Saturday, November 22, 2008

Abandonment Won't Stop

I think we all know this, but I really need to say it. I'm glad the state of Nebraska has revised their legalized abandonment law. I would be more happy if no state had any legalized abandonment law, but that is another post entirely.

What happened in Nebraska is that a light was shone on a problem. We got to see it. It was reported. The stories were told. We learned the details. We found out that there are families under so much pressure, with such great needs, and so few resources that they will abandon their children if they think that will give them a better life.

And those families are still out there. We won't hear about them any more, but they are there.

Perhaps the families who abandoned 35 children in Nebraska might not have done it had it not been legal, but other families were still doing it.

There are parents who simply leave their children in the house and disappear for hours, or days, or forever. There are parents who leave children with relatives or babysitters and just don't come back.

They are parents at the end of their rope. They do not know how to cope and they do not know where to turn. There is no one to help them. Some of the time it might have even been the only thing the knew to do, or even could do. It is not easy in this country to work and support a child, particularly a child with severe needs.

Every day in this country there are parents who will tell judges that even if their children are released from detention, they will not take them home. Some of these are parents who had the children arrested in the first place. Pressing charges may have been the right thing to do. It is not always safe or even possible for a family to live with a child or teen who is capable of hurting family members. Even then, the hurt of the abandonment is real.

But for about a month, one state made it easy and legal and therefore visible. We all saw it. It wasn't just the foster parents, social workers, and judges who saw the abandoned children, who knew the stories behind the act. Everyone saw it. Everyone heard the stories.

And now the law is changed so only the infants may be so abandoned, and that is better than what was.

But we mustn't forget that even as the legalization of abandonment goes away, families in crisis and the abandonment of children do not go away. The law opened a window on a problem. I hope, I pray, that even as we close that window we remember what we saw, because it is still there.


  1. I do wonder if people REALLY saw it, though. Or did they just judge these parents and blame them for not trying hard enough?

  2. I suspect most people didn't see. Judging and condemning is easier.

  3. I don't follow the news as closely as I'd like to. What's the story this is related to?

  4. Tess,
    You can google the Nebraska safe haven law to get more information that you can read. Here is a link to one blogger's posts on the whole sad affair:

  5. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I know it's preaching to the choir, but I've been writing about this since the numbers started to climb.

    I'm frightened for the future, as I know the situations are going to get worse.

  6. I would be really interested to hear about why you "would be more happy if no state had any legalized abandonment law" especially given your points in this post (i.e. just because it's not legal doesn't mean it doesn't happen).

  7. Parodie,
    I could write a post, but the argument is presented really welll here:

  8. Very well written post!


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