Parenting: Commitment Optional

Do you ever feel like you know that you have things you want to get out of your brain, but you just can’t manage to access them? I know that there have been things throughout the day that I have wanted to write about, but I just can’t put together a coherent thought right now. Of course, it doesn’t help that my husband is in the same room watching television. Loudly. Sadly, it is usually pretty obvious when the tubes in his ears are failing–my life gets that much noisier. Sigh. I really do worry that, someday, putting holes in his eardrums will stop working and he’ll have a legitimate excuse for not responding when I try to talk to him. I just pray that none of my kids inherited his jacked up inner ears.

That being said, I need to spend some time talking about adoption, what with this being National Adoption Month. Certainly, there is much to discuss–good, bad, and ugly. But, given my inability to focus, I’ll just throw out one little semi-related topic.

This past July, Nebraska enacted a Safe Haven law to protect babies from being abandoned in unsafe conditions. They failed to put an age limit on this law (most states range from three days to one year). In the past five months, 34 children have been abandoned using Safe Haven, the majority of which are older children (up to 17-years-old). Five have been driven in from other states. This law is being used by some parents as a way to wash their hands of “problem” children–I watched one mother tearfully proclaim on the news this morning that abandoning her child was “the only way” to get her help for oppositional defiant disorder and ADD.

Last week, Sean and I had a conversation revolving around what to do if a child becomes so out of control that he is completely disrupting the family. No, I haven’t reached that point with any of my kids, not even close. We were watching a preview for this week’s episode of Celebrity Rehab (my mother is now hanging her head in shame), where Steven Adler’s (original drummer for Guns and Roses) mother blames him for the fact that she kicked him out when he was eleven. I was shocked that any mother could even consider just washing her hands of her child. He was a bit more understanding, telling me that I don’t know what it is like to have an out of control kid and, for heaven’s sake, I shouldn’t judge the woman, lest I end up with some karmic bite in the rear in the form of one of our children going off the deep end.

He’s right. I don’t know what it is like to have an out of control child.

He doesn’t know what it’s like to be a mother.

In a world where labels and their corresponding behavior-altering medication are practically thrown at us, I still don’t get it. If it is that bad, I could see seeking professional help–even respite care. But, taking your kid to a “Safe” place and giving them the permanent heave-ho? I don’t see that solving any mental/behavioral problems they may be struggling with.

Fortunately, Nebraska is currently working on revising the law so they will no longer be the country’s dumping ground for challenging offspring.

Today, I am Thankful For:

  1. Kids that only have a normal amount of hyperactivity and defiance. As harsh as my assessment of these parents in Kansas may seem, I really do sympathize with them. I know how hard normal kids can be, and I know that normal parents can end up with truly challenging children. I would never want to be in a position where I would have to test just how far my patience would stretch. Even on their worst days, I’m so grateful to have my children.
  2. The first real snow of the season. Yeah, yeah, we had the snow splats on Saturday, but that just made life miserable, then melted as soon as it hit the ground. We actually have a thin, pretty layer of white on everything outside right now. Snow is enjoyable when it looks that tranquil.
  3. Serendipity. I mentioned yesterday that I had made a trip to Aldi on Saturday with my mother. It just so happened that their weekly specials included Leapsters and the Clone Wars math game. Since a Leapster has been a given for a Christmas present for C~ this year (major jealousy over his brothers’ Leapsters), and N~ has been asking for the Clone Wars game, it was a great find.
  4. E~ finally had his first tooth break through today! Given the fact that he now screams if I try to offer him baby food, insisting that what is on my plate should go into his mouth, his toothless state has been a bit troublesome. Not that one thin edge of tooth is really going to make any difference in the eating issue at the moment, but it is a good sign. N~ was my only other kid to get teeth this late (W~ and C~ both started around 4 months and broke several at once), but he had no interest in solid foods. I see a whole world of culinary possibilities about to open up.
  5. The fact that C~ is starting to develop his own preferences instead of just going for what his brothers like. This does, unfortunately, mean that I am enduring constant requests for Yo Gabba Gabba, which is the equivalent of an acid trip for toddlers.


Filed under Daily Life, Kids, NaBloPoMo, Soap Box, Thirty Days of Thankfulness

5 responses to “Parenting: Commitment Optional

  1. Katie —

    I’ve heard the commotion about this business in Nebraska, and the way its played up sounds like its going to be the end of civilization if the law isn’t fixed. The phrase “the nation’s dumping ground” does seem to get used a lot, and we’re only talking about 34 children so far.

    Admittedly, one is probably too many, but 2,185 kids vanish every day, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (

    Nebraska will fix their little problem, I’m sure.

    Respectfully … I think a round of prayers are in order for the children that weren’t so lucky to wind up on Nebraska’s doorstep and became blips in these mind-numbing statistics.

  2. A friend and I were talking about this situation in Nebraska just last night. Apparently they were, for whatever reason, discussing it in Relief Society and she said the women were all saying how horrible it was for these mothers to do this; but her take on it was that if a mother would just abandon an older child like that, chances are she hasn’t been the greatest mother to begin with, so the kid is probably better off with someone else. I have to say, while I’m sure there are exceptions and I know we shouldn’t judge, it does seem like a “chicken or egg” scenario to me. Did the kid’s horrible behavior drived the parent to abadonment, or did less than stellar parenting contribute heavily to the behavior which is then seen as a reason to just get rid of them? Either way, and whether or not the law is changed, the kids are the real loosers — they’ll either be abandoned or stuck in a familly that doesn’t want them. How sad.

  3. Daniel,

    While the number of children who go missing (mostly runaways) is tragic, I don’t see the two issues as comparable. Safe Haven laws were designed to help a small, defenseless portion of society. 34 children in five months for a brand new law is a BIG number. By contrast, there have been 54 Safe Haven cases in my state since the law was put in place SEVEN YEARS ago. There have only been 11 cases this year.

    The problem is in how this is being applied. Were it to continue, there could be a significant increase and a strain on Children’s Services. These laws were designed with the knowledge that the surrendered babies would still have a chance at a normal life since they would be easily adoptable. Putting an older child into the system is a dreary prospect–especially if they do have emotional issues.

    In the end, it should be a moot point. Nebraska is working to fix the unintented problem. In the meantime, though, they have given fodder to the people out there who oppose all Safe Haven laws.

  4. Christina

    The situation in Nevada is a mess. And there is no easy solution. We can’t say the gov’t should make yet another program because there are a zillion and 3 programs out there already and the people who really need them often aren’t stable enough to make use of them. (Let’s face it – many of those kids are probably messed up because their mother was on alcohol/drugs when she was pregnant and nearly every day since) Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a child with serious emotional/mental issues is even harder. But it’s never okay to dump a kid. Period.

  5. Actually, Christina, another program is exactly what they are promising. Not necessarily to “dump” kids, but they are saying they will have additional mental health services. Who knows if that will end up being a good thing or not (although, since it is government, I’m always suspicious of it actually achieving its purpose).

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