I read the news today. I had to laugh.

Even though I know this isn’t really funny at all. In fact, it is quite tragic.

Over recent years, several states have enacted drop-off laws, allowing parents (=mothers) to drop off their unwanted children (=babies). Forever. Some of the impetus for this kind of law is to promote lousy sexual health. Go ahead and have unprotected sex and never mind abortion, you can always drop the baby off at the hospital if you live in Nebraska or one of those other terribly confused red states.

Whatever. It is probably a good idea to have a drop off law because it reduces the number of babies that get left in random trash cans. Instead they get dropped at a hospital.

However, when they wrote some of these laws, they did a lousy job at the details, and used words like “child” rather than “newborn” and so on.

As a result of this, the vast majority of mothers have dropped off their teenagers! Or ‘tweens’ …

Which makes so much sense, when you think about it!

It’s a good thing that the laws have not been even less specific, or there would be retired people dropping off their thirty year old offspring who failed in their latest dot-com venture and moved back home for a while.

I know, I know, it’s really a tragedy and stuff. I get it.

Girl is 29th child left under Neb. safe-haven law from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — Nebraska authorities say an 11-year-old girl has become the 29th child to be left at a hospital under the state’s much-criticized safe haven law.
[...]

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    November 16, 2008

    I have been tempted to drive to Omaha for a day trip at times, but I won’t go into details other than to mention three short words: “cell,” “phone” and “bill.”

  2. #2 llewelly
    November 16, 2008

    Let’s see. Said children – whatever their age – have gone from being ‘looked after’ by an adult who overwhelmingly doesn’t want them – nobody does this for trivial reasons – to being a ward of a government, which, although often hampered by abysmally stupid anti-welfare attitudes, nontheless has a genuine interest in transforming said children into productive tax-paying citizens.

    Parents who abandon non-infant children almost always have a history of abusing and neglecting them. You haven’t even begun to convince me the child is actually worse off.

    Furthermore – it would be important ask what the total child abandonment rates (both those abandoned at hospitals and other anonymous drop-off locations, as well as those abandoned to homelessness ‘the street’) were before and after the law was passed. If the number of children abandoned to homelessness goes down, and total the number of children abandoned – including those abandoned to places like hospitals, where they will be turned over to the government does not increase, the law is clearly a good thing.

  3. #3 Kate
    November 16, 2008

    It’s interesting to note that the older kids being dropped off in Nebraska are often dropped off because of “lack of services” The parents who dropped off the oder kids have been asked about the why, and at least in the case of the 17 year old boy, the parents were very vocal about that issue. It seems that programs for behaviorally challenged, developmentally disabled or psychiatrically disordered kids are poor all over. I certainly can relate with the parents. At times putting a child in state care is the ONLY way to get past insurance and ridiculous admissions procedures for services. I can totally relate.

  4. #4 Joel
    November 16, 2008

    Yeah, I don’t see the problem with anyone who for whatever reason can no longer care for their children being allowed to take them someplace where they will be safe and cared for.

    The law, in spite of its critics, is a good thing.

  5. #5 Matt Platte
    November 17, 2008

    Things haven’t changed all that much for children in the past 150 years. “Orphan Trains” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079676/ hauled unwanted kids from Back East to Nebraska and other western states.

  6. #6 Ian
    November 17, 2008

    There are a few adults I’d like to drop off there. Many of them work at the Discovery Institute. They can easily be mistaken for children. Does that help?

  7. #7 george.wiman
    November 17, 2008

    Our social context often makes parenthood an isolating and overwhelming experience; this is the “personal responsibility” the cons are always talking about.

    I seem to remember a former First Lady (and later presidential candidate) who had a saying about what it took to raise a child, but the saying escapes me just now…

  8. #8 Art
    November 17, 2008

    Reminds me of the traffic in ducklings and baby rabbits (there is probably a word), during Easter. People get all sentimental and feel the need for extra cut in their lives so they thoughtlessly go out and get, or have, these babies. Well, inevitably, the cute wears off. The bunny chews the legs off the dinning room table, the duck fouls everything around it and terrorizes the neighborhood kids and the cute infant becomes and inconsolable siren scream and perpetual poop factory. And things only get worse when they hit the tweens.

    If you can hold on long enough the duck can become a nice thanksgiving centerpiece. The cuddly bunny a hearty stew and warm set of mittens.

    This might suggest a solution for the human babies but, alas, there are these inconvenient social norms and draconian laws. Toss Junior into the stew pot and your worries on where to sleep and what to eat are over. Just be sure to forward your mail to Chattahoochee.

    There has been progress in the last decade or two on limiting the numbers of orphaned ducklings and rabbits. Pet stores are discouraged from selling them and public service spots warn people not to buy them. Numbers are down. A good thing.

    But what of our own species?

    Exhausted people dropping off their kids doesn’t strike me as an issue with its origins in a relatively recent law. People dropping off their seventeen year-old kid kind of sounds like a problem that, in that specific case, originated some time at least seventeen years-nine months prior to this event. Some time prior to the point of conception.

    I was recently struck by a statement made by a couple who were thinking of having kids before WW2. They said they were newlyweds. They wanted kids but, and this is the important part, “they couldn’t afford them”.

    What a radical concept. People who think ahead and recognize that bringing a baby into this world isn’t altogether a blessed event. That the arrival of a ‘bundle of joy’ brings with it responsibilities, burdens, expenses and trials which would make a saint cuss.

    A friend e-mailed me requesting that I make a contribution of hand tools, or money for hand tools, to go to Haiti. Sort of an anti-poverty move. I wrote back that while hand tools that allow the people to be carpenters or mechanics was a nice idea it wasn’t really treating the problem at its source. That if he wanted to serve the interests of the people of Haiti the best thing they could do would be to buy large supplies of condoms and IUDs. Because, no matter how many tools you ship to Haiti if their population keeps growing it won’t be enough. You have to attack the problem at its source.

    Which, back to the initial issue, points out that perhaps what is needed is better birth control availability, family planning, prenatal parent training and education in both the psychological and economic burdens a baby places on the family. Do this well and there will be far fewer children, of all ages, dropped off.

  9. #9 Notagod
    November 17, 2008

    We clearly need to limit the human population. The debate needs to be how to do it not if we should, clearly we should.

    The mindset that everyone is expected to have children needs to stop. Incentives that support large families need to stop.

    Seriously, we need to change the mindset from do you want to have children to, are you fully prepared to have children otherwise don’t have children.