CALLED HOME: A new anthology is planned for adoptees who are in reunion (or not yet in reunion) or searching for birth family and tribal relatives. Your photos and birth information will be published to help you! Please tell your adoptee friends. Send an email to tracedemeyer@yahoo.com. Deadline extended to APRIL 15, please email if you are writing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Minnesota tribes adopt home visits

smudging with sage is our tradition

BEMIDJI — A new program is being introduced to area tribes through the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
Family Spirit is an American Indian program designed by American Indians that has proven successful in other states to support new parents. The program includes tribal health staff, many of whom are American Indian themselves, who support young parents with 63 lessons to be taught from pregnancy up to the child’s third birthday.

American Indian babies die in the first year of life at twice the rate of white babies, according to the MDH. While infant mortality rates for all groups have declined, the disparity in rates has existed for more than 20 years.

Family Spirit is more flexible than other home visiting approaches and encourages home visitors to consider American Indian beliefs and cultural traditions when educating clients and asking them for information, according to Karla Decker Sorby, MDH tribal nurse consultant.

In mainstream home visiting programs, she said, it would not have been acceptable to use “smudging,” the burning of tobacco, cedar, sage or other materials during home visits. But the Family Spirit curriculum makes room for such traditions.

“It is a ceremony that is cleansing and healing and is often done when dealing with difficult issues or seeking good influences,” Decker Sorby said.

Minnesota tribes and organizations participating in the Family Spirit training include Red Lake, Leech Lake, Fond du Lac, Bois Forte, Grand Portage, Lower Sioux, Mille Lacs and Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigamig.

Family Spirit is designed as a home visiting program, but the curriculum can be delivered in other venues as well, such as clinics, schools or in group settings.

Family Spirit also encourages a culturally sensitive style of conversation. For example, instead of starting by asking a mom whether she smokes or uses other substances, the training encourages the visitor to ask the client if she feels drugs and alcohol may negatively affect her community.

“Reservation members tend to have strong ties to their community,” Decker Sorby said in the release. “So starting the conversation by talking about the community is respectful and also opens the door for young moms to start talking about the problem of substance abuse in and outside of their families.”

Training sessions are underway and home visits are expected to begin this spring.

The program is flexible and participants can be enrolled at any point, from early pregnancy until the child’s third birthday, though the goal is to see families throughout that entire period.

The Family Spirit program is being offered by other tribes in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Washington. Researchers studying family spirit initiatives have found the program has increased parenting knowledge and involvement; decreased maternal depression; increased home safety; and decreased substance use in both pregnant and parenting women. It has been used around the nation with more than 2,500 Native American families.

Starting in 1995, Family Spirit was designed and rigorously evaluated by the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in partnership with the Navajo, White Mountain and San Carlos Apache communities.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

#ICWA means standing strong

Leland Morrill Kirk, Navajo adoptee with Ft Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, NICWA Conference — at Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six | Fort Lauderdale, FL. Leland and many other adoptees are presenting at this conference in Florida.
Associate Attorney General Tony West Delivers Remarks at the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s 32nd Annual Protecting Our Children Conference
~ Monday, April 14, 2014
Thank you, Theodore and Alex, for that kind introduction and for inviting me to join you today at this conference.  It is wonderful to be here with so many friends, colleagues, and supporters.  And it is an honor to share the stage this morning with two great partners, Assistant Secretary Washburn and Associate Commissioner Chang.
I would especially like to thank NICWA and its members for the work that you do -- day in and day out -- to strengthen Indian tribes, to support Indian families, and to protect Indian children in both state child-welfare and private-adoption systems throughout our nation.
And I think it's fitting that what brings us together this morning, this week -- from communities across this country -- is our commitment to children, particularly Native children.  I think it was the French philosopher Camus who wrote about this being a world in which children suffer, but maybe, through our actions, we can lessen the number of suffering children.
Indeed, what brings us to Ft. Lauderdale is that promise we make to all of our children: that their safety and well-being is our highest priority; that they are sacred beings, gifts from the Creator to be cherished, cared for, and protected.

It was that promise that, nearly forty years ago, led Congress to hold a series of hearings that lifted the curtain and shed light on abusive child-welfare practices that were separating Native children from their families at staggering rates; uprooting them from their tribes and their culture.  Roughly one of every three or four Indian children, according to data presented at those hearings, had been taken from their birth families and placed with adoptive families, in foster care, or in institutions that had little or no connection to the child's tribe.
And in the face of that overwhelming evidence, a bipartisan Congress acted and passed the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

And in the four decades since, as everyone here knows, ICWA has had a dramatic impact.  Families, tribes, social workers, and Indian foster and adoptive parents have invoked ICWA’s core protections to stem the most flagrant abuses.
Tribes no longer face the prospect that a quarter to a third of their children will simply disappear, shipped off to homes halfway across the country.  Today, in many places, tribes and states have developed productive working partnerships to implement ICWA – partnerships that ensure that Indian families and cultures are treated with the respect they deserve.
And while it is right for us to recognize the landmark achievement that is ICWA, we also know that there is much work left to do.  There is more work to do because, in some states, Native children are still removed from their families and tribes at disproportionately high rates. 
There's more work to do because nationwide Indian children are still two to three times as likely as non-Indian children to end up in foster care; in some states the numbers are even larger.
There's more work to do because every time an Indian child is removed in violation of ICWA, it can mean a loss of all connection with family, with tribe, with culture.  And with that loss, studies show, comes an increased risk for mental health challenges, homelessness in later life, and, tragically, suicide.
So, as far as we have come since ICWA became law in 1978, we have farther still to go.

