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View Full Version : Can people give up disabled children?


defyalllogic
03-22-2011, 08:47 PM
(I'm thinking of in the US but if another country has laws that suit my story better I'll set it there...)

So if a couple has a baby and he/she has disabilities and they can afford to take care of him/her but they don't want to, can they just give the child up because they don't want him/her?

Are there homes like there are for the elderly or does the child have to qualify in some way?

Would social service take any other children if they only wanted to keep the healthy ones or can they just give up one?

Would it be difficult to "abandon" a child to the state or to a long term facility?

Would the child go up for adoption or to a facility?

Is there a range where they're too much work (that sounds awful) for the state to agree to let you do it?

I know in the past they use to have a lot of homes for the mentally ill and handicapped, do those still exist but in a different style? Would there be both state an private facilities?

Thanks for your time and insight!

Cyia
03-22-2011, 09:05 PM
You "can" give up any child so long as you take them to the proper authorities.

If they're newborns, there are "Baby Moses" laws that say you can drop the infant anonymously at an ER or fire station (maybe police station or church, but I'm not sure about those two).

If they're older, you can call child services and relinquish your parental rights.

You can give up rights temporarily (for someone with no family going into rehab or something) or permanently.

Most kids would go into foster care, and there are some families who specifically take the kids no one else "wants" - meaning the sick or disabled.

One of the radio DJ's around here adopted a boy about four or five years ago in a situation like this. His parents couldn't afford his medical care, so she and her husband took him.

Have you tried calling social services in your area? Tell them why you want the information, and that you're not looking for identifiable specifics on any particular person, then ask them what the procedure would be if a child was born with [name of horrible disorder] and the birth parents/mother couldn't afford the medical care, so had to give him/her up.

Fruitbat
03-22-2011, 09:19 PM
Besides the exception for newborns, the state would take the child but then I believe the parent could possibly get criminal charges for child abandonment.

They try to place children with a relative first. If no suitable one is available, next choice is a family foster home.

For care level beyond basic, the foster parent has to have additional training and certification (and gets additional pay). Often, especially if older and/or moderately to severely disabled, there will be no private foster home available.

Next choice is a group home. The ones I know of have been private group homes but contracted with by the state. I am not sure if there are purely state run ones any more.

Once the parent's rights are legally terminated I believe almost every child is put up for adoption, regardless of the level of disability and regardless of the child's current placement. Of course that does not mean a suitable adoptive home will be found. Often for older, disabled or minority children, an adoptive home is not found. Hope this helps.

Kitty Pryde
03-22-2011, 09:19 PM
Yep, there are safe surrender laws in the US. You can literally slip a baby through a designated slot in a wall and leave it there. Unpleasant, but a far greater alternative to abandoning a newborn in a trashcan.

For kids with disabilities, there are state facilities for foster youth, or a sicker kid would live in a hospital, and there are a lot of families who foster, foster-adopt, or adopt children with disabilities from mild to severe. There are also group homes, run by individuals, which are the better alternative to institutionalization (but not all group homes are good). In the recent past there has been a big move away from institutionalization and towards community inclusion, but some people still live in big government-run facilities. They are generally bad places to live.

The state wouldn't forbid a family to give up a child, the point of social services is that they have to help everyone. I know many families who have adopted special needs kids, it usually requires special training to foster or adopt them. In many states, an adoptive family will receive money for much of the special care such a child requires, until the child turns 18 (and then they are eligible for other benefits).

Drachen Jager
03-22-2011, 09:20 PM
You can also put a child up for adoption and care for them until an adoptive family comes along. I know there are many cases where black families in the states can't afford another child so they end up being adopted by Canadian couples because black families in the states only adopt rarely and other races do not want black children in general. There are at least three families like that at my son's school.

Fruitbat
03-22-2011, 09:33 PM
The Black community here has a long tradition of informal adoption, however. Much is done outside the involvement of social services.

veinglory
03-22-2011, 09:33 PM
I doubt that a married couple with assets and the capacity to care from a child would be allowed to just desert it without repercussions. People would notice and authorities become involved.

defyalllogic
03-22-2011, 09:39 PM
You can also put a child up for adoption and care for them until an adoptive family comes along. I know there are many cases where black families in the states can't afford another child so they end up being adopted by Canadian couples because black families in the states only adopt rarely and other races do not want black children in general. There are at least three families like that at my son's school.

I actually knew that babies of color were less likely to be adopted her but it's nice to known there are families willing to have them in Canada...

See if i have all the facts straight so far:

So in this story, the family would notice the child was "different" and give her up after she was at least a few months (maybe even a year or two) old. They're giving her up just because they don't want to deal with the difficulty of caring for her.

If she was given to the state, they wouldn't be subjected to having their other kids taken or monitored or having to pay for care for the child they gave up?

She might go to a facility but she would be available for adoption once the parental rights were severed. She would more likely be in foster care until she was adopted or turned 18.

There are private facilities they could put her in and kind of just write a check and pretend she doesn't exist.

PinkAmy
03-22-2011, 09:52 PM
(I'm thinking of in the US but if another country has laws that suit my story better I'll set it there...)

