Friday, November 21, 2014

Lost Language, Brain Response #flipthescript #adoptees #NAAM2014

Adoptees' 'lost language' from infancy triggers brain response

Children don't consciously remember Chinese, but their brains still react to it, fMRI shows

By Emily Chung, CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2014
Chinese children are lined up in Tiananmen Square in 2003 for photos with the overseas families adopting them. The children in the new study were adopted from China at an average age of 12.8 months and raised in French-speaking families.
Chinese children are lined up in Tiananmen Square in 2003 for photos with the overseas families adopting them. The children in the new study were adopted from China at an average age of 12.8 months and raised in French-speaking families. (Reuters) 

You may not recall any memories from the first year of life, but if you were exposed to a different language at the time, your brain will still respond to it at some level, a new study suggests.
Brain scans show that children adopted from China as babies into families that don't speak Chinese still unconsciously recognize Chinese sounds as language more than a decade later.
"It was amazing to see evidence that such an early experience continued to have a lasting effect," said Lara Pierce, lead author of the study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in an email to CBC News.
The adopted children, who were raised in French-speaking Quebec families, had no conscious memory of hearing Chinese.
"If you actually test these people in Chinese, they don't actually know it," said Denise Klein, a researcher at McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute who co-authored the paper.
But their brains responded to Chinese language sounds the same way as those of bilingual children raised in Chinese-speaking families.
Brain activation patterns language
Children exposed to Chinese as babies display similar brain activation patterns as children with continued exposure to Chinese when hearing Chinese words, fMRI scans show. (Jen-Kai Chen/McGIll University)

Canada's National Disaster #flipthescript #adoption

Number of Aboriginal children in care a ‘national disaster’ :APTN Report on Number of Native Kids in Care in Canada

The numbers are mind boggling, to say the least. Here.
Over 5,000 Aboriginal children are in care of the province of Alberta. They represent nearly 70 percent of kids.
The number grows to 5,600 Aboriginal children in Saskatchewan or 83 percent of all kids in care.
But it’s Manitoba that has the highest numbers.
More than 10,000 Aboriginal children, 87 percent, are under the care of the province.
2014: Church leaders admit to knowing about scheme in which single mothers were pressured to give up their newborns for adoption (in Chile, South America)

Archive Photo
Money, Money, Money - child trafficking, dire poverty, Third World conditions, complicit governing bodies, churches, priests, First Nation families, lawyers. It all sounds so familiar, all so inhumane... Until we end poverty, we are repeating history again and again... Trace

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Impact of Native Adoption #flipthescript

Interview and Essay with Tonia Wessel, Sixties Scoop adoptee

Tonia Wessel, an Ojibway woman, was adopted out of her community as a newborn and grew up in New Zealand. An estimated 20,000 children were adopted out of First Nations families and placed into non-First Nations homes between the 1960s and 1980s.
Tonia Wessel, an Ojibway woman, was adopted out of her community as a newborn and grew up in New Zealand. An estimated 20,000 children were adopted out of First Nations families and placed into non-First Nations homes between the 1960s and 1980s.

(K'JIPUKTUK) Halifax - A recent gathering of 'Sixties Scoop' adoptees in Ottawa, Ontario, saw First Nations people from across the country - and beyond - come together and share their stories of growing up apart from their communities, identity, language and culture. Sixties Scoop refers to the group of adopted First Nations children, usually taken as newborns, who were removed from their communities and typically placed into Caucasian, middle-class, families. An estimated 20,000 children were adopted out between the early 1960s and 1980s, as residential school policies were being phased out.
The following interview is with Tonia Wessel, an Ojibway woman who was adopted out as a newborn and grew up in New Zealand. It is only as an adult, with children of her own, that Tonia is reconnecting with her biological family.
Following this interview is a brief essay written by Tonia Wessel.

