An exciting blog about all things adoptee-related - in particular American Indian adoptees who are called Lost Children, Lost Birds, Lost Ones and Split Feathers. This blog is updated regularly by journalist-adoptee Trace A. DeMeyer, author of ONE SMALL SACRIFICE: A Memoir and the new book TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects with Patricia Berdan Cotter-Busbee. The only way we can change history is to write it ourselves.....and the truth shall set us free...
ago, a blog about American Indian Adoptees was a dream and the history of the Indian Adoption Projects was buried. Now it’s out there.
Three years ago, this blog was born. I set it up in 2009 but I didn’t blog much that
year since I was just getting my feet wet - it seemed daunting at first. It was
the technical parts of blogging that were new to me. But I had plenty to say and lots of research,
news and history to share.
This is my 323rd post.
It’s hard to wrap my head around that and how this one little blog has had over
The most important
thing for me to say is this:Thank you. I don’t think I say it enough.
That you all come back here week after week, reading, commenting, and sharing
this blog means the world to me. That you’ve spent your hard-earned money on my
memoir One Small Sacrifice, told your friends about it, talked about
it on Facebook, visited my Book Page, you’ve taught me my vision for this history to
be told - it was not wrong.
It’s not every day I
get to say this - thank you.
To recap the life of
this blog, I thought I would highlight some of the biggest milestones of the
past three years.
Top Search Engine: Google (they referred
4,500 people to this blog)
Most Searched Word:Split Feather
Most Page Views: Split Feathers Study (1,253
people have read this study on Native American adoptees called Split Feathers
which is incredible!)
Since a National Post investigation began uncovering stories about coerced adoption among unmarried women from the 1940s to the 1980s, several adoptees have contacted the newspaper saying the reports have validated their mothers’ accounts and helped prove that the choice to surrender was not fully hers. Some women had told their stories on the record for the first time, and they said their children have since expressed shock and compassion.
Even as a kid, instinctively I knew that until I had many life experiences, I didn't have the right to an opinion until I understood many other viewpoints and lived around the country awhile. After I graduated from high school and college, I lived in many different places and worked many kinds of jobs, that included singing in rock bands.
Did I know where it would lead? I think I did! I followed my interests like a map.
Somehow I knew writing was my eventual path by age 10. I wrote in my journals religiously. No one ever told me to write... In those days I devoured magazines, a study of our strange and evolving American culture. At one period in my 20s and 30s, I wrote three to 20 pages a day. That led to the discipline I needed to be a writer and have a solid "skill set" to do the work.
By early 1996 I did not choose journalism; it chose me. First I was hired as editor at a weekly newspaper in Hayward, Wisconsin. Then Paul
DeMain, the publisher of News From Indian Country, hired me that fall.
It was obvious to me I only wanted to write about Native people and Native news. Paul and I created Ojibwe Akiing about a month after I
started. After four years and a variety of duties on
two Native newspapers, I had earned my unofficial degree in Native journalism from Paul DeMain.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation called and wanted to interview me for the editor
position in June 1999. I flew to Connecticut for the interview and started work
on August 16. That year I
published a chapter in the book “Olympics at the Millennium: Power, Politics
and the Games, 2000” based on my interviews with the family of Olympian Jim Thorpe, a
Sac and Fox. It was published by Rutgers Press, in time for the
One thing led to another. Yes, life experience shapes our thoughts and determines our path. The Old Ones visit in our dreams to guide us. We need to pay attention. Our path can take us down many new roads to many new people and we can learn so much in these challenges if we follow the signs which are our interests. For me, being a journalist and blogger is a gift with power, one that I treat with respect and humility. If you abuse power, you lose it.
The poet warrior John Trudell's life is a source of my inspiration. Trudell suffered the loss of his entire family in a fire, which could have ended his life as a writer and activist. How he healed is how I intend to heal my own recent losses of close friends and beloved family members.
How we heal is entirely up to us, but we have to chose it. If we bury and deny our grief, it will inevitably hurt us more. Even our being adopted is a path. Where it leads is up to us.
After the tragedies, Trudell began to write in a
manner as fearless and uncompromising as his political stance with the American Indian Movement, by picking up the pen... He said, "When I went to the writing, it was
the most vengeful thing I could do. I won't say I started writing out of love.
When I started out to write, I did not want to explode. Writing lines, poems,
songs -- that became my explosion."
Can't escape the heat
Disguised as a memory
Howling at the sky
Always chasing almost love that
Loaded heart in the need to run
Almost always chasing love that
There's a way you're expected to
Don't bite the hand that feeds you
Don't you know what freedom means
Bad dog Bad dog
--John Trudell, "Bad
Please share how your path chose you in the comments section.... Trace
It’s no exaggeration to say that American Indian women are missing from most media coverage, history books and classroom discussions. But at least journalism students, instructors and state educators in Nebraska are doing something to help end America’s ignorance of Native women and the contributions they make to their communities, their tribes and to the nation as a whole.
