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Nebraska- Drivin’ all night to dump a kid, Michigan Teen dumped

This is the latest in a series of posts I have done criticizing Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment laws. You can find my earlier posts via my Nebraska tag.


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Fly by dumping, flying the child abandonment skies.

Yup, welcome to the daily doom that is Nebraska’s legalized child abandonment law.

The Detroit (Michigan) News reports this morning on a Michigan parent who flew into Nebraska to legally abandon their 13 year old son.

After all what’s the cost of a plane ticket when compared with the looming prospect of college tuition?

KETV is now reporting the mother drove 12 hours in from Detroit:

At 3 p.m. on Monday, those officials said the mother was still in Omaha.

Todd Landry, director of the Division of Children and Family Services, said the department is working with Michigan officials and the Douglas County attorney’s office to resolve the situation.

The department has also been in contact with the boy’s family since the child was dropped off.Officials are trying to learn more about the circumstances of the latest case, but say the Columbus Day holiday is slowing the investigation.But officials reported that the boy was in no immediate danger and was not exhibiting any violent behavior.

Regardless of whether by air or by land, this is the second reported case of a cross state lines legalized abandonment resulting in a kid being abandoned in Nebraska. (The first, from Iowa is now back home in Iowa, “reunited” with her family, in no small part after Nebraska tried to raise the possibility of the parents being prosecuted in Iowa.)

At 6pm, an AP story just hit, containing a few more details:

The boy has been placed in an emergency shelter. Landry said the family doesn’t appear to have ties to Nebraska and he wasn’t sure if the family had sought help in Michigan first.

State officials have met with the boy’s mother, Landry said but wouldn’t immediately address her reasons for leaving her son. He said he believed the boy’s parents were married but wasn’t sure if the father agreed to the decision.

The article also reminds potential dumping parents that there are no guarantees they’ll be able to get their child back, should they want the kid back:

State officials have said parents and caregivers need to understand there is no guarantee an abandoned child could be returned to them if they change their minds. The have encouraged parents to seek other resources before resorting to abandonment.

Both the KETV and AP stories are reporting that per the Nebraska intake process, the boy was placed in an “emergency shelter.”

While I am unable to confirm this means this particular boy ended up at Project Harmony, based on previous statements (see this link for “Kids who are dropped off are brought to an organization called Project Harmony for evaluation,”) it’s a reasonable guess. Project Harmony runs a version of an “emergency shelter,” primarily for kids who have been sexually abused and has been woven into the Nebraska legalized child dumping intake process.

I wrote a post recently dealing with this outsourcing and some of the issued raised by such entitled Nebraska Dump Law, just how deep does this rabbit hole go?

At the tail end of the AP piece, Nebraska’s governor continues to push for a dump law 2.0 aimed at infants, (who due to the age issue, would be less likely to go on the evening news and be able to tell lawmakers and the world from first hand experience how much being dumped sucks.)

Gov. Dave Heineman has been reluctant to call a rare special session.

Landry declined to comment on whether a special session was needed, but he did say Monday that a new law is needed to specifically address infants in danger. Two children coming from out of state is clear evidence changes are needed, he said.

“We need to get back to the intent of the law,” he said. “The intent of the law was always the protection of newborns in immediate danger of being harmed.”

My advice to the Nebraska Governor is to pick on someone his own size.

Or at bare minimum someone old enough to be able to fight back/ able to articulate the damage legalized child abandonment laws do. Subjecting infants, those societally least able to speak out on behalf their own interests, to these laws just means waiting a few more years before being able to hear the first of the dumped infants tell you that child abandonment is not good policy.

No doubt, not all the kids dumped will despise them, but to use “safe haven” advocates rhetoric and twist it back against them, If it harms “just one”…!

Fantasies of infants abandoned and up for adoption resale aside, back in the real world, Nebraska continues to receive teens and older children, not a newborn among ’em. Older kids on the resale market don’t move very well. Maybe that’s why Nebraska is considering hitting up guardian dumpers from child support to pay for ’em.

None-the-less, the more people hear about this law is apparently the greater the number of parents willing to jump in the car and drive 12 hours to be rid of a kid.

We’re up to 21 attempted abandonments now. 21 kids who had it not been for the irresponsible actions of Nebraska state lawmakers would not have been legally abandoned, or abandonment attempts.

For every “baby safe haven” advocate who has ever whined, despairing of how they think their laws simply needed more publicity or a publicity budget, we now have one hell of a case study of what happens once the word gets out that the state will take kids off your hands.

These days, thanks to headlines around the globe and the TV 24 hour news cycle desperate for something to fill that space between the commercials, now unless you’ve been living under a rock plenty of people now think they know at least something about the Nebraska scheme and are happy to fill the blogosphere with their opinions of how “it’s a good law, just being ‘misused'”. However, most of the people spouting off about these legalized child abandonment laws have not passed through any portion of the child welfare or adoption systems. Bastardette, who is also doing coverage on this latest Nebraska dump and I have.

