Friday, September 26, 2008

NIne Kids Out: Nebraska Safe Haven Law Overdoes It

Nebraska was the last state in the nation to adopt a safe haven law but when they finally did, it was a doozy. Meant to prevent abuse, neglect or death of infants, from overwhelmed new parents, safe haven laws offer the option of abandoning a child at designated locations, anonymously, without threat of criminal charges.
Usually, safe haven laws come with some stipulated age limit.  In Maryland, the baby can be up to 3 days old. North Dakota will accept babies up to a year after birth. Not in Nebraska. In an effort to avoid arbitrary age limits, Nebraska simply used the word "child," when indicating who could be abandoned without parental consequence. This unique law took effect in July.
Last night, nine siblings, five boys and four girls, ranging in age from 1 to 17 were abandoned by their father at Creighton University Medical Center's emergency room in Omaha. 
The father, Gary Staton, says he had become overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of his family since his wife died from a brain aneurysm 17 months ago. He tried to improve matters by quitting his job; but that only led to an inability to pay the rent. So, he went to plan B. Last night, around 8 o'clock, he gathered up nine birth certificates, loaded the kids into the family vehicle, and drove them to the emergency room. He handed the birth certificates to a woman working there and informed her that he was surrendering his family.
"I was able to get the kids to a safe place before they were homeless," he told reporters today. "I hope they know I love them." 

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