Last year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications published the magazine, Native Daughters. With a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and under the guidance of five university professors, students spent 18 months reporting and writing about American Indian women who are artists, activists, lawyers, cops, warriors, healers, storytellers and leaders.
Now the Nebraska Department of Education has also released a companion curriculum for the magazine. You can download it for free here.
Can’t wait even one minute more to learn about Native women? Here’s a teaser of what you can learn more about in Native Daughters—and what you can share with your students via the new curriculum.
1. “A lot of people think that us women are not leaders, but we are the heart of the nation, we are the center of our home, and it is us who decide how it will be.”–Philomine Lakota, Lakota language teacher, Red Cloud High School, Pine Ridge, S.D.
2. The art forms Native women practice stand as reminders of cultural endurance. “Their crafts survived the Greasy Grass (Battle of Little Big Horn), Wounded Knee One (1890) and Two (1973),” writes Christina DeVries in Native Daughters. “Their spirits survived the Trail of Tears, the Relocation and Termination program and continued struggles against cultural annihilation.”
3. In 1997, Ms. magazine named Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg) Woman of the Year. That same year, the activist also debuted her first novel, Last Standing Woman.
4. Of nearly 2 million women enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, 18,000 are American Indian women. Their representation in the military is disproportionately high—and Native women are more likely to be sexually harassed, which increases their chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
5. The number of Native women applying to medical school has increased since 2003, peaking in 2007 when 77 Native women applied nationwide.
6. In 2007, when Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet (Diné) was named president of Antioch University, she became the first American Indian woman president of a mainstream university. Not only that, but about half of the nation’s tribal colleges are led by Native women presidents.
7. Cecelia Fire Thunder (Lakota) became the Oglala Lakota Tribe’s first woman president. She has fought against domestic abuse, saying it’s not a part of traditional culture, and been a leader for women’s reproductive rights. In 2006, when the South Dakota state legislature prohibited abortion, Fire Thunder announced plans to build a women’s clinic on the reservation, and therefore beyond state jurisdiction. She was impeached by the tribal council, who said she was acting outside her duties as president.
8. Women lead nearly one-quarter of the nation’s 562 federally recognized tribes.
9. “Through the late 1700s, Cherokee women were civically engaged. They owned land and had a say during wartime,” writes Astrid Munn in Native Daughters. “But this changed after the tribe ceded large tracts of land to the U.S. government in 1795.” Since the mid-1980s, though, a generation of Native women activists, lawmakers and attorneys have been changing that history and working to empower women again.
10. Indian Country could never survive without Native women.
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota American Indian tribes and their allies in the state Legislature are seeking to plug a gap in child custody laws opened by a state Supreme Court decision last year.
The court's decision derailed the common practice of giving tribal courts a role during pre-adoption and adoption for off-reservation American Indian kids.
Until the late 1970s, American Indian children across the country were adopted outside their communities at very high rates. The practice had a devastating effect on tribes, as generations of youth were cut loose from their cultural identities.
"People thought they understood that children would fare better if they were raised in white middle class homes," said Andrew Small, a lawyer and former tribal judge in the state. "When you remove a child from their home, that begins a process that sometimes is impossible to stop... a child is going to be lost to the tribe."
In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was designed to allow tribes a say in child custody and adoption proceedings. Since then, Minnesota state courts dealing with custody of an American Indian child off the reservation have been able to transfer jurisdiction to tribal court, even in the later part of the proceedings, which are called adoptive or pre-adoptive stages.
But a Minnesota Supreme Court decision late last year found a gap in the Indian Child Welfare Act. The court decided that neither federal nor Minnesota statute explicitly allowed state courts, when dealing with an American Indian child living away from a reservation, to transfer jurisdiction during the later portion of custody proceedings.
Although Small warns that the issue isn't "black and white," he said a failure to pass legislation explicitly giving state courts the right to transfer jurisdiction to tribal courts might lead to a slight uptick in the sort of outside adoptions that first inspired Congress to pass the Indian Child Welfare Act in the first place.
"You're excluding the possibility that adoptive and pre-adoptive placement will be undertaken in a distinct and unique way of the tribe," Small said. "Children in that situation are typically going to be adopted out of their tribes."
Rep. Susan Allen, the first American Indian to serve in the Minnesota State Legislature, introduced a bill to fill the gap last week.
"The statute is adding [to] a procedure that's already in place," Allen said. "It's just extending that procedure to adoption proceedings."
Dawn Blanchard, Minnesota ombudsman for American Indian families, saw the state Supreme Court decision was a "fluke."
