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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stolen Generation (Canada's 60s Scoop)

The Sixties Scoop thirty years later.(cases of adoptions of native children): An article from: Inroads: A Journal of Opinion

From my archives: published at http://www.wrcfs.org/repat/stolennation.htm

For more than 20 years, Canada took Native children from their homes and placed them with white families. Now a lost generation want its history back

BY TOM LYONS

When former Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart made her historic apology to the aboriginal peoples of Canada on Jan. 8, 1998, she singled out native residential schools as the most reprehensible example of Canada's degrading and paternalistic Indian policies. Designed to assimilate native children into English ways and strip them of their language and culture, the schools also became notorious for sickening physical and sexual abuse.

Though none would disagree with Stewart's condemnation of residential schools, which were phased out in the 1960s, some wondered why she didn't also apologize for the equally assimilationist -- if less well-known -- strategy that followed immediately in the schools' wake: the widespread adoption of aboriginal children out to non-native families in the '60s, '70s and early '80s.

Commonly referred to as the Sixties Scoop, the practice of removing large numbers of aboriginal children from their families and giving them over to white middle-class parents was discontinued in the mid-'80s, after Ontario chiefs passed resolutions against it and a Manitoba judicial inquiry harshly condemned it.

The passage of the Child and Family Services Act of 1984 ensured that native adoptees in Ontario would be placed within their extended family, with another aboriginal family or with a non-native family that promised to respect and nurture the child's cultural heritage. Aboriginal peoples also began to play a much greater role in the child welfare agencies that served them, and the numbers of native adoptees in general began to decline as more stayed with their birth parents.

However, the act also dictated that old birth records remain sealed, unless both the birth parent and the child asked for them. This has helped keep the period in darkness and frustrated attempts by adoptees to learn about their roots. Those who now feel they were victimized by the adoption process have an extremely difficult time finding out who they are.

Donna Marchand, a 44-year-old Toronto lawyer, is launching a court challenge against the Harris government to strike down the sealed birth records provisions of the Child and Family Services Act.

An adopted child herself, she recalls being terrorized into denying her origin: "When I was about three-and-a-half, it started coming to my attention that I was adopted. My cousins told me. I was only three years old, but I was aware that I was different. I just didn't fit in. I was getting called a little bastard. And I asked my adopted mother what adoption meant. She said, 'Don't ever say that again -- if your father hears you he'll kill you.' He'd been sitting there in his drunken stupor. He'd go on binges for days.

"I've lived my whole life being native because I was called a squaw. I don't look white enough. And I was in working-class, real WASP, downtown Toronto. I got called a squaw and Donna Wanna, and I got tied to my share of trees and got my hair hacked off."

Marchand's constitutional challenge involves Section 7 and Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to her lawyer, Jennifer Scott. "Section 7 is the right to life, liberty and security of person," says Scott. "And Section 15 is the equality rights. The 15 provisions are that adoptees are sort of a group that is protected. But different communities of adoptees are particularly affected, and it has a tremendous impact on communities like native people -- where they don't know who their mom and dad are, but they're assimilated into families that don't even know their culture, their history, their background. It goes to who they are."

PERMANENT SCARS
Just as the closing of the residential schools did not mean their legacy of suffering instantly vanished, so the end of the Sixties Scoop did not mean that all the native adoptees who were farmed out to abusive or alienating non-native families suddenly found themselves with a clear-cut identity or a secure place in society.

Indeed, many still found themselves not only "torn between two worlds," but literally unsure if they were native at all, and not French or Italian as their adoptive parents claimed. Their birth records were sealed and often amended to include the names of to include the names of the adoptive, rather than biological, parents. Moreover, their adoption records were in many cases inaccurate, incomplete, falsified or simply missing. As a result, many native adoptees who did try to locate their birth parents or confirm their native status wasted literally decades on failed searches or frustrating battles with Children's Aid authorities or Indian Affairs officials.

Suzanne Bezuk, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, says ""non-identifying information" can be made available to adult adoptees without their birth parents' consent.

"And for aboriginal peoples in particular, in the case of native clients, the name of the band and reservation can be provided."

However, aboriginal status and band names were seldom recorded on the original birth and adoption records in the '60s and '70s. So even this "non-identifying information" is rarely available.

