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Monday, April 18, 2011

Example of Adoption Laws: Louisana (updated!)

Louisiana Adoption Laws

Who May Access Information
Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1126; 1270
The voluntary adoption registry may be used by:
* The adoptee who is at least age 18
* The birth mother and birth father
* The parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent
* An adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adoptee
* The birth siblings who are age 18 or older

Nonidentifying information shall be provided to:
* The adoptive parents
* The adoptee who is age 18 or older
* The birth parents

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1126; 1127; 1127.1
The agency or person to whom a surrender is made shall have the duty to make a good faith effort to obtain the Statement of Family History required by Articles 1124 and 1125, to deliver it to prospective adoptive parents upon placement, and to make it available, upon request, to the adoptee at age 18
or older. If the Statement of Family History is subsequently transferred to another agency or person, the new custodian of the information assumes responsibility to the adoptee.
Any adoptee, or if still a minor, his or her legal representative, or a birth parent, may, upon written request, obtain nonidentifying medical or genetic information without the necessity of filing a motion for disclosure.
Upon such a request, the agency or person shall make a good faith effort to review and abstract nonidentifying genetic or medical information from all available records and sources that are similar in content to the Statement of Family History.
After adoptive placement of the child, the agency or person to whom a surrender is made shall have a continuing duty to maintain these records and supplement them if additional nonidentifying medical or genetic information is received about the adopted child or a birth parent. Upon such a request, the agency or person shall disclose such information. In fulfilling this continuing duty, the agency or person is authorized to contact the adoptee, adoptive parents, and birth parents to provide updated nonidentifying medical and genetic information or to facilitate the exchange of information between the parties.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1270
The Office of Community Services of the Department of Social Services shall maintain a voluntary registry for the matching of adoptees and birth parents or siblings, or both. The purpose of this registry shall be to facilitate voluntary contact between the adoptee and the birth parents or siblings, or
The use of the registry shall be limited to the adoptee who is at least age 18, the birth mother, the birth father, parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent, an adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adoptee, and any birth sibling who is at least age 18. No registration by an adoptee shall be
permitted until all birth siblings who were adopted by the same adoptive parents have reached age 18.
The registry shall not release any information from adoption records in violation of the privacy or confidentiality rights of a birth parent who has not authorized the release of any information.
The registry shall confirm for an adoptee the fact of his or her adoption and identify the court in which the adoption was finalized and the agency, firm, or lawyer facilitating the adoption when that information is known by the department. To receive this information, the adoptee shall be age 18 or
older, submit the request in writing, and provide proof of identity.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 40:73
The original birth certificate is available:
* Upon court order to the adoptee or if deceased, the adoptee's descendants, or the adoptive parent
* To the agency that was a party to the adoption upon court order after a showing of compelling reasons

Where the Information Can Be Located
Louisiana Voluntary Adoption Registry
Louisiana Adoption Registry
PO Box 3318
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
(504) 342-9922
(800) 259-2456

[I really hope we get unconditional access to our adoption records across the United States. Until then, we have more red tape and bureaucratic bull to navigate... ADOPTEES: Always request your non-identifying info and GET YOUR NAME ON A REGISTRY...  Trace]

Hello Everyone,
The day came today! Senator Danny Martiny filed SB155 which if passed will allow all Louisiana adoptee's to obtain their OBC. We need  support in the form of letter's from birthmother's and adoptee's supporting the bill. The letters will be given to the committee when we go before them. If
you need any assistance on what to put, contact me or Kenny Tucker and we will be happy to assist you in writing it. We want them to know that birthmothers were not promised confidentality from the children they surrended, only from the general public. Keep your letters short and to the point. Adoptee's, let them know how being adopted has affected your life. We need numbers! Now is
the time to become strong in numbers. Send your letters to the address below.
You can also read the proposed bill at:
http://www.legis. us/billdata/
streamdocument. asp?did=741855

Thank you to everyone for your support.
Brenda Frisard
315 S. David St
Gramercy, LA 70052

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Child migrants: 'I didn't belong to anybody' (Australia)

Harold Haig was among thousands of child migrants who were deported to Australia and subjected to horrific physical and sexual abuse. A new film depicts their plight...

