(NOTE: I intended to include this story in the second part of my piece from last weekend, still on the burner, on the voices of “safe haven” victims, but this seems like a good place to put it now since there is new information today. As I wrote it, it became longer and longer, included more and more, and the rathole got deeper and darker.

Words fail me when I try to write about these cases, but I think it’s important to know them. These kids cannot be forgotten and written out of the history of the Great Dump Experiment, nor can the politicians and do-gooders who engineered this experiment be hidden.)


Remember the Indiana case of the 8-year old left at Bergan Mercy Medical Center?

To refresh your memory, the boy was dropped-off in Omaha on November 6. The next day, after negotiations with Indiana authorities, the boy was returned to Wabash County and put into protective custody. Officials refused to tell the parents his location. I found that a bit odd–that he was being held in some secret location–but the reasons soon became abundantly clear.

The Indiana press picks it up from there with two significant developments:

(1) The boy’s father, Ron Tate, of Kewanna, Ind., said he did not know his ex-wife had taken the boy to Nebraska until he received a phone call from his mother Friday morning telling him Wabash County Protective Services was seeking to talk to him about the matter.

Tate said he called his ex-wife, who confirmed she had taken the child to Nebraska.

Tate said when he asked her why she didn’t leave the boy with him, Stephanie Tate told him it was because he couldn’t afford to take care of his son. When Tate asked why she didn’t leave him with Tate’s mother, who lives in Rochester, the woman said she didn’t like her.

“I’ve been crying my eyes out over this since Friday morning,” Tate said. “I haven’t had too much sleep. My family is tore up over this.”

Tate and his ex-wife finalized their divorce Sept. 15, at which time the mother was given full custody.

“I had no problem letting her have custody of him,” said Tate, who split up with his ex-wife three years ago. “I’m disabled and waiting on Social Security to go through.”

When I ran a check on Mr. Tate, what popped up immediately was his sex offender record. (Go to the Indiana Sex Offender Registry You’ll need to sign in, and then type Tate’s name in the appropriate area). Ronnie Dean Tate, 48, was convicted in 1988 of child molestation and did about 4 1/2 years. (Go here
for the Indiana Prisoner Locator for offender data.)

Today’s Indianapolis Star goes into this a little deeper:

Mote’s son, whom The Indianapolis Star is not naming, lived with his father, who was convicted of child molestation in 1988, for two years after the couple separated. The child was sent to live with his mother in April after officials in Miami County, where the father formerly lived, arrested him for failing to register as a sex offender and notify authorities that he had changed addresses to nearby Fulton County. There was no response to a telephone message left for the father Thursday.

And it seems that the ex-Mrs Tate, now using her maiden name, Stephanie Mote, ran into a little bit of trouble herself after her road trip. On November 7, the same day the boy was returned to Wabash County:

(2) Stephanie Tate was arrested Friday in Wabash County on suspicion of maintaining a common nuisance ( Class D Felony), possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana, said Mark Henderson, jail commander with the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department. She posted a $900 bond that day and was released.

Today’s Indianapolis Star (see above link) features an interview with Mote’s roommate and “spokesperson,” Rhonda Shea. According to the Star, Mote’s abandonment of her son was “an attempt to get him help for his severe behavioral problems and reflected her lack of confidence in Indiana’s child services–the same system she said failed her when she was abused as a child.”:

Shea said the boy’s behavior overwhelmed his mother. At 8, he is not fully toilet-trained. He is quiet but can act destructively, clawing paint off the walls and intentionally clogging the toilet. He has problems with schoolwork.

They talked to teachers at school, who suggested he receive counseling.

Mote was adamant that the boy not become a ward of the state, which she thought had failed her because she had been put into foster care after she was sexually abused and then was further abused.

“She thought the only option she had was to take him to Nebraska,” Shea said.

Indiana officials, of course, denied the allegation, claiming DCS is now a separate agency from the old Family and Social Services administration that handled Mote’s case, and a “huge transformation” has taken place. (Is that an admission they screwed up with her?)

Mote says she fears her son will be placed with relatives and wants him returned to Nebraska–something Nebraska says “is not a possibility.”

To be honest I wouldn’t want the kid with relatives either. Go to the Indiana Sex Offender Registry again and type in the name Carl Elmer Mote. It looks like he didn’t do any time.

The boy is now in foster care and facing a hearing today. Mote says she’ll be there. I’ll post the results if they’re published.

There’s some questions here that nobody is addressing:

Why didn’t the boy live with his mother 2 years prior to the divorce?

Why would a mother, a victim of multiple sexual abuses, permit her son to live with a convicted molester (her marriage to him aside).

