Update to this thread.
Man who dropped off 9 kids now dad-to-be
By Lynn Safranek
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Gary Staton said he had lost the will to be a parent after his wife died.
Now, the man who dropped off his nine kids under Nebraska's safe haven law is going to be a father again.
Staton, 37, and his girlfriend are expecting a baby.
The couple declined last week to discuss the pregnancy, calling it a private matter. But Staton addressed the matter briefly in an e-mail to The World-Herald.
“Do you think I'm going to raise this one alone?” he asked.
Since the Staton children were young, the family has received $995,468 in different forms of government aid, including more than $600,000 in food stamps and $109,774 in Medicaid, according to Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services records.
The children were placed in foster care after their father left them. Under the latest figures available, the state paid an average $725 a month per child to foster parents in similar situations.
Staton has given up custody of his seven youngest children. They remain in foster care with their mother's aunt, who hopes to adopt them. The two oldest boys were in foster care until last month, when a 75-year-old Omaha woman was approved to be their guardian.
Both women are eligible for adoption and guardianship subsidies. Parents who adopt state wards may apply to receive Medicaid health insurance and a monthly maximum subsidy of $1,490 per child until the child turns 18.
After Staton's newest child is born, the state cannot remove it from his custody unless there is evidence that the child is in danger, said Brenda Beadle, Douglas County chief deputy county attorney.
Tom Incontro, an Omaha attorney appointed to advocate for the Staton children and who has known the family for years, said he was worried about how the children would react to their father's news and how it would affect them in later years. Despite the extreme adversity they have faced, the kids remain close and supportive of one another, Incontro said.
“They have each other to lean on, and I believe they will continue to do so,” Incontro said. “Hopefully this is one more challenge they will deal with and keep moving forward in their lives.”
Staton became the single father of 10 kids — ages 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 9, 8, 5, 4 and 1 month — in February 2007 when his wife, RebelJane, died after suffering a cerebral aneurysm. The oldest child was his wife's daughter from a previous relationship that he had raised as his own.
Without his wife, Gary Staton said, the amount of work involved and the stress of raising the kids on $10.75 an hour wages were too much to handle.
“I was 100 percent sure that I couldn't last much longer doing this routine over and over, and I wanted to just walk away from it all,” he said in March, when he granted interviews to The World-Herald to share his side of the story with the public.
Aside from his oldest daughter, he said, he did not ask for help from anyone in the family. He did not seek government assistance after losing his job in September.
That month, he told his kids — all but the oldest, who legally was an adult — he was taking them to Creighton University Medical Center for grief counseling. When they arrived, he notified hospital staff that he was invoking Nebraska's safe haven law, which allowed parents to leave their children without facing criminal prosecution.
At the time, the law had no age limit. The Legislature later limited it to newborns after 27 parents and guardians dropped off kids.
State workers who spoke to the Staton kids soon after they were dropped off found them to be polite and well-mannered. Although a few were a little behind in school, most of the others were excelling.
In later interviews, Staton said he was not haunted by his decision.
He said he still loved his children. “I'm just so worried about trying again and failing.”
At the time, Staton said he did not want more children and would be willing to take steps to make sure he couldn't father any more.
“If I had a thousand dollars,” he said, “I'd get fixed.”
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