I was disturbed and saddened after reading this article. Having spent the last few years working with kids that have been abused, neglected and abandoned, it is beyond me how someone could abandon a child. One thing I have learned with children with emotional and behavioral disorders most of the time the apple does not fall far from the tree!
Neb. parents rush to leave kids before law changes
LINCOLN, Neb. – The mother was running out of more than patience when she abandoned her 18-year-old daughter at a hospital over the weekend under Nebraska‘s safe-haven law. She was also running out of time: She knew that state lawmakers would soon meet in a special session to amend the ill-fated law so that it would apply to newborns only.
“Where am I going to get help if they change the law?” said the mother, who lives in Lincoln and asked to not be identified by name to protect her adopted child.
To the state’s surprise and embarrassment, more than half of the 31 children legally abandoned under the safe-haven law since it took effect in mid-July have been teenagers.
But state officials may have inadvertently made things worse with their hesitant response to the problem: The number of drop-offs has almost tripled to about three a week since Gov. Dave Heineman announced on Oct. 29 that lawmakers would rewrite the law.
With legislators set to convene on Friday, weary parents like the Lincoln mother have been racing to drop off their children while they still can.
On Thursday, authorities searched for two teens — a boy and girl, ages 14 and 17 — who fled an Omaha hospital as their mother tried to abandon them. The mother was trying to take them from the car to the emergency room when they took off.
Child welfare experts said the late deluge of drop-offs was probably inevitable. After all, they said, some date had to be picked to begin changing the law.
But some of them said lawmakers and the governor missed chances to change the law early because they underestimated the number of desperate families looking for help. Heineman called the special session only after a spate of five drop-offs in eight days.
Reluctance to pull senators away from their jobs and election campaigns, along with the estimated $70,000 to $80,000 cost of a special session, were among the reasons Heineman’s office cited in holding off on calling a special session sooner.
“I think there was a fair amount of denial on the part of legislators that it would snowball,” said Karen Authier, executive director of the Nebraska Children’s Home Society.
The safe-haven law was intended to save “Dumpster babies” by allowing desperate young mothers to abandon their newborns at a hospital without fear of prosecution. But lawmakers could not agree on an age limit, and the law as passed uses only the word “child.”
All states have safe-haven laws, but in every state but Nebraska, the law applies to infants only.
Authier said her group and others had warned senators after the law passed early this year that there could be problems, but the lawmakers did not believe it.
“It wasn’t like talking to a stone wall,” Authier said. “It was just that people who aren’t in the business of dealing with families, they aren’t aware how desperate some of these families are.”
Sure enough, 18 teenagers — five 17-year-olds, two 16-year-olds, six 15-year-olds, two 14-year-olds, three 13-year-olds — have been abandoned, along with eight children who were 11 or 12. Five of the children dropped off have been from out of state.
The Lincoln mother who dropped off her 18-year-old daughter said she was repeatedly turned down when she sought help from police, state social services authorities and the girl’s school. The woman said her daughter had been diagnosed with a mental illness when she was 12 and had deep psychological scars from childhood abuse and from being left alone with her dead biological mother for a week.
The woman said she felt she had no choice but to leave her daughter at the hospital after a recent flurry of assault, stealing, sleeping around and cutting school.
“I thought she would get help” through the safe-haven law, the mother said.
However, state authorities refused to take the young woman into custody, saying Nebraska law regarding juveniles does not let authorities take in anyone older than 17. The woman left with her daughter.
Fourteen children in all have been left at three hospitals operated by Alegent Health in the Omaha area.
“These are largely families at a point of incredible desperation,” said Wayne Sensor, chief executive of Alegent Health. “They aren’t bad parents or bad kids. They simply don’t know what services are available out there.”
On the Net:
Nebraska Legislature: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform: http://www.nccpr.org
Seven reasons not to mess with children.
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow
human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a
human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah”.
The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?”
The little girl replied, “Then you ask him”.
A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while
they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each
As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked
what the drawing was.
The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.”
The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.”
Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl
replied, “They will in a minute.”
A Sunday school teacherwas discussing the Ten Commandments with her
five and six year olds.
After explaining the commandment to “honor” thy Father and thy
she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our
brothers and sisters?”
Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family)
answered, “Thou shall not kill.”
One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the
at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had
strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head.
She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Why are some of
your hairs white, Mom?”
Her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and
make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.”
The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then
said, “Momma, how come ALL of grandma’s hairs are white?”
The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to
persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture.
“Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown
up and say,’There’s Jennifer, she’s a lawyer,’ or ‘That’s Michael,
A small voice at the back of the room rang out, “And there’s the
teacher, she’s dead.”
A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying
to make the matter clearer, she said, “Now, class, if I stood on my
the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in
“Yes,” the class said.
“Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary
position the blood doesn’t run into my feet?”
A little fellow shouted, “Cause your feet ain’t empty.”
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary
school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of
The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray:
“Take only ONE. God is watching.”
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table
a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.
A child had written a note, “Take all you want. God is watching the
When you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, you generally get answers like a doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, maybe a preacher, or missionary. Not me, I had my sights set much higher. I can remember being about 4 years old and when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, well I emphatically told them that I wanted to be a truck driver. Now I have no idea where the idea of becoming a truck driver came from. I just knew I had my cowboy boots, which I wore with my gym shorts and t-shirt and I thought I was the bomb diggity. After a while, I didn’t even wait for people to ask me, I let them know that I was going to be a truck driver and I had the boots to prove it! My mother must have had one heck of a prayer life. She had to with a child like me. Luckily for my mother, I grew out of my truck driver stage and went on to college to study to be a teacher. Although sometimes after a stressful day at work I wonder if I missed my real calling after all!
this was me about the time of my truck driving phase
I have been working in residential treatment for about 8 1/2 years. To say there is never a dull moment is an understatement. I have been on hiking trips from Hades, I have fallen over fences chasing kids in an animal pen. I have had restrained a child in an open field in the middle of a thunderstorm, I have chased a kid down a street in the middle of the night, I have visited my share of psychiatric hospitals, I have tromped through the woods and the marsh in every weather condition imaginable. I have chased a snake out of a cabin, I followed a kid down a busy road and crossed the overpass of I-95, and the list could go on and on. The one experience that I have yet to have was evacuating for a hurricane. So far I have managed to escape this experience but I came close last week with Tropical Storm Fay. There is nothing like a storm to get your anxiety level up. Especially when it looked like the storm was going to go back into the ocean and then hit land as a hurricane. Luckily it did not do that, but here in South Georgia the threat of tornadoes is very real. That was what we more concerned about. So, last Thursday night 4 of us decided to stay and spend the night on campus just in case we were needed. Luckily during the night it went a little more south than they thought so we escaped the tornadoes. We did have lots of rain and wind but we counted ourselves lucky.
My office during TS Fay
My office before TS FayMy office during TS Fay
Growing up, doing God’s will meant going into full time Christian ministry. I remember when I was 13, I surrendered my life to do whatever God wanted me to do. I didn’t know what exactly that was but the only options I knew about was being a preacher, Christian school teacher, or a missionary. I was eliminated from being a preacher because of my gender. I was terrified to be a missionary. I remember praying for God not to send me to Africa! So, that left being a Christian school teacher and when I was 14, I felt that God was calling me to be a Christian school teacher. By the time I was 16, I knew I wanted to be a coach and teach PE and that is exactly what I set out to do. I graduated from a Christian College with a degree in education. I remember when the doubts about my future began to form. It was my senior year in college and after I did my student teaching, I was not so sure that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but at that point, I only had 1 semester of school left and it was too late to change my major. I graduated and went to teach in a Christian school in North Carolina. I never felt so lost in all my life. I began to question if that was really what God wanted me to do or if I was doing this because I pressured into it. The advice that I was given was not to quit after my first year and that it would get better. So, I took this advice and moved to a school outside Atlanta. I was there for 3 years and I was miserable just about the whole time I was there. (There is so much more I could write about here but will save it for another post). I finally decided that teaching school was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I chose not to come back the next year. I had no idea what I was going to do and to top that off, I was going through a major crisis in my faith. Long story short, I moved to Charleston, SC and took a job working in a group home for juvenile delinquents. I fell in love with this job and it didn’t take me long to realize what I wanted to do with my life. I then worked at a Outdoor Wilderness Program in Georgia for 3 ½ years and have been working with mentally retarded children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders for 4 years. There have been many ups and downs during these years but I always felt like I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Many people think that once you think you know God’s will that it doesn’t change, and I have been questioned on several occasions about my decision to step out of teaching. I realized a few years ago that God called me to work with children, not just be a Christian school teacher. Being that was the only thing I had to connect to God’s will that worked with children, it just seemed normal. Sometimes I question whether I will do this for the rest of my life, but I don’t worry about it because God has led me this far and He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.
Tonight while we were singing the song”Heart of Worship”, my friend’s four year old walked to the front with her Precious Memories Bible in one hand and her teddy bear in the other. She opened her Bible and placed it on the platform. She just stood there for a minute. Her grandaddy, who is also the pastor of our church, walked over to her and talked to her for a minute and then she picked up her Bible and went and sat down. I realized that this display by a four year old, was really the heart of worship. It wasn’t our singing or praying or anything else, it was a child. That is why Jesus had a special place in His heart for children. There was something so innocent and pure about this simple display of worship. That is what God desires from us. He desires that we come to Him with the heart of a child.