You all know this is true from both professional and personal experience.  And I want you to know that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder share your commitment to improving the welfare of Indian children and are committed to working with you to help achieve that goal. 

Although ICWA speaks primarily to the responsibilities and roles of the states and the tribes, we believe there’s a constructive part for the federal government to play.

That's why the White House has directed the Departments of the Interior, Health and Human Services, and Justice to engage in an unprecedented collaboration to help ensure that ICWA is properly implemented.  I believe we will hear more about this effort from Assistant Secretary of the Interior Washburn in a few minutes.

For our part at the Justice Department, our main ICWA contributions have focused on precedent-setting litigation that can affect ICWA's reach and force.  One of ICWA’s most important provisions is its recognition that Indian tribes, as sovereigns, have presumptive jurisdiction over Indian child-custody proceedings.  And over the years we have worked hard to help protect this tribal jurisdiction by participating in federal and state court litigation as an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court.”
In Alaska, for example, we’ve participated in a line of cases over the last 20 years to ensure that Alaska tribes have jurisdiction over child-custody disputes.  Starting with the landmark John v. Baker case, we’ve filed multiple amicus briefs in the Alaska and U.S. Supreme Courts, successfully arguing that even tribes that lack “Indian country” retain jurisdiction to address child-custody disputes.
Of course, we've not always prevailed.  Last June's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, which narrowly interpreted ICWA and terminated the parental rights of a Cherokee father in connection with his daughter, was decided over our arguments in support of the father.
But even when we don't prevail, our legal arguments can have a major impact on the ultimate decision.  You'll recall that in Baby Girl, one of the arguments advanced by the adoptive couple was, essentially, that ICWA was unconstitutional -- that it "upset the federal-state balance," suggesting that Congress was prohibited from overriding state child-custody law when an Indian child was involved.

We countered that applying ICWA in that case raised no constitutional concerns, as Congress has plenary authority to protect Indian children from being improperly separated from Indian communities.  And on this point, we were successful:  even though we lost the ultimate issue and the High Court ruled against the Cherokee father, the Court did not rely on the adoptive couple's constitutional argument and did not rule that ICWA was unconstitutional.

Notwithstanding setbacks like the Baby Girl decision, we will continue to stand up for ICWA because, as we said in the Supreme Court, it's “a classic implementation of Congress’s plenary [trust] responsibility . . . for Indians.”  You see, for us, standing up for ICWA means standing strong for tribal sovereignty.  "Nothing could be more at the core of tribal self-determination and tribal survival,” we said during oral argument in the Baby Girl case, “than . . . [determining] tribal membership and . . .  [caring] about what happens to Indian children.”


Monday, April 14, 2014

#Baby Veronica #ICWA: Future Threats coming

Another book about this appalling history

The Adoption Crunch, the Christian Right, and the Challenge to Indian Sovereignty
About Kathryn Joyce
Kathryn Joyce is the author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption and Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement (Beacon Press 2009). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, Slate, Mother Jones, the Atlantic, and many other publications.

While the demand for adoptable babies is increasing in the United States—driven in large part by evangelical Christians—the number of babies available for adoption is declining. Adoption agencies are now targeting tribal nations as a potential new source of babies to adopt, and forming alliances that threaten to undermine the sovereignty of Native American nations.
**This article appears in the Winter 2014 issue of The Public Eye magazine.**
On September 23, 2013, a child-custody battle that was nearly five years in the making came to its conclusion in Oklahoma when an Army veteran from the Cherokee Nation, Dusten Brown, handed over his daughter, Veronica, to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a White couple from South Carolina who had raised her for the first two years of her life.1
Brown gained custody of four-year-old Veronica in December 2011, after a South Carolina court ruled that the adoption process had violated federal Indian law. Brown’s attorneys also argued that Christina Maldonado—Brown’s ex-fiancĂ© and Veronica’s biological mother, who is Latina—had deliberately concealed plans to let the Capobiancos adopt her.2  As the custody decision was reversed following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling,3 and Veronica was tucked into the Capobiancos’ car to return to South Carolina, the scene was broadcast across national and social media to two polarized camps. Brown’s supporters condemned the Capobiancos as baby-snatchers stealing an Indian child from her loving father, as tens of thousands of Native children had been systematically removed from their families in decades past. The Capobiancos’ supporters condemned Brown as a deadbeat dad who had given up his rights long ago and was hiding behind an obsolete law.
...In the 1950s and 1960s, boarding schools gave way to the Indian Adoption Project, which removed children from Native homes and placed them in foster care or adoptive homes. By the 1970s, an astonishing one-quarter to one-third of all Indian children in the United States had been taken away from their families, and 85-90 percent of them were placed in non-Indian families.  The generation came to be known as the “Lost Birds.”55

