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Monday, November 20, 2017

On overcoming hardships

Submitted Photo
Dr. Don Bartlette visited Minot State Nov. 1, to begin the Native American Cultural Celebration month. Bartlette spoke on the one person in his community who helped him overcome hardships through love, acceptance and compassion.

Dr. Don Bartlette (in pohoto) visited Minot State Nov. 1, to begin the Native American Cultural Celebration month. Bartlette spoke on the one person in his community who helped him overcome hardships through love, acceptance and compassion.

Bartlette, author of “Macaroni at Midnight,” spoke in his autobiography about his childhood being a Native American living off the reservation in poverty. Bartlette suffered from school and family violence, racism, child abuse and living in an environment of alcoholism.

He was able to overcome his disadvantages with the help of someone in his community who showed him unconditional love, acceptance and compassion to become a success in life.

“These events will provide opportunities to learn about our indigenous people, their lives and how they got to where they are today – successful,” Annette Mennem, MSU’s Native American Center director, said.

When asked why November, Mennem said that in the 1990s, then President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November the National American Indian Heritage month, which Minot State now calls the Native American Celebration.

“I celebrate daily being indigenous and being Ojibway or Anishnaabe (the original people),” Mennem said.

While November isn’t exactly symbolic to Native American culture, Mennem said the Ojibway call the month “gashkadino-giizis” or “Ice is Forming Moon.”  November is also a time where they say “Happy Harvest” and give thanks for blessings from Mother Earth, Sister and Brother Moon, and Father Sky.  These are Ojibway tradition and may differ for other tribes, according to Mennem.
Keep reading

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Major grant to help reunify Native American families: Melanie Sage will study states’ compliance

Melanie Sage will study states’ compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act and develop materials to improve communication among all stakeholders

By Bert Gambini | November 14, 2017

Melanie Sage, assistant professor of social work
Melanie Sage
“There are no measures to ensure the courts and child welfare systems abide by the law, which says that we should take extra steps to make sure indigenous children remain with their families because of a history of government interventions that have broken up Native families.”
Melanie Sage, assistant professor of social work, University at Buffalo in New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A University at Buffalo social work researcher will use a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to gather evidence and produce resources to improve the services state agencies offer to Native American families involved in child welfare cases.

The HHS’s Administration for Children and Families originally awarded the funding to Melanie Sage, an assistant professor in UB’s School of Social Work, when she was a faculty member at the University of North Dakota. She has received permission to formally transfer the grant to UB.

“This continues to be a close collaboration with University of North Dakota, but I’ll be supervising the project from UB,” she says.

As principal investigator of the five-year project, she says the goal of her team’s work is to increase how well states comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), legislation enacted in 1978 that set federal guidelines for child custody proceedings involving Native American children.

“This law [ICWA] has been around for nearly 40 years and it isn’t upheld well,” says Sage, one of the few social workers in the country studying ICWA implementation and compliance.

“There are no measures to ensure the courts and child welfare systems abide by the law, which says that we should take extra steps to make sure indigenous children remain with their families because of a history of government interventions that have broken up Native families.”

ICWA is a controversial law that private adoption attorneys have challenged, arguing that the legislation is race-based. But Sage clarifies that it’s a child’s membership in a tribal nation that determines protection in ICWA cases, similar to procedures used when U.S. families adopt children from countries.

But unlike working relationships with other countries, a history of mistrust and the strain of poor communication weakens dealings between social service agencies and tribal governments.

“It’s states and court systems that have not done well in this area,” says Sage. “We’ve identified many of the roadblocks to successful implementation of ICWA, things like child welfare workers who don’t understand what must be done on a case in order to abide by the law. Or courts that don’t know who to notify within tribes to help reunify families.”

When Sage originally moved to North Dakota it was clear that one of the state’s top child welfare concerns was that Native American children represented 40 percent of the children in foster care, while comprising only 10 percent of the population.

Those alarming statistics led the North Dakota Supreme Court to issue a call for proposals to help the justices understand what might be responsible for the disproportionality and the associated poor compliance with ICWA.

That experience improving internal court processes, a three-year undertaking from 2011 to 2014, is the foundation for the current grant. But the previous North Dakota research involved a single system, in this instance, the court’s interest in how it might be falling short of its own requirements.

When federal funding became available, Sage saw the chance to work toward full ICWA compliance by pulling many parties together and taking an interdisciplinary approach to improving communication between systems.