Why was a convicted child molester allowed full custody of a 6-year old boy?

Why have no questions been raised about the paternal rights of Tate (despite his record) regarding the transfer of his son into the “safe haven” program without his knowledge? Surely, other non-custodial parents, or custodial or joint-custodial parents, have been affected by this unilateral rush to dump. Whether a “safe haven” parent is sympathetic or not is irrelevant. Where are their rights? In the dumpster, too?

The Mote-Tate family drama is not isolated. Virtually all of these Nebraska cases are the culmination of family dysfunction, disruption, domestic violence, abuse, mental illness, and poverty. Here is a September 28 Omaha World-Herald profile of early cases that should make you weep.

And here is an interview with Karla Zimmerman, the biological mother of #2, left by his grandmother who reportedly adopted him.

Zimmerman wears the burn scars on her arms she believes scarred her son for life.

“My son watched me get burned when he was 2, he has tried to light fires, he has been kicked out of schools, kicked out of every daycare.”

Karla says a boyfriend set her and her eight month old daughter on fire and burned down the house. After ten years of medication and trouble, her only son is one of Nebraska’s safe haven kids. Karla says she gave up custody to his grandmother after that incident. He recently spent 11 months in psychiatric treatment at Immanuel, was released and back home only seven days before his grandmother returned him to Immanuel October 5th. “They didn’t come into the home to transition him back. They didn’t show my mom what needed to be done or how to handle the triggers, the behavior if it happened. They just let him come home.”

On November 12, Nebraska DHHS director Todd Landry issued a report/letter to the Unicam and a Matrix of Commonalities of Safe Haven Cases that covered cases up to that date. He emphasised that upon investigation NONE of these children were in immediate danger, none were “saved” from caretaker abuse.

Among its findings:

***Excluding the sibling group of nine, 95% (20 of 21) were 10 years of age or older

***93% (28 out of 30 youth) were residing in or near an urban community

***90% (27 out of 30 youth) were previously involved in some type of mental health service.

***93% (28 out of 30 youth) were living in single-parent homes.

***73% (22 of 30) had a parent/guardian with a history of prior incarceration.

***57% (17 of 30 youth) were previously, or are currently, a state ward, either in Nebraska or another state. (One youth was a current a state ward at the time Save Haven was enacted.

***Excluding the sibling group of nine, 52% (11 of 21) were in the care of a surrogate parent, either adopted parent/legal guardian or a relative.

***67% (20 of 30) of the youth were White, 30% (9 of 30) were Black/African American, and 3% (1 of 30 youth) was White/Native American.#

And the legislature of the State of Nebraska believes that way to fix this mess is to take broken kids and break them some more by tossing them into a safe haven hole. Make them better with repeated abandonment’s.

How did this bar get so low? Clearly the Unicam played “me too” when it passed LB 157.

Anything was better than nothing. Politicians who knew as much about broken families, child welfare, and adoption as I do about heart surgery, embarrassed that Nebraska had refused to keep up with the Joneses, and pressured by do-gooders, amateur baby savers and baby pimps, rejected the advice and knowledge of dozens of experts. The state’s adoption professionals, child welfare workers, medical associations, lawyers, and adoptee rights advocates, warned them against (1) passing any “baby safe haven law” and (2) the consequences of passing their shotgun 47-word, 2-sentence LB 157. The politicians brayed back:

If it saves just one…politician.

Starting today the Unicam meets in special session. Senators will probably age down their law to anything from 72 hours to 1 year. Supposedly babies won’t mind being disappeared, annomized traumatized, or thrown out like Big Kids do. Read what Tim Jaccard, founder of New York’s AMT-Children of Hope, confessed baby snatcher, and president of the National Safe Haven Alliance said, about that–a la-la fantasy that I’ve heard echoed by numerous politicians since:

It affects children. When children are older they have the ability to understand what’s going on and they’re thinking, “Mommy and Daddy don’t want me anymore, so they’re throwing me in a hospital.” That’s a psychological blow.

Tim, I know you, and I thought you’d have better sense than to say something so totally clueless, so totally insulting about adoptees. You know, those statutory units and your fellow travelers are to eager to create with no thought out how the objects of your benevolences might feel about it–could they speak.

Tim, I challenge you to repeat this remark to the face of Nebraska’s adoptees. No wait! Stay in New York where you can cause less harm to Nebraska families, and say it to your own state’s bastards, locked in a sealed records system that tells them to shut up, be grateful for what was done to them. Yeah, it’s funny how babies have memories and feelings and personhood until, as Triona Guidry points, out, those attributes don’t suit somebody’s baby-redistribution agenda. Apparently, only memory and articulation is what makes one class of dump “ethical” and “good” and the other not.

