A Nebraska law which went into effect in July allows caregivers to leave a child at a state-certified hospital without fear of prosecution. Other states with 'safe-haven' laws had infants less than a year old in mind when similar legislation was crafted. But in Nebraska, the word 'child' was used to avoid assigning an age limit; thus, any minor under the age of 19 is considered a child.
Because of this unexpected loophole, significantly older children including teens have been abandoned in Nebraska in alarming numbers. The most widely-reported story involved a father who left his nine kids, ages 1-17.
Until recently, the abandoned children were all Nebraska residents. But now families are crossing state lines to dump offspring. Last week, an out-of-state 14-year-old girl was dropped off by her grandparents at a hospital in Omaha. Yesterday, a Detroit, Michigan woman left her son at the same hospital.
The family likely found out about the Nebraska law through news coverage of the safe haven law. The law - and the mounting number of families making use of it - has drawn national and international attention....
This is the 11th time the haven law has been used. The Michigan teen is the 19th child left at a hospital or, in one case, a police station by people intending to make use of the law. Most of the children left have been teens and preteens. None of the cases has involved an infant.