So if a couple has a baby and he/she has disabilities and they can afford to take care of him/her but they don't want to, can they just give the child up because they don't want him/her?

Are there homes like there are for the elderly or does the child have to qualify in some way?

Would social service take any other children if they only wanted to keep the healthy ones or can they just give up one?

Would it be difficult to "abandon" a child to the state or to a long term facility?

Would the child go up for adoption or to a facility?

Is there a range where they're too much work (that sounds awful) for the state to agree to let you do it?

I know in the past they use to have a lot of homes for the mentally ill and handicapped, do those still exist but in a different style? Would there be both state an private facilities?

Thanks for your time and insight!
If parents can't or won't take care of their children, they can give sign away their parental rights and the children would become wards of the state.
With disabled kids, sometimes they are easy to care for when the parents are young and the kids don't weigh much, but as the children get older and heavier, having them stay in the home isn't alway doable or practical. If you've got a family who lives in a 5th floor walk up in NYC and a kid in a wheelchair with the mind of an infant- there aren't tons of options.

Many disabled and drug addicted infants are abandoned at birth (relinquished to the state) and in the foster system. There are foster/adoptive parents who specifically want medically fragile/disabled kids. What happens to a child relinquished at an older age depends on the kid's medical issues and IQ potential (meaning will the person ever walk, talk-- not if the kid will be learning disabled).

Parents can give up one or more of their children--they will have to go to family court and face a judge. I've heard of situations where parents relinquished a disabled child because that child took all the emotional resources and there wasn't enough left for the healthy children--kids who could benefit in a meaningful way from parental interaction.

How profound are the disabilities of your character? I'm envisioning children with IQs too low to measure, who can't walk/talk/communicate.

If the family has means, they can put the child in a private institution (basically a warehouse), pay the bills and never visit. If they wanted to terminate parental rights they might be asked to pay their support if the child is in state care. Most families aren't rich enough.

I think you can make most situations work for your character, with a little tweaking.

Kitty Pryde
03-22-2011, 09:54 PM
This is in the UK, but here's a severely disabled child given up for adoption by a wealthy successful married couple. They have since had other, healthy children. The child is being raised by a single foster/adoptive mom. The foster mom was able to deal with the child's needs, the wealthy married birth parents were not. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/3353733/I-gave-up-my-child-to-save-my-family.html Birth mom wrote a book about her decision: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/julia+hollander/when+the+bough+breaks/6539412/

johnnysannie
03-22-2011, 10:00 PM
In the US, we were told - as part and parcel of all the legal stuff they think you need to know - that parents can bring back their child to the hospital where they are born and give them up at any time without reprecussions. I think there was a time frame but I really don't remember it/

PinkAmy
03-22-2011, 10:00 PM
You know kitty, I think sometimes relinquishing a child is the most loving thing a parent can do. Thanks for the link.

PinkAmy
03-22-2011, 10:01 PM
In the US, we were told - as part and parcel of all the legal stuff they think you need to know - that parents can bring back their child to the hospital where they are born and give them up at any time without reprecussions. I think there was a time frame but I really don't remember it/
They are called Safe Haven laws and they vary by state- between a few days until a month usually-- but those laws are for people who just want to leave the kid no questions asked. Usually hospitals, fire departments and police stations are designated safe haven places.

johnnysannie
03-22-2011, 10:06 PM
They are called Safe Haven laws and they vary by state- between a few days until a month usually-- but those laws are for people who just want to leave the kid no questions asked. Usually hospitals, fire departments and police stations are designated safe haven places.

Yes, that's it. I couldn't recall the name of the program.

At the time, I was both glad that parents had an option rather than just tossing a baby into a dumpster (which sadly still happens) and sadness that some parents need such an option.

Fruitbat
03-22-2011, 10:13 PM
So in this story, the family would notice the child was "different" and give her up after she was at least a few months (maybe even a year or two) old. They're giving her up just because they don't want to deal with the difficulty of caring for her.

If she was given to the state, they wouldn't be subjected to having their other kids taken or monitored or having to pay for care for the child they gave up?

She might go to a facility but she would be available for adoption once the parental rights were severed. She would more likely be in foster care until she was adopted or turned 18.

There are private facilities they could put her in and kind of just write a check and pretend she doesn't exist.



As to the family being monitored or possibly losing their other children, I believe it would depend on the social workers' reports to the court and ultimately the judge's decision. If the child had just minor disabilities and the family just didn't feel like messing with it, well I would think that's a family who needs some close scrutiny about their fitness to parent any children. I would think the social workers would want to check that out, but no I don't think they'd automatically be taken away. So again, it depends.

Also, within the laws, each particular case would still be individual so not really possible to say exactly how it would all pan out. Which is good for you, I guess, because it gives you some leeway on what's believable.

Another option is that the parents could seek an adoptive parent for the child themselves and arrange a private adoption if they could find someone, in which case the state would not be involved. Sorry, I'm not sure all these "it depends" answers are what you're looking for, lol.

veinglory
03-22-2011, 10:15 PM
Yes anyone can give up a child if they insist, but if they have a resources to care for the child it is legally desertion and/or abandonment. So there would need to be a reason why they were not charged with that. You can't just have and give away children until you have the type that your want.