Annie Clair:When did you realize that your were adopted?
Tonia Wessel: I am not quite sure, but I know my adopted parents had a book on adoption and they read it to me at a fairly young age, and also being native growing up in a white family would've been noticeable.
AC: Talk about your own experiences, being an adoptee.
TW: I don't recall anything growing up that made me feel different with my siblings, but the way I was, so loud and just out there as my adoptive family are very conservative, very quiet. but the way I was treated I think was different, but I was a rebel so maybe that's why. Climbing out of windows at night, or smoking in my teenage years, stealing at a young age, none of my siblings did any of that. So I was totally the opposite.
AC: What has your experience been like, trying to learn about your past?
TW: My journey in trying to find my biological parents took a very long time almost 12 years, as I applied as soon as I was 18 years old. I was 29 by the time I heard back. I'm not too sure as to why, if I got lost in the system or if it was because I moved around a lot. I came to accept that my biological mother had me at a very young age, and wasn't in a good situation to look after me, but I have questions as to why no one knew about me, all I can think is that she kept it hidden.
I didn't know I had two other sisters, but recently have been reunited with them and still have contact with them.
AC: How do you feel not knowing your language, culture ?
TW: Since I have been back home, I have embraced our culture and want to learn as much as I can, It is a big part of me not knowing it, or how to speak it, and when I hear others speaking it, its almost an overwhelming feeling cos I can almost see myself speaking it too. It is such a beautiful culture and language, and I get mad, when I know that colonization tried to take something so beautiful and our pride away from us.

AC: How did being adopted out of your community affect you & your parents?
TW: I think not growing up with the culture is a sad loss, knowing that if we had stayed here in Canada, my life might have been so different, as I could have learned the songs, the language, the beautiful crafts that our culture has and learn the teachings and experienced it. Even if my adopted parents wouldn't let me go to the friendship centers to learn, if I was here growing up, I'm sure I would have climbed out the window like how I did, when I wanted to go somewhere. I was very stubborn when I wanted my own way, and still am.

The Impact of Native Adoption by Tonia Wessel:
They often say that it’s in the best interest of the child to be taken away from their parents, but do they truly know the future and the impact on that child’s life, once they are taken and given away to a family that is not their own, by being biologically and culturally impaired.
I am a result of this cruel system, as many of our native children and babies are, I was given up for adoption and made crown ward at birth, an Ojibway kwe that never got to meet her mama because the system failed to do what was right and in the best interest of my life, they failed me and my mama because they gave me into the hands of a white family, and from then on they gave them the power to do what they liked, even if it meant to assimilate me by taking me to another country on the other side of the world.
As a teenager I once again became a part of the harsh system, lost in a world that was not my own, a family a culture that was not my own, but looking for love and acceptance that was never found, until the day, I stepped back into the country and to the family that was my own.
My question is, how do the judges and Case workers sleep at night, once their duty is done, not knowing if this innocent child that was placed in their hands, would truly have a life that was better than the one with their biological family. My heart and my tears go out to the children that have no choice in the matter of where they go or to whom they go, all I can see is them growing up with confusion and not knowing their true identity that our culture provides for us to give us strength and love and wisdom and truth and honesty and humility.
Given in to the wrong hands they will know nothing of our proud culture but only pain and suffering of longing to know who they truly are, I count myself fortunate that I did have a happy ending, through all my tears and stubborness is the one thing that made me persevere to find my beloved family, even though my beloved mama has already past, but to me the most precious gift of all, was not me finding them, but them accepting me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Reclaiming Her Identity: Susan Fedorko #flipthescript

(we apologize for formatting issues on this article - working to fix it.)
Cricket: Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel (Outskirts Press, 2012)

Anne Minard | 2/26/13 | Indian Country Today

Susan Fedorko (second from right) at Grand Portage Rendezvous Pow Wow in June 2006. (Photo courtesy Lisa Dahmen)
Susan Fedorko (second from right) at Grand Portage Rendezvous Pow Wow in June 2006. (Photo courtesy Lisa Dahmen)
Cathee Dahmen became a famous supermodel in the 1960s.
Susan Fedorko was 40 years old when she found her birth family—or rather, when a long-lost sister found her. Her first book, Cricket: Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel (Outskirts Press, 2012) chronicles Fedorko’s journey from Native American adoptee-turned “white” mother and wife, to a person reunited with her extended family. That family hails from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation people on her mother’s side and the White Earth Nation on her father’s, both Chippewa/Ojibwe. In an unexpected twist, Fedorko discovered that just a few years after her birth, her birth mother—Cathee Dahmen—had become an immensely popular supermodel, probably the first Native American woman to attain that status. (photo left)
Fedorko’s story is a bittersweet mix of hard-won healing and humor. She recalls gazing at her then 11-month-old daughter, Samantha: “I broke down, thinking how terrible it must have been for my birth mother to part with me. It would rip me apart to be separated from Samantha.” Just pages later, she captures the voice of one of her husband’s good-old-boy friends, “whose accent made him sound like his name could have been Cletus.” Her experiences have been diverse, her responses unfailingly human, and her writing utterly frank.
Thousands of Native children—up to 35 percent of Indian youth in some states—were taken from their homes and adopted into white families before the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. Fedorko is one of them. Her story will resonate both with those who have reconnected and those still dreaming about that day.

