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Families gather for a celebration of adoption

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  • Families gather for a celebration of adoption

    Families gather for a celebration of adoption
    By Diane Wetzel , The North Platte Telegraph

    Nebraska is one of only three states in the nation that does not have a Safe
    Haven law on the books.
    Bob Brandt, executive director of Nebraska Children's Home Society, thinks that
    is the way it should stay.
    "Nebraska is not behind when it comes to legislation," Brandt said. "We are
    In theory, Safe Haven laws will prevent newborns from being dumped by panicked
    mothers and left to die. A mother can leave a newborn with a hospital or police
    department without prosecution.
    Safe Haven laws got their start in Texas. The law allows "a parent or other
    person who is entitled to possess a child 30 days old or younger" to
    voluntarily leave that child in the possession of an emergency-care provider.
    The abandoner is legally immune to prosecution. During 1999-2000 the trend to
    pass this type legislation spread across the county.
    Brandt said he is opposed to Safe Haven legislation, which allows a newborn to
    be "legally abandoned."
    "It gets a little uncomfortable to oppose these laws, but for the past three
    years, as director of NCHS, I have," Brandt said.
    "Babies are still being abandoned. The law doesn't examine the psyche of those
    who abandon their babies. We have to realize that it isn't happening that way."
    Brandt told the group that mothers who will abandon their newborns will not
    think about a law that prevents prosecution if they give their child to an
    emergency care provider.
    "Safe Haven laws are a way to circumvent adoption laws and have unintended
    Brandt said the legislation was going to hit again this year.
    "It's going to be tougher this year because we lost a baby."
    Brandt was referring to a two-day-old infant discovered abandoned in a canal
    near the Elkhorn River in Norfolk last June. Norfolk businesses raised funds to
    provide a casket and flowers.
    Nebraska Children's Home Society has a long tradition of putting children
    first. Founded in 1893, the NCHS is unique because no fees are charged. The
    group is the largest adoption agency in Nebraska.
    "We are not looking for children for parents," Brandt said. "We're looking for
    good homes for children."
    Brandt was in North Platte Thursday night for a celebration for National
    Adoption Month.
    Giggles and cookies started out the evening as area families gathered for a
    celebration of adoption.
    The Great Plains Area Adoption Association sponsored the event. The invitation
    was extended to all members of the family of adoption. Adoptive parents and
    birth mothers mingled over cake and punch. While children played games, Brandt
    discussed Safe Haven legislation with the group.
    Brandt said that in 2000, the state of New York, which does have safe haven
    legislation, had 19 newborns reported under Safe Haven. In Nebraska, during the
    same time period, 53 at-risk cases that fit high risk for abandonment were
    helped by the NCHS. The NCHS uses an 800 number, staffed by a caseworker around
    the clock, and will have billboards up all over the state this month. Of those
    53 cases, 33 were hospital referrals, 18 were calls from the client themselves,
    and physicians referred two.
    "Our philosophy is if you are going to bolt, bolt." Brandt said. "We will
    provide safe care for your baby."
    Thirty-three of the 53 cases came back after a day or two and sat down with
    caseworkers from NCHS to talk about options for the baby. Twelve decided to
    parent the baby with supervision.
    "I hope society doesn't get to the point where they think abandonment of a
    child is a good thing," Brandt said. "We must get the word out that there is
    safe help. We think we have laws that allow us to protect the babies."


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