"For us it's sensitive, just because American Indians don't want their kids adopted outside the tribe," Blanchard said. "This [bill] kind of helps keep it the way it should be and the way it should be going."
The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the three Dakota tribes have passed resolutions in support of the bill. The bill's next stop will be a hearing in the House Civil Law Committee.
Until 2001, when Korean children were sent to the U.S. for overseas adoption, it was their adoptive parents’ responsibility to naturalize them as U.S. citizens.
In addition, adoption agencies both in Korea and the U.S. were responsible for post-adoption services that should monitor adoptees and their adoptive parents until the children are fully integrated into U.S. society. This is a key principle of overseas adoption.
However, the reality is not the same as the principle. The U.S. deports foreign adoptees aged 29 and older who haven’t been naturalized when they commit certain crimes. Washington must stop this practice immediately.
Unlike European governments, the U.S. government did not automatically grant citizenship to overseas adoptees until 2001. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 came into force on Feb. 27, 2001, allowing all internationally adopted children under 18 on that date, and all those adopted in the future, to become U.S. citizens automatically. However, adoptees 18 or older on that date could not be covered by the act.
Many adoptees discovered, usually when applying for federal student loans or a passport, that they had never been naturalized by their foster parents. I know three Korean adoptees ― Monte, Tim, and Matthew ― who could not benefit from the act.
Monte was born in 1970 in Korea and was sent to the U.S. in 1978. Although he served in the U.S. military, he was deported to Korea in 2009. Monte claims that when he was arrested, he did not know that he had been set up by his truck driving partner to transport drugs. Like most other Korean adoptees sent to the U.S., Monte is culturally American and does not speak Korean.
Tim was born in Korea in 1974, and in 1977 he went to the U.S. as an adoptee. His adoptive parents cut their ties with him after he graduated from high school, so he left his home and wandered throughout the U.S. He became homeless and addicted to drugs for over 15 years. Ultimately he was arrested, imprisoned, and deported to Korea, where he became homeless again in April 2011. He has no trace of his birth family on his adoption records.
Matthew was born in Korea in 1978 and he went to the U.S. at the age of six months, but his parents did not naturalize him. He was not deported, but willingly returned to Korea in February 2011 to be close to his family and experience Korea as a young man.
When the Seoul government discovered that Matthew, technically an “overseas Korean citizen,” was back in the country, he received a compulsory enlistment notice from the Korean military. After a prolonged struggle over paperwork that reflected both his permanent residency in the U.S. and his Korean citizenship, Matthew was finally granted an exemption from military enlistment because he is also technically an “orphan.”
Matthew would like to have dual citizenship, just as other adoptees have that option. But because he received his Green Card only in the past few years, he would be in his 40s by the time he gains U.S. citizenship. In the interim, he would be required to live within the U.S. Meanwhile, adoptees with only U.S. citizenship may live in Korea indefinitely on an F-4 visa.
As the U.S. leads the world in terms of the numbers of children adopted from other countries, it should also lead the world in the humanitarian treatment of them. However, we are now seeing that adoptees from not just Korea, but many other countries, are being deported from the U.S. even on minor charges.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), amended and expanded by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) of 1996, non-citizens may apply for “waivers” to deportations, based on factors such as length of residency in the U.S. and potential hardship if deported.
However, no such exceptions are available to “aggravated felons.” Aggravated felonies include crimes such as drug trafficking, but may also include misdemeanor charges. For instance, the IIRAIRA expanded the INA so a person may be treated as an aggravated felon for committing a theft punishable by only one year in prison. This opens up the risk of adoptees to be deported for petty crimes such as shoplifting.
While recognizing that non-adopted people who immigrated as children are also subject to this law, I believe that the U.S. Congress, through passing the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, has already shown its belief that international adoptees should be automatic citizens.
I urge the U.S. government to correct defects in the U.S. legal system by quickly passing an amendment that would allow all overseas adoptees ― even adults like Tim, Matthew, and Monte ― to rightfully receive their U.S. citizenship. This would stop the deportations and also give the benefits and protection of citizenship to all law-abiding international adoptees.
Dr. Kim Sung-soo is the author of a biography of Korean Quaker Ham Sok-hon and executive director of Transparency International-Korea. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLOG WEEK: What bothers you about the Adoption Establishment?
Excerpt from ONE SMALL SACRIFICE: A Memoir (2nd Edition)
Never before had I
experienced such difficulty with one story.I repeat: never.I took to
writing like a duck takes to water.Most
days, writing and doing research is like breathing.This time was different.I struggled.I knew I’d hit something so I had to slow down, to process, to dig.
This history, my history, similar stories, had to be somewhere.
