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Old 11-17-2008, 02:33 AM   #1
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Default Nebraska: A law intended to allow mothers to leave unwanted babies for adoption

Nebraska to close legal loophole that allowed desperate father to dump his nine children

A law intended to allow mothers to leave unwanted babies for adoption has been used by desperate parents to abandon more than 30 older children in Nebraska.

By Jacqui Goddard in Miami
Last Updated: 1:02AM GMT 16 Nov 2008

Gary Staton felt that his life was falling apart after his wife Rebel died of a brain haemorrhage one month after giving birth.

A year later, unemployed, struggling to make ends meet and no longer able to care for the ten children they had together, the 34-year-old Nebraska father made a drastic, and shocking, decision.

While his 18-year-old daughter was out at work, he rounded up his nine other children aged one to 17, putting some in the car and instructing others to take a bus and meet him at Creighton University Medical Centre, a hospital in Omaha.

There he found a staff member, told them that he was abandoning his family under the state's new Safe Haven law, and walked away. "There were no hugs or kisses. No goodbyes," his father-in-law, Jack Manzer, 66, told The Sunday Telegraph.

The case stunned the community. But it was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that Nebraska's Safe Haven law has been used in such a way. Since it was enacted in July, 31 children have been dumped at area hospitals by parents who have reached the end of their tether with their unruly offspring, or with their personal circumstances.

The legislation was only ever intended to protect newborns, offering desperate young mothers the chance to relinquish unwanted infants at safe locations without fear of prosecution, rather than discard them illegally in waste bins or at roadsides.

But unlike the 49 other states that have such laws, Nebraska failed - unintentionally - to spell out the age limit, leaving a gaping loophole by referring only to "children" rather than "infants" - meaning that in legal terms, anyone up to the age of 17 fits the bill.

Not a single one of Nebraska's Safe Haven cases has involved a newborn. Instead, parents and guardians have come from far and wide to surrender problem youngsters, more than 20 of them teenagers and six of them from other states including Florida, Georgia and Arizona.

Mr Staton later told his local television station that he had been unable to cope following his wife's death. "I was with her for 17 years and then she was gone. What was I going to do? We had raised them together, I didn't think I could do it alone. I fell apart, I couldn't take care of them."

Another case involved a 17-year-old who was abandoned by his grandmother after he threatened to kill someone with a blade. "I'm going to always love you, you can come visit," said the woman, who became the boy's guardian in 2002 following the death of his mother. "But that knifeplay is bad."

In another case, a 16-year-old single mum claimed sanctuary for herself and her baby son under the Safe Haven act, claiming that her mother had abused her. In court documents, the mother described what happened as a "typical mother-daughter argument" that had flared out of proportion.

A number of parents have claimed that they acted out of sheer desperation, unable to obtain or afford the support services or mental healthcare their children needed.

Read more:
Nebraska to close legal loophole that allowed desperate father to dump his nine children - Telegraph
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Nebraska: A law intended to allow mothers to leave unwanted babies for adoption

Nebraska Lawmakers Take Up Safe-haven Law

From: AssociatedPress
Added: November 14, 2008



Nebraska lawmakers got to work Friday in a rare special legislative session designed to repair a unique "safe haven" law that has unintentionally allowed parents to abandon nearly three dozen children as old as 17. (Nov. 14)
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