Showing posts with label safe haven laws. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safe haven laws. Show all posts

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dear God: What the . . . .

Dear God,

I know I'm not the brightest guy. So, I was hoping you could explain some stuff to me.

Like, why do so many people who desperately want kids never have them? And why are some people who shouldn't be let into any county where children reside able to breed like freakin' rabbits?

Relatedly, what the hell is up with this? I'm assuming, being omniscient and all, you've already seen this morning's Omaha World-Herald.

Gary Staton said he had lost the will to be a parent after his wife died.

Now, the man who dropped off his nine kids under Nebraska's safe haven law is going to be a father again.

Staton, 37, and his girlfriend are expecting a baby.

The couple declined last week to discuss the pregnancy, calling it a private matter. But Staton addressed the matter briefly in an e-mail to The World-Herald.

“Do you think I'm going to raise this one alone?” he asked.

Since the Staton children were young, the family has received $995,468 in different forms of government aid, including more than $600,000 in food stamps and $109,774 in Medicaid, according to Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services records.

The children were placed in foster care after their father left them. Under the latest figures available, the state paid an average $725 a month per child to foster parents in similar situations.

Staton has given up custody of his seven youngest children. They remain in foster care with their mother's aunt, who hopes to adopt them. The two oldest boys were in foster care until last month, when a 75-year-old Omaha woman was approved to be their guardian.
I HAVE BEEN reliably told you're pretty handy with a lightning bolt from the blue. Couldn't you do something about this clown's business end?

Thanks for your time and consideration.



Monday, November 17, 2008

Bad kid? Don't get stuck. Act now!

I told you so.

I told you there'd be the biggest land rush to Nebraska since the Homestead Act -- this one by parents with dysfunctional teens and tykes in tow -- once the governor announced a special session to fix the state's latest foray into the jungle of unintended consequences, otherwise known as the state's "safe haven" law.

AND NOW look at what the Omaha World-Herald has found. I'm so surprised:
The pace of safe haven drop-offs nearly doubled after the announcement of the special legislative session to limit the law to infants, a World-Herald analysis shows.

Nebraska's unique safe haven law was intended to let mothers leave babies at hospitals without being prosecuted for child abandonment, but the law did not specify an age limit for children.

In the last two months, 25 parents and guardians have dropped off 34 children at hospitals - none of them newborns. Most were ages 11 to 17, many with psychiatric and behavioral disorders.

Since the law was used for the first time Sept. 13, parents and guardians dropped off children once nearly every three days.

The number of children - including several brought from other states - prompted Gov. Dave Heineman on Oct. 29 to announce an emergency session of the Legislature specifically to set an age limit.

Since Oct. 29, the pace has jumped to one new case every day and a half.

No children have been dropped off since the Legislature went into session Friday, even though the law remains in effect until revisions are passed when the session ends this Friday.

A proposal introduced at Heineman's request would limit the safe haven provision to babies no older than 72 hours.

Another proposal to create a system for older children gets a public hearing today, even though the Nebraska attorney general issued an opinion Sunday that the bill falls outside the limited purpose designated for the special session.

I WONDER WHAT will turn out to have been worse -- overmatched or neglectful parents dumping their broken kids on the state of Nebraska . . . or their no longer dumping their broken kids on the state of Nebraska?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Dump 'em if you've got 'em!

Let the mad rush begin!

With Nebraska's legislature set to meet in less than two weeks to take away Americans' right to use our fair state as a giant recycling bin for teens who have outlived their usefulness (and Mom's patience), parents have precious little time to unload their budding Norman Bateses and Debbie Downers. So expect the biggest rush to this part of the Great Plains since the signing of the Homestead Act as fed-up moms and dads try to beat the clock and hit it big playing Nebraska Dump 'Em.

AFTER ALL, Nebraska Dump 'Em (TM) is the only game in town where you win big by losing big!

The clock is ticking, and
le deluge got under way Sunday with the abandonment of two 16-year-olds at Omaha hospitals, as reported by the World-Herald:
A teenage girl was dropped off in Sarpy County on Sunday afternoon, and a teenage boy was left in Douglas County on Sunday night.

Sgt. Larry Fasnacht of the Papillion Police Department said the 16-year-old girl was left at Midlands Hospital by her mother.

The girl had lived in Omaha before being sent earlier this year to live with her mother in Arizona, Fasnacht said. The mother left the girl at the Papillion hospital about 4 p.m., he said.

Fasnacht said he did not know whether the mother, who has ties to the community, brought her daughter back to Nebraska specifically to drop her off under the safe haven law.

About 11:20 p.m., a 16-year-old boy was dropped off at Children's Hospital in Omaha, according to dispatch reports. No other details were available.

Kathie Osterman, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said more information would not be made available until today.