How many countries do not
allow adoption?Several.Iraq is one.No children from Western Europe, Australia, or Canada are eligible for
adoption by Americans right now.
adoption reach has been global, widely publicized, some insist saintly,
God-like of those who adopt orphans, even if money is exchanged for babies.
really began after the Korean War, when American GI’s left numerous orphans
with their poverty-stricken mothers; then Korean and American-Asian orphans
were brought here to be adopted in the United States.After that, Americans adopted thousands of
children from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.There is no bigger adopter.In 2002 alone, U.S. families adopted over
20,000 children from various Third World nations.
The overall topic of
adoption begged one question for me. “Wait, how do adoptees feel?”No one had asked me when I was young or
old.I wanted this answered so I dug in.
An adoptee movement makes
headlines these days.Adoptive parents
are usually shocked to hear their adopted child say they need to know who they
are and what happened.
My Alaskan Native-Celtic
friend Anecia says, “The power of identity is stronger than fear.” That’s a
powerful statement about adoption, yes.Anecia went full circle as an adoptee and met her birth mom and
dad.Her adoptive dad helped her.
The reality is adoptees
do have a strong biological curiosity. It’s awful scary not to know who you
are.My first goal was discovery —how I lived a mystery and solved it,
and I survived spiritually intact and remarkably well.Other Split Feathers need to know how this is
possible, even after our pain.
This memoir is not about
my recovery from depression or addiction or self-mutilation or suicide
attempts, not at all.Apparently
adoptees do suffer from these more than the rest of humanity.
Facing my own situation
head-on, what choice did I have? I was an abandoned baby—it was my initiation into being human.
Continuing with Blog Week: What bothers you about the Adoption Establishment?
I found a website (http://starcasm.net/archives/145898) that featured teens who used Bethany Christian Services. Teens are not educated about Birth Psychology or the life-long health effects of trauma on the infant who is given up for adoption. What bothers me? How the adoption industry plants propaganda to influence teens and we can see their profits are their priority, not keeping young families intact.
Catelynn Lowell and now-fiance Tyler Baltierra made the tough decision to give their baby daughter up for adoption. But in this commercial unearthed by Starcasm, they say the time was made easier by adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services.
At first, we were both really nervous," Catelynn says. But, "Bethany cares a lot about the birth parents ... they'll help the birth parents through anything." "When you walk into that office and talk to one of the counselors, the feeling you get is warmth and care," Tyler adds.
In Indian Country, young children are raised by aunties and grandmas if mothers cannot - that practice has been going on for centuries - Everyone is your relative in your tribe so kinship adoption was not destructive or disruptive to the child.
America's Adoption Industry cannot grasp the importance of keeping families intact....Trace
Meeting and getting to know my sister Teresa was the greatest gift in my life. I met her in 1994 when I met my dad Earl for the first time. She died yesterday at age 50.
I always wanted a sister and she was the very best for the past 18 years. I will be attending her funeral and conclude BLOG WEEK "Adoption Establishment" with this.
Getting to meet siblings is life-changing.
Knowing my first family and siblings helped me go full circle on my adoption journey to healing.
Finding family who looked like me and loved me unconditionally was priceless.
I am glad I never gave up the search for my first family. My reunion happened 16 years after I started looking for them. I don't regret opening my adoption, despite the laws that prevented me and unwritten rules that said I should never search because it would hurt my adoptive parents.
Adoptees, please start your search if you haven't. FIND YOUR FAMILY! Write your legislators and tell them to open your adoption records. Contact Soaring Angels on Yahoo Groups and get your non-id paperwork. Don't wait, start today.
(I have a few more BLOG WEEK posts scheduled in the next few days)
BLOG WEEK: What annoys me about the Adoption Establishment continues...
TOXIC STRESS is an integral part of adoption in my mind. The Adoption Establishment doesn't mention effects on the baby who is orphaned and put up for adoption. That annoys me!
Being adopted affected my health as a child and as an adult. I call myself Super-Sensitive....the trauma of being abandoned is one of the greatest pains you will ever feel and impossible to heal...
Adoptees are truly a unique and diverse
group. Some adoptees know they were traumatized as babies and now are plagued with
emotional and physical problems...A few adoptees I know were adopted as
children so they spent time with the natural mother, and many were
I did not spend any time with my
natural mother and went directly to an orphanage. By the time I was adopted, I
was a wreck. How do I know this? My parent’s memories and home movies. My
immune system struggled continuously, and I struggle with adult allergies. You
name it: weeds, grass, molds, dust, trees, and many foods.
I admit I was running on high speed as
a kid and taxed my adrenals to the max. When you’re in a heightened state of
fear, in my case, this is called the fight or flight response. Doctors call it adrenal overload.
In an earlier blog I posted
information about the ACE STUDY and how childhood stress becomes an adult
Now this: "Could your
flight-or-fight response be giving you cancer?"