“There were literally American Indian communities where there were no children,” said Terry Cross. As the broader Native American community realized what was happening and began to collect testimony for Congress, other stories emerged: of Native American women pressured into relinquishing babies for adoption just after birth while still under the effects of anesthesia, and of women waking up to find that their babies were gone and, sometimes, that they had themselves been sterilized.56

 Read more→  HERE

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Money behind the Madness #Adoption

From Trace: If you think adoption is about children, well then I have an article for you:

Child “protection” is one of the biggest businesses in the country. We spend $12 billion a year on it. 
The money goes to tens of thousands of a) state employees, b) collateral professionals, such as lawyers, court personnel, court investigators, evaluators and guardians, judges, and c) DSS contracted vendors such as counselors, therapists, more “evaluators”, junk psychologists, residential facilities, foster parents, adoptive parents, MSPCC, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, etc. This (Massachusetts) newspaper is not big enough to list all of the people in this state who have a job, draw a paycheck, or make their profits off the kids in DSS custody. 
In this article I explain the financial infrastructure that provides the motivation for DSS to take people’s children – and not give them back
"If you prefer to actually be able to kick tires instead of just looking at pictures you could attend one of DSS’s quaint “Adoption Fairs,” where live children are put on display and you can walk around and browse. Like a flea market to sell kids. If one of them begs you to take him home you can always say, “Sorry. Just looking.” The incentives for government child snatching are so good that I’m surprised we don’t have government agents breaking down people’s doors and just shooting the parents in the heads and grabbing the kids. But then, if you need more apples you don’t chop down your apple trees...." 

Even though this article is older, it's the same old song-n-dance in 2014...Trace

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Veronica's Birth Mother Drops Bid to Overturn ICWA in South Carolina

YouTube/Cynthia T.
Veronica with her dad Dusten Brown in Nowata, Oklahoma

Indian Country Today Media Network has confirmed that the legal team for Christinna Maldonado, the birth mother of “Baby Veronica,” has quietly dropped its class action suit, which sought to overturn portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act, contending it is “race-based” legislation.

RELATED: Some Disturbing Facts About Baby Veronica's Birth Mother

The case, Maldonado et al v. Holder, in which the United States and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma were also named as defendants, had been filed last July during the height of the legal firestorm in which Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island, South Carolina, were seeking custody of a Cherokee child they had named Veronica.

The United States Supreme Court had ruled in June 2013 that Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, could not sue under ICWA because he did not have “continued” custody of the girl. The case made headlines around the world, though the little girl was eventually returned to live with the adoptive couple in South Carolina in September of last year.

Maldonado had initially remained quiet during the legal proceedings, but eventually joined the class action suit which included a dozen other women in filing the litigation in federal court in South Carolina. Their suit sought to declare the “Indian preference” under section 1915 of ICWA “unconstitutional,” because it “violated their civil rights to choose fit, stable adoptive parents for their birth children,” according to one of their attorneys.

But on January 27, the plaintiffs in the case quietly filed a voluntary motion for dismissal with the court, putting an end to one of the longest, most expensive and emotional custody cases in U.S. History.

“We are pleased Ms. Maldonado and the unnamed plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the suit,” said Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general for the Cherokee Nation. “We never believed the suit had any merit and we were prepared to actively defend the suit had we ever been served.”
In the meantime, the Cherokee Nation and the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Adoptive Couple continue to await the decision on the demand fees totaling over copy million in Nowata County Court in Oklahoma. Previously, they had publicized their work on behalf of the Capobiancos as “pro bono,” but sought compensation a week after the pre-schooler was returned to South Carolina. Their previous suit for fees in South Carolina totaled some $500,000, but was dropped late last year.

Since that time, the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes, along with another class action of parents in South Dakota, have sued the state in federal court over multiple violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

RELATED: South Dakota Tribes Charge State With ICWA Violations
Swept Away: South Dakota's Native Children Denied Due Process in Custody Cases
Swept Away, Part 2: Suing South Dakota to Protect Native Children

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/07/veronicas-birth-mother-drops-bid-overturn-icwa-south-carolina-154354

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Roots & Ties program keeps children in care in B.C. connected to their community

Program helping aboriginal kids in foster care to be cut

By Darryl Hol and G.P. Mendoza, CBC News 
Chantal Douglas and a friend listen carefully to the story being told at Roots and Ties.
Chantal Douglas and a friend listen carefully to the story being told at Roots and Ties. (Darryl Hol and G.P. Mendoza)

Eleanor Stephenson remembers a time when she only saw her granddaughters two or three times a year.
Chantal and Nora, now 12 and 9, were living in foster care because their parents couldn’t care for them.
Her family’s situation is all too common in the small Cheam First Nation - located about 100 kilometres east of Vancouver - where nearly every extended family has been affected by the child welfare system.
That’s why she started the Roots and Ties program four years ago. It’s an event that welcomes Cheam children living in foster care back to the community to visit their families.
“I feel that if there was no Roots and Ties, a lot of the children wouldn’t know their grandparents, even their parents sometimes,” says Stephenson.
Roots & Ties
Eleanor Stephenson started the Roots and Ties program four years ago. (Darryl Hol and G.P. Mendoza)

Held on the third Sunday of every month, foster parents are invited to bring children in their care to the community hall for a meal, birthday cake, and cultural activity.
Everyone is welcome, including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, foster parents, and social workers.

