Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest blogger time!

From Adrienne

Sometimes, I'm not sure what to think about the society that I live in.

My state, Nebraska, has recently come into nationwide focus because of a law that came into effect in September-- The Safe Haven Law. This law states that people can bring their child and leave them at a hospital or with an on duty firefighter and not be prosecuted by law.

Nebraska is, obviously, a very conservative state. Currently, we have what is legally referred to as an 'unenforceable' abortion ban. Every Saturday I drive by a HUGE protest in front of the Planned Parenthood in my town. My sister and I used to entertain ourselves by flipping them off while we drove by, and once I escorted a terrified woman (who was not even there for an abortion or to ask about one) across the picket line so that she could get an exam done. When we passed the safe haven law, I was so proud of the state. I thought, finally, someone wants to provide an answer for women who want an abortion and cannot obtain one.

What is controversial about the law is that there is no age limit. While lawmakers have stated that it is intended for infants, to prevent babies being born in dumpsters, they left no age limit on the law so that any parent could leave their child here.

If you've been following the stories on the news, you can see what a predicament my state is now in. Over thirty children have been left here since the law came into effect in September, some from out of state. One father dropped off nine children (after his wife died and he was laid off from his job).

As an early childhood professional, it makes me sick to my stomach to think about children being abandoned by their parents. As a citizen, even as a liberal, I have to admit that it is upsetting that parents are using the safe haven act, even more so that so many have utilized the law-- and even MORE so that parents from out of the state have used the law.

However, the law was created for a reason. The law was created so that parents could leave their children rather than harming them-- and now we are upset because the law is doing exactly what it was intended for.

Yesterday I was reading an article about a woman who became the guardian to a 16 month old when his homeless mother literally put the child in her arms and then walked away. Now he is five, and suffering from an emotional disorder so severe that his guardians literally fear for their lives. She has sought help through the proper channels, got therapy, put him on medication, and, finally, looked for full-time care with an institution. But the wait list for a quality institution was 6 months at the least. So, she bought plane tickets and brought him to Nebraska, where she dropped him off at a hospital. In the article, she says that she just wanted him to get help, and this was the only way she could think of to get him help right NOW. "If it works out," She says, "I'd like to have him back."

THAT is the real travesty. The fact that it takes more than six months for a CHILD to receive necessary mental health care is morally reprehensible in this society. THAT is what we should be focusing on, NOT on repealing a law that has brought into light so many of the holes in our social services system.

It breaks my heart that children are being abandoned. I work for a child care center that exists through a grant that provides day care and living expenses for single moms. The majority of the children I interact with every day are children who were born to teenage mothers. Every single day I see parents whose lives would have been SO much easier had they had an abortion or found some way to abandon their child-- and yet they keep them, they struggle, and they make it through. Sometimes with public assistance, sometimes without. So when the public in my ridiculously conservative state says that people should understand the choice inherent behind creating a child, and the responsibility that comes with having one, I get it. I absolutely GET it. These women chose a hard road for themselves AND for their children, and I admire every single one of them for it. The goal of social services is to keep families together, and as functional as possible (if any of you grew up in a functional family, let me know).

I was so proud of my state for passing this law. Passing this law, to me, meant that Nebraska was tired of being heartbroken every time they read about a baby left in a dumpster, or a child locked in a closet, or starved to death. To me, it meant that while we are, as a whole, an anti-abortion state, we were willing to provide a choice to women that does not include a dark alley/rusty hanger, or forced motherhood.

I was so proud of the state for saying that we would be the brave light shining in the darkness for these children-- NOT for the parents-- who have so few choices, so little help, and-- obviously-- no one they can count on.

But now the public cries out that these children are not our responsibility-- that it isn't fair for us to shoulder the cost of these children. Some parents have said they abandon their children because of severe behavioral issues, and others, I'm sure, just because they didn't want to have their kids anymore. That was bound to happen. In any case-- I thank God that these children are no longer in their parent/guardians hands, even if just for a brief reprieve to get the help that they need in order to make their families functional. I pray for the lawmakers who face the decision to repeal a law that we-- obviously-- so desperately need. What would have become of these thirty-odd children without the safe haven law? Would we rather open the World Herald and read that 34 children had been starved, neglected, abused, since September?

Luke 9:48: "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me, because the one who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hmm, just a thought

If Jesus can take care of his church, why do you need to write your religion into the state constitution to control the lives of others-- to stop people from acquiring equality and legal rights? This law would not force any church to marry anyone. And for the record, plenty of churches out there already perform ceremonies for same sex couples.

This law simply grants gay and lesbian people the same legal rights their heterosexual counterparts share.

Is that so hard to understand?

And just WHAT about that is comparable to Nazi Germany I'd like to know??