Fruitbat
03-22-2011, 10:18 PM
Yes anyone can give up a child if they insist, but if they have a resources to care for the child it is legally desertion and/or abandonment. So there would need to be a reason why they were not charged with that. You can't just have and give away children until you have the type that your want.

+1

defyalllogic
03-22-2011, 10:38 PM
no, all the "it depends" are helpful too because that's where I get to make stuff up.

veinglory, Wouldn't emotional ability be considered a resource? they tried and they just don't have the wherewithal to deal with a child who won't progress/communicate/thrive or whatever the character eventually lands on. If they just can't love or connect with the child because of this disability would that be different?

So just because they have the money and are able to care for one child with no special needs, would automatically mean they have the means to care for a disable child. If they gave up a dark skinned child or a girl, they'd definitely be abandoners.

When making the abandonment distinction, is it important that they feel bad about the decision rather than relived?

(The woman in the article Kitty linked gave up her child because they just didn't have the emotional capacity as a family to care for her.)

veinglory
03-22-2011, 10:47 PM
I doubt emotional ability would be accepted as a defense unless they both had a diagnosed mental illness or they abused/severely neglected the child as a result of their failure to cope. I, unfortunately, know one person who wanted to abandon a severely behaviorally disordered infant. The universal response was, tough. It's your kid.

Kitty Pryde
03-22-2011, 10:52 PM
Yeah, the woman from the article I linked to had the money and stability and intelligence enough to care for her child, but her and her husband were literally being driven to mental illness and/or serious danger because they couldn't handle the stress of the child's health problems and constant crying. Now, judge them or not, but though they loved the child, they weren't capable of caring for her. I would argue that's not a case of "giving away children til you have the one you want".

Fruitbat
03-22-2011, 10:57 PM
But that family in the link was in the UK? It might be vastly different there, or maybe it was a private adoption, in which case the state would not be involved at all. Or maybe that particular judge on that particular case just said yes. (Sorry I didn't read it)

I think what we could safely say is that it would be "iffy," in the case of state involvement.

1) Maybe the judge would weigh everything and say okay, in which case, mission accomplished.

2) Maybe he would say, okay, but then social services would monitor or remove the other children. There's another fork. Social services tends to be way understaffed and if after a time it looked like everyone had adjusted to the disabled child being gone and the other children were fine, they would probably close the case (assuming the judge had okayed the removal of the disabled child). Alternately, maybe they would decide the parents were nuts, after other things happened, and take them away. Then they'd go through their reunification plans to try to get those children back.

3) Maybe the judge would say no. There's another fork. If the parents insisted, say they left the kid at the doctor's office and refused to come get him/her, the state would pick up the child. But then it's possible the parents would get civil penalties (other children removed too, made to pay child support) and/or criminal penalties (probation, prison). Or, it's possible that the state would work with them towards reunification with the disabled child (almost always the case at first even if not likely) and decide to terminate rights when no progress was being made. When a child is taken out of the home, a plan is decided on of specific things the parents must do within a specified time frame (I believe 6 months or a year) in order to get them back. If they don't do it, rights are terminated (by the judge). If that happened, the state might not bother having the parents prosecuted but would just let it go.

So they might be able to pull it off, but they might at least be sweating bullets for awhile first.

Tasmin21
03-22-2011, 11:09 PM
A person of my acquaintance is actually going through this right now.

Brief backstory: She has adopted four boys, from difficult foster backgrounds. Their ages now run between 11 and 6. One of the boys has amazingly severe RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and actually became a danger to himself and his brothers. (one expert that reviewed his file said he's never seen a child so bad, and doesn't expect him to ever be able to function normally)

She's tried to get him into treatment programs, mental health places, all kinds of therapists, etc. Unfortunately, she lost her job, and is only getting by now by substitute teaching when she can get gigs.

Everyone who has looked at this boy has agreed that he needs long-term, live-in help. However, places like that are expensive, and Medicaid won't pay for him to be in a long-term treatment facility. So, this woman is now trying to relinquish custody over to the state, because if he's a ward of the state, then Medicaid WILL pay for his treatment.

She's jumped through all kinds of hoops, gone round and round with social services in two different counties, been to court eleventy-billion times. They keep trying to force her to come get him, at the same time telling her "if you bring him home, we're taking your other kids because he's dangerous". They've tried to say that SHE'S the crazy one, and that she has Munchausen's by Proxy, and all kind of other horrific accusations, all because she's trying to do the right thing for this kid that NO one ever wanted before.

My heart hurts for her, and I hope they get it resolved at some point.

Karen Junker
03-23-2011, 12:45 AM
Scroll down this page to the Voluntary Placement info: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/ddd/services.shtml

That gives you some of the laws, rules and resources available in WA state, at least. I'm sure they vary from state to state.

ETA: I was in social services here for 20 years and never heard of parents being legally in trouble for wanting to find a better place for their child.

PinkAmy
03-23-2011, 01:41 AM
Yes, that's it. I couldn't recall the name of the program.

At the time, I was both glad that parents had an option rather than just tossing a baby into a dumpster (which sadly still happens) and sadness that some parents need such an option.