Marchand cannot even be sure whether her mother was in fact native. "All I know is, it's very typical for native women, and my Uncle Frank says we're native. And my Aunt June looks native. Me and my two sisters, we look real native. But my mother, she internalized the shame of being a native woman. Look what she put down [on the adoption record]: 'Ethnicity not stated.' It's a shame. A lot of native women don't say, because they were going to lose their babies, and they wanted them to be adopted by good people, and good people weren't going to adopt 'little bastard squaws.' "

Even now, researchers trying to determine exactly how many aboriginal children were removed from their families during the Scoop say the task is all but impossible because adoption records from the '60s and '70s rarely indicated aboriginal status (as they are now required to).

Those records which are complete, however, suggest the adoption of native children by non-native families was pervasive, at least in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. In her March, 1999 report, "Our Way Home: A Report to the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy on the Repatriation of Aboriginal People Removed by the Child Welfare System," author Janet Budgell notes that in the Kenora region in 1981, "a staggering 85 per cent of the children in care were First Nations children, although First Nations people made up only 25 per cent of the population. The number of First Nations children adopted by non-First Nations parents increased fivefold from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. Non-First Nations families accounted for 78 per cent of the adoptions of First Nations children."

Similarly, "One Manitoba community of 800 people lost 150 children to adoption between 1966-1980," reports Budgell, who prepared the report in conjunction with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

Though it is rarely possible to determine precise numbers, the practice of native adoption was widespread enough to be denounced as "cultural genocide" by Edwin C. Kimelman, the presiding judge at the 1985 Manitoba inquiry.

Many native adoptees suffered from not only geographical displacement and cultural confusion but also emotional emptiness, violence, physical and sexual abuse, and drug or alcohol abuse.

"My brother was adopted at four years old," recalls one of the birth relatives of native adoptees interviewed for "Our Way Home." "His adoptive parents divorced when he was 12 and they gave him back to the agency like returning merchandise. His life after that was a living hell of abuse, violence and alcoholism. My brother hanged himself at 20 years old."

Joanne Dallaire is a native adoptee who conducts healing sessions for adoptees at the Anishnawbe Health Centre in Toronto. She too was told by her adoptive family that she wasn't native. "I myself was raised by a non-native, and my whole history was denied. Like in school, I was teased. You know how kids can be rather cruel with each other, and I was called a squaw and stuff like that, and when I'd come home, I'd be like crying and stuff, and they'd say, 'You're not Indian, you're French. So you make sure you tell them you're French.' It was years and years of misinformation."

Dallaire's attempts to find her birth mother or at least learn the truth of her native status began early. "The first time I started searching was when I was 15, so that was 1966. But it wasn't until I was an adult and on my own that I really began to search. I didn't have any proof, either, until 1998. Anishnawbe [native] people would come up to me and say, 'Oh, so you're Anishnawbe.' And I'd say, 'No, no, I'm French.' And I remember one man said to me -- I remember profoundly -- he looked at me and he said, 'Someone's lying to you. You're Anishnawbe.'

"I remember when I got the phone call from the social services department. One of my first questions was: 'Is there native in my background?' So my mother wanted to know how I'd feel about it if I was, and I said, 'Very pleased,' because my whole spirituality and stuff was drawn to native culture. So I've come to find out that I am [First Nations] -- to what degree, I don't know, because my mother is still very evasive about my father. But at least I know part of my heritage is Cree -- James Bay Cree."

Donna Marchand's own search for her birth mother took 16 years through the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Adoption Disclosure Record. When government officials finally contacted her in the spring of 1999, they said her mother had died 26 years earlier.

"It's a big area that most people never even thought of," says Dallaire, "because it goes so quietly and privately. It's not as out there as the residential schools. And because everything's secret, you can literally throw your hands in the air and go, 'Well?' You quickly run up against one wall and then another, so it takes perseverance, like with Donna having to fight and fight again to get what she wants. Most people get battle-weary and never win."

WAS IT GENOCIDE?
According to the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, Justice Kimelman's description of the Sixties Scoop as cultural genocide is accurate. It reads: "Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct people with guarantees against genocide or any other act of violence, including the removal of indigenous children from their families and communities under any pretext."

So why was the wholesale removal of aboriginal children not considered a crime, or even a wrong, that the Minister of Indian Affairs felt obliged to redress along with the residential school system?

