I am permanently and forever late for church.
And that stress is relatively minor. At some point soon I'm going to have to find a job. And then if one of the kids gets sick at school, God help me.
I'm a single mother and my story is common and tiresome, even to me. But during the past week or so a new refrain has accompanied the common stressors:
Hey, at least I never dropped them off in Nebraska.
The horrible parenting tragedies happened before the Nebraska Legislature cauterized a wound and forgot to bandage it with a 30-day old age limit. Before this past week, a silly loophole in a backwater state legislature (the last in the nation to pass a bill requiring hospitals to accept abandoned newborns no questions asked) allowed any parent of any minor to drop off their child in like manner.
The thirty-six walking, talking children who were abandoned in Nebraska as a result are a small fraction of those whose desperate parents didn't have the guts or the gas to make the trip. Two mothers drove over a thousand miles to find a place of safety for their teenagers. As this morning's Wall Street Journal law blog points out: "Many parents were using the Safe Haven law only as a last-case scenario, after exhausting every other avenue to help their deeply troubled children."
My heart especially goes out to the adoptive mother, Melyssa Cowburn, whose son was abandoned to her care by a meth addict birth mother in a big box store. "Could you watch him while I pick up some diapers" and she never returned. The emotionally disturbed child would be beyond the care of any one person.
The boy has broken Cowburn's nose, cut her forehead with a snow brush and left deep bruises from biting her calf. He has put a kitten inside an oven and blinded the family's parrot.
Cowburn cannot physically control the boy, who already weighs 63 pounds. Both she and her husband are about 5-foot-6 and slender. He kicks holes in walls. He urinated on the neighbor's dog and threw canned food off the balcony. ...[He] set fire to the shower curtain one day, then flooded the apartment the next, clogging the sinks and toilets.
She flew him to Nebraska.
The Nebraska Legislature's oversight, which was "corrected" on Saturday, is probably a blessing. It brought to light bigger holes in our nation's so-called safety net (kids at risk for gang membership in some states can't get services until they commit a crime?) and reminded others of the existence, still of Boy's Town and Big Brothers programs.
And of course this issue ties in with abortion and reproduction and who should be parents. It's not that some kids would be better off not born, or that some pro-lifers care more about the fetus than any actual child. It's the disconnect, the complete disconnect, that being born is tantamount to anyone's quality of life.
The wonderful New Yorker article Red Sex/Blue Sex (do go read the whole thing) points out how the GOP convention saw Bristol Palin's pregnancy not only as forgiveable, but a non-issue, since unmarried, unexpected teen pregnancy had happened in the family/church/social circle of every single delegate there. Abstinence? In Red State Nation you attach shame to sex and a kobosh on contraception but as long as there is no abortion, and, I suppose, the baby is baptized, Jesus and "society" are content.
And when the baptized baby is emotionally disturbed and later attempts to murder his sibling, there's always Nebraska. Or there was until Saturday.
An aside: the majority of babies born in the United States today are brought into this world via Medicaid. That's a hole in the insurance system and the job benefits system and the economy that is not over when the federal insurance coverage ends after birth. And don't get me started about the so-called "controversy" of whether Medicaid should pay for contraception.
It's high time we begin to handle the issue of quality of life for children. We have an administration soon that, we can hope, gets it. (I wish to God Hillary Clinton could have been Secretary of HHS rather than State. Talk about a "pit bull with lipstick" on behalf of children, no one has done more, and American kids still need that fierce advocacy.) I certainly hope Michelle Obama steps up to the plate. "Quality of Life for Children" has a nice post-Rovian ring to it. I hope I'm not sucking the emotional moisture out of this issue to say, demography is destiny. If we don't begin to cherish parenthood and make protecting children of every age a priority...
But no one is going to make parenting easier. We parents will deal with the stress of rejected red dresses on a Sunday morning, and everything, everything, that is more important than that, in the life of our children. Without some solid national priorities behind us, though, our country's future may as well be dropped off at the proverbial ER in Nebraska.
No video blog today. Salon tonight, see you then. - BG