Injuryboard Asks: Should the states provide shelter for teens in trouble and parents without options?
Another teenager has been dumped in Nebraska, this time the mother had to travel 12 hours to do so.
This is the second case of an out-of-state child abandonment brought to Nebraska to take advantage of the state’s new Safe Haven laws.
In this case, a mother traveled 12 hours from Michigan to abandon her 13-year-old son. He was left at Creighton University Medical Center.
The teenage boy is now in an emergency shelter. His mother has spoken to local officials but she did not reveal why she dropped off her son.
He becomes the 18th person to be dropped off at a state-licensed hospital in Nebraska. The majority of children are over the age of 11.
The Safe Haven Law was passed in Nebraska in July, and was intended to protect infants whose parents are unable to raise them. The law prevents prosecution for relinquishing custody of the child. Nebraska considers minors to be children up to the age of 19.
A 14-year-old girl from Iowa was also left in Nebraska, but she has since been returned to her grandparents.
“This is not what we intended when we said we wanted to increase Nebraska tourism,” said Todd Landry, head of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services, division of children and family services.
In the case of the Michigan boy, the state is reported to be working with Michigan officials to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
This is the tenth instance of child abandonment at a hospital in Nebraska since September 13th.
Out of work widower Gary Stanton says his life just “fell apart” and that’s why he left his nine children at a hospital in September.
Staton spoke to KETV –TV Omaha, about why he abandoned his nine children at a hospital under Nebraska’s new safe haven law.
“I hope they know I love them,” he said. “I hope their future is better without me around them.”
Staton relinquished custody to the five boys and four girls, ages 1 to 17, at Creighton University Medical Center. His wife died early last year of a brain aneurysm shortly after giving birth to their youngest child. He then had to quit his job so couldn’t pay rent or utilities.
Staton said he surrendered his children so they would be safe.
“I was with her for 17 years, and then she was gone. What was I going to do? We raised them together. I didn’t think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn’t’ take care of them.”
He says he wanted to get them to a safe place before they were homeless.
The Safe Haven Law – LB 157 was introduced in the 2008 Legislative Session. 48 senators voted for the final version and it was signed into law by Governor Heineman on February 13, 2008.
Since September, the state has been tracking the Safe Haven Cases.
The state plans to reconvene the state legislature to reconsider capping the age limit for the safe haven laws to more closely match other states.
Under Nebraska law, the Department of Health and Human Services takes custody of the child for up to 48 hours.
Their case is then forwarded to the County Attorney who decides whether to file a request to make the child a ward of the state.
The courts then rule on whether to sever parental rights or return the child home. #