The answer isn't that complicated, says Kenn Richard, director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and the man who commissioned the "Our Way Home" report. "British colonialism has a certain process and formula, and it's been applied around the world with different populations, often indigenous populations, in different countries that they choose to colonize," says Richard. "And that is to make people into good little Englishmen. Because the best ally you have is someone just like you. One of the ones you hear most about is obviously the residential schools, and residential schools have gotten considerable media attention over the past decade or so. And so it should, because it had a dramatic impact that we're still feeling today. But child welfare to a large extent picked up where residential schools left off.

"The lesser-known story is the child welfare story and its assimilationist program. And you have to remember that none of this was written down as policy: 'We'll assimilate aboriginal kids openly through the residential schools. And after we close the residential schools we'll quietly pick it up with child welfare.' It was never written down. But it was an organic process, part of the colonial process in general."

Monday, January 24, 2011

OPRAH FAMILY SECRET REVEALED: Patricia

A friend told me to watch Oprah TODAY (she insisted!!) and so I did. I was stunned to hear that Oprah's mother Vernita had a baby she gave up for adoption 47 years ago, and didn't tell anyone, including Oprah.  Today's show revealed their FAMILY SECRET - and their reunion with the adoptee Patricia!
Patricia, a lovely 47 year-old mom from Wisconsin, got her non-identifying information packet along with several clues back in 2007 and she tried to reach out to her natural mom Vernita -- more than once (through the state offices) -- but Vernita said "no contact." (Sound familiar - mine did, too.)
When all the clues and birthdates fit together, Patricia tried to contact her older sister "Oprah" back in 2007 but never had success. Finally Patricia went to a niece in Milwaukee and did DNA and the rest, as they say, is television history. They showed the sisters and family reunited over Thanksgiving in 2010. 
I was actually very disappointed the show was a mere 31 minutes (without commercials) and barely scratched the surface of what Patricia, the adoptee, had endured all her life. She wasn't adopted until age 7 and her years in foster care had to be hard, along with being abandoned, adopted, then rejected by her own mother when she finally found her.
They did not even mention Patricia's natural father. Who is he - Where is he? She will have his entire family to discover, if and when Vernita tells Patricia about him.
I was proud of Patricia who said she'd be sitting somewhere and look around and wonder if they were her family. (I did that, too.) She admitted you feel very alone until you have your own children, or until you find your natural family. Adoptees know this so well.
I am glad Patricia did not give up. (Her story is so like my own.) It hurts me to think of so many adoptees who are desperately trying to find their birthfamily but can't because of consent clauses and sealed records.
We can hope this particular show will help change archaic laws which prevent adoptees from reuniting with relatives. One parent's consent is a bad idea. It is a horrible thing to hear "no contact," and in Patricia's case, she heard it more than once from Vernita.
But she's inherited a delighted famous older sister, Oprah and two happy nieces and their families.
Last and most touching was Oprah's epiphany on air about their mom Vernita who seemed very disconnected right now and frozen in time - 1963. Oprah said she can lift herself out of the shame and release that 1960s mindset, and not fear what others may think.
Oprah used the word "processing" more than once, which is obvious when adoptee and natural family meet for the first time...
No reunion is ever perfect or easy, as I write in my memoir. This family reunion was no different. Reunions are messy and complicated. Every family member will process emotions and it takes time, sometimes years. Sadly and tragically, some natural mothers never embrace their lost child, even in reunion.
It's a shame women like Vernita felt they must hide family secrets. Oprah did a good thing by putting this adoption issue on the front burner and on national television. Oprah did a very good thing, indeed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pandora's Box: Opening an adoption & the stages of search

