Ok tooting my own horn, and once again promoting a post I wrote for Global Comment.
Nebraska was the last state to institute a safe haven law. The original intent of this law was to stop mothers from leaving their newborn infants in dumpsters, if they decided they did not want them, or for some reason could not care for them. The legislature could not decide on an appropriate age limit; and therefore employed the word “child.” This meant that any child under the age of 18 could be left at a Nebraska hospital, and the parent could not be charged with abandonment by law.
Now the law has been changed and an age limit of 30 days has been introduced.
The full text of LB 157 read: “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. The hospital shall promptly contact appropriate authorities to take custody of the child.”
In the lifetime of this law 27 drop offs occurred and 36 children were given up by their parents. Parents drove from as far away as California to relinquish their parental rights. One man left all 9 of his children behind.
According to USA Today, Todd Landry of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services stated that, “the four oldest of the nine siblings were placed together in an emergency shelter and the others in a foster home. They’re struggling to varying degrees with what’s happened to them.”
To be abandoned by a parent can be an extremely traumatic thing for a child. In this case many of the children were of an age that they could understand exactly what the parent was doing even as it was happening. One can only imagine the pleading of the child, and the promises they must have made about behavioural changes as the parents headed toward the hospital exit.