Meanwhile in the American psyche, “NEBRASKA” has taken the place of the proverbial bogeyman under the bed for some kids (note that the kids mentioned on the other end of this particular link have are already hip deep in quack-therapy RAD-land.) They fear they too, will face being ‘NEBRASKA-ED!” (Yup, it’s now a verb.)

Kids everywhere, living in fear, “Behave, or I’ll take you to Nebraska!”

Congratulations Nebraska legislators, you’ve made your state synonymous with state encouraged child abandonment in the national consciousness.

Puts a whole new twist on that ‘we adopted you, and you keep this up young lady, we can unadopt you too!’ (Yes we have seen at least one adoptee dumped into the ‘returns’ department.)

Nebraska legislators nervously eyeing the prospect of hordes of out of state teens being dumped into their already overburdened and underfunded child welfare system are hastily attempting to erect legislative walls trying to keep out of state dumpers out:

State Sen. Mike Flood, speaker of the Legislature, said that when the law is revised, he would like to see it pertain only to Nebraska residents, although he didn’t say how that might be accomplished.

Nebraska not being an anonymous dumper state can at least in theory, determine the point of origin of those bringing the kids to be dumped.

(Anonymous dumper states, of course mean in some cases anyone can bring a kid. One has to wonder whether international child dumping has ALREADY taken place, but due to the broadly written states laws we have no way of knowing. )

My ‘adopted’ home state of Maryland really takes the cake on the baby-dumps though, allowing any mother or anyone with the permission of the mother to leave any newborn 3 days old or less with ANYONE, ANYWHERE so long as the recipient is a “responsible adult”. The recipient then is supposed to take the newborn to a hospital. (see this link to a Child Welfare Information Gateway PDF document, search on “Cts & Jud Pro § 5-641″) Which is to say you gotta watch your back here in Maryland, after all, anyone could hand you a baby at any time.

Back in Nebraska, the ‘brain trust’ who brought us this day by day mounting dumped kid casualty count continue to blather the proverbial, ‘move along, move along, nothing to see here, we’ll get to it, nothing to worry about… .”

Nope, the current state of affairs, the rising toll of legally abandoned kids is apparently just fine by Nebraska State Senator Arnie Stuthman, of Platte Center. Stuthman opposes calling a special session saying:

agencies and organizations such as Boys Town and United Way can make headway in addressing the issues of families so they do not feel they have to abandon children.

Perhaps Sen. Stuthman would care to take that up with the the 13 year-old girl who was abandoned under Nebraska’s catastrophic legalized abandonment law back on September 20th. She had ALREADY been at Boys Town until she was removed by her great aunt the beginning of the summer. She had been removed due to her great aunt’s concerns about potential over medication during her time at Boys Town:

A 13-year-old girl who’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and severe behavioral problems. She was prone to fly into rages and and had been living at Boys Town until her great aunt removed her at the beginning of the summer, concerned that the girl was being medicated too heavily.

After the girl smeared her menstrual blood on the walls of her house, the “aunt called agencies for help but said she could not find a program,” the World-Herald reports. When the girl tried to jump out of a moving car, her great aunt took her to a hospital and asked for help.

“I can’t do nothing for her anymore. It’s too dangerous,” she told the Omaha newspaper.

So Sen. Stuthman’s ‘answer’ is to send her right back into the situation she just came out of.

In other words his answer is no answer, how perfectly circular.

I’ve said from the beginning, we are looking at decades worth of budget slashing and privatization of services, the state abdicating its duty to its citizens, seeing “faith-based” institutions as solution structures. The legalized child abandonment laws are just revealing the already pre-existing rot and failures of precisely those ‘public/private partnership’ arrangements. Kids are falling through those gaps.

Rather than attempting to readjust the shade of lipstick on the pig to a colour more soothing, the only real answer at this point is to innovate.

It’s past time Nebraska did a system-wide assessment, and began to build genuine support structures offering real support to kids and families. Stop outsourcing, stop privatizing, stop assuming someone else can take care of it.

‘Can’t someone else do it?’ may make for a great campaign slogan on the Simpsons, but most Americans expect more of real politicians than of their cartoon counterparts. (Further, real life politicians might do well to remember how that particular Simpsons episode ends!)

Before that assessment process begins, the immediate needs of kids need to come first. The Nebraska legislators have created a crisis, they need to do the only thing that is going actually help these kids instead of continuing the harm already inflicted on at least 21 kids so far, REPEAL the legalized abandonment law. Take the lead nationally, and realize that legalized child abandonment is not something any state should be encouraging.

Being the only state without a law encouraging abandonment is not something to be ashamed of, it would be something to be proud of. Nebraska could, if legislators had the will, return Nebraska to its former place of honour, that of being a state that does not encourage child abandonment.

Encouraging legalized child abandonment is nothing less than the state putting its hands in its pockets, shrugging its shoulders, and mumbling, “we got nothing”, then passing the kids off to whichever ‘someone else’ happens to be handy, (usually along with a nice big fat check).

Kids deserve better.

The Nebraska legislature’s mishandling of child welfare in this manner is unconscionable. These kids are going to have to live with their (legislators) mistakes for a lifetime.

End child legalized abandonment now.

REPEAL the legalized abandonment law.

(Quick, before the next flight lands.)

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