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Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017

Safe Haven or Abandonment?

Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008, at 11:41 PM

Since July, the state of Nebraska has been allowing parents to leave their children, under the age of 18, at medical facilities without the fear of facing criminal penalties as part of the new "Safe Haven Law".

When creating the law, Nebraska actually intended the law to follow suit of several other states that have laws regarding infants and new parents. These laws were created because when new parents were over whelmed with an infant, in the past, many infants had been abandoned. The hope was that these laws would give parents the break they needed without harm coming to the infant. Nebraska, however, when the new law was created, did not specify the limit of age on the child that could be left, so many assume "child" means anyone under 18.

Now Nebraska has been flooded with children of all ages (one boy was 12), from other states, that are being left at their hospitals because the parents no longer want to care for them. Not quite what they had intended the law for. Now the govenor of Nebraska says the law will be changed when session is open again in January, but in the mean time, what about these children?

One mother, who left her teenage boy, stated that she did so because she couldn't handle him. "I've been fighting so long," the woman told the newspaper. "I can't fight any longer."

The teenage boy had been in trouble, repeatedly, with the school and with the law. The mother tried to send him to other relatives and also tried to get help from the law, but no one wanted to do anything with the boy. So after hearing about the new law in Nebraska, she loaded him up, took him to a hospital and left him there. The state is now filing papers to have the boy returned to his home state, but for him to be put into the state's child care system. Speaking with the newspaper the mother said that she hoped the law would not be changed and that she hoped it would be more available as a relief, to parents, such as herself, that were at their witts end.

I myself was adopted after my biological mother abandoned me when I was a few hours old. I was adopted by a loving family, who already had another daughter, who was a few years older, that they had also adopted. Fate played out and I believe I ended up with the family I was supposed to be with, and even though we may have argued throughout our childhood, I love my sister and am so greatful to have her and my parents.

My parents are my "real" parents, the only ones I've ever known and I do not regret the way it turned out. However, I think that these laws were created for infants, so that when new parents couldn't handle a screaming newborn, they had somewhere safe to leave them. That way the newborns wouldn't end up being abandoned in garbage cans or alley ways like in past years, they would be left where medically trained people could watch over them until the state found a place for them.

I love children and I could never imagine leaving a child. I believe I made a decision to be a parent and I am going to see my commitment through. Now that you know my opinion, I'd like to know yours.

The New Nebraska Safe Haven Law allows parents to leave any child, under the age of 18, at any medical facility without facing criminal penalties. The govenor of Nebraksa states that the law will be changed to state that the children have to be under a week old. What do you think?

 I believe Nebraksa should leave the law the way it is and other states should follow with similar changes to their Safe Haven Laws, allowing any child, up to 18, to be left in a safe place if the parent does not feel they can care for it.
 I believe Safe Haven Laws are for newborns only and that Nebraska should change their law to match other states, thus making it for newborns only.
 I do not belive in either version of Safe Haven Laws.

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I am the Editorial Assistant for The Fort Scott Tribune, where I have been employed since March of 2008. I live in the country near Mapleton, Kan., with my husband and our two children. I graduated from Uniontown High School, Uniontown, Kan., but before attending Uniontown, I moved around several times during my childhood. I love to take photos, write, read and spend time with my family. I am also a member of our local fire department and enjoy attending church with my family and appreciate everything a small town has to offer. I look forward to watching my children grow and spending time with my husband and family while living in the country.
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