That's why they started the programs. In a few months 6 or 7 teenage girls were arrested for throwing their kids in the trash and they needed an option.

PinkAmy
03-23-2011, 01:45 AM
A person of my acquaintance is actually going through this right now.

Brief backstory: She has adopted four boys, from difficult foster backgrounds. Their ages now run between 11 and 6. One of the boys has amazingly severe RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and actually became a danger to himself and his brothers. (one expert that reviewed his file said he's never seen a child so bad, and doesn't expect him to ever be able to function normally)


RAD is the saddest condition. If he has RAD he'll probably never function normally. If he could be an only child in a home with no pets with parents who were willing to spend 24/7 with him, he could possible improve a lot, but he'll likely always have problems. Sadly, if he doesn't get help now, he'll end up in prison.
I can see why your friend would have to relinquish the boy to save her family--unfortunately this is going to make the boy worse, but it can't be helped. There is nothing sadder than a little kid who started off "normal" and through no fault of his own, developed this condition because no one gave him a stable home when he was an infant. :(
I feel so bad for your friend and her family. My heart goes out to them.

PinkAmy
03-23-2011, 02:00 AM
I think what we could safely say is that it would be "iffy," in the case of state involvement.

I don't think so. In my experience, if parents have been caring for a child and they can't do it any more, they've likely had all kinds of intervention services at the home for medical and developmental reasons. They've probably had respite care who can attest to the difficulty of caring for the child. I'm sure they've got tons of documentation to back themselves up.
I saw a case where a parent gave up one toddler but kept her 2 older kids because she couldn't afford to keep the kid (which is a very sad commentary on the state of things :()
I can't see a judge forcing parents to keep a child and I can't see social services removing the other children because the parents decided taking care of the disabled child didn't allow them to be good parents to the others.
I'm sure this would be a difficult decision, that the parents won't do relinquish because they are bad people.
A few years ago there was a case on the news from Delaware where the parents of a severely disabled boy dropped him off at the hospital and said they couldn't take care of him any more. At first the public thought they were horrible people, but then we learned the details of keeping this child alive. He needed someone with him 24/7 because he frequently stopped breathing. The Gov't had cut the hours they'd have an AIDE so more of the burden would be on the parents- who were physically and emotionally exhausted so much so the mother had to be hospitalized. They snapped when they dropped him off and wanted him back. He was returned to the home after people gave donations to help for his care. I can see many valid reasons for giving a child up. (The parents were monitored for a period of time 6months to a year if I remember correctly)
Family court judges are generally reasonable people, not out to punish parents for doing their best.

ETA: I was in social services here for 20 years and never heard of parents being legally in trouble for wanting a better place for their child
THIS

Kitty27
03-23-2011, 03:02 AM
I have a neighbor in a similar situation. She took in her grandson and he is completely out of control. He doesn't have any behavioral or mental disorders. He spent all his life in a home where discipline and obedience didn't apply. My neighbor is 68 and he is just too much for her. I feel badly for her because she can't get any help for him.If I had it in me,I'd get his behind straight. She is a sweet lady and devoted to the little Chupacabra. She has tried to get some help for him. Basically,she was told tough shit. Being a retired teacher,her income is too high for Medicaid and therapy sessions are beyond expensive. Her situation is hard to witness.

African-Americans tend to avoid formal adoption procedures. We simply take in relatives kids and the parent understands that once it's done,that's it. No coming back or reclaiming custody. Plus,the parent knows to bring over whatever benefits the child receives. I saw it all the time in my community. Due to a general distrust of social services,that's how it's done.

I would think that letting go of a child with disabilities because the parents can't handle it,would get a tough shit from authorities. You cannot trade a kid in like a car because he or she has something that you don't like or cannot handle. Especially if the child is up there in years. But if the child is in danger because the parents just can't handle it,I assume they could get some leeway.

Karen Junker
03-23-2011, 03:45 AM
I would think that letting go of a child with disabilities because the parents can't handle it,would get a tough shit from authorities. You cannot trade a kid in like a car because he or she has something that you don't like or cannot handle.

Well, here at least, there are agencies that a child can be placed with -- that may not be true in all states due to budget or whatever. If the parent cannot handle the child, the child is in jeopardy and the authorities would place the child in a safer situation for the child. Whether the parent has to help pay for the services depends on their income.

The OP needs to research the rules and policies of the state or county in which the story takes place in order to be realistic.

mgencleyn
03-23-2011, 06:06 AM
Safe-haven laws have varying requirements by jurisdiction, mostly limiting the surrender of the infant within a matter of days and limits on who may do so (either or both parents), among other rules:

To date, approximately 49 States and Puerto Rico have enacted safe haven legislation.1 The focus of these laws is protecting newborns. In approximately 13 States, infants who are 72 hours old or younger may be relinquished to a designated safe haven.2 Approximately 16 States and Puerto Rico accept infants up to 1 month old.3 Other States specify varying age limits in their statutes.4
http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/safehaven.cfm

Child abandonment also varies by state:
Child abandonment is the practice of abandoning one's child outside of legal adoption. An abandoned child is called a foundling. Child abandonment is a criminal offense under state laws, which vary by state. In some states, a parent considering abandonment may be able to take the child to a safe place where they will not be prosecuted. Child abandonment may lead to murder, manslaughter or aggravated abuse charges. Poverty is the cause of many abandonment cases.
http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/child-abandonment/