That question is answered by Alice Wessendorf on the Healthier
Alice: "When you find yourself in a difficult situation, hormones are
released that up your heart rate, quicken your breathing, narrow your vision
and, in general, prepare your body to clash or dash.
"This process, known as the fight-or-flight response, is supposed to save
your life. But it turns out that it may also be giving you cancer.
"We already knew that this stress response could increase the risk for
illnesses like heart disease. But now, new research out of the University of Texas points to stress hormones directly
supporting tumor growth and spread.
"They do this by flipping the switch on the stress- activated protein
known as focal adhesion kinase (FAK). FAK protects the detached cancer cells
from dying. Allowing them to spread through your blood system finding places to
re-attach and grow new tumors.
"And, as you may have already guessed, the higher your stress hormones are
the higher your FAK levels become and the quicker tumors can grow and spread.
"So what can be done to stop the spread? Reducing the stress hormones
circulating in your system is critical. You can't rid yourself of your natural
fight-or-flight response. But what you can do is manage your stress
The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health hosted an event to discuss the long term toxic stress consequences on children.
From the Summary:
Evidence suggests that for the youngest children, prolonged or severe exposure to abuse, neglect and economic hardship – exacerbated by a dearth of stable, supportive relationships with adults – can provoke a “toxic stress response” with lifelong consequences. Such stress may influence brain development and increase the risk for illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. While efforts have been made for decades to intervene early in children’s lives, the results have not always been resounding.
“What the science is telling us is that what happens early on affects lifelong health… So this is a game-changer for how the policy deals with toxic stress. This is for the health committees as much as it’s for the education committees. It’s as much for the Secretary of Public Health as it is for the Secretary of Education because what happens early on affects both, lifelong.” - Jack Shonkoff, Director, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and Professor of Child Health and Development, Harvard School of Public Health
“Rather than saying to the parents, ‘You are a problem,’ what we have to say to the parents is, ‘There are some things going on in your life that are having a tremendous effect on you and your child. Let’s see if we can figure out a way to help and make that situation better.’" - Robert Block, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
“There is no silver bullet solution here. I think it really requires us having a more systemic look at the well-being of our kids and putting that front and center. So our Administration is going to remain committed to that goal. “ - Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, The White Houses
Link to videos: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/forum/toxic-stress-of-early-childhood-adversity.cfm
Quote: Note that almost all adoption corruption -- whether coercion of first parents to
relinquish, persuading non-infertile folks to become adoptive parents, or
persuading the general public or anyone in particular of the absolute goodness
of international adoption in spite of facts to the contrary -- involves persuading
people of a strong belief system (whose foundations have been laid for decades
in our popular culture) and then reinforcing that strong belief system. This
belief system is often at odds with other knowledge, emotions, and values and
often requires the suspension of the usual protections of questioning
assumptions, and using research and critical thinking to evaluate truth claims.
About their blog: Why These Fleas Bite
Desiree: In 1998 my husband David and I adopted a sibling
group of two older girls from India.
Within six weeks of their arrival, our new daughters, who were severely
emotionally traumatized, told us they had been stolen from their
For six long and difficult years, our agency, though asked to do so
repeatedly, failed to investigate our daughters allegations.
Finally, on our own with the help of an Indian activist for the poor, we
found our daughters' birthfamily and confirmed their disturbing story.
Despite all this there has yet to be so much as an apology from our agency,
and certainly no justice. Not for our daughters. Not for our daughters' first
parents. Not for ourselves.
It seems that NO ONE CARES about this crime.
Our US agency--which has not disputed the facts of the case--says that it
bears no legal responsibility even if, like we say, they helped place stolen
children in our home.
Our pleas to both the Indian and US governments have fallen on what appears
to be deaf ears, and therefore, we assume, uncaring ears. The state office which
licenses our agency has a phone machine for complaints; apparently they do not
return phone calls--at least ours was never returned.
Meanwhile, the Indian orphanage director has been jailed three times on child
trafficking related charges. He is currently trying to be relicensed yet
We have been left to ask the questions:
1) How could this have happened? Was our case simply a rare happenstance or
could there be specific flaws--specific or systemic--in the system that have
allowed/caused it to happen?
2) Why is it that no one cares about this kind of crime?
This blog represents some of the answers we've found to these questions. It
also is shares the ongoing answers as we continue to learn.
Flea bites are simply individual incidents of exposing the reality of
international adoption practices--one example, one practice, one analysis, one
real-life experience, one proposed remedy, and one "big picture" at a time.
If our insignificant flea bites can save other families the extreme pain that
our daughters, our daughters' first family, and our own family have endured,
these flea bites will not be in vain. To find out more about Desiree's family's adoption follow the
following link. NPR's"
Adoption in America Series: An Adoption Gone Wrong, July 24, 2007
Their advice: Tell Bad Stories http://fleasbiting.blogspot.com/2007/02/corruption-item-17-tell-bad-stories.html
Now is the time to share these posts with your friends AND sign up and subscribe to these blogs (via email) - and the greatest thing you can do is retweet, share on Facebook and comment - every blogger LOVES that!
