For some time I have wanted to blog about Nebraska's "Safe Haven" law, but I have not known exactly what to say. Today, my Mom needed to take my sister back to Idaho and offered for Taiger to ride along. He loves car rides, and I was thankful for a break. So, I find myself with some free time to blog and the Safe Haven topic is nagging at me. I must first apologize, because my thoughts are all over the place with this! This blog, I am sure, will be scattered and very LONG!
First of all, I was so thrilled when Nebraska's "Safe Haven" law took effect! That a child of any age could be "dropped off" (that sounds so harsh!) seemed a good thing to me! It broke my heart to hear of the children from all over America being brought to the hospitals in Nebraska. However, I was so grateful that those parents had a place to bring their children. I also felt so proud of and grateful for those parents who travelled so far to abandon their children in a safe place rather than just turn them out on the streets, leave them somewhere unsafe or harm their children. I think of the older children who were brought to Nebraska. My heart goes out to them as they deal with the many issues and hurt of abandonment, but I am so thankful that their parents chose to give them safety and life rather than abusing or even killing them. If their parents did not have the tools to love or care for their children, I am so thankful that they were brave enough to do what was right for their child.
With that all said, I was shocked, angry and hurt when I heard that Nebraska had changed the Safe Haven law to only cover infants younger than one month old. What will happen to the older children? Changing the law doesn't make their parents care for them better. Changing the law has only condemned many older children to a life of misery, either as abused children or homeless children. Parents of older children who wish to no longer parent their children will not, because of the changed law, suddenly say, "Oh, okay. Never mind. I was going to take you to Nebraska, but the law has changed, so hey! Let's be a happy family! I decided that since the law has changed I will take care of you and love you again." Certainly not. Now, those parents have no way "out". It is a sad, sad thing that parents, for whatever reason, feel compelled to abandon their children, but changing the law does not change their feelings. Rather, it traps them and takes away the option of doing what is best for their child.
I would like to take a moment to say something about parents who have abandoned their children, or wish to do so. I do not judge them at all. My heart goes out to them, and I am thankful to them for doing what is best for their child(ren). My sister is adopted from China. Her mother abandoned her when she was three days old. I have every confidence that her biological mother loved her very, very much. I believe her mother abandoned her because that was what she felt was best for her baby. I believe she wonders if her daughter is safe, happy and well. I wish there were some way to contact her and tell her what a beautiful and wonderful young woman her daughter has become. I wish I could thank her for doing what was best for her baby, and thank her for the sister with whom I have been blessed because of her selfless sacrifice.
I also have a sister with Reactive Attachment Disorder. If anyone reading this blog also has a sibling or child with RAD, you probably have a flood of emotions when I speak of my sister with RAD. We all love my sister so much! However, she has been very, very difficult to live with. Fortunately for all of us, we have parents who are patient and kind and loving. They have truly been blessed with the ability to raise my sister with RAD. For many, many years they did not know what was "wrong" with her, and had to simply guess at how to raise her. It was only when looking into adoption that they learned of Reactive Attachment Disorder and my sister was diagnosed with RAD. In the years prior to her diagnosis, I have no doubt that there were times when my parents wondered if they were "good" parents because of their inability to parent my sister with RAD. I would not be shocked if someday I found out that they even considered putting her up for adoption because they didn't feel they were doing what was right for her. I think of other parents who have children with RAD. If they have not learned about Reactive Attachment Disorder, I believe many parents with RAD children would indeed consider either a behavioral center or adoption for their child. Either that, or their child with RAD may fall victim to child abuse.
I wonder if some of the older children brought to Nebraska were RAD children.
Anyway, now that I have expressed my feelings about the Safe Haven law and its changed restrictions I would like to say something that has been weighing on my mind.
I plan to work with orphans in Africa. I plan to open an orphanage in China. Yet, I still wonder about the abandoned children here in America. I wonder about opening an orphanage here in America. I don't know ANYTHING about orphanages in America!! Until recently, I didn't think America still HAD orphanages! I though orphaned children were placed in foster care. Anyway, with the changing of Nebraska's Safe Haven law, my thoughts have turned more strongly to America's children. What will happen to those older children whose parent's "can't" abandon them? Could I open a home where their parents could "abandon" them safely and without question? Who could I talk to about this? How would I go about opening an orphanage in America, and would I only be able to take in children from the foster care system? Or could I have my OWN "Safe Haven" where I could take children of any age being initially abandoned?
It is something to think about...and, more importantly, to PRAY about.
If anybody reading this blog has any thoughts or insights, please share!!