November 15, 2008

Safe Haven Law

Have any of you heard about the “Safe Haven” law? It typically lets parents remain nameless to the court, often using a numbered bracelet system as the only means of linking the baby to the mother. Police stations, hospitals, rescue squads, and fire houses are all typical locations to which the safe haven law applies. All 50 states have "safe haven" laws, but the others apply only to infants less than 1 year old. Nebraska was one of the last states to introduce this. Only the District of Columbia is without such a law. People from all over the country are taking their children and dropping them off. Some of them driving for miles to get their kids to Nebraska. Three fathers walked into two hospitals in Omaha and abandoned their children. One left nine siblings, ages 1 to 17. Last week, a 13-year-old girl was left. The week before that, two boys ages 11 and 15. In all, fathers, mothers and caregivers in six families, some of them single parents, have bailed on 14 kids, including seven teens, since the law took effect in July. I believe that number has jumped since then to about 35 kids.

What I want to know is, where was this law when I had an unruly 16 year old 4 years ago? There were times I really wanted to give that kid up for adoption but who would take a 16 year old with a drug, alcohol, and attitude problem? It seems the legislators could not agree on a specific age limit, choosing "child" instead, which applies to anyone aged 17 or under. Man, did they open up a can of worms. Teenagers are making up the largest number of abandoned children. Gee, I wonder why? For all of you having problems with your teens, maybe you should enlighten them on this law. It may make for a really quick attitude adjustment. Since the law states no person shall be prosecuted for any crime based solely upon the act of leaving a child in the custody of an employee on duty at a hospital licensed by the State of Nebraska, they are really opening up the flood gates. Good luck in back peddling on this one guys!

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