Nebraska Dad Who Abandoned Nine Children is Expecting Twins

Filed under: In The News, Single Parenting

Gary Staton dropped off his 9 children last September under Nebraska's Safe Haven law. He still feels it was the right decision. Photo: Jeff Beiermann, The World-Herald

Safe Haven laws have been passed in all 50 states since 1999, as a way "for mothers in crisis to relinquish their babies to designated locations and keep them protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home is found."

37-year-old Gary Staton abandoned his nine children in September 2008, relinquishing them to the custody of his home state of Nebraska -- protected as a parent by the state's Safe Haven law. Now Staton, is expecting twins with his new girlfriend, Gail.

Staton abruptly became a single parent to his nine kids when his wife, RebelJane, died of a brain aneurysm in February 2007, not long after the last child's birth. The children, who ranged in age from 1 to 17 years of age, were dropped off at a hospital in Omaha when Staton determined that he could no longer care for them. The law has since been amended to only include children up to 30 days old.

Staton's two oldest children now live in Omaha, where they are finishing high school. The remaining seven kids live with RebelJane's aunt, who is in the process of adopting them.

How do Staton's kids feel about the news that he's going to be a daddy again? Joanne Manzer, wife of RebelJane's father, says Staton's abandoned kids (currently living with their aunt) do not hold a grudge. "He goes up there for visits -- they still have a connection," Manzer tells "They kind of understood what he did, he was stressed with everything else."

But Manzer also thinks the story might have had a different ending. "He did what he did, but we wish he had done it a different way," she said. "If he had come to anyone in the family, we would've figured something out." And how does she feel about the new babies? "It's his life. He can do whatever he wants as long as he doesn't hurt the kids anymore."

Before the Safe Haven law was revised, 36 children were left at hospitals. All but six were over the age of ten. Some came from as far away as California and Washington. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says that the revised law does two important things: "First, it puts the focus back on the original intent of these laws, which is saving newborn babies and exempting a parent from prosecution for child abandonment. It should also prevent those outside the state from bringing their children to Nebraska in an attempt to secure services."

And those services don't come cheap; as of last fall, the Staton kids had received approximately
$995,000 in government aid. That number includes $600,000 in food stamps and more than $100,000 in Medicaid.

It's hard to say that his abandonment of his kids wasn't for the best -- nine children is a lot to raise on your own. But there also seem to have been other options for Gary Staton's and his kids, options that might not have cost the state of Nebraska quite so much money. We hope he's ready for this next shot at parenting.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.