Here are adoption laws with links to the rules by state:
http://laws.adoption.com/statutes/state-adoption-laws.html

frimble3
03-23-2011, 09:33 AM
And I got the impression that at one time not only was it okay to essentially abandon a handicapped baby, but that TPTB encouraged it, doctors telling mothers that it would be kinder to 'put the baby away and try to forget about it'.
I worked with a woman who had raised a daughter with Down's Syndrome. She talked about people's reaction to her keeping her daughter, and how things had changed. That at one time people were appalled that she would keep the baby, and that 'now' they'd be appalled that she would give it up. Which she felt was rather harsh, that parents had to decide for themselves what they could deal with.

Collectonian
03-23-2011, 10:26 AM
For the US, the laws and governing bodies can vary by state, and even by city. In most states, yes, anyone can put a child up for adoption if the birth parents consent (both if both are living and have rights). It is not considered "child abandonment" unless they actually dumped the child somewhere and left them there.

There are some states where older children must consent to the adoption, however a judge can usually overrule them. In Texas, for example, a child 12 and older can oppose the adoption, unless the courts rule otherwise. If you know what state you want to set the story in, look at adoption laws there and the adoption agencies. Here, the birth mother (and father if known and acknowledges he is the father) would sign an affidavit containing certain bits of into to reliquish rights, and worth with an adoption agency to put the child up to do a private adoption.

defyalllogic
03-23-2011, 05:53 PM
Thanks for all the helpful insights, especially to those of you who have direct experience or working knowledge of such things. It's great to have the right terminology and concepts to look up and ask about.

Also, sorry to those of you who have experience with this first (or second) hand. I know it's a touchy and difficult subject/concept and I appreciate all your responses.

kayleamay
03-23-2011, 08:46 PM
In my state (Washington) a parent can safe drop an infant up to 3 days old in the ER or at a fire station under Safe Haven laws and it can be totally confidential. The parent does not even have to give a name if they choose not to (although we're supposed to try to get information if we can), so no reprecussions in that scenario. For an older infant I suppose how it was handled would depend on how the parents went about leaving the child. Dumping a kid in a trashcan is abandonment/neglect/abuse. Going to social service and telling them you're just not equipped to deal with the child is a different ball of wax.

jallenecs
03-23-2011, 11:07 PM
And I got the impression that at one time not only was it okay to essentially abandon a handicapped baby, but that TPTB encouraged it, doctors telling mothers that it would be kinder to 'put the baby away and try to forget about it'.
I worked with a woman who had raised a daughter with Down's Syndrome. She talked about people's reaction to her keeping her daughter, and how things had changed. That at one time people were appalled that she would keep the baby, and that 'now' they'd be appalled that she would give it up. Which she felt was rather harsh, that parents had to decide for themselves what they could deal with.

This is true. My father was born in 1922, four months premature, a home delivery. According to my aunt, he weighed two pounds, was blue all over, and "looked like a skinned squirrel." His first diaper was a man's handkerchief. At that time, in this area, there were simply no facilities to care for a premature baby, and he was expected to die. He didn't, obviously, but he did develop cerebral palsy.

The doctor told my grandmother to put him away in an institution and forget about him. She was told he would be retarded, would never speak or live a normal life. They KEPT telling her that, even after he started talking normally. Then he started reading, without being taught, at four years old. FINALLY they tested him, and he turned out to have an IQ in the low 160's.

At the time, putting away a disabled child was the recommended procedure, and doctors encouraged it. Thank God my grandmother was a stubborn old bitch who was not about to give up her only son, disabled or no.

Keyan
03-24-2011, 11:32 AM
In the US, we were told - as part and parcel of all the legal stuff they think you need to know - that parents can bring back their child to the hospital where they are born and give them up at any time without reprecussions. I think there was a time frame but I really don't remember it/

I don't believe they can give them up "at any time." The Safe Surrender laws differ from state to state, but I think all of them (now) have age limits, typically somewhere between a few days and 12 months old. In one state that didn't have such laws, a man tried to relinquish several kids from early teens down because his wife died and he didn't know how to cope. I believe they put in the laws afterward.

AFAIK, parents *can* relinquish a child to care, but they may be billed for the cost of the care if they are able to pay and the child is not adopted. It seldom comes up because usually if parents are well-off, the kids don't go to the state.

PinkAmy
03-24-2011, 01:53 PM
AFAIK, parents *can* relinquish a child to care, but they may be billed for the cost of the care if they are able to pay and the child is not adopted. It seldom comes up because usually if parents are well-off, the kids don't go to the state.

This.

Giant Baby
03-25-2011, 05:24 PM
I'm not sure what you're looking for for your story, but if it's simply parental abandonment of the child, it's quite possible to effectively abandon a developmentally disabled child without adopting him or her out at all if the disability is profound enough. When I worked in human services, my career started at a residential school for children with disabilities, and I later managed group homes for developmentally disabled adults. Most families were loving and extremely involved in my students/clients lives, but we'd certainly have cases where we'd never see the parents again once the student was enrolled (or never at all, in the adult community).