Read more here

Our governments need a wake-up call that programs like this are necesssary and much-needed for the emotional health and stability of tribal children in care in Canada and the US...cutting funding hurts children. It should not be an option but a necessity....Trace

Friday, April 4, 2014

7th Annual Demons in Adoption nominations (a must read) #BabyVeronica

The link for nominations may be found at: http://poundpuplegacy.org/seventh_demons_of_adoption_nominations

7th Annual Demons in Adoption

Hands down this year!! The Matthew and Melanie Capobianco, Troy the Stalker Dunn, Nightlight Adoption Agency and its owners/attorney Raymond W. and Laura Beauvais Godwin, their PR rep, Jessica Munday and her company, Trio Solutions, and their national fund-raising/lobbying arm Christian Alliance for Indian Child Kidnapping
By their outrageous behavior - violating gag orders, hiring PR firms, taking what should have been a private matter to the court of public opinion and peddling lies and slurs against Veronica's father on talk shows, in newspapers, "news" programs, exploiting a minor child by using her image and name to raise tens of thousands of dollars, contracting with a TV reality show producer to film her and invade her privacy (show up at her school uninvited and unannounced), demanding public officials arrest her father and "seize" her, threatening the safety and security of the Brown family to such an extent that they had to move out of their family home and into tribal housing and be provided with 24-hour security guards, and more - the Capobiancos have proven to the world that so-called "love" for this child and her safety and security are the furthest things from their minds. By their actions, they have indelibly harmed her for life. They began exposure of an innocent child for public display in such a manner that she will never know privacy and peace again. From now until forever everyone will know who and where she is. Her security has been compromised beyond repair. For these reasons and more, including the underhanded, unethical and probably illegal means in which she was abducted from OK at birth, they have forfeited any right of entitlement or possession of this or any other child, if not provided ample grounds for criminal charges and civil liability to the Brown family.

There are plenty more to read but this one nailed it on the BABY VERONICA CASE... Trace 

I nominate the Nightlight Adoption Agency

I nominate Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency and its owners and operators for their violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act and trafficking in babies. Rumor is there are 50 children from North Dakota tribes placed thru Nightlight in addition to Veronica Brown and Baby Desaray (and untold others).
Nightlight is a corporation with Laura Godwin, its CEO/director, and Ronald Stoddart as Principal Officer for tax purposes. In 2011 alone, they grossed $2,747,914. Nightlight is licensed in Colorado, California, South Carolina and in Kentucky so far. Now in two lawsuits over Native American babies they attempted to place for adoption...
Raymond W. Godwin, called an unethical adoption attorney in news reports, was the original adoption attorney for Matt and Melanie Capobianco and is also involved in this dispute called #BABY DESARAY. His wife Laura is the director of the Nightlight adoption agency that handled the Baby Veronica placement/adoption.
Read more here: http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/Index/7609

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What we learned at Brock University about #60s Scoop #ADOPTION

By Trace A. DeMeyer

I'd mentioned on this blog we were invited to speak to students and then the general public at Brock University near Niagara, Ontario on March 25.  Patricia Busbee and I had co-authored and edited the 2012 anthology Two Worlds but we had not met in person (but we've shared hundreds of emails and phone calls).

You ever have that feeling you've known someone but you've never met them in person? Well, that was the feeling I had with Patricia. I snuck up on her at the hotel near Brock and instantly - she's like my closest friend, a sister returned to me.  Being in the same room with her felt like being home. When she offers her thoughts, insights, it's like she's reading my mind!

At Brock, we met with two other contributors in Two Worlds and again, it was deja vu! Debby and Elaine are like sisters, too! You can read their adoptee narratives in the Canada section of Two Worlds.

One thing is certain - we understand one another. We are simpatico - of like mind. Debby and Elaine shared the same feelings of isolation growing up -  though they were adopted and being raised in Canada while Patricia and I were here in the US.  We were all told lies about our ancestry and yet we found the truth and our relatives anyway - but it was not easy for any of us.  Adoptees do feel very isolated until we meet other adoptees. Then like magic, POOF, you made new relatives. This book and the event at Brock gave us all a great gift: our very own reunion!

We as a group went to speak to a class of about 40 students at Brock who had read Two Worlds and they were very open and appreciative to our writing and what we shared that day. The students really liked the book, and asked really good questions about how it was growing up away from our families and culture. The take-away for me is students admitted they knew NOTHING about this adoption history prior to reading Two Worlds.  They really knew NOTHING about the First Nations in Canada and were not taught anything in their school.  Their eyes were opened, obviously!

Knowing what is truth all goes back to BAD HISTORY. When you allow a country to devise its own telling of conquest and colonization, leaving out how they did it, how Indian people were killed off or made to disappear to remote reserves and then they abduct children for boarding schools and adoptions, that is just bad history.  It's 2014, still happening...

