Repeal Nebraska “Safe Haven” Law

Please contact Nebraska legislators and urge them to repeal LB157, the so-called “safe haven” dump law that has allowed over forty non-infant children (including those not counted in the official tally) to be legally abandoned. This bill may be voted upon as early as TOMORROW, so please write asap.

“Safe haven” laws purport to “save” kids, but as the Bastard Nation testimony (pdf) states, abandonment is no solution to the problem of families in need.

I speak as an adoptee and victim of the sort of law they are proposing, one that divides these kids into haves and have-nots based on arbitrary dates. I strongly urge Nebraska lawmakers to repeal LB157 in favor of legislation that provides support for keeping families together instead of more fodder for the adoption machine.

This is the Bastard Nation press release. And I’d like to send out a kudos to them for going to bat for these kids, yet another generation of disenfranchised adoptees.

PRESS RELEASE
NOVEMBER 18, 2008

BASTARD NATION TO NEBRASKA:
REPEAL LB 157!
STOP CHILD DUMPING NOW!
AND DON’T BRING IT BACK!

CONTACT: Marley Greiner, 614-571-2999 or MEGreiner@gmail.com

Nebraska had it right the first time. It was the last state to pass a “safe haven” law. Nebraska can be the first to repeal this misbegotten law before any more families are harmed or even destroyed. Nebraska can lead the rest of the country in dragging itself out of this moral quagmire.
Bastard Nation Testimony, Nebraska Judiciary Committee,
November 17, 2009

Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization yesterday called for the permanent repeal of Nebraska’s LB 157, which permits anyone to abandon any child of any age at a licensed hospital in the State of Nebraska. The special session of the Nebraska Unicameral was called this week to revise the age limit on children eligible for abandonment, is looking at two bills, LB 1 and LB 3.

Bastard Nation believes that dumping a child of any age is no solution to social isolation, fear, family dysfunction, and mental illness. The problems of parents, whether they are a frightened 15-year old mom of a newborn or a 55-year old grandpa caring for a mentally ill grandson, are very real, and they cannot and should not be solved by a quick fix, no-muss-no-fuss government–facilitated and promoted child dumping program.

In testimony submitted to the Judiciary Committee, urging repeal and renunciation of child dumping in Nebraska, Bastard Nation said:

Aging down LB 157 does nothing to change the message that it is OK to dump your child. By continuing to promote child abandonment at any age, the message will remain: it’s OK to dump your child.

Rejecting the idea that older child abandonment is traumatic, but newborn and infant abandonment harmless since newborns will have no memory or relationship with their families, Bastard Nation testified:

Apparently memory and articulation is what makes one class of dump “ethical” and “good” and the other not.

“Nine years ago, we warned that once these laws became institutionalized, they would be normalized,” says Bastard Nation executive chair, Marley Greiner. “Bad social policy for newborns and their families has now become bad social policy for all families. Nebraska is the culmination of bad practice.”

Greiner explains that the contemporary baby dump movement is a reaction to ongoing reforms in adoption, including the right of adopted persons to access their original birth records, putative fathers’ rights, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) which gives tribal rights under certain circumstances, to children being placed for adoption. The conservative adoption trade lobby, the National Council for Adoption, where the ‘safe haven” concept originated, has stated specifically that “safe havens” are a response to the restoration of the right of adoptees to access their original birth records and identities. State facilitated baby dumps,” Bastard Nation says, “are nothing more than a return to secret adoption and sealed records.”

The testimony continues:

In the last few years, baby dumping, encouraged by the government, has become “just another option,” for parents who might otherwise seek out services that would assist them to keep their children, place them in temporary fostercare while they worked out their problems, or place them for adoption in a traditional informed process. Baby dumping, they are told, is easier.

In some states, the age of children eligible for dumping has edged up and drop-off sites have increased to make the process more “convenient” How-to-abandon your baby units are mandated in the curriculum of several states. There has been a steady increase in “drive-by relinquishments” by parents who have no intention of ever harming their children, but are looking for an easy way out or simply don’t know better, while the rate of dangerous discard and neonaticide remain the same.

Testimony cited a 2005 study done by the adoption reform group, California Open, based on a survey of county coroners the group did through pubic records requests that indicated that since the passage of California’s “safe haven” law, the rate of neonaticide has remained a steady 13-15 per year.

Nebraska has no newborn abandonment “crisis” Greiner says. Since 1996, 5 discarded newborns have been found alive (2-3 in relatively safe locations) and 1 found dead from unknown causes

The real problem, she says, is the failure of the state to deliver mental health care and other services to Nebraska families. Although services seem to exist on paper, the parents and guardians of many of the children turned in under LB 157 are vocal about their inability to access them, and see the legal child dumping of LB 157, as the only way that they can get help. “The state is taking broken kids and breaking them some more by tossing them into a safe haven hole. Make them better with repeated abandonments. This absolutely must stop.”

No child should be abandoned. Nebraska’ plan to divvy up children by age, into those worthy and those unworthy of abandonment protection is not acceptable nor best practice. Aging down to 30 days or some other arbitrary age creates a new set of abandoned children and their families who will suffer lifelong consequences.

For more information see Bastard Nation’s testimony at: http://www.bastards.org/bn-nebraska-testimony.pdf

Also see Children of the Corn: Reporting, Theory, and Writing on Nebraska Child Dumping, a one-stop source of information regarding LB 157. http://cornkids.blogspot.com

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification

Comments

  1. Repeal would be the BEST option!

    But, I won’t hold my breath.

  2. Yesterday I did hear back from a few NE senators after writing my own personal letter to them and emailing them a letter from Illinois Open. At least some think that a Safe Haven Law is the way to go for infants. I imagine they think that these infants can grow to adults and don’t need to know their identity/origins. We adoptees born long before Safe Haven Laws were even thought of don’t need to know anything about our identity/origins according to legislators in the majority of the states. The privacy of birth mothers is more important and I suppose the privacy of those who wish to abandon an infant should be protected too. It makes one wonder if some legislators ever have a sober mind to really use their brain.

  3. Thank you for this post.

    It’s good to see awareness spreading that the Nebraska DHHS statistics are not the real statistics of the situation in Nebraska.

    BN has of course been going to bat for these kids over and over from the beginning back in 1999.

    Both Marley and I personally have spent a number of years trying to help these kids.

    Nonetheless, the normalization of child abandonment, to the point of child abandonment as policy, is the law of the land everywhere in the US except Washington D.C., and all within the past 9 years.

    You are correct in that we cannot stop short of anything less than full repeal.

    Thanks again for your good work getting the word out.

  4. You know what I don’t understand about how we function today in 2008 in regards to family is WHY WE HAVE REGRESSED.

    I have recently read several books regarding practives, protocol, stigmas, opinion, etc. about how we once dealt with family, unwed Mothers, adoption.

    Back in the 1940’s for example unwed Mother’s homes were there to truly assist women in getting on their feet, becoming educated helping them with a job and more. All the while so they could keep their child.

    Why have we totally regressed? It is nearly 2009 and we have gone from that way of thinking and support to having drop off points to leave your children.

    It simply floors me. What happened to us as a society?