Opening an adoption is just like opening Pandora’s Box. You just never know who - or what – will fly out at you.
I think back to my inner battles years ago. There were many stages I went through:
  • I almost stop when I hear I was "saved" from being an orphan - so that should be the reason I never search. I don't know it will take years to find my parents.
  • I almost stop when I hear adoptions were done legally yet it's illegal for me to search. Wisconsin was a closed record state. Now the state will contact your parents to get their consent to let you know who you are.
  • I almost stop when I think my mother had problems so she had to give me up. I get scared of why she did it. I get scared she might not want to meet me (and in fact, she didn't).
  • I almost stop when I do not hear back from the ALMA registry in New York. Apparently no one is looking for me.
  • I almost stop out of guilt. I feel guilty because my parents were so generous to raise me, since I was an orphan. They didn't have to adopt me but they did! (But can they imagine what it feels like being adopted? No. Can I talk to them about searching? No.) I love them for adopting me.
  • I almost stop when friends tell me to get over it and move on with my life. "Forget about her." Adoptees know this game. "Don’t talk about it. Shut up. Stop whining. You were lucky to be chosen."  Really? I didn’t feel lucky. I felt hurt, betrayed and rejected.
  • I almost stop when I read the letter from my natural mother, saying she doesn't want anyone to know about me. She's worried what people will think.
Back then it was like I was wedged between helpless and hopeless. I was doing this search for me and my own sanity. Plus it was impossible to search without names. And what was I being saved from? I should be grateful that I lost my natural parents?
I moved past all that and found my natural mother, and then my father.
Having a reunion with my dad was the hardest thing I ever did and the best thing I ever did. It was not what I expected, that's for sure.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how meeting him (and his kids) would change me as a person. I was 40 when we met. There was noone to advise me on what to do, or what to say, or what to expect having a reunion.
First things first. Earl wanted a DNA test to be sure I was his. I wanted to know that, too. This all happened back in 1996 and I travelled from Oregon to meet him in Illinois. I paid for my plane ticket and $500 for the DNA lab.
My dad and I got the results (by mail) a little over a month later. Earl was indeed my dad but I never saw him again.
I write about my reunion with Earl and our time together in my memoir "One Small Sacrifice." I looked for him for years and only met him once. How does the adoption industry justify keeping us apart for years with secrecy and laws, then my dad dies shortly after we meet.
All I can say is I wish everyone who is adopted gets the chance to meet their natural parents. Even if it is only once. Even if it is only one parent. It is a spiritual awakening.
Since I read so much about the adoption industry, I was wondering when an adoptee's emotional well being and health would be mentioned and considered? Apparently, this is not an issue, and not a concern of the adoption industry. It's about protecting the adoptive parents. Secrecy and sealed records is part of their sales pitch. It's not about the adoptee but the adopter. The mood, anxiety, thrill and angst of our adopters is what we hear growing up adopted - and we learn to be appreciative, silent and grateful. We mourn in silence.
Every adoptee I know wraps their mind around this. It's simply ridiculous to be denied the chance to know and meet our natural parents. There should be people and laws helping us, the natural parents and the adult adoptee. We all need to understand the family dynamics to have meaningful reunions, and know what to expect.
Sadly, this is not happening. Not yet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

From my archives...1995 news

• Easter House charged with violation of Indian Child Welfare Act; baby returned to mother


1995

In 1995, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota filed a petition seeking to invalidate the adoption of a three-month old infant boy. The parents had planned to put their son up for adoption because of financial problems, but then changed their mind after he was born. After returning home from the hospital with her son, the mother signed the consent form and reluctantly gave her child to Easter House after repeated calls from the agency. She changed her mind within hours. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law, was passed in 1978 to protect the rights of Native American children, who were being removed illegally from tribes and reservations and being placed with White families. The law says that a Native American mother can't consent to an adoption until 10 days after the birth and that she can revoke her consent anytime before the adoption is final. Under Illinois state law, however, a consent to adoption is irrevocable after 72 hours. The mother had told Easter House that she was an American Indian, but the agency did not follow ICWA procedures and refused to help rescind the adoption.

"They told me I could change my mind," she said. "I felt betrayed." The agency's lawyer said the agency acted legally.

The people who were going to adopt the boy agreed to give him back because they said they did not believe that protracted litigation in Illinois courts would be in the best interest of the child.

Sources: Jeff Flock. "Native American Woman Sues to Revoke Adoption," CNN, Transcript #1084-6. Section News: Domestic. Show: News 10:26 pm et. January 3, 1995.

"In Circuit Court," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, January 26, 1995.

Andrew Fegelman, "Adoptive Couple Agree to Give Up Infant." Chicago Tribune, Section Metro Northwest, Pg. 4; Zone NW, February 2, 1995.

Lou Ortiz, "Mom Sues to Reverse Son's Adoption; Indian Child Welfare Act Cited." Chicago Sun-Times, Section News; P. 14, Feb 2, 1995.

