Dryfield, Texas - Dryfield Town Meeting on June 10 voted to adopt a 13-year-old Safe Haven home rule petition, which says the town will petition the Legislature to amend the Texas general laws to allow men to drop off their child at a fire station or police station when it's up to 13 years old.
Texas will be the first state to adopt a safe haven law for unwanted teenagers.
We realized that we had a 13-year-old that was abandoned by his father last July in Nebraska and we felt strongly we needed to do something about it here in Texas, said Mike Childprotector. When we go into a city or town trying to get interest in this legislation our biggest problem is the same as we had with the Baby Safe Haven - that abandonment never happens there. We hope that nobody uses the law in any community. But we know somewhere in the country it happens."
Baby Safe Haven laws have been passed in 47 of the United States, but the 13-year-old Safe Haven will be a first. Currently, under state law, a father can be arrested and jailed up to seven years for abandonment. This law will decriminalize a father dropping off a kid with a policeman, firefighter or health care worker.
Safe haven advocates say that anonymity is vital because many fathers would be too embarrassed to drop off a 13-year-old if they had to give their names. "If the fathers weren't desperate, they could just give custody to the child's mother or arrange guardianship by a relative or friend," said Mike Childprotector. "But, it's much better to have a live 13-year-old abandoned "safely" than a dead 13-year-old in a dumpster."
We're asking for $200,000 from the state to publicize this law, so fathers know they have this option" said Childprotector.
"It's worth it if we save just one teenager" said Senator Sincerity. "Besides, the father has 2 hours to change his mind."
Steven Reporter asked whether the "father" who abandoned his child in Nebraska was even the boy's real father and his editor who happened to be standing nearby said "Wow…that was a rude question. You know in the press we're not allowed to make a distinction between real families and 'built' ones according to the guidelines provided to journalists by the National Council for Built Families."
Opponents of the law say that mother's rights are not being upheld and grandparents and siblings get no say either. One attendee questioned whether that money might be better spent on programs to help parents raise their children.
"They are breaking up family and they did not take into consideration the feelings of the child at all," said 22-year-old Joe D.I. Adoptee, who knows about abandonment from first hand experience. Adoptee was standing outside, having been excluded from the session where the legislation was discussed. "That's normal," he said. Only 'happy' adoptees are welcome in discussions about how to best care for children. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. After all, adoption and foster care in America isn't about the needs of children. It fulfils the desires of adults."
One adopter present at the session suggested lowering the age limit on the bill to two years old. "You know, the older kids there are available the more people will wonder why we didn't adopt them instead of going around soliciting pregnant mothers for their infants. Well, older kids are OK because if we adopt enough of them we can really make some money off of it, but we still like cute little girls and boys to call our own."