By Patrick Barkham [, 7 April 2011]
When Harold Haig was 10 years old, a man in a suit came to visit. "He said to me, 'Would you like to go to this wonderful place called Australia where the sun shines all day every day and you pick oranges off the trees, live in a little white cottage by the sea and ride a horse to school?'" remembers Haig, who is 73 but looks younger, with Pete Postlethwaite cheekbones and flowing white hair. "While I was letting this sink in, he added, 'Well, you know you're an orphan, your parents are dead, you've got no family, you might as well go.'"

Oranges And Sunshine
Production year: 2011
Countries: Rest of the world, UK
Runtime: 105 mins
Directors: Jim Loach
Cast: Clayton Watson, David Wenham, Emily Watson, Greg Stone, Hugo Weaving, Tara Morice

Haig was one of 7,000 children from British care homes who were shipped mostly to Australia and Canada between the second world war and 1967. The scandal of the lies and abuse suffered by these child migrants was exposed thanks to the tireless work of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham, who, in 1987, took it upon herself to help them find their families. As Oranges and Sunshine, a moving new film by Jim Loach – son of Ken – shows, Humphreys defied death threats to discover the truth about these former child migrants and their past lives. When Haig begins to talk, it is eerie because his softly spoken words and manner exactly resemble those of Jack, a traumatised former child migrant in the film who is played by Hugo Weaving. The British-Australian actor met and talked to Haig about his experiences before taking the role.
Apart from the man in the suit talking of oranges and sunshine, Haig barely remembers anything of his childhood in Britain. "Because of my lack of memories, I may as well have been born in Australia when I was 11 years old," he says, bleakly. He was sure he had a sister called Marie, but he could not remember anything at all about his mother: no image, no voice, no smell. "Just a blank. An absolute blank."
Surrounded by other "orphaned" children, the voyage to Australia was an adventure ("we ran riot"). When Haig arrived, he was dispatched to a Church of England boarding school in Melbourne. Other child migrants were less fortunate, as Oranges and Sunshine reveals through the story of Len, played by David Wenham. Many ended up in the care of the notorious Christian Brothers where they were treated as slave labour and suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse. One victim told an official inquiry that his Christian Brother carers competed to become the first to rape him 100 times.
Haig escaped such trauma – he would be beaten with a strap if he did anything wrong – but, as he says: "The thing missing in an institution for children is that there is no love. You get punished but there is no one there to put their arm around you and say it's OK." One of many powerful scenes in Oranges and Sunshine is when the character based on Haig falteringly explains how he feels: "There's an emptiness in me. There always has been and I think the only thing that could fill it was her, my mother." Haig says something similar when he talks of how he married, had three children and established a successful signwriting business: "Anyone would've thought there's a fella who's got everything, but it was like I had a block of ice inside me. I felt empty. I knew I was missing something. I couldn't work out what it was. And there was this feeling – I didn't know who I was. I didn't know where I'd come from. I didn't belong to anybody. I was in this void."
In the 1960s, Haig sank into a deep depression. He was prescribed antidepressants, saved them up and swallowed them all. "I wanted to die. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up to get rid of this pain, this emptiness," he says. His wife, normally a good sleeper, woke up and saved his life. He wishes he hadn't tried to take his life at home, while his children slept.
The "beautiful" younger sister he was always convinced he had eventually traced him through the Salvation Army. Marie had been separated from their mother and Haig, and raised in care homes in Britain; unlike Haig, she remembered her sibling. One day, in 1987, Marie told him she was coming to Australia with a social worker, Margaret Humphreys, who she wanted him to meet. Haig, by then divorced and wandering the Australian outback ("I don't know what I was looking for"), was unimpressed. "I'd seen a lot of social workers and I had no respect for any of them," he says.
While Oranges and Sunshine shows Humphreys struggling to win the trust of some child migrants, Haig quickly came to respect her. She was the first to raise the possibility that Haig had been told a terrible untruth – that he might not be an orphan after all. "I didn't think anyone would be so cruel to tell you that sort of a lie," he says. He is amazed by Emily Watson's performance as Humphreys in the film. "I could've been watching Margaret," he says.
Haig visited Britain for six months in 1989 to get to know Marie, who passed away 14 years ago, and to help Humphreys track down his mother. With so little record-keeping by the authorities, still in denial over the scale of the trauma they created, it took another few years for them to get confirmation that Haig had not been an orphan. His parents had separated during the war, and with two children, no benefits and no relatives nearby, his mother had been forced to give up her son and daughter.
Humphreys discovered Haig's mother had lived two miles from where he was kept in homes (eight institutions in 14 months before he was "deported" – as the former child migrants say – to Australia) and had died just a year before he first visited Britain. The belated release of more suppressed information 10 years ago also helped Humphreys, who was awarded a CBE this year, finally identify Haig's deceased father.
No photographs remain of his mother, and Haig will forever wonder why he was given up and whether his mother tried to find him. As Oranges and Sunshine shows, parents were often deceived by the authorities and told their children had been adopted or even that they were dead. "Mothers went to their graves never knowing that their children were still alive, and happy, and well," says Haig. "It's criminal. I don't know what worse you can do to people."
Why did this happen? For the British authorities, a one-way ticket to Australia was cheaper than looking after children in care homes. For the Australian government, petrified they would be overrun by Asian immigrants, white children were ideal fodder for the racist "White Australia" policy.
In 2009, the Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to child migrants. "It's a day we'll never forget," says Haig, who is secretary of the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families, and is still good friends with Humphreys. Gordon Brown followed with an apology on behalf of the British government a year later.
The trauma of all these state-sanctioned lies and abuse has left a long, scarring legacy. Haig is still estranged from his two daughters who felt deserted when his depression destroyed his marriage. "They think I abandoned them, and in many ways I did. I had trouble looking after myself," he says, anguish in his voice. He has since been reconciled with his son, and he hopes the film might yet bring him back together with his daughters.
"What Margaret did for me and for thousands of child migrants is to give us back our lives, give us back our identity, and shine a light in where there was just darkness." Where would he be without Humphreys? "I have my doubts about whether I'd be here alive," he says. "You should ask, where would all of us be?"

