Friday, November 21, 2008

Sowing bad seed into an ill wind

"The Sower" by Lee Lawrie, the massive statuary that sits atop the Nebraska Capitol

What can I possibly say that hasn't already been said already in these 71 posts documenting the ongoing child welfare catastrophe in Nebrasaka?

Honestly, what's left?

Marley and I have documented abandonment after abandonment of teens, tweens and just plain kids under Nebraska's original so called safe haven legislation, LB 157. We're written about the dire circumstances so many of these kids have come from, and the variety of ways in which their already buffeted and torn families have over and over again found services on paper but the doors to access little more than trompe l'oeil.

We've brought the stories of the 'ghost in the machine' dumps, left uncounted by the Nebraska DHHS, such as the very first child abandoned after the law went into effect. He is not in the official stats as he was left at a police station rather than a state designated dump site.

We've covered the self "haven" cases, also not included in the DHHS statistics, the stories of teens who turned themselves in only to be turned away. The self "haven" kids range from a desperate boy from Grand Island who had been living in a storage space with his grandmother and was merely trying to find enough stability to finish school, to a teenage mother honor student who self havened herself and her baby after being kicked out of her mother's house and claiming her mother took her support checks. She was also turned away.

In all of these cases, we've done the best we could to bring the actual voices of the kids themselves to the fore whenever possible.

We've written post after post about how aging down the dump law to infants was no solution. We've explained the legal, ethical, and child-centered reasons why dump law 2.0 carries with it all the hallmarks of failure.

It does however ensure the silence of the directly affected, for the time being at least.

Infants can't go on TV or MySpace to talk about how child abandonment affects them, at least they won't be able to for some years yet.

Infants can't run away from their abandoners at the hospital dump site rather than endure the consequences of being abandoned.

The next generation of dumped children in Nebraska will be pliable and unable to register their dissent for the foreseeable future.

Already the vote is being heralded as "solving the immediate problem," when in fact all the vote has done is vote for little kid child abandonment rather than almost all kids, particularly big kids child abandonment.

Nebraska has failed its children a second time.

Already the hastily formed "task force" is being heralded as the way forward, but the voices of the directly affected, people who have been abandoned, have been state wards, or are themselves adoptees are not listed as those with a chair at the table.
The task force will meet three times in December and hear from dozens of experts from across the state — hospital executives, juvenile judges, children's advocates and social workers.
The Children in Crisis Task Force will first meet Dec. 2 at Boys Town in Omaha, an all-day discussion expected to include representatives from Boys Town, Alegent Health, Project Harmony, Creighton University Medical Center and others.
I question how inclusive their definition of "everybody" really will turn out to be.
"Now we're going to get everybody around the table and come up with some concrete ideas," McGill said.
In my post about the announcement of the task force, I pointed out at that any working group that does not accept as a bedrock foundation that child abandonment is a bad thing is not going to produce child-centric results.

Sure enough, right on cue, members of the task force are already crowing about how the dump law should be considered a "blessing":
Members of the task force offered no preliminary plans for changing the system, and they said it's too soon to know how much any possible changes will cost.

Instead, they talked about how the roundly criticized safe haven law may end up being the best thing that happened for Nebraska families desperate for help. They called it "an opportunity" and "a blessing in disguise."
Child abandonment is NEVER a "blessing" to the kids themselves.

Only someone with zero empathy for the realities kids face in child abandonment could say such a thing, and yet this is the second time today we've seen precisely that.

Further, before LB 157 passed there were efforts to build a task force to study the issues involved they were soundly voted down. (Hopefully Marley will have more time to detail this in a later post.)

Today was not merely a massive defeat for kids, it marked another sad milestone, the whole of the "debate" was between most kid/big kid dumping and little kid dumping. There was no bill nor amendment, ever so much as offered up, that ever once questioned the idea of legalized child abandonment itself.

Thus even had they wanted to, there was no means by which Nebraska State Senators even had the option of voting against still more child abandonment.

It was never a question of whether or not to dump, it was merely a question of who to dump.

LB 1 started with the wrong premise, (what is the right age to abandon a child?) and went downhill from there.

The kids themselves never had a chance.

Today Nebraska state senators were asked to vote between two choices:

  • legalized child abandonment encouraged and enabled by the state, and

  • legalized child abandonment encouraged and enabled by the state
Not surprisingly, the kids lost.


Anonymous said...

THANKS, BLC and Marley, for all your hard work on this. Legislators are idiots not to see what is wrong with abandonment at any age, and they are reinforcing their ignorance by not inviting adoptees and abandoned kids to be part of their task force. It is a farce and a shame.

Grannie Annie said...

Thanks for all the great work you've done. Your analysis of the problem is spot on. The problem is in the minds of the legislators who, as you say, have taken infant/baby abandonment for granted.

I just can't seem to "get it."


Lauren Sabina Kneisly said...

Thanks folks! Glad to see there are still a few sane people left in the universe :)

Thanks for the work you've done on this as well!