During the evening panel and book talk, an Anishinabe adoptee named Michael shared his experience. (Michael and I had been emailing since 2011 and finally met. He and his wife Irene are like long-lost relatives as well!)  Michael shared the story of how he needed his name for when he passes on to the spirit world and how he needs to speak this name in his language or his soul would be lost. Michael shared so much wisdom.  He asked, "I know where five percent of the adoptees are - where are the other 95%??" [He was referring to 20,000+ placed into adoption during Canada's 60s Scoop, what is known in Canada as cultural genocide.] [The US numbers are sealed so we don't know how many babies and children were lost here.]

And we met Jolene, an adoptee from Arkansas who also shared her adoption story that evening and how she plans to return to her British Columbia tribal family in two years.  I knew some of her story from a news article Brock University has posted about her. And we met a friend Lynn (Adoption Trauma) who brought Suzanne, a beautiful Native woman in great pain over the loss of her sister. And I spoke to the daughter of an adoptee; her father spent his life visiting the reserves but was never able to open his adoption or find his own First Nations family.

What we learned is there is no way to stop adoptions of Native children in this Six Nations area in eastern Canada today: we heard this is because of a shortage of foster homes, plus destitute conditions and not enough available adoptive parents on their reserves.  What First Nations social workers do give to these babies is all the information and history that they will need when they become adults, when they decide to look for their birth families. They practice open adoption and use friendship centres so adoptive parents can bring the children and expose them to their culture, language and relatives. And we all agreed that something has to change in both countries to allow babies to remain with their mothers and tribal relatives, with every effort made for family preservation and finally eradicating poverty on the reservations.

Being there with relatives, it's like a fire was lit inside me. When the Six Nations women sang a "Strong Women" song for us, it was humbling, a sacred moment.

What we learned is there is much more community-building and after-adoption support needed for Native American adoptees in the US. There are no repatriation services in the US like there is in Canada. That must change!

Patricia and I finally connected in person, we made new relatives in Ontario - and all that is good. Now we're starting on the new book CALLED HOME: Stolen Generations and will publish more history and narratives from the lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects in Canada and the US.

Adoptees do have the power to change history with every story we write and share! Every writer in Two Worlds and the new book CALLED HOME can hold their own events and this fire will grow and spread... and that is good, that is very good...

(The Brock Reads Summer Program 2014 is open to the whole community so this book Two Worlds will have many new readers.)

Our deepest thanks to the organizers at Brock University Aboriginal Education Council and the Niagara Native Women for offering this amazing event!

Dark Adoption Climate: a letter to #StopCHIFF

To My New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer on International Adoption

By Frank Ligtvoet SOURCE

Dear Senators,
A few years ago the story of a woman who put her 7 year old adopted son on a plane back to where he came from, Russia, made headlines.  You must remember the case. The boy was by himself with just a note from the mother to the authorities at the other side of the Atlantic, telling that she couldn’t handle him anymore.  In a certain way it was a mild case, compared to recent cases where adoptive parents abused and eventually killed their kids. Korean Hyunsu O’Callaghan (3 years old) for example, who was only a few months with his new family, when his father beat him to death in February of this year.  Last year in July a criminal process took place in which adoptive parents were accused of abusing their Ethiopian daughter, until her death in the cold rain followed.

Investigative journalist Kathryn Joyce described in Slate of last November the girl’s ordeal as follows: “On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known as hypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly, hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.”

I know, Senators, that child abuse and infanticide are not specific to adoption, but prospective adoptive parents are screened by social workers for their capabilities to raise children with this background; they are held or they should be held to a higher standard. It is obvious that those screenings in these cases, and in many others, didn’t work. Those cases also include the shady practice of ‘Re-homing’ where overwhelmed parents try to place often over the web their kids in other families who are not vetted at all. About the dire outcomes of this ‘solution’ to the problems of incompetent parents Reuters reported extensively last year.

You may wonder, dear Senators, what has this all to do with me. Well, in every other section of our society these stories would have led to an investigation of the industry responsible for these deaths. Bluntly said: General Motors is investigated for the deaths of 303 people in accidents regarding 1,6 million cars since 2003. Compare that with the almost 200 abuse cases in various degrees of severity on ca. 160.000 international adoptions in the same period which adoption activist website Pound Pup Legacy (http://poundpuplegacy.org) documented with newspaper articles and official documents.

The laxness of the American authorities, which are in a certain way under your control, where it regards the adoption process in the US is disturbing. There is no check on the methods used in, and the effectiveness and the quality of the so-called home studies, which describe and evaluate the new parents’ abilities to raise transnationally and transracially adopted kids, often with special needs.

And there is no check on the competences and the quality of licensed social workers, who deal with adoption in agencies.  I know personally how easy on the parents the home study process is and how flimsily we – two white men - were prepared to become adoptive parents of black kids. And I don’t know one case where prospective parents were told that they were not fit to raise an adopted child. Not only oversight is missing, the industry itself has serious systemic flaws. One of them is that it is fully adoptive parent driven: the parents are the paying clients and there is no independent representation in any form for the first parents or the child, here or abroad. Another problem is the savior ideology that permeates the industry: so many kids are saved from their horrible situations that ‘we’ can live with a few kids who fall between the cracks.  The savior argument is just false: most kids would have been helped better (and with less money) within the context of their extended families or their community.