I love my readers very much - and you adoptees teach me every day and I appreciate you all! ...Trace
“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
SHOTGUN ADOPTION http://www.thenation.com/article/shotgun-adoption?page=0,0 This article is from 2009 but offers an interesting insider view of the Adoption Agencies agenda and their role in coercion of young women to relinquish their babies, instead of supporting them so they can keep their child.
Carol Jordan, a 32-year-old pharmacy technician, was living in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1999 when she became pregnant. She'd already decided against abortion, but she was struggling financially and her boyfriend was unsupportive. Looking through the Yellow Pages for help, she spotted an ad under "crisis pregnancies" for Bethany Christian Services.
Within hours of calling, Jordan (who asked to be identified with a pseudonym) was invited to Bethany's local office to discuss free housing and medical care. Bethany, it turned out, did not simply specialize in counseling pregnant women. It is the nation's largest adoption agency, with more than eighty-five offices in fifteen countries.
...instances of coercion in adoption stretch back nearly seventy years.
...CPCs (Crisis Pregnancy Centers) might persuade reluctant women by casting adoption as redemption for unwed mothers' "past failures" and a triumph over "selfishness, an 'evil' within themselves."
...CPCs were wary of looking like "baby sellers"...
Care Net runs 1,160 CPCs nationwide and partners with Heartbeat International to host a national CPC hot line.
... National Council for Adoption (NCFA), the most prominent adoption lobby group in the country, in the company of other benefactors like Bethany; Texas maternity home giant Gladney; the Good Shepherd Sisters, a Catholic order serving "young women of dissolute habits"; and the Mormon adoption agency LDS Family Services.
The federally funded NCFA has a large role in spreading teachings like these through its Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program, a Department of Health and Human Services initiative it helped pass in 2000 that has promoted adoption to nearly 18,000 CPC, school, state, health and correctional workers since 2002.
MY MISSION today
is to answer that question! Ok,
so why does the adoption establishment bug the heck out of me?
Here is my Top 5.
1- (Lack of) Disclosure
- Old archaic laws are on the books in many states and it seems every state is having
some kind of major meltdown or fiscal crisis. Adoptees who are fighting to gain access to
our birth records can’t seem to grab their attention or warrant the lawmaker’s
time or serious consideration - unless maybe the lawmaker is an adoptee.
Yup, we know adoptees are low on the totem pole and status
meter and that annoys me.
What are “they” thinking? Oh, it’s obvious - the status
quo - let’s not rock the boat, just leave the law as is and let's not disclose information
every adoptee needs and deserves, and definitely let’s not disturb the Adoption
Industry who lobbies Wash. DC with fancy dinners and big campaign
contributions. (Lack of medical history is a huge problem for many adoptees, including me)
I can hear the lobbyist pounding on their tables, “adoptees
should be grateful they were adopted.”
The adoption industry is a billion dollar business and they don’t want to lose a
single dollar in profits. It’s about money. Even now, the adoption industry does
not appreciate adoptees or ask how we feel or acknowledge what we endured. We
are not invited to sit at their table or join in discussions. That really bugs me!
2- Secrecy - Over
and over and over “they” claim our natural mothers demanded secrecy yet many mothers
who lost children after closed adoptions are saying, “damn the secrecy, damn the laws, where are
Uniting all these mothers with all the adoptees on the
same stage, fighting the discrimination, shame, secrecy and old laws would be
Sadly it seems both are on their own warpath to be heard.
Uniting our voices on this issue - especially
natural mothers and adoptees who have been silenced for too long - is what is urgently
needed. Big crowds marching on Washington DC would get "their" attention.
Blogs (my favorites are listed in the right column) are enlightening
the world to our plight. Using our voices, activism and blogging for change is
are denied our basic human rights to the truth of our ancestry, our tribe(s), our birth name,
our family names, our background (which is our identity), our medical history,
our original birth certificate (OBC) and information about both our natural parents.
I noticed writing my memoir how adoptees will say they
are looking for their mothers -- but we do have a dad somewhere and possibly
siblings - and we do need to know who they are and where they are! Adoptees
need to add “dad and siblings” to their list of needs when facing adoption industry
discrimination and current adoption laws.
The bias in the adoption industry is to protect the
adoptive parents and seal our identity so no one will ever find out the truth.
That deeply annoys me.