“We have Tribal government partners; Tribal social service partners; state-level child welfare partners; and partners in North Dakota at the child welfare training center,” says Sage. “We’re all working to try to improve relationships among those entities because we recognize that policy and practice fall apart because people are not talking to one another about what they’re doing.”
A curriculum to better educate case workers is ready for testing in North Dakota and is will be shared with other states by the end of next year, according to Sage.

Bert Gambini
News Content Manager
Arts and Humanities, Economics, Social Sciences, Social Work
Tel: 716-645-5334

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

10 years already? How has my adoption perception changed? Did we flip the script? #NAAM2017

POSTED in 2014 - UPDATED in 2017 for National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM)

Trace (adoptee) and her Ojibwe friend Desi in high school

By Trace Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

If you had asked me in 2004 what I had planned for myself, I would have not said “writing” about adoption and child trafficking. I had just left my editor’s job at the Pequot Times in Connecticut in August and by September I was married, my second time. How life changed so dramatically for me is documented in my memoir in much greater detail.

First off, I am not a leader of adoptees/Lost Birds/SplitFeathers. I am an adoptee, a storyteller who happens to be a journalist.

Second, I do help adoptees (Native and non-Native) connect with one another. There are plenty of adoptees with leadership skills, like my friend Levi EagleFeather and Sandy WhiteHawk, both are Lakota. If adoptees need ceremony, they are the people to approach. I am a bridge and can help you reach them.

Third, I am an adoptee myself so I know what I went through. And I write about it in great detail but that doesn't make me an expert. I do feel like I have an advanced degree in adoption after 10+ years of reading and writing on this topic.

Now it doesn’t seem possible that 10 13 years zoomed by so fast – it’s like a time tornado hit.  I didn't have any idea my skills would be put to use in this way. I am humbled and deeply grateful to Wakan Tanka.

Since I started American Indian Adoptees, now I know many bloggers on adoption (and many are good friends to me). We had hoped we’d made a strong and lasting impact by now.  We knew:

The adoptee voice was missing. 

Chapters of history were blank. The change I worked for: giving voice to adoptees and writing that chapter, and I did what I could. There are four books in the Lost Children Book Series. A new second edition of TWO WORLDS is coming out soon - updated!

Changing adoption? I had that dream myself.  I am not sure we can actually gauge or measure how worldviews of adoption have changed. States still have adoption files sealed tight. Are they hiding something? Are they afraid of a massive uprising of adoptees? (There are an estimated 7 million of us, maybe more!) Are they afraid we'll find out adoption agencies and churches were trafficking in children? For a profit?

The governments of Canada and America have much to fear.

Other changes? If books on Amazon are an indication, adoptee memoirs are now climbing the ranks over all the propaganda books about how to adopt a baby.

If the statistics on adoption are any indication, the number of babies adopted by Americans are dropping each and every year. There is definitely a demand for infants (primarily because of infertility) but there is still a short supply of newborn flesh to adopt.  (I do believe the adoption traffickers are constantly reinventing new ways to grab a fresh supply of infants. Think of what new poor countries or communities they will invade as the demand increases!! Propaganda will change.)

Will there be more adoptees coming? If Indian Country is still poor, poverty-stricken and a Third World, YES!

What hasn’t changed are adoption laws, sealed adoption files or the old archaic views of promised secrecy and confidentiality for first mothers.

Haven’t we moved past shaming women for unwed pregnancies? Yes, but not enough, apparently.  Lawmakers are still being wined and dined by adoption agency lobbyists so I don’t expect to see much change in the laws – but I hope I am wrong.

What I’d hoped would change faster is the perception of adoption, that it’s not as great and wonderful for adoptees as the public was made to believe.  (In fact, vocal adoptees have changed everything in that regard.) As much as I’ve read in these past 10+ years, blogs and books changed me beyond recognition!  Many times I emailed legislators (like in New Jersey and Illinois) and offered my memoir (as a free book) hoping they would see the light and change existing adoption laws. Maybe it helped?