M.A. Stapleton. "Adoption dispute ended in best interests of child. Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, P. 1, February 1, 1995.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tend to the soul

I recently created a better balance in my life. Since 2004, I had one focus and little else: adoption.
Now there are days when I do not think about being an adoptee or monitor the business of adoption. Instead I tend to the soul. I did this by creating a new environment. I play music, watch movies and read books for the pure joy. I have been dumping old papers and clearing space, creating a more joyful place to sit, read and write. I listen to NPR each day. All this feeds me.
If you’d noticed, I was all about adoption…deeply immersed. And it served me well. I birthed articles in 2005, created this blog in 2009 and published a memoir in 2010.
Finally I have a new identity – one who is well-adjusted and happily complete; one who met her makers and know who they are. Everyone in my life has brought me to this place in my life. It is a momentous time when the split-feathers are joined. The splits in my life were disjointed emotions, painful ideas and dreadful disappointments. After 50 years of trying to understand the people who made me and raised me, the weaving of me is now complete. I am no longer defined by what I did not know but rather what I do know. I see all my experiences for their important lessons. I searched for my answers and I found them. I feel more present, more alive. I greet every sunrise and sunset with gratitude.
There is a presence in my life now that was not so evident before. Even the internet reconnected parts of my injured soul. I made many new friends; they healed my heart. Their art, writing, blogs and poetry are food for my soul.
As an orphan-child I had no control over what was happening to me, so I spun out of control. Being split was the only way to handle it. I was on a very disturbing emotional journey that I would not wish for anyone. Many things I could not control, and the people who controlled my path did not respect or see what I truly needed. I had to be very patient and grow strong enough to see the point. I learned what control means. Now I can see how many laws and moral judgments controlled all my parents and formed their opinions which informed their decisions.
My mother Helen was cruelly judged as a young woman and she was unable to keep me. She named me Laura Jean Thrall. This was all she could give when I came into the world. I read about her experience in my adoption file. Her story changed me. It opened me. I could not love her more. I completely understand what she had to go through, even though she was not able to tell me or meet with me. I no longer grieve this.
It seems funny to say this but I had to learn how to choose. I had not been given choices for such a long time, deep down I did not know or believe that I could make good choices. Now I know I can. I can create and do whatever I want. I can heal myself. I choose what to feel and what to let go. My feelings of being powerless are gone.
On other days, adoption work is all I do: I read blogs, read Facebook, read news, plus I am working on BOOK 2 called “Split Feathers: Two Worlds.” I have met more new adoptees since my radio interview with Jay Nighthawk in Washington DC on January 7th.
This work feeds my soul that yearns for justice for all Native American adoptees. I do this work with a purpose: to open sealed adoption records so that others can feel complete and make their journey. I teach this story so it will never happen again. I will continue to help others make their reunions with tribal family a reality.
I have two readings coming up, one in February and one in March. Look at my events under the banner. I have a list of questions for Native adoptees-Lost Children who want to tell their stories in book 2. Email me: tracedemeyer@yahoo.com. My deadline for submissions is mid-February 2011.
There is a Lakota saying, Mitakuye Oyasin, which means “we are all related.” This is a very powerful statement concerning our small planet, how we are all interconnected and woven into one world. I pray one day the entire world will see every child is sacred and closed adoptions will be a thing of the past. I pray every mother can raise her own child because family and community will support her. I pray for every adoptee still in pain and searching. I pray for those parents who lost their child because of poverty, powerlessness and oppression. If one suffers, we all suffer. We are all woven in this one web, one world. We are all related.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Strong People

Australian Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoptions: a Facebook Group: moderated by Lizzy Brew: Adoption should be outlawed because it is a cover for the truth. It is a created reality. Everyone has a family. There is no such thing as a birth relative, just a relative which a legal contract forbids a child to see. There is no justification for such a destructive arrangement. Anyone entering into such an arrangement is prepared to hurt a child in order to have it as their own.

The Strong People

Since the 1800s, Indigenous children from across North America were removed great distances from their homes and culturally-reprogrammed in large military-like facilities called residential boarding schools. One word to describe what happened to them is “brainwashed.” The kinder word is “assimilated.”