Passage of the first Baby Moses law in Texas signaled a swift backward turn in child welfare which has struggled over the last 100 years to build an environment of rights, responsibility, and education. Child abandonment, a heinous crime throughout history, was suddenly OK in the US as long as it was done within rules–or close to it–set by the government. No longer would child abandoners be stigmatized and shamed; they would be congratulated for doing “the right thing,” called courageous; heroes with kind and loving hearts. It’s sort of patriotic.

Aging down LB 157 does nothing to change the message: it’s OK to dump your child. By continuing to promote child abandonment at any age, the message will remain: it’s OK to dump your child. No blame, no shame, no name. Or as AMT-Children of Hope likes to say now: No cost. No parents. No cops.

The only way to get out of this mess is to repeal LB 157. No tweaks. No fixes. No amendments. No reflies.

Nebraska had it right the first time. Exactly two years ago today, November 14, 2006, Bob Brandt, then executive director of the Nebraska Children’s Home Society spoke out against “safe havens” at a National Adoption Month get-together in North Platte:

Nebraska is not behind when it comes to legislation. We are ahead.

Bastard Nation warned that once the “safe haven” door opened, it wouldn’t shut. Dumping your kids has now become “just another option.” Nebraska now has the opportunity to shut that door. Nebraska can get back to where it was earlier this year. It can lead the country out of this moral quicksand by repealing LB 157 and not looking back.

Anybody care to make a bet?

#WOW-TV reported an ICWA claim might be made in the Staton case (9 siblings), but nothing has been reported since then.


  1. I am still wiping the tears from my eyes, Marley. These children need intense and centered counseling. Safe haven is not what they need…they need to be rescued in the right way.

    And you’re right. Those comments were an insult to adoptees.

    And all this is one reason why I am pro-choice.

  2. Excellent commentary!

    For a long time I have said that whenever adoption exists there is dysfunction, ranging from infertility to sexual abuse and all shades of family dysfunction in between. At least one family is broken already so rather than FIX what is broken, adoption appeals to many as a quick fix — particularly if they can profitfrom it. Safe haven is nothing more than a short-cut to adoption.

    Granted there are some families that cannot be repaired. I believe that I came from one that was severely damaged and that fixing it would have been very difficult. I don’t know if I would have survived in that environment because I see what it did to my sister who is clearly tougher than I. Still, knowledge of where I came from could have made a difference for both of us.

    While my heart bleeds for the young folks, not infants, who have been abused already and then abused again by this Nebraska law, perhaps some good will come out of it in that it has refocussed the discussion on the life-long implications of abandonment.

    I wonder how families who adopted abandoned infants are feeling right now. I wonder how being sealed off from any knowledge of “their” child’s history sits now that they realize this secrecy does more than keep the child from having a relationship with his bioligical parents but also keeps his new family from any knowledge of the child’s natural inheritance. Steven Pinder’s new book The Blank Slate makes clear that we are anything but — that adoptees are more strongly influenced by nature than the nurture they receive. That’s a bit scary when you think of the kind of “nature” these kids have inherited from their abandoning parent(s). Funny thing is that my adoptive mom said some years ago when these laws first gained national prominence that the way in which these children came into adoption was fraught with problems and that parents who adopted these infants would likely be woefully unprepared to parent a child whose background was a secret. She reasoned that someone who would abandon an infant was probably severely dysfunctional and thus, so would the child be, only the new parents who believed nurture preeiminent would be without a clue.

    You’d think that if someone in her late 70s and without a college degree could reason that clearly that the so-called experts could do better.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Marley, this piece is dead on.

    I was sitting down to try to write about the Indiana mess last night and you not only got there first, you did a far better job of it than I ever could have.

    The out of state dumps are stories unto themselves. Nebraska by refusing to accept some of these kids may have made their already difficult lives orders of magnitude worse.

    You are absolutely correct about the depths of this rat-hole, the more I look, the further down it goes.

    The magnitude of what the Nebraska situation has made visible for the first time on top of the unique aspects of the Nebraska situation is simply stunning. Words fail me too.

    Unfortunately, legislators ignore such to the kids peril.

    Again, thank you for this piece.

  4. You are a marvelous source for further education on this subject, Oh MadDog One. I finally gave in and cried really hard for these kids when I was lighting a candle for them. I hate to think of how many children are not getting the counseling and support they really need because some social agencies are rushing to fast-track them into foster to adopt homes and garner some Federal funds.

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