Jennie's Journey

Desperate parents need support systems

All over the country are stories of babies and youngsters being surrendered under "safe haven" laws.

We recently had one such case here in Washington state, where authorities are reporting the mother of a young infant may be prosecuted for abandonment. She may be prosecuted because she left that infant at a church, rather than a fire station or hospital.

In Nebraska, the "safe haven" law extends beyond newborns to include children as old as 19. Last week a father left nine of his 10 children at a hospital in that state. He had been overwhelmed with the care of the children following the death of his wife approximately one year ago.

Since surrendering his children, extended family members have stepped up to care for those children.

What I wonder is where those family members were when the father was in the midst of his mourning and crisis? How did he come to such a point of desperation that led him to abandoning his children at that hospital.

That father, and perhaps the mother in Washington state, apparently did not feel they could properly care for their own children.

But, where was their support system?

I know there are many people in circumstances that can become overwhelming. I know there are groups and people who care enough to offer resources and support.

What I don't understand is why these parents did not receive either before leaving their children in the care of strangers...the state.

I can only hope, if there is a parent in the Lower Yakima Valley or anywhere else who comes to the point of feeling they must surrender their children in the future, that someone will reach out to them. That someone will offer support and give them more hope than these two parents felt.

We live in a community that has resources available to such parents. I believe it is our duty to help others when the need arises, and if we are aware of someone in need of that help we should step up before the burdens are too heavy.

If we hear of a teen who is pregnant, rather than judge her, we can be there for her. We can help her make decisions that are healthy for her and the baby.

We can extend the same support to a widow or widower who may feel a complete loss without the support of their spouse.

Maybe together we can prevent these national headlines, one community at a time...beginning at home.


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