Is the situation in the US, Senators, already daunting, the situation in the countries of origin of the adoptees is even worse. The acclaimed study of Katherine Joyce, The Child Catchers, on the Evangelical Christian adoption movement and its devastating corrupting effects abroad attracted a lot of attention. You might have seen it.  There are others who wrote extensively on corruption, child laundering, baby stealing, fraud, racism and trafficking, like E.J. Graff in the Washington Post and Slate a few years ago, and David Smolin and Deleith Duke Gossett in their academic work.  David Smolin’s latest piece has the telling title: ‘The Corrupting Influence of the United States on a Vulnerable Intercountry Adoption System’. I dare to say that every prospective adoptive parent, who is at this moment in the process of adopting internationally and doesn’t read extensively about abuse in and outside the US, doesn’t check his social worker and agency carefully and doesn’t soul search his abilities to raise a child of color that is abandoned first and then adopted, treads on unethical grounds.

In this dark adoption climate two of your colleagues Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), proposed new legislation for international child welfare and adoption: the Children in Families First Act (CHIFF). You know that because both of you became sponsors of the CHIFF act. Positive in that proposal is that adoption is seen within the context of child welfare. The website has: ‘CHIFF brings the need for ethical, transparent and accountable child welfare systems to the forefront.  By ensuring systems are in place to help children remain in their family of birth, be reunited with family or be adopted locally or internationally.’ The policy relies thus strongly on collaboration with the authorities in the ‘donating’ countries to ensure – I repeat ensure - those ethical etc. systems.  That seems a rather unrealistic vision, when one thinks of vast countries like China and India, or ‘difficult’, dead poor or infrastructure poor countries like Ethiopia and Vietnam. Elsewhere I calculated that CHIFF has a maximum budget of 22.5 cent per child, which would generate for child welfare in for example Ethiopia a bit over a million dollars for 4 million orphans. Since the adoption industry for the US alone in Ethiopia can be valued at $92 million dollars, it is obvious that adoption will be the preferred choice of ‘child welfare’. The proposal comes on top of that with new regulations to make the international adoption process for parents easier and quicker. Easier and quicker is definitely not the way to go in the current corrupt adoption situation. It seems more appropriate to clean the houses here and there first, before spending new money and applying easier regulations for Americans who want to adopt.

The welfare aspect in the proposal is not only diminished by the lack of serious finances, but by two more factors. The first comes to light in the list of  ‘Endorsing organizations’ on the CHIFF website, which consists for the biggest part of adoption agencies, many of them rooted in the evangelical (and may I say as a gay man: homophobic) community. Lacking are (international) welfare organizations, adoptee and first parent organizations. The latter were also not involved in the discussions in the preparations of the legislation. The second factor shows in the rather surprising list of the political sponsors from both parties of CHIFF: Michele Bachman, James Inhofe, Elizabeth Warren amongst others. And I was honestly speaking taking aback to find your names in that list. International welfare may imply for some of them birth control education and practice, which would lead to less adoptions; and for others the promotion of ‘extreme personhood’ (human rights bestowed on fertilized eggs), which would lead to more adoptions. Since there is no common ground to be found in these two positions, the communal focus has to be on adoption, and based on the positions of many of your listed colleagues, on heterosexual couple’s adoption.

Dear Senator Gillibrand, dear Senator Schumer, may I ask you to reconsider your support of this proposed legislation. As real democrats, who tend to reach out to those who had or have no voice, in this case the first or birth families and the adoptees, and who are naturally questioning the powerful, you really don’t belong on that list.

CHIFF will hopefully die a quiet death. Thank God, it doesn’t seem to get serious political traction. However, the discussion about international child welfare and adoption and the ethics thereof, is very necessary and one may hope that this flawed proposal will be the start of that conversation.

I copy you to give you a full range of arguments against CHIFF links to letters from other concerned voters in other states to their representatives, to Senator Warren (MA) (http://irreverentpsychologist.blogspot.com/...) and to the Washington representatives (http://lightofdaystories.com/...)

