Family Law

Dad Who Abandoned 9 Kids Under New Neb. Law Explains Why

A man who abandoned his nine children at a hospital this week, as permitted under an unusual new Nebraska law, says he “fell apart” after his wife died and sought to give them a better life.

“I was with her for 17 years, and then she was gone. What was I going to do?” Gary Staton tells KETV, an ABC affiliate.said. “We raised them together. I didn’t think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn’t take care of them.”

The youngest child he dropped off at Creighton University Medical Center was 1 and the oldest was 17. The television station says Staton and his wife were cited in 2004 for child neglect, and discusses a high school newspaper report that an older daughter, now 18, graduated early from high school to help care for her younger siblings.

As discussed in an earlier post, the Nebraska “safe haven” law is unusual because it allows children of any age to be abandoned by their parents, in an appropriate setting, without any criminal sanction. Many states have such laws, but they usually apply only to babies no more than 1 year old.

Relatives have offered to provide homes to Staton’s children, and state department of Health and Human Services workers are now doing required background checks, reports the Associated Press.

Additional coverage:

New York Times: “Parents Give Up Youths Under Law Meant for Babies”

Updated at 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2008 to include link to subsequent New York Times article.

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