Why were these children treated like savages? Indians weren’t human; they were fierce warrior-like bare-chested wild Indians who shot arrows from bows and rode bareback and painted their faces and bodies. The “western” movie images never captured the beauty, or bravery, or dignity, or explained why Indian people fought the colonizer.

Laws were enacted to civilize Indians, to teach them “Christian values,” and to force them to stay in one place and become farmers instead of hunters. The Great White Fathers, the Presidents of the United States who lived in Washington, worked to seize more and more territory and tribal lands, and created bogus treaties only to break them later. These presidents forcibly removed tribes onto reservations, east to west. Then residential schools opened.

No matter what happened in these schools, these children grew into the strong people who endured every loss and suffered every indignity. They learned and realized what was happening. Some lived to return to their tribe, while others did not. These schools changed the Indian and Indian Country. The effects are still being felt.

Adoptees/Lost Children

Even erased, adoptees are still a part of Indian history. Wherever our tribes settled, they remain sovereign and sacred. Indians teach their own. Friends teach friends.

For adoptees with Native ancestry, we don’t know whether to feel abandoned or just plain robbed. “How can you miss people you haven’t met?” That is the million dollar question. We just do. It’s in our blood (even when we have more than one ancestry).

If you grow up near an Indian reservation and witness poverty firsthand, even today the U.S. government will insist Indian people are better off in cities or urban areas. What arrogance to suggest indoor plumbing and three meals a day are all an Indian family needs to survive. They need their families intact to survive.

The Adoption Projects and Programs, the next solution to the Indian problem, was to adopt and assimilate Indian kids far away from their homes and put them in new non-Indian families. The governments decided if you seal the records, the adoptee will never know.

I do not accept their plan. I plan to change their plan. I have many friends helping do this work. This blog was created to be a friend to the adoptees who have Native ancestry. If you are a Native adoptee, and need help, I am here for you. Email me: tracedemeyer@yahoo.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MAKING MIRACLES

An interview with Mary Weilding, founder of ICARE, one of the first adoption registries in the United States, based in Wisconsin.



How did you come to choose the name ICARE, the Wisconsin Adoptee-Birth Family Registry?
Mary Weilding: It describes me. It also stands for Independent Confidential Adoption Research Efforts.

When it was founded?
MW: 1980

What was the main objective?
MW: To reunite those in search and end their inner pain at no cost to them.

Are you adopted?
MW: No. I am a birthmother.

Did people mail you requests before the website was up?
MW: Yes, and word spread by mouth who sent more people my way.

Tell us about you and this search registry?
MW: I have devoted 30 years to helping others, before and during the ICARE Registry. I have reunited 1000's of people over the years. I say touched their lives. I did the Pilot TV episode search for “Find My Family” on ABC. I have reunited people of all walks of life and professions, including I helped to find my doctor's sister for her. I am a Birthmother and know the pain we feel/felt. I understand adoptees, having found my own birthdaughter first.

How many family members have you helped?
MW: Over the years I never kept a count. Success was far more important than keeping numbers. Once a search was completed, I always felt the file findings were theirs and I never kept duplicate copies. They were private and confidential, belonging to the person I was helping.

Do you have a few reunions that stand out in your memory?
MW: The best is Kevin who ICARE REGISTRY is dedicated. I did the eulogy at his funeral.

Mary, you’ve been doing this work 30 years?
MW: Yes, finding my birthdaughter first and then realizing the methods (ALWAYS legal) would work for anyone.

What lead you to start a registry for others?
MW: It was a quicker easier way to reunite others without financial cost to them. MANY reunions have occurred because of ICARE REGISTRY.

Do you do this with a team of people?
MW: I worked alone most of the time with help now and then from my daughter. Over the 30 years I was able to establish contacts (other Searchers) in all States except North Dakota. I was helping them for free and they did the same for me. I was always trying to hold costs down for Adoptee or Birthmother. I never felt the need to make a living and only charged expenses. We accepted donations, which often helped if someone else couldn't afford even a tank of gas or reimbursement.

Are you working from an office or home?
MW: HOME.

