Friday, July 31, 2009


Here's updates on the July 20 Box Butte baby dump case. (Go directly below this entry for entries posted by Baby Love Child and me on the case).

Thursday and Friday news reports (here, here, and here) circulated that the biological parents of the newborn had contacted authorities as early as July 22, to see about the return of the infant.

Saturday, the Alliance Star Herald and Omaha World-Herald gave details. The papers report that on July 22, two days after the baby was left at Box Butte General Hospital, the mother, her relatives, and the baby's father contacted the hospital, asking for the baby's return. The baby had been put on a routine 48-hour hold and officials were preparing to release him to a foster-to-adopt family. HHS, consequently, decided to keep the baby for another night at the hospital where both parents visited him, and the mother cared and stayed with him.

Reports in both papers are substantially the same. The quote below is from the Alliance Star-Herald, a more detailed account than appears in the World-Herald:

The biological parents of a baby boy abandoned under the state’s Safe Haven Act had asked for the baby to be returned after changing their minds about surrendering the child under the state’s Safe Haven law, according to court documents filed in Box Butte County Court.

An aunt dropped off the baby boy July 20, according to officials with the Department of Health and Human Services. The baby was placed on a 48-hour hold by law enforcement, which is standard practice in cases until custody is established with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

According to an affidavit filed by a guardian ad litem assigned to the case, the mother of the child didn’t realize she was pregnant and gave birth to the infant in a bathtub of water. She sterilized a pair of scissors, cut the umbilical cord and used bobby pins to seal the ends. The mother reported that she was scared and didn’t know what to do next. She heard about the Safe Haven law and requested that her sister deliver the baby to the hospital.

Two days later, the biological mother and relatives contacted a Box Butte General Hospital official and said that the biological parents wanted the baby. The baby had been ready for release and HHS officials were in the process of placing the baby with a foster-adoption family.

On July 23, under a plan arranged by HHS, Box Butte County Judge Charles Plantz (left) granted legal custody to the agency while the parents undergo genetic testing and psychological assessment. Plantz made it clear in his order that HHS should proceed with its plan to place the baby with his biological mother while its investigation continues. The maternal grandmother is taking a leave of absence from her job to help care for the infant and his mother. The Star-Herald says the grandmother will move into the mother's home, but the Herald-World says the mother will move into the grandmother's home. The father will be allowed easy access to the infant.

According to court documents, Larry Miller, the baby's court appointed guardian ad litem said, "NDHS believes this arrangement will provide safety for the baby." Hospital officials filed an affidavit in which they said they believe it would be best for the mother and baby to be together so the mom could nurse and bond with him. (Note: court documents are not available to the public; information on them comes from news reports.)

The next hearing on the case is scheduled for August 18. The HHS name assigned to the baby, the names of the parents, and the initials used in the court proceedings have not been released. The current location of the baby is unclear, but it sounds like he is with his mother.


Baby dump promoters and the press went into a dither when the baby, as per Unicam specification, was delivered in tact to Box Butte General Hospital on July 20 by someone identified and now verified as the baby's aunt (mother's sister).

Nebraska politicians such as Arnie Struthman (right) and associated baybee pimps like to brag to scared and uninformed suckers that legalized anonymous baby dumping is a no-muss-no-fuss-no-questions-asked-walk away-from-the-problem child surrender with no legal or social consequences. Apparently, these propagandists forgot to tell this to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. HHS threw out a dragnet for the parents as soon as the baby was dropped of.

As I posted last week, HHS publicized far and wide:

It’s important to gather information like family medical history to meet this child’s current and future needs.

HHS spokesperson, Jeanne Atkinson went even farther. According to in the July 23 Omaha World-Herald:

A newborn dropped off this week under Nebraska's revised safe haven law might have to spend six months or more in foster care unless his parents can be found.State law allows courts to terminate parental rights after children have been abandoned for six months or more.That would free the infant boy, who was left at a western Nebraska hospital Monday evening, for adoption.Getting an adoption finalized could take additional time, said Jeanne Atkinson, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

See, the folks at HHS (for all their missteps during the late Nebraska Fiasco), know that "safe haven" is a spurious law that conflicts with all sorts of state and national child welfare laws and policies, not to mention professional child welfare standards and ethics, not to mention it's bad for the kid and its permanent legal disposition, not to mention it makes the state look like its turning its children into figili della Madonna. After the Nebraska Fiasco, any attempt at legal anonymous newborn dump and grab will raise questions and hackles.

When I first heard that the parents of Baby Box Butte had come forward (with no details) I thought either they (1) wanted to reclaim him or (2) wanted to make legal surrender and adoption proceedings easier. Scenario 1 is usually the case when parents come forward. They realize they panicked or were misinformed and want their baby back. In Scenario 2, parents realize they panicked or were misinformed and want to make a genuine adoption plan for the good of their child and themselves. In the nearly 10 years I've researched legalized dumping I have not found one single case where a parent or a family member who petitioned for return was denied.

I believe there are two reasons for this:

  • Child welfare workers by in large do not like "safe haven" laws and except when thwarted by legal anonymity laws that binds their hands, hold a higher child welfare standard than do politicians and amateur do-gooders via counseling, education, and informed consent whether the final decision of the parent(s) be reunification, kinship care, temporary foster care, or adoption.
  • The state fears if victims of "safe havening" are not returned, except for good cause, a parent or relative will seek legal redress. Since "safe haven" laws are already dancing on thin ice, the chance of overturning a law on constitutional grounds given the right circumstances in any state, is good. Not only would costly time-consuming litigation be necessary, but if the plaintiff were successful the entire law could be overturned, and adoption placements of safe havened children be vacated. If the case goes up the law ladder far enough, the entire Ponzi scheme could collapse throughout the country. Keeping families in tact post-dump, then, is simply utilitarian even if it is the right thing to do.
For more on the constitutional problems with "safe haven" read Erik L. Smith here and here.