Respectfully yours,
Frank Ligtvoet

Sunday, March 30, 2014

#60s Scoop seek formal apology

Sixties Scoop: Aboriginals Adopted Into White Families Seek Apology

  By Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press 

WINNIPEG - Some aboriginal people who were adopted into white families during the so-called Sixties Scoop say it's their turn for reconciliation and are calling for a formal apology from the federal government.
Dozens of adoptees gathered in Winnipeg on Monday to tell their stories — many for the first time — and figure out how to get justice.
Coleen Rajotte was taken from her Cree community in Saskatchewan when she was three months old and raised by a Manitoba family. Adoptees were robbed of their real families and feel someone has to be held accountable, she said.
"If someone came into your home today, took your children and shipped them to the United States and around the world, we would want answers," she said. "That's what we as adoptees are asking for. Someone has to take responsibility for this."
From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by child welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families. Many consider the adoptions as an extension of the residential school system, which aimed to "take the Indian out of the child."
Rajotte said she was lucky enough to be placed into a loving home, but she lost her language, her culture and her connection to her ancestral home. When she recently went to the home she would have grown up in had she not been adopted, Rajotte said it was overwhelming.
"I was physically ill for days just trying to process all of that," she said.
But while residential school survivors have had a formal apology and are the subjects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, adoptees haven't been formally recognized.
"Personally, I would like to see some kind of formal apology to all adoptees that were taken from their homes," Rajotte said. "That's a lot of children — 20,000 children across Canada."
A spokeswoman for federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said there would be no comment.
"As this case is currently before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment further," she said in an email.
A class-action lawsuit launched by some survivors in Ontario in 2009 is slowly making its way through the courts. The lawsuit was certified, but Canada recently won leave to appeal that decision.
Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson said it's time adoptees were given the same opportunity for reconciliation as residential school survivors. Some adoptees were put with families where they were treated as farm hands or subjected to horrific abuse, he said.
"It's not an easy thing to talk about the hurts that many of them endured as children, not knowing who they were, being a brown face in an all-white school as an example," said Robinson, a residential school survivor who organized the two-day gathering.
"Those things are very difficult to talk about in this current day but they have to be addressed."
Those adoptees at the gathering hope to emerge with a strategy for recognition and a sense of what supports they need to heal, he said.
"Compensation no doubt will come up," Robinson said. "There's got to be a certain degree of accountability by governments."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet the Authors: Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

Near Niagara, Ontario

By Dr. Raeschelle Potter- Deimel
TWO WORLDS: LOST CHILDREN OF THE INDIAN ADOTION PROJECTS, ISBN: 978-1479318285, Trace A DeMeyer and Patricia Busbee, editors, Blue Hand Books, 2012, paperback on Amazon and ebook $6.99 available for all devices.

TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, is classified as an anthology by the co-editors Trace DeMeyer and Patricia Busbee.  The published book, however, exceeds any and every expectation of this label.  It not only offers an avalanche of information on the book's very pressing topic, but it includes a multitude of written testimonies showing the ills caused by decades of governmental enforcement of Indian Adoption Projects

Trace DeMeyer, co-editor, journalist, and former editor of THE PEQUOT TIMES, successfully brought this issue forward in ONE SMALL SACRIFICE, published in 2009.  It was a heart wrenching tell-all memoir of the author's own life. We followed the writer along her path of trying to find answers to a lifetime of questions.  Now, adoptees DeMeyer and Busbee have succeeded, as co-editors, in bringing together a circle of like souls, "Lost Birds" who have spent their lives wondering if they would ever feel true warmth and belonging.  "Lost Birds" of America and Canada have shared their despair with written contributions in excerpts of books, papers, poems and stories on the topic. One most jolting fact, found in the publication, casts a shadow on the persistent governmental use of Trans-racial Adoption.  Tribal methods of taking care of their own children, kinship, have always been part of strong cultural traditions.  It is all the more astonishing to read: "One quarter of all Indian children were removed from their families and placed in non-Indian adoptive and foster homes or orphanages, as part of the Indian Adoption Projects."  Yes, there is great poverty clouding over many tribes which may, for those who support adoption, help condone the practice of taking Indian children away from tribal families to place them in a more economically adjusted environment.

The government continued to condone the system under a shield of haphazard statistics gathered by such researchers as David Fanshel, in 1960.  He in turn, preferred to follow earlier methods used in the state of Florida by the researcher, Helen Witmer, during a period of racial polarization.  During this period adoption services were eager to rid themselves of discriminatory accusations and were more prone to favor trans-racial adoption.  There were multiple considerations which should have been respected but were ignored in order to prove that "white couples committed to racial equality were the most likely to adopt non-white children and succeed as parents."  Fanshel felt that there was "little risk to the physical or emotional well-being of individual children and that these adoptions had 'saved many of these children from lives of utter ruination'."(358) 

Most adoptees did have access to formal education, but there are also success stories of tribal supported college students.  What about rituals and lessons traditionally learned in tribal culture, which could not be passed down to children and grandchildren?  What could these generations of children have been able to offer their tribal communities, if their nurturing had been able to continue within their tribal culture?  Patricia Busbee clearly poses the alternative to trans-racial adoption.  The alternative of governmental planning and financial support of Indian and First Nation child care would have actually been the easier path to follow.

"I am Lakota," a contribution in the book, looks into the life of a trans-racial adoptee and defeats stoic assumptions that Native children grow to become totally adjusted in non-Indian families.  Here, the adoptee did not know about her Native heritage throughout her childhood.  The pool in the backyard, the new car, and the possibility of having a good college education, was not enough to fill the constant emptiness felt throughout Diane's young life.  It was also just not enough for her to feel "devoted and proud to be an Irish Tommaney."(12)

