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

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.


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.

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