Congratulations to Judge Plantz for the quick turnaround on this case and putting the skids on further harm to this family. I hope the soon-to-be permanently reunited family gets the support and assistance it needs, and that others who may be in similar circumstances study this cautionary tale and seek real help and support, not the state-facilitated political feel-good baby abandonment solution they will regret.


This seems as good a place as any to add this note.

I know that many find it difficult to believe that some pregnant women are unaware of their pregnancies. I've been less skeptical. I believe that sometimes women are in deep deep denial but in other cases they simply don't have regular pregnancy symptoms or are misdiagnosed.

A good friend of mine was 6 1/2 months pregnant before she was finally diagnosed. She had always been told she could not have children. When she exhibited pregnancy symptoms at least two OB-GYNs guaranteed her she was not pregnant. When she was referred to a specialist in a near-by town, guess what! Since then, I've been rather interested in this phenomena and always read articles on the subject when they pop up in the popular press. There is also quite a bit of academic literature on the subject. The truth is, undiagnosed and unknown pregnancy is not as rare as you'd think.

The Learning Channel
is currently running a show, I Didn't Know I was Pregnant. I watched several episodes last week. The women featured don't appear to be mentally disturbed or in deep denial. They are not baby dumpers or potential dumpers. The simply had little or no reason to suspect they were pregnant. The show's website features Top 10 Reasons Why Women Don't Know They are Pregnant, a succinct lay guide to undetected pregnancy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nebraska- first baby dump after the fiasco and age down

(Marley's piece directly beneath this post has initial details and important weblinks pertaining to this incident.)

Monday evening a baby boy was left at Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance under Nebraska's aged down new dump law created over the legislative special session. Nebraska law, originally accepted older kids, but was "aged down" in the wake of their "big kid" dump fiasco that made international headlines.

This marks the first legalized infant abandonment in Nebraska since the final "big kid" dump in late November '08.

Quoting Marley's piece,

According to Nebraska Health and Human Services Chief Executive Officer Kerry Winterer (RIP Todd Landry), in an HHS press release:

“It’s important to gather information like family medical history to meet this child’s current and future needs,” he said.

Officials asked that anyone with information call the HHS office in Gering at 308-436-6559, the Box Butte County Sheriff’s Office at 308-762-6464, the Alliance Police Department at 308-762-4955 or the Nebraska State Patrol at 308-632-1211.

While it appears the "fiasco" taught Nebraska at least a little about the vital importance of preserving at least a few scraps of information for the kid, clearly Nebraska has yet to learn the broader lesson:


  • a fundamental failure of the state to protect the long term interests and human rights of these kids.
  • A failure of the state to treat these instances as what they are, marking a crisis for the parent (s), be that psychological, economic, covering over traumatic events such as incest or domestic abuse, etc.
  • The state inexcusably providing what amounts to a "make it all just go away" vent, whereby underlying core issues, and genuine needs, are simply ignored. The kids themselves are left to deal with the legacy of such.

Monday marks yet another sad day, a day on which the State of Nebraska failed one of its most vulnerable and least able to protect their own interests, and a day when whatever family this child once had is left to disappear into shadows with their own lifetime's worth of a festering secret that can never be rectified.

Nebraska had an opportunity after seeing what legalized child dumping or what is oh so politely reframed as "safe haven," meant to those old enough to speak of their own experiences of being "legally abandoned." An opportunity to dismantle its dump system. Instead they chose to preserve it, aging down to those unable to speak about their own experiences. In essence, Nebraska found a way to silence its most directly affected and experienced critics, at least until they grow older, long after this crop of politicians leaves office.

No, this is not some "greater good," this is not a "save," nor should this act be celebrated. This is nothing more than rot from within. Shame on Nebraska for maintaining its system of secrets and lies, pushing the lifelong consequences of such down onto a newborn.


This morning The Omaha World-Herald and other Nebraska media (here and here) report that the state got its first "safe haven" catch since its new and improved law went into effect late last year. The baby, described as "a male Caucasian newborn less than 30 days of age" was dropped off by a family member at the Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance Monday night.

Nebraska's post-fiasco law permits designated dumpers to drop off babies 30 days and younger no questions asked.

Did we say no questions asked?

According to Nebraska Health and Human Services Chief Executive Officer Kerry Winterer (RIP Todd Landry), in an HHS press release:

“It’s important to gather information like family medical history to meet this child’s current and future needs,” he said.

Officials asked that anyone with information call the HHS office in Gering at 308-436-6559, the Box Butte County Sheriff’s Office at 308-762-6464, the Alliance Police Department at 308-762-4955 or the Nebraska State Patrol at 308-632-1211.

What ever happened to no shame, no blame, no name?

The press release does not appear on the state's "safe haven" page or HHS press release page. If and when it does, I'll link it here. I'll also update when Nebraska's self-servers comment on how they saved just one...

Alliance, Nebraska, population 8,959 (2000 census) is located in northwest Nebraska. Before it became Nebraska's first post-fiasco dumping ground it was known mainly for its replica of Stonehenge constructed from automobiles.

UPDATE: The HHS press release is now up. Click here.