If you are Native American, you cannot be enrolled
without documentation and proof. If you are a Split Feather/adoptee, you not
only lose your identity but your treaty rights and all that goes along with
being an enrolled tribal member. Just remember your identity is Native American
with or without tribal enrollment. We
must unite and form a national organization to teach about the government’s
use of closed adoption to hurt and destroy American Indian families and cripple
Identification Cards? Yup, as of 2005 more states will implement this new
country-wide identification card. And guess what? Adoptees who cannot produce a real
birth certificate (OBC) may (let me stress “MAY”) not be able to renew a driver’s
license, vote, or apply for or renew a passport. That scares me and bugs me
equally! Those ignorant lawmakers who wrote the Real ID Act of 2005 (and passed
it) didn’t consider adoptees or how this would affect us? We pay
them big salaries because they represent us. What were they thinking? They were not thinking of adoptees, perhaps 10 million of us in the USA.
5 -Gratitude- Over and over I hear adoptees say - almost by script - how grateful they were
to be adopted by their parents. I call this our gratitude attitude. We get
stuck there mentally and it’s hard to move on to empowering ourselves to regain
our birth rights and identity. I know my gratitude silenced me. Gratitude
meant I could not talk to my adoptive parents about anything - how I felt, what
I planned to do, or even ask them questions about my adoption file. Laws prevented me from knowing anything about myself and my first family.
AND I found
out my new parents were not really informed when they adopted me in 1957. They had
basic information like I was illegitimate, how my mom was unmarried.
adoption file didn’t include medical history. Really. Apparently the adoption
industry didn’t think about the child at all when compiling information for the
adoption hearing. It was about convenience and expedience for adoptive parents. Really. Looking back the adoption industry should be so embarrassed
and horrified they didn’t get our medical history when they “sold” us to our new
So, what about the Adoption Establishment annoys you? Please
leave a comment.
Native parents face extraordinary hurdles in keeping
their children—including cultural misunderstandings and legal barriers that are
unimaginable to many non-Native people. In this second decade of the
21st century, American Indian children in states across the country
are still taken from their families and placed in foster care or adoptive homes
at a much higher rate than other kids—just as they were before the passage of
the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal statute intended to help keep
Native families intact.
In Alaska, Native
children make up 20 percent of the child population but 51 percent of those a
state agency has placed in foster care; Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, North
Dakota and Washington also have highly skewed numbers. In Minnesota, the
percentage of Native children in foster care isn’t just high, it’s gotten worse
in recent years. “Disproportionalities exist nationwide at every stage in the
process, starting right from the initial reports of possible abuse or neglect of
a Native child,” says Kristy Alberty, Cherokee, spokeswoman for the National
Indian Child Welfare Association.
As those who read this blog are aware, the removal of Indian Children was supposed to end with the ICWA of 1978 and sadly, it's still a crisis and unacceptable. Poverty is a powerful weapon and is still being used against Indian people. Trace
By Susan Perry
With the Catholic bishops much in the news lately – as they protest what they see as politics intruding into their religious life – I’d like to offer another perspective.
For the past 10 years, as I have testified in Trenton for the Adoptee Birthright Bill, I have watched as religious interests have violated my civil rights in a very personal way. Every year, the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops lobbies to defeat an adoption reform bill that would allow adoptees, as adults, to secure their original birth certificates (OBCs). This opposition is based on unfounded fears and misinformation.
The bishops do have money, however, and they are significant players in New Jersey’s political arena.
First, a little background. Currently, an adopted adult in New Jersey has no right, by law, to his or her OBC. When a child is adopted, a new “amended” certificate is issued that lists the adoptive parents as the child’s mother and father. It doesn’t matter why an adoptee might need or desire to know her own roots – her only recourse at present is to initiate a search that often requires a lot of time and money.One would think from the Bishops’ unyielding stance on this issue that the idea of adult adoptee access is new and untested. Yet England opened its records to adult adoptees in 1975. The states of Kansas and Alaska never sealed adoptees’ birth certificates. Alabama reinstated access in 2000, having only sealed records from adoptees in 1991. Oregon approved an access law in 1998, which took effect in June of 2000. New Hampshire’s access law took effect in 2005, and Maine’s in 2009. Rhode Island’s governor signed an access bill into law last summer.
Here’s what we know from the collected data. By 2011 in Oregon, 10,410 adoptees had applied for and received their OBCs. Eighty-five birth parents requested no contact during that time period, and not one complaint was issued about an adoptee approaching a birth parent against his or her will. In New Hampshire, 1,315 adoptees received their OBCs from 2005 through 2011, while just 12 birth parents requested no contact. In the two years after Maine enacted its bill, 848 adoptees received their OBCs, and eight birth parents requested no contact.In view of these statistics, the Bishops’ claim that adult adoptee access violates the privacy of birth mothers is absurd.
