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Standing Rock

Friday, February 25, 2011

The unhappy politics of interracial adoption (1989)

[SOURCE: U.S. News & World Report, November 13, 1989]

“…Unfortunately, the world of interracial adoption is governed by a tangle of emotions and public policies that defy simple logic. The adoption community today is haunted by a bitter debate over whether interracial adoptions rob children of their cultural heritage, sowing identify crises and low self-esteem. A small but vocal group, led by the National Association of Black Social Workers, goes so far as to assert that interracial adoptions are “cultural genocide” and that only a black family can equip a black child with the psychological armor needed to fight racial prejudice.

“No one disputes that, everything else being equal, matching the racial and ethnic backgrounds of children to their adoptive families would be preferable. But due to the decreasing stigma of bearing children out of wedlock and a surfeit of Third World orphans, the number of non-white babies available for adoption has soared in recent years.

“Of the 60,000 children adopted by U.S. families in 1988, about 20,000 were minority children and about 10,000 of them were from abroad, estimates William Pierce, president of the national Committee for Adoption, a research and lobbying group. But while there are a hundred applicants for every healthy white infant in the United States, thousands of black, Hispanic and Third World babies still are going homeless. With such a statistical mismatch to contend with, social-service agencies’ traditional notions of what constitutes a “model” adoption are increasingly impractical.

“…For Native American children, a longstanding dispute over interracial adoption was resolved legislatively, but some troubling issues persist. The children fall under the jurisdiction of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, passed into law because tribes felt they were being used as baby breeders by child-welfare agencies and state courts. The law generally gives tribal courts exclusive power to make custody and foster-care decisions for children considered legal residents of a reservation. But critics, including Pierce of the National Committee for Adoption, have raised questions about whether the law’s application in thousands of custody cases best serves the interests of Indian children or merely gives tribes extra clout in their quest to remain independent and self-governing.

[I will be publishing more of my research (since 2004) in coming days on this blog...Trace]

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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.

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Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

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ADOPTION TRUTH

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.

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