The big question: Open Adoption--when adoption is necessary--is also an indication that times are changing! But we have a long way to go…This is a quote I saved about open adoption:
…ignored by the adoption agencies is the reality of “open adoption.” Only 22 of fifty states in America recognize open adoption agreements, but failure of the adoptive parents to comply with the agreement is not legally enforceable by the surrendering mother.  (It is failing from many accounts I have read.)
There are many excellent writers making profound statements too.
A quote by adoptee-author-blogger Elle Cuardaigh: 

And adoption certainly is “worked.” When supply of newborns decreased in the 1970s, the adoption industry had to put a new spin on relinquishment  to stay in business. Since women could not be so easily shamed by single motherhood, they changed tactics. Potential suppliers (pregnant women) are now encouraged to “make an adoption plan.” She reads the “Dear Birthmother” letters and interviews hopeful adoptive parents. She is provided with medical care and possibly even housing.  She is promised this is her choice, and that she can have ongoing contact with her child in an open adoption. It would seem she has all the power, but she is being systematically conditioned to accept her role, her place. She doesn’t want to hurt the baby’s “real parents,” feels indebted to them, emotionally invested. She is soon convinced they are better than she is. She becomes “their birthmother.” It almost guarantees relinquishment.  READ Elle’s blog and new book THE TANGLED RED THREAD.  Or visit:

Read any and all posts at THE LIFE OF VON. (Von is now on hiatus)

Powerful WRITING!

The number of excellent powerful blogs and books and articles by adoptees and first parents (and even some APs) exploded in the past 10 years. In 2017, that is fading - far fewer than three years ago.

Helping to writing and publish four books about the Indian Adoption Projects and Programs and contributing to books like ADOPTIONLAND certainly changed me.

In 2014, #FliptheScript in November really moved people - tweets and comments were flying everywhere, some good, some not so good. Discussion is still needed and the people who need to hear adoptees out are the ones we don't reach that well: ADOPTIVE PARENTS. They have their own fog to lift.

Last but not least: I am happily shocked this blog AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES reached over 285,000 700,000 hits! If that is any indication, times really are a changin’.  Thanks to all the people who comment and read and subscribe!

There are thousands of Lost Children/Adoptees who are Native American. They are still out there. I hope they find this blog!

There are two things I hope to see for Lost Bird Adoptees: A class action lawsuit in the US on behalf of those children who were taken from their tribes because of the gov't programs (IAP and ARENA) and admitting PUBLICLY it happened with a declaration of this FACT.

I never would have guessed my life would move in the direction it did. I want to thank those brave bloggers and hundreds of adoptees who have inspired me so much over past 10+ years.

So what will the next 10 years be like? I don’t have a clue.

60s Scoop: Sharing their stories #NAAM

Shaun Ladue

Shaun Ladue calls himself the “survivor of a horrific childhood.” Adopted into a white family at the age of 3, Ladue, 48, says he endured abuse while growing up in Watson Lake, Yukon. So, at 14, Ladue left and never went back. He later became the first child in care in the Yukon to graduate high school and go on to university. And despite grappling with mental health issues for more than a decade, he’s “put all that behind” him and has reconnected with members of his biological family.
Looking back, Ladue recalls hearing the wind blowing in his backyard as a child — a unique, comforting sound he’s never heard anywhere else. “I now think on that wind, my ancestors were speaking to me, and they were giving me the strength to survive day-by-day abuse and ridicule,” Ladue says.

For three decades across Canada, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes and adopted.

KEMPTVILLE — The scent of tobacco and sage fills the air as members of Canada’s aboriginal communities gather around a fire on the shores of the Rideau River.

Each takes a turn fanning medicinal smoke towards their bodies in a cleansing smudging ritual. Then, one by one, the 40 or so attendees of this Indigenous Adoptee Gathering introduce themselves to the group. Some are from Ontario, others from Manitoba or the Yukon. Some are Cree, others Métis or Ojibway.

Most are members of a stolen generation.

Beginning in the mid-1960s — and for several decades after — thousands of indigenous children across Canada were removed from their homes and typically placed with white middle-class families in Canada and abroad.

Patrick Johnston, author of the 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System, dubbed it the Sixties Scoop.

Here is the link to the 60s Scoop story, photos, profiles and video in the Toronto Star HERE

History of Indian Boarding Schools

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lost Daughters: Cricket (Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel) by Susan Fedorko

BOOK REVIEW Lost Daughters: Cricket (Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel) by Susan Fedorko

Suzie learns, much to her amazement, that she is the daughter of the first Native American 1960’s supermodel, Cathee Dahmen. I can only imagine the shock and surprise this revelation would bring in mid-life.

Susan is a an everyday hero to other adoptees, but also to anyone who has ever wondered about where they came from and had the courage to open the door to find out.