You can do a lot with respite care and signatures obtained by mail.

veinglory
03-25-2011, 06:39 PM
Bear in mind that safe surrender laws are designed for people in distress to avoid the child's death or the child being left in grossly inappropriate hands. It is not a 'get out of baby free' card for people who don't like what they got, especially not a toddler who has clearly received adequate care up to that point.

defyalllogic
03-25-2011, 07:03 PM
Most states have safe-haven laws for children between 0 and 30 days. Missouri and North Dakota are the most "lenient" and take children up to 1 year old. (source (http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/index.cfm?event=stateStatutes.processSearch))

Perfect!

Now to sort out the "home" said baby gets to live in...

thanks again everyone.

veinglory
03-25-2011, 07:22 PM
I think you still need to realize that if a child from a registered birth out of a family with means goes into safe haven, the parents can and will still be prosecuted for deserting it. In only 15 or so states can you even use leaving the kid at the safe haven as an affirmative defensive against a charge of abandonment--in no state does using a safe haven give you immunity from a charge of abandonment. The safe havens are anonymous. But when the police realize you used to have a kid and now don't, or the abandoned child is identified, if the parents have means and are mental well, they will end up in court.

defyalllogic
03-25-2011, 07:28 PM
That's part of the safe-haven law:

Missouri A parent shall not be prosecuted for child abandonment or endangering the welfare of a child for actions related to the voluntary relinquishment of a child up to 5 days old. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution for child abandonment or endangering the welfare of a child that a parent who is a defendant voluntarily relinquished a child no more than age 1 if:

Expressing intent not to return for the child, the parent voluntarily delivered the child safely to the physical custody of any safe haven provider.
The child was no more than age 1 when delivered by the parent to a safe haven provider.
The child had not been abused or neglected by the parent prior to such voluntary delivery.

N. Dakota Neither the parent nor the parent's agent is subject to prosecution for abuse, neglect, or abandonment for leaving the infant at a hospital.

Neither the parent nor the parent's agent is required to provide any information. An individual who contacts the department about the child is under no obligation to respond to a request for information, and the department may not attempt to a compel response or to investigate the identity or background of the individual.

actually, maybe Nebraska is my state (http://www.cwla.org/programs/pregprev/flocrittsafehaven.htm)
Nebraska

LB 157 (Signed by Governor February 13, 2008, Effective July 2008)

Key Points:
Age: No limit
Safe Havens: Hospitals licensed by the state
Liability: Immune from prosecution for abandonment
though the site also says:
North Dakota

SB 2129 (Signed by Governor March 28, 2001)

Online Text of Bill -- CWLA Summary

Key Points:
Age: 1 year
Safe Havens: Hospitals
Liability: Immune from prosecution

affirmative defense would be inconvenient to the story. Most states have immunity but the states with more lax age limit more likely have affirmative defense

veinglory
03-25-2011, 07:44 PM
I still don't think you are reading those correctly. They say the child can be left anonymously, that the act of leaving the child is not prosecutable, and in the case of Missouri (not most States) when the parents are charged they can use dropping at a safe haven as a defense (which may or may not succeed).

None of this prevents the mother-in-law, neighbor etc from reporting the child missing and the parents being charged with abandoning it. They may not have to take the kid back, but the state will want to recoup the cost of its care from parents with means.

Parents without means are not prosecuted, and the arrival of a child in the haven is not investigated. But that does not mean people with the resources to care for a kid can desert it at will, that is still a crime.

And yes, people do try to desert kids for being the wrong gender, color, crying too much etc. It doesn't work. If you had a kid, and suddenly don't have a kid, the police tend to turn up at your door to find out where it went--for obvious reasons.

defyalllogic
03-25-2011, 08:16 PM
I see what you're saying. (took me a little while). Are you a lawyer, maybe social worker? I appreciate the details.

If the child isn't theirs, like their daughter had a child and then she goes missing and they file all the reports and there's no foul play suspected. They're left with the grandchild, can they give it up? since technically it's not their responsibility the child just lived with them because the girl had. So this way, they're kind of "publicly" giving up the child.

Karen Junker
03-25-2011, 10:40 PM
Is it critical to your story to have the child abandoned? Why not just go to social services and ask for help? That's the logical thing that most people would do and it would alleviate the issue of prosecution for the family.

PS I was in social services for over 20 years, worked at a state home for disabled, managed group homes for disabled and was a social worker for Child Protective Services.

defyalllogic
03-25-2011, 10:56 PM
yes, she needs to grow up outside the home either always resenting or growing to resent the family because she knows they chose not to keep her when they could have. I don't want her to grow up with another family or be adopted but live in a group situation. the people running the facility will have ulterior motives for running a facility of this nature.

I think I have a lot to go on so I know where to be vague.

It's not really about the details of the separation or legalities or societal repercussions, it's really just a thing that happens because of choice and not need. Also, it's that they're specifically choosing not to raise her because of how she is.

Thanks for helping!

