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Nebraska attempts to slam to barn door, only creating a new set of problems

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.


As I posted back on September 25th:

Nebraska has finally realized it’s in over its head.

They opened the floodgates by passing the most egregious legalized child abandonment law in the country, a law that allowed children up to age 19 to be dumped. The kids can be dumped for any reason, by anyone who has bodily custody of them.

Some of us Bastards wrote at the time what an incredibly bad idea this was, and that it was simply a matter of time before Nebraska found older kids being dumped.

Almost a month later, the numbers have done nothing but rise since I first posted that.

So let’s go to this AP piece, Nebraska lawmakers agree on safe-haven age limit that has hit within the past 24 hours.

Stung by the abandonments of children as old as 17 under Nebraska’s brand-new safe-haven law, the governor and lawmakers agreed Monday to narrow the law’s broad wording to protect only the parents of newborns from prosecution.

Forty of the Legislature’s 49 senators would amend the law so it applies only to infants up to 3 days old, legislative Speaker Mike Flood said at a news conference. The age cap would change the Nebraska law from the most lenient to one of the nation’s most restrictive.

As I predicted, Nebraska appears to have decided to go to dump law 2.0, the aged down version. Nebraska will still be encouraging child abandonment, just of kids too young to protect their own interests, or speak about the experience of being dumped for some years.

That does not mean these soon to be aged down dumps are less damaging.

Aging down still does nothing about so many of the core problems with the dump laws, parental rights being violated when one parent dumps and the other is out of the loop, the Indian Child Welfare Act violations, the real needs of families, and most importantly, the needs of the dumped kids themselves.

But aging down will ensure that 18 year gap between when a kid is dumped and when they hit age of majority, thus sparing the legislators, but not the kids.

If all the Nebraska legislators do is age down to version 2.0, they’ve sidestepped many issues of substance relating to the dump laws to do mere superficial tinkering, or as I put it, change the shade of lipstick on the pig.

The pig’s still there. It’s a ticking time bomb, that as more dumps happen under the new rules and the dumped kids grow older, a whole new set of problems are slowing going to become apparent, though odds are, just as in other states, they will be dismissed as ‘personal problems’ not problems inherent to the system the dump laws create.

Governor Heineman has been hinting all along that this aging down was what was going to be done to the law:

The Nebraska law has had “serious, unintended consequences,” Gov. Dave Heineman said. “This law needs to be changed to focus on infants.”

The governor reiterated that he would prefer not to call a special session before the Legislature’s regular session in January. But he indicated he could change his mind.

“If circumstances dictate, particularly if we have several more from out of state, I won’t hesitate to make that call” for a special session, Heineman said.

Should Heineman not call a special session, Flood said, lawmakers would quickly change the law, probably within the first couple weeks of the session.

Meanwhile, dump law advocate so called “national expert”s like Tim Jaccard, are rapidly trying to distance other state’s dump laws from the Nebraska older child dumps/child welfare experimentation:

A national expert on safe-haven laws commended Nebraska officials for moving to impose an age limit, but he said action should be taken now to prevent older children from receiving the scars of abandonment.

“It affects children,” said Tim Jaccard, president of the National Safe Haven Alliance. “When children are older they have the ability to understand what’s going on and they’re thinking, ‘Mommy and Daddy don’t want me anymore, so they’re throwing me in a hospital.’ That’s a psychological blow.”

So apparently as long as the kids themselves are not old enough to cognize the act of being dumped at the time, Jaccard is fine with state encouraged abandonment. This is beyond short sighted. Just because a child does not remember the act of being dumped itself that hardly means they will not live with all the complexities of have been abandoned for the rest of their lifetimes.

The “psychological blows” may actually be WORSE in that they have no direct memory of the event. For some adoptees, early life events grow to near mythic proportions, purely due to the lack of information and the mind attempting to fill those gaps.

Further, most states dumps laws are not merely the aged down versions, they also are based upon anonymous abandoners, thereby permanently depriving the infants, (eventual kids, eventual adults) of any way to trace back to their origins, a permanent destruction of identity, culture and heritage.

The “psychological” blows of most states’ dump laws go far beyond mere abandonment to unequal treatment under law for a class of people. People permanently deprived of information other citizens take for granted, all due to the state encouragement of abandonment.

But Nebraska? Even if they age down and maintain identified dumpers, these infants/kids/adults are going to be dealing with gaps in their information not dissimilar to other adoptees. Even in teen dumps we’ve seen a lack of basic medical information being transmitted across in some cases.

