The Creighton Medical Center, where nine siblings were abandoned by their father on Wednesday, is seen in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008. Eleven children ranging in age from 1 to 17 were left at hospitals Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, under Nebraska's unique safe haven law, which allows caregivers to abandon not only infants but also teenagers without fear of prosecution. Nine of the children came from one family. The five boys and four girls were left by their father, who was not identified, at Creighton University Medical Center's emergency room.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- A Michigan mother drove roughly 12 hours to Omaha so she could abandon her 13-year-old son at a hospital under the state's unique safe-haven law, Nebraska officials said Monday.
The boy from the Detroit area is the second teenager from outside Nebraska and 18th child overall abandoned in the state since July when the law took effect.
There was no sign the boy was in immediate danger before he was abandoned and no indication why the boy's mother decided to leave him at the hospital, said Todd Landry, who heads the state's Department of Health and Human Services' division of children and family services.
Landry said at a news conference Monday afternoon that details of the boy's case still aren't known, such as whether the mother had sought help in Michigan first or whether the boy's father agreed to or aware of the decision.
Landry also said the boy doesn't appear to have any ties to Nebraska. He has been placed in an emergency shelter in the Omaha area.
Creighton hospital spokeswoman Lisa Stites said she did not know any additional details about the boy abandoned at her hospital Monday.
Last week, a 14-year-old girl from Iowa was abandoned at an Omaha hospital by her grandparents. The girl has since been returned to her family.
Officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services have stressed that the safe-haven law should be used for children in immediate danger only. Some officials are worried that Nebraska's broadly written law could make the state a dumping ground for unwanted children.
State officials have said parents and caregivers contemplating using the law need to understand there is no guarantee a child could be returned to them if they change their minds. The placement may involve the courts, and the process of regaining custody may prove difficult.
Officials have encouraged parents to seek other resources before resorting to abandonment. They've urged desperate parents to ask for help from family, faith-based groups and other community services before abandoning their children at hospitals.
Nebraska's law permits caregivers to abandon children at state-certified hospitals without fear of prosecution. It was intended to protect infants, as safe-haven laws do in most other states, but Nebraska's law specifies "child" without a definition. So some have concluded the law covers all minors, which in Nebraska includes anyone under the age of 19