Even opponents of access admit that there was never any legal provision assuring a birth mother that her identity would remain a “forever” secret to her offspring. And data from NJ DYFS shows that 95 percent of birth mothers are open to contact from their relinquished children. In place of adult adoptee access bills, which have been upheld upon appeal by the Supreme Courts of Tennessee and Oregon, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals (6th District), the Bishops suggest mutual consent registries or confidential intermediaries. Yet registries have been found repeatedly not to work – New York State has had one since 1984, and 95 percent of registrants are still waiting for a match.
The intermediary system is degrading and fundamentally unfair – a fact that perhaps only those who have experienced it can appreciate.I used one and had to pay $400 for the service – to try to retrieve a birth record that technically belongs to me. Obviously, I never signed any contract approving the practice of sealed and amended records, and we have plenty of information to show that the system does not serve an adoptee well. I resented the fact that I was not permitted to conduct my personal affairs on my own. I am not a child, yet the process placed me in a child-like position. My agency was lukewarm about adoptee access and was therefore not very accommodating. Eventually, I abandoned the intermediary process and found my birth mother with the help of a private investigator. For the record, she is that woman the opposition says it wishes to protect. She had never told anyone about me except for her own mother, and she did not wish to have continuing contact. She was, however, willing to share medical and personal information that would be helpful to me, and the data tells us the vast majority of women would be willing to do the same. Lack of genetic information can be life threatening, and there is no rational reason to force adoptees to live in the Dark Ages going forward.
The facts show adoptions increase, and abortions decrease, with more openness. Kansas, which never sealed its records, has always had a lower abortion rate and a higher per capita adoption rate than the four states surrounding it.
The Bishops’ position is unreasonable and insulting to every member of the adoption triad. It is insulting to me, to my dear mother and father who raised me to become a sensitive and responsible adult, and to my birth mother, who the Bishops depict as a helpless child in need of protective custody. Perhaps most telling is that many Catholic women who have worked in the adoption field do not agree with the Bishops’ stance. In 1992, the executive directors of Catholic Charities in all five dioceses of NJ recommended to the NJ Catholic Conference of Bishops that adult adoptees be allowed access to their OBCs with no strings attached.
The Bishops rejected the recommendation then, and this past June, they urged Governor Christie to reject the access bill that had passed in both the Senate and Assembly by substantial margins. The governor’s “conditional” veto gutted the bill, as the Bishops and other opponents had requested, and replaced it with an expensive and unworkable confidential intermediary system. So when the Catholic Bishops complain about their religious convictions being violated, my response to them is this: Will you continue to trample on my civil rights and the rights of other adult adoptees to secure their own birth records this legislative cycle? Will you continue to support an outdated system of secrecy and lies that serves less than one percent of those who actually live adoption? Or will you show compassion, study the literature, and advocate for the civil rights of those who do not possess the political power that you do?
Susan Perry is a member of NJCARE, an adoptee's rights advocacy organization
Let me add this quote from a student protest at Brown University in Rhode Island many years ago: "Keep your rosaries off our ovaries." Trace
NONFICTION: "Rez Life," by David Treuer StarTribune.com At the book's heart is the reservation, "the paradoxically least and most American place in the 21st century," the land and communities that endure as places of Indian control and identity. "Most often rez life is associated with tragedy," he writes, yet "what one finds on reservations is more than scars, tears, blood, and noble sentiment. There is beauty in Indian life. ... We love our reservations." Treuer embeds these ideas within stories about modern Indians. Among those he portrays: Dan and Dennis Jones -- forced to go to a Canadian boarding school where they were raped by an Indian man hired as a "role model" -- now strong, healed men who are helping others rise above trauma. Helen Bryan Johnson, whose refusal to pay $147 in taxes on her reservation trailer home led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed casinos to flourish. Brooke Mosay Amman, an Ojibwe educator cut out of tribal membership by "blood quantum" rules that Treuer sees as the worst way to define an Indian. And, most personally and painfully, his 83-year-old grandfather, Eugene Seelye, a D-day veteran who killed himself in 2007. "Rez Life" is not just about Indians, but about America. "You can tell a lot about America, about its sins and ideals, by looking at ... a kind of American who was supposed to have died out a long time ago," Treuer writes.In the end, he concludes: "We might just make it." This impassioned, important book may well help make it so. Pamela Miller is a Star Tribune night metro editor.
One Small Sacrifice is a must read for anyone touched by adoption. I couldn't put this book down from the moment I started reading it. Trace DeMeyer has captured the heart and soul of life as an adoptee brought into a culture not originally her own. The importance of adoptees knowing who they are and where they come from is paramount to their mental, physical and spiritual wellness. She points out many reasons why people feel complete when they have their original identity, not just the identity given to them by their adopted parents. Millions of adult adoptees across the United States are without their original identity because of sealed birth certificates and Trace takes the readers along her journey to understanding who she is and where it all began for her.
(Paula Benoit, former State Senator in Maine, helped Maine unseal their adoption records) (see more great reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!)