I’m loathe to make the medical argument, as no added medical history form is going to fix what dump laws do.

It is important to point out though, the state has created a process whereby a class subclass of people, (not all dumped kids, but some dumped kids,) are permanently deprived of the medical information necessary to make decisions throughout their lives. That lack of information can mean the difference between life and death.

But let’s go back and talk about Tim Jaccard himself. It’s time to talk about who some of these people who push dump laws are.

Legalized abandonment organizations across the country (many of which are best described as kitchen table organizations) run hotlines. On the other end of those calls lies a process for dumping, with people like Jaccard sometimes in the middle of such.

Under the dump laws a womyn gives birth, likely in secret, perhaps unattended, if she survives, the resulting newborn is then to be taken to a hospital.

Jaccard, far beyond mere dump law advocate has been deeply involved in making abandonments happen himself, an intrinsic part of them. In People magazine back in 2003, he admitted to assisting in secret births, once in Central Park and “once in a girl’s bedroom while her parents slept down the hall. ”

Yes, that means a hidden pregnancy, Jaccard assisting the secret birth, while the girl’s parents were asleep in the same house. Then the baby being “safe havened”.

Does this sound like the kind of law that fosters good interfamily communication?

Do you think that those parents ever learned of their daughter’s secret pregnancy, or the middle aged man prowling around their house that night making the resultant baby just go away?

Jaccard and others like him are what lie on the other end of the dump laws. They are the practical application of the dump laws.

These laws encourage womyn to give birth outside hospital settings.

They provide nothing for a womyn’s health, she’s expendable. It’s all about getting the kid.

Which is not the least bit surprising considering the history of how “safe havens” grew in part out of the adoption industry.

As for the National Safe Haven Alliance, (NSHA) they, and the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) (founded by Bill Pierce, see my earlier piece which explains how Pierce, NCFA, the dump laws and Nebraska are all pieces of the same “Safe haven” puzzle) are deeply entwined. The National Council for Adoption is what I would term an anti-adoptee organization, a trade and lobbying organization, created by the adoption industry to preserve sealed records.

Marley Greiner on her blog Bastardette, has been doing ongoing reporting on all the “safe haven” organizations, the personalities behind them, and their organizational ties. Here, for example is just one post discussing a National Safe Haven Alliance fundraiser and how joined at the hip NSHA has been to NCFA:

According to incorporation papers filed with the Virginia Secretary of State, Tom Atwood, president and CEO of NCFA is NSHA’s president and registered agent. The alliance’s principal office is 225 N. Washington St, Alexandria, VA–NCFA headquarters. The invitation to the fundraiser was went out on NCFA letterhead.

Legalized dump laws are about a steady supply of infants for adoption, in most states relatively paperfree, with no ‘pesky birthparents’ likely to show up at some later date. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the dump laws has happened at the exact same time as declining international adoptions.

I don’t know how to say this any more clearly, legalized abandonment laws,

  • are anti-womyn,
  • they are anti-kid,
  • they are anti-adoptee,
  • they are anti-family,
  • they are anti-tribal,
  • they are anti-public health,
  • anti-best practices in child welfare,
  • and at their core, a reversal of any notion of sane public policy.

They ultimately come down to ends justifies the means. So what if a womyn dies after secret childbirth, the newborn was “safe havened”.

And mere aging down, only creates a new set of problems.

Then again, I suppose Nebraska legislators can just ignore the real experts on legalized child abandonment AGAIN and watch as a new set of casualties add up.

We may have to wait 18 years for some voices to come to the fore, but trust me, infants don’t like being abandoned any more than teens do.

2 Responses to “Nebraska attempts to slam to barn door, only creating a new set of problems”

  1. Baby Love Child Says:

    Also be sure to see the final part of the AP article:

    Heineman has authorized Health and Human Services to spend up to $100,000 promoting a help line for parents and guardians operated by United Way. If it is flooded with calls, up to $200,000 in state money could be used to add phone lines.

    The state is also sending letters to all adoptive parents and guardians of children who are former state wards. The letter provides phone numbers and Web sites of agencies that can help them if they are having problems with their children.

    The letter also suggests parents contact Boys Town, an Omaha home for troubled youths that for decades has taken in children who are having problems.

    The letter does not mention that Nebraska has a safe-haven law.

  2. Baby Love Child Says:

    Full text of the letter can be found here (link opens a PDF.)

    Also see this Oct 20th release (again link opens a PDF). It includes among other details, this particularly important bit:

    Approximately half of Nebraska’s safe haven cases to date involve abandoned children who are former state wards.

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