After publishing a news story about authorities in Gillette taking in two toddler boys after their mother and father both rejected them, Cowboy State Daily almost immediately began getting emails from people who want to adopt them.
The first came in about 20 minutes after the story published Monday. Others trickled in until midnight.
Four people wrote to express concern. One seemed to be a man; three seemed to be women, who all asked whom to contact to adopt the boys.
One of the women, age 54, said she’s wanted to adopt since learning she was unable to carry a child.
“I know my age won’t help, but I still want to be a mother,” she said.
In all cases, Cowboy State Daily directed people to the Gillette Police Department, the agency that answered the call Monday at the Cam-plex Events Center that the boys’ mother was trying to pass them off to their father, who also didn’t want them.
Both parents are from Louisiana, the department said. The boys are 1 and 2 years old.
“I’ve never heard of anything like that happening,” Lindsey Schilling, social services division administrator for the Wyoming Division of Family Services, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
Even though she’s worked with DFS for five years and was a foster parent before that, Schilling said she can’t recall hearing of two parents who simply didn’t want their toddlers.
She has heard, however, of parents who don’t feel safe around their older children after those children get out of residential treatment centers.
Wyoming also has a safe haven law allowing moms to drop their newborn babies off at hospitals.
“We don’t have hardly any of those” kinds of abandonment, she said. “I think we’ve had two in the last three or four years.”
Lend Some Permanency
There are 21 children in Wyoming foster homes now eligible for adoption, Schilling said.
More than half of them are older than 9, and none are younger than 2.
“So, no babies,” said Schilling.
DFS facilitates about 100 adoptions a year. And yet, the agency is always hoping for more foster and potential guardian families, especially for older children.
“We’re definitely looking for foster homes for older youth, and anybody who’d be willing to help move toward permanency for some of these 21 kiddos,” she said.
The foster-family shortage is statewide, Schilling added, not specific to one county.
But Who Knows?
Schilling said this case in Gillette could proceed under Wyoming’s Title 14, which are child welfare laws, or under Title 6, criminal child-abandonment laws.
Campbell County Attorney Nathan Henkes did not respond to an email request for comment by publication time about the potential for criminal charges against one or both parents.
Wyoming law allows for courts to terminate parents’ rights under certain circumstances, including if parents have left their kids with someone else for more than a year with no communication.
Termination of parental rights isn't simple, said Schilling, “there's a legal process."
Reach Clair McFarland at: Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com