Friday, September 26, 2008

God will provide, except when He doesn't

You may have heard about a Nebraska law that's making a lot of headlines. It concerns the "safe haven" law, intended to allow parents to deliver newborn babies and young children to any hospital and have them taken care of. I don't know, but it's probably designed to prevent unwanted babies from being found in the city's dumpsters.

For whatever reason, the provision in Nebraska has no upper age limit on what constitutes a "child", so the state definition of anyone under the age of 19 applies. Lawmakers hoped this law would only be used as intended.

Guess what?

Since the law took effect in July, 16 kids have been abandoned under the law, including teenagers. The latest (and most egregious) use of the law was a man who left nine of his ten children at a hospital. His five sons and four daughters range in age from 1 to 17. The eldest daughter (18) was not donated. That would just be silly, but 17 is just fine.

The man's wife died in 2007, shortly after giving birth to the last of the children. He hasn't worked since July and was being overwhelmed by "family responsibilities". In one sense, I'm glad he abandoned his children to the state. It's possible they will receive better nutrition and circumstances now. It's still a terrible tragedy for a family. It turns out that he never asked relatives for help. Those relations have now offered to take in the siblings, so they won't be shuffled off to a state home or adopted into a stranger's house.

I can't imagine what the conversations were like in that house prior to the big drop-off. I'm so torn, between being sympathetic for him wanting his kids to have access to a better life than he can provide, and just being plain angry at him for having too damn many kids. Maybe he should have worked out an agreement with that ultra-religious family with 17 kids. He could have gotten tips on how to work with his small family.

At any rate, he's down to just one 18-year-old now, so it should be a nice change of pace. Nebraska lawmakers are thinking about closing the loophole if "one more family" gets dropped off. To leave the window open, make sure to take your "old enough to drive" kids one at a time.

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