You can order Susan’s book here.

Suzie also contributed her story in the anthology TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, with an update in the next anthology CALLED HOME: The RoadMap.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

This is so important. Adoptees do numb their feelings and some have emotional difficulty. Trauma is like that.

Please seek help if you find yourself numbing and shutting down.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Evolution of Birth Certificates #OBC

It's November Adoption Awareness Month. Some call it Be-Wareness Month.

Adoptees are expressing the same concerns about descendants being able to connect the dots when researching their ancestry. Because two birth certificates exist in adoption, there’s no guarantee that the factual one would be released & therefore “searchable” by descendants. This has led many adoptees in the U.S. legally change their names to reflect biological relationships.
Here is a 2015 post about the Evolution of Birth Certificates.

Friday, November 3, 2017


For more than five hundred years, Native communities across the Americas have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of violent efforts to separate them from their land, culture, and each other. They remain at the forefront of movements to protect Mother Earth and the life it sustains. Today, corporate greed and federal policy push agendas to extract wealth from the earth, degrading sacred land in blatant disregard of treaty rights. Acknowledgment is a critical public intervention, a necessary step toward honoring Native communities and enacting the much larger project of decolonization and reconciliation. Join us in adopting, calling for, and spreading this practice. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges releases Indian Child Welfare Act Judicial Benchbook

According to 2015 data, across the U.S., American Indian and Alaskan Native children in out-of-home placement have remained highly disproportionate. American Indian and Alaskan Native children are overrepresented in foster care at nearly 2.7 times their rate in the general population; nearly double the rate in 2000.
Congress enacted ICWA “to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by establishing minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes or institutions which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture.” The standards of ICWA are considered the gold standard for children and families.

READ: The National Council of Juvenile Releases Indian Child Welfare


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November is a month set aside to honor American Indian and Alaska Native heritage

21: The number of states with 100,000 or more American Indian and Alaska Native residents, alone or in combination, in 2016. These states were Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

READ: November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month - Native News Online

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Open Records: Why It’s an Issue

Adult adoptees in all but four states and two commonwealths in the United States (Kansas, Alaska, Oregon, Alabama, Puerto Rico and the U.S.Virgin Islands) and in all Canadian provinces are forbidden unconditional access to their original birth certificates. Outmoded Depression-era laws create “amended” birth certificates that replace the names of the adoptee’s biological parents with those of the adoptive parents as well as frequently falsify other birth information. The adoptee’s original birth certificate and records of adoption are permanently sealed in closed records states by laws passed largely after World War II. These laws are a relic of the culture of shame that stigmatized infertility, out-of-wedlock birth and adoption. Even those adoptees now being raised in open adoptions, in which there is some contact between birth and adoptive families, are not allowed access to their original birth records when they reach adulthood.
In Scotland adoptee records have been open since 1930 and in England since 1975. Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela are only a few of the many nations that do not prevent adult adoptees from accessing their own birth records. The United States and Canada lag far behind the rest of what we used to call the “Free World” in opening closed birth and adoption records to those to whom they pertain. This is largely because well-funded and well-connected lobbies representing certain adoption agencies and lawyers have a vested interest in keeping adoptee records closed. These special interest groups want to continue to deprive adult adoptees of their rights, presumably to prevent the disclosure of controversial past practices such as baby-selling, coercion and fraud which are now hidden by state-sanctioned secrecy.
While many adoptees search for their biological relatives to discover the answers to questions regarding medical history and family heritage, all adoptees should be able to exercise their right to obtain the original government documents of their own birth and adoption whether they choose to search or not. At stake are the civil and human rights of millions of American and Canadian citizens. To continue to abrogate these rights is to perpetuate the stigmatization of illegitimacy and adoption, and the relegation of an entire class of citizens to second-class status.
bastard nation

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Rhymes for Young Ghouls

Why every Canadian should watch

Devery Jacobs plays Alia in Rhymes for Young Ghouls, a revenge tale set in the 70's residential schools era.
Devery Jacobs plays Alia in Rhymes for Young Ghouls, a revenge tale set in the 70's residential schools era. (Jan Thijs)

Across North America

Every. Day.

Every. Day.
adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.


National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

Membership Application Form

The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

Source Link: NICWSN Membership

Read this SERIES

Read this SERIES
click image


As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Our Fault? (no)

Leland at Goldwater Protest


A photo posted by defendicwa (@defendicwa) on