Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Abandonment in Nebraska

My letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune, which ran an Op/Ed piece about Nebraska this morning. November 18, 2008

Dear Editor

Legal, anonymous abandonment is a bad thing, whether it is for infants up to 72 hours old, children up to one year of age, or "children" up to the age of their maturity. Nebraska should repeal entirely its safe-haven law. ("Beyond Nebraska and infant safe-haven laws," Richard P. Barth, Chicago Tribune Op/Ed, Nov. 18th.)

Child abandonment had its "hey day" at the turn of the 20th century. Child welfare workers and other professionals worked very hard for over 100 years to stop the uniquely cruel practice of abandoning children – no matter the age. Orphan trains were wrong then and safe havens are wrong now.

I am an adopted woman who was born way before safe haven laws were allowed. So I was abandoned instead into the murky world of black market adoptions where anonymity was achieved through falsification of all birth documents. I am a senior citizen now and I have no clue whatsoever to my original identity. And this is precisely what happens to infants who are legally abandoned into a safe haven situation. They grow up with a blank history. Believe me; it's not fair to any infant to permanently erase its biological family. I know because I've been there.

All states should have policies that will help keep families together when at all possible – not write laws to make it easy for them to separate. I am hopeful that Nebraska , as well as all other states, will look for better ways in which to more easily identify families in crisis and then find ways to assist them before their issues explode into crisis proportions. Allowing a mother to legally abandon her infant is not the answer.

Thank you for your consideration.

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