How did you react when you first realized who your birth mother was, and how do you look at it now?
Cathee Dahmen became a famous supermodel in the 1960s.
As an adoptee, you fantasize about who your birth parents could be. What did they look like? What were they like? What types of jobs did they have? You imagine that you may get photos of them someday, normal photos. Perhaps they would be blowing out birthday candles, sitting on the couch with a sibling, standing near a Christmas tree. Some of the very first images I saw of my birth mom were on the cover of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I was flooded with new images of Cathee for the first few months; she was photographed by some of the very best fashion photographers in the world. The very first images that I saw, I studied them intensely. I could see myself in those photos.… I could also see her in both my daughters.
Then as a few weeks passed, I began to run things through my mind. The “whys” would always surface. Without her or the principals involved in my adoption being around or alive, it was hard to capture an accurate account of why or why not. I have to hope that things happened the way they did for a reason, and accept that. It has now been more than 10 years since I have been found. I have been able to digest a lot since November 2002. I am very proud of who my birth mother is.

In your book, you describe near misses. Can you summarize some of those?
I have been so close to running into the Dahmen family many times. In September of 2001 my husband Tim and I went with friends on a motorcycle ride. We made it to Grand Marais, Minnesota and spent the weekend there. Little did I know that Cathee’s grave lay a few miles beyond the B&B where we were staying. I decided to stay back at the B&B instead of riding an additional 30 miles to Grand Portage Casino. A great number of my relatives live on the reservation in Grand Portage. Knowing now that several Dahmen cousins work at the casino, I could have run into cousins, aunts and uncles on that trip. Both my grandmothers—my adoptive Grandma Rose and biological Grandma Mary attended the same church in South Minneapolis. My husband Tim’s childhood friend, Jon Kusler, worked at Alliant Techsystems, in New Brighton, Minnesota. Jon would stop by our house after work. I discovered that Jon’s shift supervisor was my aunt Darlene Dahmen-Oakgrove, Cathee’s sister.

In reconnecting with your birth family, have you gotten any answers?
I don’t think that I will ever have all the answers about my adoption. Cathee passed away before I could get the chance to ask her any questions. I will never know completely the reason why I was the only one in the family who was adopted out. I was told that my biological grandmother packed me up one day while Cathee was at school and adopted me out without her knowing about it. She came home to find me gone. I had heard it was decided that Cathee move out to the East Coast to live with her Uncle George [Morrison]. She would finish out her senior year there, and get away from the hurt and pain of my loss. I will never know.… 1962 was the year that hurt the most in her life. I will never know if she thought of me often or thought of me at all. I will never know if having children after me made her feel better or not. Or in her last few hours, what kind of thoughts ran through her mind about me. I always wanted to know if she ever looked for me. I have had to accept not knowing and move on. I have had to stop asking myself “why,” or it would eat me alive.

How have you reconnected with the Native spiritual and cultural parts of yourself?
As an adult I do not understand the customs and ceremonies; however, I am learning. In my book, I recall the first time I visited Cathee’s grave. I was with my Auntie Barb, and I spent a couple moments in silence talking to Cathee. I had not noticed that Barb had been fumbling in her purse for her cigarettes. I noticed that she had taken out a smoke—I began thinking to myself, “She is not going to light up right here, is she?” Barb then snapped her cigarette in half and put the tobacco into her hand, and she asked me for my hand and sprinkled the remaining tobacco into it. I thought to myself: Cathee died of emphysema, which was tobacco related! Does Barb think she is missing it so much she feels compelled to put some on her grave? I had no idea what offering tobacco meant, because no one ever explained it to me. I do understand it now.