Since the beginning of September, there have been at least 19 instances of people wishing to use Nebraska's safe haven law, dropping off a total of 27 children — most at hospitals and one at a police station.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Signs of the times

From the Omaha World-Herald, more news of awful parents throwing away their children . . . one way or another:
An Omaha teenager has been put in foster care after trying to turn herself in under the state's safe haven law.

Nebraska's safe haven law protects people from being prosecuted for leaving a child at a hospital, but a parent or guardian didn't leave the child in this case.

Also, a 17-year-old boy was dropped off Wednesday, becoming the 20th youth taken in under the safe haven law.

In the teenage girl's case, according to an affidavit by a hospital social worker that was filed in Douglas County Juvenile Court:

The 16-year-old girl went Friday to Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha to "enact the safe haven law on behalf of herself."

The teen said she had been kicked out of her mother's house the previous night.

She said her mother had pushed and hit her before grabbing her by the hair, pushing her out the door and telling her to "get the hell out of my house."

The teen said her mother has been taking welfare checks and vouchers intended for the teen's 10-month-old son and has refused to buy her necessary items, such as tampons. Two of the teen's aunts have been giving her money for baby supplies and food.

The teen said her mother also had been emotionally abusive, telling the teen she looked like a prostitute and making other demeaning remarks.

The teen and her baby were placed in foster care.
AND FROM THE HILL, it could be an interesting election night. In the Chinese-curse sense of "interesting":
Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.

Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.

Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand officers wanting to keep the peace, but caution that excessive police presence could intimidate voters.

Sen. Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has seen his lead over rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grow in recent weeks, prompting speculation that there could be a violent backlash if he loses unexpectedly.

Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed.

In Oakland, the police will deploy extra units trained in riot control, as well as extra traffic police, and even put SWAT teams on standby.

“Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland Police Department.

“I think it is a big deal — you got an African-American running and [a] woman running,” he added, in reference to Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. “Whoever wins it, it will be a national event. We will have more officers on the street in anticipation that things may go south.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Omaha: You can dump your kid here

I was born to parents who -- by life experience in a grindingly dysfunctional culture of white poverty -- had been rendered uniquely incapable, in many ways, of successfully raising a child.

The process of trying to, however, probably left them with more than a few scars and more than a little heartbreak. I know it left me with a lot more scars and a lifetime of heartbreak. You'd be surprised how far the ripples of sin and stupidity can travel through space, families and time.

MY FOLKS HAD the misfortune of growing up hard. Real hard. That's how many came up during the Depression in the Deep South amid a folk culture where, for example, comets were still terrifying omens and it was "better" for little girls to help around the house than, say . . . go to school.

Not to mention where curing bad coughs often involved eating Vicks salve. (Note: Vicks smells better than it tastes.)

I had the misfortune of growing up at the mercy of parents raised, as it were, by wolves and incapable of admitting -- most notably to themselves -- how messed up that was.

But they did their best with their baby boy. Their best wasn't great, but they muddled through. I'm muddling through still.

For all their struggles, dysfunction and redneck insanity, though, there's one thing Mama and Daddy never did. One thing they never could have conceived of doing, no matter what . . . and no matter what a damn mess their kid might have been (and I was).

They never would have loaded me up in the old Mercury, pulled out onto the highway and drove until they found a city where they thought they could get away with dumping my ass.

They never in a million years would have done what the Omaha World-Herald
reports a Detroit-area mother did with her son early Monday:
A Michigan mother drove more than 700 miles to leave her 13-year-old son at an Omaha hospital in the middle of the night - a place where the family had no ties.

What drew her, according to officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, was Nebraska's unique safe haven law.

The teen became the second child from another state to be left at a Nebraska hospital under the law, which sets no age limit on the children who can be left.

A 14-year-old Council Bluffs girl was left last week at Creighton University Medical Center. She has since been returned to her family.

The safe haven law, which took effect July 18, says people cannot be prosecuted in Nebraska for leaving a child with a hospital employee on duty. They can, however, be charged with other acts of abuse and neglect and can lose their parental rights.

In the Michigan case, a woman identifying herself as the boy's mother left him at the Creighton hospital about 1:30 a.m. Monday, said Todd Landry, children and family services director for HHS. The family is from the Detroit area.

Landry said the boy's mother remained in Nebraska at least until Monday afternoon and had talked with state officials at least twice.

HHS officials were still gathering and verifying information, but it appeared the mother came to Nebraska specifically to drop off the teen, who has since been placed at an emergency shelter.

"Just like every other of the instances of safe haven use, the child does not appear to be and was not in any immediate danger of being harmed in any way," Landry said.

He said he could not give information about why the family decided to make use of the safe haven law. He said there was no indication the teen had violent tendencies and that he was not a state ward in Michigan.
THIS IS BECOMING an epidemic. Omaha has become American parents' landfill of choice for abandoning their "flawed" offspring. Or for flawed parents to cast off little people who so unfairly prevent them from hitting the "reset button" on their own out-of-control lives.

