Most of the nine children, left by Gary Staton under the Safe Haven Law, are now with family members. Staton left the children, ages one through 17, at Creighton University Medical Center last week.
Two chose to stay in another foster home, Grandfather Jack Manzer tells us, so they could remain in their school. But they remain in close contact with their siblings. "Well, the kids have been raised together. They're a very close-knit family," he said, "They've always been a close-knit family."
Jack Manzer's grandchildren rely on each other more than ever. His daughter, their mother, Rebel Staton, died. And last week, their father, Gary Staton, abandoned them. "In the long run, I think they're better off where they're at," he said, "It's not that he didn't love them or he just wanted to pass them on, I don't think it was any thing like that."
Manzer added, "I have a little bit of animosity because he could have come to the family in the first place."
Permanent custody is still up to a judge. Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich takes up the issue Wednesday morning.
"They're coming around," Jack Manzer said of his grandchildren. "They're feeling a lot better about the way things are going."
The children's step grandmother, Joanne Manzer, added, "They're in good spirits now. The seven that went with family are in really good spirits. They told us, 'Yeah, we knew you'd come for us.'"
The Manzers have set up a fund at Wells Fargo Bank, "Staton Children Fund," to help the relatives that took in so many children, so suddenly.
"It'll be for the children, for what the children need," Joanne Manzer said. Basics like clothing and bedding, their grandparents say. Their material needs, easier to address, than their emotional needs.
"They lost their mother. And now they feel like they've lost their dad," she said, "So, they'll get the help they need."
According to their grandfather, the children are not angry at their father. "And we're telling them not to be really upset, that their dad still does love them and everything. They say, 'Oh, I know that.'"
The children's grandparents hope, in time, they will re-connect with their father. "The kids still love him. He needs to know that," said Joanne Manzer.
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