Nebraska’s Law: No Laughing Matter

For a few weeks now, my husband G. Grod and I have made the same joke when the boys, 5yo Drake and 2yo Guppy, are being especially difficult.

“I wonder how far it is to Nebraska?”

It’s in bad taste, but it helps break the tension. Turns out, though, it’s not much of a joke. Nebraska recently instated a safe-haven law; it allows infants to be dropped off at hospitals without prosecution of the dropper off, usually a teen or single parent. The law in Nebraska did not include an age limit, though. This loophole was made apparent when a man dropped off nine children, aged one to seventeen. Since its inception, thirty four children have been dropped off, none of them infants.

Like G. and I have noticed, the law is an easy target for the jokes. But the reason people are dropping off kids is sad, not funny. Raising kids is hard, and in the USA’s increasingly independent and me-focused culture, there’s not much help to be had. Like many, G and I live far from family; we’re lucky to have a community of friends for help.

So next time you see a kid melting down, and a tired or cranky-looking parent, offer help, not judgment. Politely looking away isn’t helpful, either. Empathy, though, is a wonderful thing–take it from this tired, cranky parent.

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