Your book describes your early efforts to be recognized by either your father’s or your mother’s tribe. Have those efforts been fruitful?
I tried getting enrolled from the age of 18; I made over 25 documented pleas to the adoption agency to help me find my tribe and family roots. I had given up many times and gained strength and tried all over again. Finally, in 2002, my half-sister Sarah decided to find her long-lost sister Cricket. When it came time to try to get enrolled with either my birth father’s tribe [White Earth Nation] or my birth mother’s tribe [Grand Portage] I had discovered that somehow I had been enrolled in 1992 with Grand Portage. I was so happy that I had been recognized and had been enrolled 11 years already. I was also told that I had per-capita payments accumulated under that enrollment number.
But then, the Grand Portage Tribal Council ruled that my enrollment had been an error, so they gave me a new enrollment number from that point on. I do not understand to this day why they thought my blood quantum had changed from 1992 to 2002. It was very disappointing, but I am grateful and happy that I am enrolled.

Why do you consider yourself one of the lucky adoptees?
My adoptive parents were in their mid-40s when they adopted me. They are now in their mid-90s. Both are wonderful parents. I could not have asked for a better match. They made sure that I was loved, healthy, educated and that I had my faith. I grew up with one older sister and one older brother. I have nothing but good memories of my adoptive family. In my heart they will always be my parents and siblings. I do count myself lucky because my placement worked out. I was not neglected or abused. I have heard many stories from other adoptees that were not so fortunate. My heart breaks for them; they endured horrible conditions.

As an adoptee, you struggled with low self-esteem. What advice would you give to other adoptees?
I would emphasize that your adoption was not your fault. Be strong and be the best that you can be. That is hard to swallow at times. I will be the first to admit that I have often felt like I did not belong, or that I was not wanted. I spent a great deal of my life being shy and unsure of my place. I have my faith and always tell myself, “I am worthy.” I do think that I have gained more self-assurance now that I know my roots. I don’t think Cathee tolerated any crap from anyone. I suddenly have her strength. I keep her photos close so I am reminded that I can still dream big, just as she did. Her beauty was captured during a difficult time in her life. I am a part of a large network of Native American adoptees founded by Sandy White Hawk. Sandy’s group, [], is such a spiritual gift to be a part of. I have been with the group since 2003. It started with just a handful of Native adoptees and has since grown to more than 200.


TWO WORLDS: Helping Scholars Understand Indian Adoptions

Book Review by Author Margaret D. Jacobs:


Though not scholarly, this book is of great significance to scholars of Native American Studies who have only begun to unearth the policies and practices that resulted in up to 35 percent of all Indigenous children being separated from their families by the 1970s. Some of these children grew up in institutions, but many others were fostered or adopted by non-Indian families.

Two Worlds includes adoptees’ firsthand accounts interspersed with reprinted newspaper articles, congressional testimony, and some historical background. We learn that social workers and missionaries often put intense pressure on young unwed Indian mothers to relinquish their infants for adoption. Editor Trace DeMeyer explains something, too, about the Indian Adoption Project that the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League of America jointly administered from 1958 to 1968, which promoted the adoption of Indian children by non-Indians.

These personal narratives show that many Indian children struggled within their adoptive families. Some report physical and/or sexual abuse. Others recall emotional cruelty with racial overtones. Gail Huggard (Ojibwe), for example, recounts, “One of my memories as a child is driving by Indian reservations. My mother would point at people, ‘Look at those dirty, rotten Indians’” (101). Adoptees describe a troubled adolescence in which their adoptive parents had few resources to help them navigate the intense racism and sense of dislocation that they experienced. Even in the best-case scenarios, many adoptees longed to know about their tribal communities and establish connections with their birth families. As Susan Smith (Grand Portage-White Earth Ojibwe) put it, “[My] childhood was happy and stable. It’s not that I wanted to replace my parents. I just wanted to know where I came from and who I looked like” (162–63).