Are you supported by advertising?
MW: No. I only charged what it cost me. Often over the years I got stiffed because I trusted too much, giving the information then waiting for reimbursement. As recently as my 2nd to the last search, I didn’t get reimbursed. But someone else will come along and send in a donation, making up for the one who didn't. I think it all worked out in the end. Even if it didn't, I will never know because I didn't keep track. I left it up to God to guide me in giving..... It was a no-pay position, often unappreciated and taken advantage of, which reminds me of many mothers. :)

You did not make an income from all this work?
MW: No, I really didn't but as one grateful person said Sunday night after matching a Registry reunion, “…another jewel in your crown when you reach Heaven. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” OMG… that sounded so wonderful to my ears. I felt so good inside. Reuniting two people and never leaving my chair!!!!

I have been asked many times--what can an adoptee do when their records are sealed?
MW: Contact the State Search Program or contact a Judge for a court order.

If an adoptee wants to find their natural mother in Wisconsin, what do they do?
MW: Contact the Wisconsin State Search Program but the adoptee will have to pay $75 per hour and accept results based on Wisconsin laws in regard to release of information. The birthmother must be willing and sign an “Affidavit of Consent” when she is contacted. Or if an adoptee has their Adoption Social History from the State of Wisconsin - a separate charge - and with enough clues... I can do the search for my expenses. There is NO provision in the Wisconsin State Search Program for Birthmothers but that's ok. I can do those or guide them to do their own. Of the 72 counties in Wisconsin, 64 are searchable.

Do you work in other states?
MW: I mostly refer to other State Searchers or work through them to do a search.

As a search angel, and if you've been doing this 30 years, you are among the first ever.
MW: Yes, and proud of it!!!

Did you read about Florence Fisher and ALMA or other notable adoptees when you started?
MW: Yes. I read anything and everything I could find.

It's tremendously important people utilize the search angels and registries.
MW: I agree. Post everywhere you can and as often as you can. Utilize the State Search Program if you can afford it. Contact everyone you can find in the movement. Ask for help. Offer to help. Do what you can for legwork to keep costs down.

Do you have someone running the website in your absence?
MW: YES...two other people whom I trust to match have access and free rein.

Did ABC’s “Find My Family” television show utilize your services and your contacts when they were producing their program? Why do you think the program disappeared?
MW: ABC only had a 6-week slot to fill after “Dancing with the Stars” concluded. “Find my Family” got those slots. I am hoping for its return as all the reviews were favorable.

Have others mentioned your work with ICARE?
MW: I did the pilot show for “Find My Family.” I am referenced in two privately written books and adoption blue books, adoption sites, etc. I had three featured newspaper articles about me.

Do you believe lawmakers are going to wake up and open adoption records in Wisconsin?
MW: Yes...but not in my life time. I am 65 and have terminal cancer. Hopefully within the next 10 years.

What can we do to speed up the lawmakers?
MW: Keep nagging your State Representatives. Keep it alive on Facebook or wherever… tell them your plight and your need to KNOW.

Have you done any campaigns for opening sealed adoption files?
MW: I lobbied and testified at every hearing in Madison, Wisconsin concerning adoption over the years and I got what we do have with the State Search Program. I asked for the Sun.... and settled for the moon.

From the ICARE website:
To Searching Adoptees without Birth name:  We suggest that you contact the State of Wisconsin Search Program. When doing so, you will receive a Search Packet that must be filled out and returned by you. The packet will detail your options, whether it is just requesting your Medical/Genetic/and Birth family Social History or asking the State to actually do your Search and contact your Birth Mother to see if she is receptive to having contact with you. There is a fee for their service. Be sure and ask up front what will be required of you so that you will know what to anticipate. You may qualify for a reduced rate based on need. Please inquire. You can make your initial request for a Search Packet to:

Adoption Records Search Program
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
(608) 266-7163
E-mail - schwelm@dhfs.state.wi.us

Include your adoptive name, DOB, Adoptive parents names, place of birth, a current phone number, your current address, and the Agency that handled your Adoption, if known. Tell them ICARE referred you to them. Should they complete your search for you, let us know the results so we can post accordingly. Good Luck!

Visit ICARE at http://www.icareregistry.com/start.asp.


I wish to thank Mary Weilding for her many miracles and her tireless work on behalf of adoptees and birthmothers. Mary, you are appreciated more than you know. You are a true hero and inspiration to me.

SEARCHING??

SEARCHING??
Are you still searching?

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.

Read this SERIES

Read this SERIES
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Join!

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

Customer Review

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.

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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Our Fault? (no)

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