A term of endearment comes to mind, when pondering these adoptee narratives and findings, which has come to be the labeling of helpless spirits held bondage under the ills of Indian adoption.  The description is of 'Split Feathers;' those innocently caught up within two worlds.  Their search to simply find themselves comes from not having known the world they were born in. They were unable to experience comfort of belonging in the world of trans-racial adoption.  Bravery to step forward and find their way home did not come easily, with their efforts thwarted by closed files and records.  Success of tribal family reunion was not a promise, only another hurdle to conquer for having been placed on a too distant path, too long.  Still, reports of forced adoption continue, as small voices cry out, lost and in despair.  Even Fanshel, in final conclusion of his early research believed that "only the Indian people have the right to determine whether their children can be placed in white homes." (359)   

Those who seek answers to the many baffling issues surrounding Indian Adoption Acts will become well-versed, within the pages of the anthology, on the history of these acts that were forged under well- known efforts of the country's acts for Assimilation

As a special bonus, the co-editors have presented specifics for viewing problems suffered by First Nations of Canada.  We find that a Canadian survey actually focused on families and their problems, after the removal of their children by provincial child welfare authorities, from the late 1960s to the early 80s. The six-month study report was compiled by Native Child and Family Services and titled OUR WAY HOME.  The staff writer of "WINDSPEAKER" magazine, Joan Black, reports that the survey not only shows effects of adoption and foster care on Indian adoptees. "It also identifies a variety of obstacles that Aboriginal people face in trying to re-establish family ties, and sets out a four-phase strategy aimed at easing repatriation for those who desire it."(331) The question is, will they and other American adoptees, be given necessary documents for proving their identity?
Natives and First Nations of Turtle Island are the only people required to prove their ethnicity.  With modern day research, and access to more adequately translated chronicles and diaries, written by early explorers, it is clear that Native People of the New World were always very diverse in physical features as well as cultural traditions.   DeMeyer's article on "Blood Quantum" is truly an eye opener as it confronts the core of ethnic prejudice which has been nurtured and continues to stifle North America today.  Native people often say, "It was never easy being Indian!" Thus, we remember other aspects of ethnic intrusion.  The scope is wide: from Indian slavery and breeding, followed by official record keeping written by unknowing and illiterate census takers; to the confines of Indian schools; and certainly of course forced or coerced Indian adoption.  All of these intrusions have remained under a cloud of constant propaganda favoring assimilation.  No, it has not been easy being Indian! 

The 31st chapter in the book, "Congressional Testimony" proves that the most helpless, the Lost Children of these Indian Adoption Projects and Programs were most vulnerable, as government presented a sure method for forcing assimilation upon children.  William Byler, Executive Director, Association of American Indian Affairs stated that “The disparity in rates for Indian adoption and non-Indian adoption is truly shocking.”  He presents statistics beginning with the state of Minnesota where “Indian children are placed in foster care or in adoptive homes at the rate of five times, or 500 percent greater than non-Indian children.”(183)  His statistics move on through other states which show even greater numbers.  Indian Adoption Acts have continued to be an acute disruption of tribal culture through many decades while Religious groups, with help from federal and state government, have held fast to ill-fated convictions.  With every effort made by Lost Children, seeking out a way home, more problems emerge. "Our American government still defines us today, using census reports that are highly suspicious and definitely untrustworthy to define sovereign status or what degree of Indian blood or blood quantum exists."(Suggested reading: Blood Quantum, 185)

With the disappearance of children from our tribes, generations have been lost and therefore, in some cases, tribal existence has become threatened.  Some Lost Birds have been able to find their way home and have been accepted by their tribal families.  Others, some still not aware of their tribal bloodlines, continue to search for a place of belonging and sovereignty

The anthology answers many questions, but it also presents the urgency for those in power to recognize failed concepts.  The book is in a total thumbs-up category and highly recommended.   

Dr. Raeschelle Potter-Deimel received her PhD from the University of Vienna in Austria in Cultural Anthropology and lectures on North America and Native American topics.  An independent researcher and Fulbright scholar, Dr. Potter-Deimel frequently travels for lectures and master classes to America and throughout Europe.  She can be reached at: potterdeimel@aon.at.



Baby Traffickers: Nightlight Adoption Agency

Nightlight Christian Adoptions has been the subject of at least two investigative articles by The Charleston Post and Courier where they looked at Nightlight in Greenville and attorney Raymond Godwin.
Just go to http://www.postandcourier.com/and search Nightlight Christian Adoptions and look for "The Price of Adoption" on Sept 21 and "Attorney Says Oklahoma Tribe Never Expressed Interest Before Infant's Birth" on Sept 14.

Raymond's wife Laura Beauvais-Godwin heads the Nightlight offices in Greenville SC. Both Nightlight and Godwin's law offices share the same building address at 1527 Wade Hampton Blvd in Greenville, SC 29609.

One of the articles said, "But the larger issue, according to skeptics, is the allegation that some birth mothers, agencies and attorneys conceal adoptions and prevent birth fathers from asserting parental rights." and "Once these agencies and lawyers get the birth mother on the hook ... they tell these birth moms not to answer any calls from the dads," said Shannon Jones, the Charleston attorney who represents Simmons and Brown. "Of course, then they argue the dad is a deadbeat."

Which is exactly what happened to Dusten Brown.

Source: http://pullthisblogover.blogspot.com/2013/09/an-open-letter-to-matt-and-melanie.html (comment)

Keep Veronica in your prayers