The book primarily serves as a resource for adoptees themselves, but it may also help scholars understand this historical phenomenon. Most child welfare and adoption files are closed to researchers, and few long-term studies of the transracial adoption of Indian children have been carried out, so there is a desperate need for collections of adoptees’ (and birth families’) stories. While focused primarily on the experiences of American Indian adoptees in the United States, this book also includes a smaller section on Canadian Indigenous adoptees. A number of the selections come from adoptees of Great Plains Indian origin.
Copyright © 2014 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Margaret Jacobs. "Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects by Edited by Patricia Cotter-Busbee and Trace A. DeMeyer (review)." Great Plains Quarterly 34.4 (2014): 402-402. Project MUSE. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. .
Jacobs is the author of White Mother to a Dark Race and A Generation Removed.
I am thrilled to see this! ...Trace 

Read an excerpt: (FREE)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Native American kids need more protection, advisory panel tells Holder in new report

WaPo Story on DOJ Taskforce on Violence against Indian Children

Here is “Native American kids need more protection, advisory panel tells Holder in new report.”
“I felt profound sadness for what so many of these children have gone through,” said former U.S. senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), who co-chaired the 13-member committee with Iroquois singer and child advocate Joanne Shenandoah. More than 600 people participated in the hearings, including more than 70 experts and representatives from over 60 tribes and 15 states.
End Poverty and we'll change everything... Trace

Adoption Secrecy and Truths #flipthescript #NAAM2014

“My problem is secrecy. I believe that perpetually secret adoptions assure un-accountability and lack of transparency. And secret adoptions are only the tip of the iceberg. The secrecy permeates the process: secret identities, secret parents, secret records, secret foster care providers, secret social workers, secret judges and lawyers (all their identities are sealed, typically), secret physicians, secret statistics and, in the case of some adoption-oriented organizations, secret budgets and secret boards of directors. In any social practice, when people in positions of power hide behind masks, one can be pretty sure that they have something to hide.”
-        Albert S. Wei,
-        Special Advisor to the Bastard Nation Executive Committee

“Everyone has a right to knowledge about their lineage, genealogy and identity. And if they don’t, then it will lead to cases of incest...”
-Lord David Alton quoted after married adoptee twins were granted annulment in Great Britain (January 2008)

Storytelling is an important aspect of Ojibwe culture. My ability to tell a good tale can be used as a tool for teaching and connecting. Even though I grew up outside of my Native community and culture, my stories helped me to become a part of the community that I had lost. Adoption is part of the contemporary tales that Native people need to tell…”
- Tamara Buffalo, published author-poet-visual artist

…Adoption professionals who believed in making adoption work believed that it was a “social crime” to place inferior children with parents who expected — and deserved — normal children. Agencies sometimes required parents to return children if and when abnormal characteristics appeared and laws, such as the Minnesota Adoption Law of 1917, treated feeble-mindedness as cause for annulment.  Medical writers in the popular press warned parents to “be careful whom you adopt.” Adopters faced frightening risks because children unlucky enough to need new parents were also unlucky enough to be genetic lemons.

             [Read about Eugenics:]

Excerpt from One Small Sacrifice
Danger was an enduring theme in modern adoption history. The genetic lemon theory was heard around the world, I guess.  I read about eugenics.      
Feeling “adopted” made it seem like they did me a great big favor! How heroic for them to adopt - when I could be dangerous or the “bad seed” of immoral unintelligent people.
I never heard, “Tracy was illegitimate or she is someone’s dirty little secret!” but I knew it’s what people were thinking. Obviously my parents were wildly happy to get us as babies, praised for doing such a selfless act. They hid any uneasiness. Since my adopted sibling and I were not biological offspring, if we didn’t turn out ok, then it can’t totally be their fault. 
Funny, I always seemed to know who was adopted. Our parents usually introduced us or we introduced ourselves as adopted. I had two friends named Kim and another friend Lisa who knew they were adopted. This became our bond, our shared identity.
No "orphaned child" can escape this– it is fact, a heart broken too often turns to stone.
- Trace L Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

"Get out of the way" & Aboriginal suicide rates will drop
16 Nov 14: "Please return our son because my wife cannot go on without him, she will suicide, please return our son," wrote a Noongar father and husband to the Western Australian Government's Chief Protector in 1905.
"The fundamental issues which underpin suicide rates nationally vary from cultural group to cultural group, geopolitically and demographically. The fundamentals that underpin suicide rates of some First Peoples communities are vastly different to those of non-Aboriginal communities. The Western Australian Government’s recent statements that 100 to 150 remote Aboriginal communities should be closed makes it clear that lessons from the past have not been learned. ... " By The Stringer
"Declaration of conflict of interest - the author of this article, Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention researcher and a senior national consultant to the ATSISPEP (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project)"



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