Both of our children and all three of our grandchildren were with us yesterday afternoon, which set me thinking about the Nebraska “safe haven” law. If you haven’t heard about it, Nebraska has just joined the other 49 states by enacting LB 157, a law that allows a parent to abandon an unwanted child at a hospital, no questions asked. These kinds of laws are promoted by child welfare advocates as safeguards for newborns who might otherwise be left to die of exposure or deposited in the trash somewhere. It happens.
But Nebraska went all the way. Instead of a law like California’s, which limits the authority to drop off babies to parents and covers only newborns up to 72 hours old, the Nebraska law allows anyone to drop of an unwanted minor. In Nebraska you are a minor until age 19:
While lawmakers may not have intended it, the month-old law raises the possibility that frustrated parents could drop off misbehaving teens or even severely disabled older children with impunity.
“Whether the kid is disabled or unruly or just being a hormonal teenager, the state is saying: ‘Hey, we have a really easy option for you,’” said Adam Pertman, executive director of a New York adoption institute and a frequent critic of safe-haven laws.
“All children deserve our protection,” said Sen. Tom White, who helped broaden the measure. “If we save one child from being abused, it’s well, well worth it.”
White said it doesn’t matter if that child is an infant or three years old or in the care of a parent or baby sitter. (HuffPo)
So with a house full of our kids and their kids I was thinking about this law. Don’t get me wrong. Mrs. R. and I think our kids are terrific. We think are grandchildren are super terrific. But now our kids go home and take their kids with them and peace and quiet are restored and responsibility vanishes. As good as our kids are — and were — there were times when they were growing up when we would gladly have dropped them off at the nearest “safe haven,” no questions asked. Maybe we would even have driven all the way to Nebraska, although more likely we’d have left them off on the highway before we got there.
I’m joking, of course.