Only rarely do the consequences of a flawed law become so shockingly obvious so shockingly quickly. Something is seriously wrong in America . . . and I don't mean the economy or the stock market.


There's been a common denominator in recent coverage of Nebraska's safe-haven debacle that I don't want to hear another word about. The latest example came in
a story Monday evening on Omaha's KETV television:
For parents facing that situation, however, getting help can sometimes be extremely difficult.

KETV talked with a local social worker whose goal is keep families together.

She said that while Nebraska’s Safe Haven law seems like an option for troubled youth, it really isn’t helping anyone.

Bonnie Sarton Meirau has spent 15 years working with families and troubled youth and she said she understands why families may be taking advantage of the new law.

"I think they feel like they're out of options, there's a hopelessness and helplessness that unfortunately Safe Haven feeds in to," Mierau said.
I CALL BULLSHIT. If a Michigan mom has the money and the time and the energy to bundle her 13-year-old problem child and drive 12 hours to Omaha Effing Nebraska for the express purpose of abandoning the kid at a hospital emergency room, she has the wherewithal to track down and access whatever help might be available to her in greater Detroit.

Which I will guaran-damn-tee you is far more extensive than what was available to my flawed parents and their flawed kid nearly four decades ago in a Southern backwater. Shockingly -- at least by today's standards, apparently -- no children were thrown away in the telling of my life story.

Oh, today's poor parents. How did they ever manage before the Nebraska Legislature made it possible for them to unburden themselves of their most pressing problems -- which, unfortunately, seem to be their children?

Though I'm sure social services could be better and more accessible all across these United States in this troubled age, this scarred child of whack parents is here to tell America that's not our biggest problem in this whole mess. No matter what Channel 7 says.

No, what we have here is not a social-services crisis. What we have here is an asshole-parents crisis.

Would that it were as easily fixed as bureaucratic shortcomings. Or nonspecific state laws.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Planned unparenthood

Listen closely. I am only going to say this once.

You know you have a society nearing total collapse when it's easier -- and cheaper -- to throw away your own child than it is to recycle your old, broken-down computer monitor. Think about that.

For the love of God -- or at least for the love of your own sorry ass -- think about that.

YES, THIS MEANS I've just read of another throw-away-children outrage in the Omaha World-Herald:
A Council Bluffs teen was dropped off at Creighton University Medical Center under Nebraska's new safe haven law Tuesday. It was the first time an out-of-state youth was left in Nebraska under the program, state officials said.

"We have made a formal report of the abandonment to the Iowa child abuse hotline," Todd Landry, director of the Nebraska Division of Children and Family Services, said in a statement. "We are working with the Iowa Department of Human Services to resolve this situation as quickly as possible."

The child, a 14-year-old girl, is the 17th youngster left at a hospital under the Nebraska law. This is the 9th time a parent or guardian has dropped off a child or children under the law, which went into effect July 18.
BAD STUFF is headed America's way, and we're going to deserve every jot and tittle of it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's the recycling number for kids?

Ever since Nebraska's "safe haven" law went into effect, a veil has been lifted somehow. And we see into a society's heart of darkness.

"Safe haven" laws were designed to allow parents to drop off their unwanted infants at safe places, like fire stations or hospitals, in an effort to keep panicked mothers from just dumping their babies, period. That, or perhaps killing them outright.

THE 49 OTHER STATES passing such laws before Nebraska put age limits on children falling under their "no questions asked" drop-off provisions. For arcane reasons -- most of them aimed at getting around the objections of a single state senator -- our law didn't include an age limit.

No one thought that would be a big problem. It was, leading to an unending stream of stories in the Omaha World-Herald about parents dumping children who definitely were not newborns.

And today . . . this:
Child drop-offs under Nebraska's safe haven law have until now been individual affairs involving individual children.

But Wednesday evening at Creighton University Medical Center, a father dropped off nine children, all his.

The children ranged in age from 1 to 17 years, said Officer Michael Pecha, an Omaha police spokesman.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services was still gathering details late Wednesday and would not comment, department spokeswoman Kathie Osterman said.

She did clarify, however, the process by which children are handled once dropped off:

When a child is left, hospital staffers call local law enforcement. Police in most cases would place a child or children in emergency protective custody.

The county attorney recommends whether a child should remain in state custody or return home, and a judge ultimately decides on placement.

In the week-and-a-half before Wednesday, at least two teens and one preteen had been dropped off at eastern Nebraska hospitals.

The safe haven law was intended to protect unwanted newborns, but Nebraska's law does not set an age limit on children who can be left at hospitals. Many have interpreted that to mean children up to age 19 can be dropped off.
A FATHER. Abandoning his nine children. At a hospital.

Something is afoot out there. Parents are desperate, and children are expendable.

Children now are just another throwaway item in this age of "choice" -- as in "You get to choose your own reality" and "You get to choose whether your unborn baby lives or dies."

Kids . . . be good, eat your vegetables and don't piss off Mama or Daddy. It's important.