PinkAmy
03-26-2011, 03:08 PM
She can be "abandoned" to the facility. You're talking about the difference between legal abandonment and emotional abandonment. You can have them dump the kid at a facility with the best of intentions- the parents aren't equipped to deal with the child, they can't afford to keep the child at home (respite and other services are being cut right and left these days). Yours can be a story of no "bad guys". The youngest I've seen kids in group homes is early adolescence. I assume if the child is disabled she would be older than that for a group home.

What are the child's disabilities and how profound are they? A person needs to have a certain intellectual be able to understand and feel resentment. MR folks are incredibly forgiving and unless they have near normal IQs, probably aren't capable of feeling resentment.

Shakesbear
03-26-2011, 04:33 PM
From the work I used to do, in the UK, I have personal experience of families giving up children. All three of the children were Down's Syndrome babies. Two girls and one boy. All three families were financially secure. Two families had other children but wanted very much to keep the DS child at home. Sadly, in both cases the child became too big for the mother to handle (I'm not sure if that is the right expression) and the time devoted to the one child meant the others were neglected. Both children were placed in children's homes and both sets of parents had to contribute something towards their stay. Both families visited the children.

The third child - hard for me to talk about. She was totally rejected by her father the moment he realized she had DS. He would not let anyone go and see her, took his wife home from hospital and left the baby girl behind. What sickened me was that he was involved with the care of children with serious disabilities and I wondered how he could show compassion and care for the children of other people when he had none for his own. IIRC the local authority became the girls legal guardian.

Not sure if this is relevant but a pupil I taught a few years ago was also in the care of the LA and they were prepared to support her financially if she chose to go to university. They did not abandon her when she was 18, as her parents had done when she was a baby.

Sydewinder
03-26-2011, 06:39 PM
In Canada you can give up a disabled child and retain all kinds of influence/rights in that child's life. It's called "associate family" program (I think the name changed a couple years ago). My family took a young girl when I was younger, we had her for 17 years. You never adopt, you're just like a long-term foster family. The parents, if they're in the picture, can come visit when they want, take the kid out when they want (well, it needs to be arranged with the associate family, but it's just a scheduling thing).

But when the disabled child turns 19 they're moved into a group home or other appropriate facility. It's just for kids.

This is extremely common, especially for severely disabled children, it can be very expensive for parents to pay for the things these children need, and unfortunately there isn't a program in place where the birth family gets full funding for those things (eg - $30K to $100K wheelchairs, retro-fitted vans... etc ). Birth parents/families can have full access to the child.

I think some parents feel very guilty about giving up their disabled children b/c they can't handle the emotional, physical, or financial stress and I think the program above is a great way to help that. I only wish that there was more funding for parents who wanted to keep their children but couldn't afford it.

PinkAmy
03-26-2011, 09:00 PM
I only wish that there was more funding for parents who wanted to keep their children but couldn't afford it.

Agreed. This should never happen, especially since a child in the custody of children's services costs a lot more than helping the child stay in the home.

jclarkdawe
03-26-2011, 09:55 PM
Safe-haven law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe-haven_law) is a good starting point for safe-haven laws in the United States. Nebraska for a little bit had a typo in their law resulting in Nebraska 'safe haven' law for kids has unintended results .. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-09-25-Left-kids_N.htm) It's since been changed, limiting it to infants (Nebraska set to change controversial safe haven law - CNN (http://articles.cnn.com/2008-11-19/us/nebraska.safe.haven_1_dave-heineman-safe-haven-law-nebraska-lawmakers?_s=PM:US).) It was interesting while it lasted, and caused people to travel quite a distance to take advantage of it.

Further is a little disclosed fact that some states have a system to charge the parents for any expenses for their kids that the state does. One of my favorite moments as an attorney was after a family had racked up half a million dollars in state support to various hospitals. New Hampshire started billing my clients (the parents) and pissed me off. Pro bono, I filed a bankruptcy for them.

NH Attorney General's office calls me to say that NH's debt would survive bankruptcy. I told him to find the provision in bankruptcy law that would get him that result. He couldn't. Family got through their rough spot and stayed just as broke as they always were, but without owing the State of New Hampshire.

My guess is especially in the present economy, more and more states are looking at this. Not a terribly effective way to raise money, but it goes over well with the voters.

Abandoning an older child is going to be a long and complicated process, especially a child requiring expensive care. Who wants to get stuck with taking care of a child for 18 years that requires $200,000 worth of care each year? Parents are probably going to be charged with abandonment and threatened with jail. Judges are also amazingly convinced that money isn't a problem and services will be provided.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Giant Baby
03-26-2011, 11:43 PM
I assume your story is set in the present? Because if you want your character to feel really resentful or abandoned, having him grow up a few decades ago would definitely do the trick. I've had several clients in the group homes I've run over the years who were abandoned to institutions as children (Pineland (http://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/301/page/567/display?use_mmn=) and the Fernald School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_E._Fernald_State_School)). A few of them weren't even truly developmentally disabled, but were now a part of the system and dependent on it.

It was a very, very hard life.

