Mom faces charges for dropping 8-year-old at hospital and driving away

Mar 11, 2016 at 1:29 p.m. ET
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“I just can’t take it anymore...” Words the vast majority of moms have spoken at some point. Whether it is months on end of sleepless nights, a child with special needs or a teenager who won’t stay out of trouble, many moms have been at the end of their rope, unsure of how they will survive another day under the weight of the responsibility of caring for a child.

This is exactly what Utah mom Kathy Sherrer, 36, was experiencing when she allegedly decided to leave her 8-year-old son at the front door of West Jordan Valley Medical center last month. Believing she was protected under the state’s Safe Haven laws and believing the state had the resources needed to care for her special-needs son, she reportedly left him there with a note attached that read, “This kid is rude and ungovernable! I do not want him in my house at all!” 

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In an interview with ABC 4 Utah, she further explained why she went as far as to leave her son at a hospital. Sherrer is a mom of four, ages 4, 8, 12 and 13, and all her kids have special needs that require an elevated level of care and attention. Her son’s behavior had recently become unmanageable — she reported that he was cussing at her and pulling down his pants in public.

Unfortunately her decision to drop him off at a local hospital was not protected under the state’s Safe Haven laws. In reality, these laws indicate that mothers can drop off infants under the age of 3 days at a hospital, with no explanation and without facing legal consequences. Safe Haven laws also allow mothers to request 24-hour respite for children 11 years old and younger by state-run emergency nurseries.

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Since Sherrer simply dropped her son at the front door of a hospital, she is being charged with both child abuse and neglect by her local authorities. She did break laws in place to protect children from neglect, and the legal consequences of her actions are likely unavoidable, but it does seem like she did what she thought was best. Not asking for help could have had severe consequences, resulting in physical abuse or severe neglect of her special-needs children.

We hope the state steps in and gets her the help she needs. Parenting is hard enough, but parenting four special-needs children is more than even the most-equipped parents can handle on their own.

If you are a mom and feel you are at the end of your rope, know that there are resources for parents in your situation. As a mom of an infant, if you feel you are unable to care for your child or feel you may hurt yourself or your child, head to an emergency room immediately, and explain exactly what is going on to a medical professional. They may ask you to sit for a psychiatric evaluation and can connect you with a social worker who can help you navigate the next steps for caring for your child.

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If you are the mom of an older child whose needs have become more than you can handle, get help! Make an appointment with your child’s school counselor, or see a doctor or a family therapist. Be open and honest about your feelings; these professionals are trained to provide assistance to moms in your exact situation.

No matter what, speak up. You don’t need to handle it alone. Ask a friend for a break, see a professional, whatever you need to do to take care of your child and yourself.

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