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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Utah officials on Native children foster care statistics

American Indian children too often in foster care
Utah Officials try to keep children in their homes, out of system.

More than 33 years after Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, American Indian children in Utah are still being removed from their homes and placed in foster care far too often — a troubling statistic that is the focus of the state’s tribes and government officials.
True, there has been a vast improvement in out-of-home placements over those decades. In 1976, two years before passage of the act, American Indian children in Utah were 1,500 times more likely to be in foster care than other children in the state, said Utah Appeals Court Judge William Thorne, who spoke March 16 at the first Indian Child Welfare Conference to be held in Salt Lake City.
Read story here:
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/53755655-78/indian-foster-american-care.html.csp?page=1

Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978
Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act to prevent breakup of American Indian families after a 1976 report showed “an alarmingly high percentage” of children were in “non-Indian” foster and adoptive homes or institutions. It governs what is supposed to happen if an American Indian child is placed in state custody, giving tribal courts jurisdiction for children who are members or eligible for membership in a recognized tribe.

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Mila @yoonsblur: What can non-adopted people do to help adoptees feel respected in our spaces? Remember that they are guests. Remember that they are visitors. Remember that they will NEVER know what it's like to live an adopted life. Remember that they are visiting our home, our land, our territory. And hence, they need to act and behave accordingly. I like to use the analogy of a heart transplant patient. A heart transplant patient is the only one who knows what it is like to undergo transplantation. They are the only ones who know how it feels to be a transplant patient. The doctors, nurses, family members, etc. do not know what it is like to live life as a transplant patient and none of them would insist that they know what it feels like. They can help take care of the patient, they may even have valuable knowledge that may be applicable, but they still have no clue what it's like to live life as a transplant patient. Even the doctors and nurses can only help if they listen to the patient. Assumptions are dangerous and could even lead to death. Hence, knowledge is never equivalent to experience. A White person who has a Ph.D in African American studies will never know what it's like to live life as an African American. That Ph.D does not make the White person an "expert" on being African American. Similarly, unless you are an adoptee--no matter how many books you've read, no matter how many adopted children you've raised--you will NEVER know what it's like to be an adoptee. So, respect that. Sit down. Listen. Acknowledge. Validate. Do not presume. Do not dismiss. Do not negate. Do not pit adoptees against each other by saying, "Well, I know this one adoptee who..." Turn your mouth off and your ears on. That's what non-adopted folks can do if they truly want to understand and respect adoptees in our spaces.
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