In a present day (albeit, less dramatic) variation on that, I had one student at the residential school where I worked who was highly intelligent. She was, however, blind, and therefore considered by her parents to be incapable of attending public school, despite state (http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eohhs2terminal&L=4&L0=Home&L1=Government&L2=Laws,+Regulations+and+Policies&L3=Massachusetts+Commission+for+the+Blind+-+Related+Laws+and+Regulations&sid=Eeohhs2&b=terminalcontent&f=mcb_g_chapter_766&csid=Eeohhs2) and federal (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/disabilityoverview.html) laws that guaranteed her otherwise. So, she was educated alongside peers with developmental disabilities that were significant enough for the public schools in their areas to acknowledge they could not accommodate their educational needs and pay for their tuitions and housing expenses. This student was about as far from meeting that criteria as a kid could be. Her sole disability was blindness. She was pretty hot shit as a student. Today as an adult, she's got a lot of social and emotional issues.

PinkAmy
03-27-2011, 12:44 AM
A few of them weren't even truly developmentally disabled, but were now a part of the system and dependent on it.

There are conjoined twins not far from here who were abandoned to an institution as infants upon the recommendation of their doctor. They were thought to be MR, but turned out to have normal intelligent. They are the oldest living conjoined twins, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lori_and_George_Schappell

Canotila
03-28-2011, 12:25 PM
Not sure of the laws that came into play exactly, but my dad was abandoned by his mother at an orphanage.

Basically, in 1950 she left her four children and husband to go have an affair with a mobster in Chicago. After a while, the state decided my grandpa wasn't a good enough father and took the kids away. It was a 1 year old girl, 3 year old girl, 5 year old boy (my dad) and 10 year old boy.

After 5 years passed and my grandfather had been killed in an accident, the state finally tracked down grandma. The baby sister had already been adopted out and we never knew what became of her. The other three had lived in the orphanage all that time. She was given the option of claiming her children. For some reason they let her take my uncle (then 15 years old) because he was "her favorite" but she left my dad and aunt because she "didn't love them" (that was her words). They both stayed in the orphanage until my dad turned 16 and they were both adopted by a very wonderful Swedish immigrant couple.

Not really sure how Illinois state law worked on that one, and why she was allowed to take one child and leave the other two behind. My mom said that they would have been reluctant to give her any children back in the 50s since she was an adulteress running around with mobsters.

jaksen
03-28-2011, 09:23 PM
I doubt that a married couple with assets and the capacity to care from a child would be allowed to just desert it without repercussions. People would notice and authorities become involved.


I am in Massachusetts, USA.

I had a disabled child and was urged by the nurses and other hospital spokespeople to 'keep' my child. They sent several, well-meaning persons to speak to me and some of them were very nervous and emotional in their interactions with me. They had 'assumed' giving up my child was something I was considering.

Of course, I was sort of out of it, and dealing with the fact I had this baby. (I learned of his disability at birth.) I also remember saying to these well-intentioned people: WHAT? I was totally unprepared for anyone to give me a talk about keeping my child when it had never entered my consciousness that I might give him up.

Much later, when I was home and reflected back on all of this, I realized that so many do people give up disabled children that the hospital had an entire program to try and convince parents to keep their children. They had support groups and hotlines and they'd team you up with a family who also had a child with the same issues as yours.

I also know a family in my hometown who had a daughter a few years before me with the same disability. They gave her up and told their friends and family the baby was born dead. (How did I learn about this? A relative who knew about the issue told me - she wanted me to realize I had 'options.' In other words, hey this family gave up a similar child, so can you.)

My child is now the love of our life and the light of our family and he will be 19 this fall.

Long story...

PinkAmy
03-28-2011, 10:51 PM
, I realized that so many do people give up disabled children that the hospital had an entire program to try and convince parents to keep their children..

That says a LOT. I'm glad you the hospital was equipped with so many support services 19 years ago.

Was this program designed to show you that you would be supported and that there were services or was the program coercive (you're scum if you don't keep your child).
The story about the family saying their child had died is thought provoking. Maybe they couldn't take care of the child, maybe they didn't want to. The child was probably better off-- I don't mean that in a snarky way. If the parents weren't equipped to deal with her, better to be in a more ready family. And no child needs to grow up unwanted in her family.

jaksen
03-29-2011, 05:13 AM
In response to PinkAmy:

The program was designed to help parents keep their children. The people who spoke to me were caring and supportive and wanted to point me in the direction of services that would give any kind of aid I might need. Education, financial, therapeutic, etc. I did use some services, but they were the kind that most people in my situation would use, regardless of income or social status.

The family who gave up the child simply didn't want a child who was disabled. They were quite wealthy and later had more children. I always hoped that child, a girl, was eventually adopted by a family who wanted her.

I kind of went on and on in my answer, too, as this is a touchy subject for me. But, yes, at least in MA, a family can turn over a newborn child they do not 'want' to the state.

PinkAmy
03-29-2011, 03:29 PM
In response to PinkAmy:

The program was designed to help parents keep their children. The people who spoke to me were caring and supportive and wanted to point me in the direction of services that would give any kind of aid I might need. Education, financial, therapeutic, etc. I did use some services, but they were the kind that most people in my situation would use, regardless of income or social status.

That's wonderful. I hope those services are all over the country. Parents shouldn't have to give up their kids because they can't afford to keep them or because they don't have the community support they need.