a child, potentially undermining both parents' parental rights
  • women's medical needs, as the law encourages lack of prenatal care, hidden pregnancies, and secret births often far from medical care risking both women's lives and those of their babies
  • The lack of counseling, particularly in relation to alternative courses of action to abandonment for those who abandon
  • and similarly, the lack of built in support structures and counseling for the kids in the cases of the older kid dumps, merely shipping them along to a foster home is inadequate
  • the fact that these laws open the doors to fraud and abuse
  • the dump law lacks any structure under which genuine informed consent can be determined, Doubly so as often those abandoning are sometimes in severe crisis, they may be in a state of diminished capacity, hardly conducive to making legal decisions that will alter the lives of all involved permanently
  • out of state child dumping, as Nebraska's date will be higher than some other states, out of state abandonments could still be a factor
  • the fact that the act of abandonment does nothing to change the circumstances from which the parent(s) or guardians came to the conclusion that dumping was the best option, poverty, domestic violence, housing problems, mental health conditions, etc.
  • the dump laws can be utilized in inter-family disputes, custody disputes, and as a tool of revenge
  • how such laws often undermine predetermined traditional revocation periods in adoptions and thus undermine traditional concepts of parental consent
  • the fact that "border babies" abandoned at hospitals often get entangled in "safe haven" stats
  • and the failures and shortcomings of the statistics of even the states that do bother keeping any, Nebraska has been a study in fudging the numbers.
  • the ways in which the dump law forces hospital workers into becoming agents of and acting on behalf of the state, and the lack of liability protections for them
  • how once a child is dumped the state is set up in an adversarial stance in relation to the parents or guardians, rather than a stance that enables familial reunification and support
  • the ways in which parents or guardians are often kept in the dark, unaware of the child's status, after a child is legally abandoned, making ongoing involvement difficult even when desired
  • how lack of specified communications mechanisms about upcoming hearings etc can cause parents to default and lose their parental rights
  • the fact that unsafe, even deadly abandonments continue on (at roughly the same pace, see the California Open section on page 3 of the Bastard Nation Nebraska dump law testimony) despite the dump laws, and that such acts are committed by some women who claim to have been fully aware of the laws at the time
  • the lifelong anguish that kids themselves have to live with daily, knowing they were abandoned as a child
  • How such laws foster and encourage a sense of shame, personal failure, and ostracization for womyn pregnant non-consentually, or in circumstances that in some way are deemed 'not measuring up' to the two parent, house with the white picket fence fantasy of how 'real' pregnancy is 'supposed to be'
  • For the older kids Nebraska has now collected a plethora of issues are not only still paramount, but many will be ongoing, perhaps lasting throughout their lifetimes. They must not be forgotten or lost in the bureaucracy
  • And in the same vein, the older kids who became entangled with some aspect of the Nebraska "safe haven" social experiment who for one reason or another were rejected and thus left off the official DHHS count, these 'ghost in the machine'/"attempted" dumps and self "havens" are in so many ways ALREADY forgotten.

and numerous other concerns, the list just goes on and on, and on and on, and on.

The Nebraska legislature can either deal with those concerns tomorrow, by introducing and passing an "Age it down to zero" bill, create a full repeal bill come January, or, they like almost all the rest of the country can deal with such from here on in, one 'oh shit we never thought of that!' at a time.

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