Adopted overseas as children, they're not U.S. citizens at all

By Melanie Payne ( August 15, 2010

Alexis Stevens liked to describe herself as a model citizen. She was adopted from England by a U.S. military family who moved her to Texas. She raised a family, put herself through college and became a school teacher.

Four years ago, Stevens and her husband, Wayne, decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Stevens' completion of her master's degree by going on a trip to Europe.

"I've always wanted to see where I was born," Stevens said.

The couple submitted passport applications and made a deposit on the trip. A few weeks later, Wayne's passport arrived in the mail.

His wife's did not. Turns out the model citizen was not a citizen at all.

Stevens' parents never went through the process to allow Stevens to become a U.S. citizen. The mistake her parents made by not applying for naturalization of their adopted children almost 50 years ago has sent Steven's life reeling, leaving her uncertain of her identity and her future.

Stevens has heard horror stories of adoptees returned to their birth country because they'd broken the law. She wonders if that applies to her because she voted in every election since she turned 18 and signed documents to get jobs and college aid stating she was an American citizen.

"It's a scary feeling," Stevens said in the kitchen of her Estero home. "Am I going to end up deported?"

'Who am I?'

Stevens' adoptive father was in the Army, stationed in England, when he and his wife adopted the 2-year-old Stevens and her younger sister.

When Stevens was 3 the family moved to Texas, where a court made the adoption official in the U.S. and issued Stevens a Texas birth certificate.

Stevens obtained a Social Security card, a driver's license and voter registration card. Her citizenship never was questioned and she assumed she became an American when Americans adopted her.

Now 52, Stevens breaks into tears when she talks about not being a U.S. citizen.

"I guess what makes it hard is it brings up the feeling of, 'Who am I?'" she says.

Costly mistake

After realizing the State Department had not simply made an error in not issuing her passport, Stevens went for an interview with the immigration service in Tampa. She was given the wrong form to submit for citizenship. The application was rejected and she lost the $420 fee.

That's when she hired an immigration attorney, spent thousands of dollars and had her legal residency card reissued. The attorney told her he needs $4,500 if she wants him to represent her before an immigration court judge.

"You have many hundreds if not thousands of children who were adopted and are here legally, but are not U.S. citizens and therefore not afforded all the protections of U.S. citizenship," said Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption, an advocacy organization.

More than half of the children adopted overseas by American parents become U.S. citizens when they enter the country thanks to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. But the law doesn't apply to anyone who was 18 or older on Feb. 27 , 2001.

"We've been in conversations with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State and they know this is an ongoing problem," Johnson said. "But no one has offered a fix."

After adopting three siblings from eastern Europe, McLane Layton was surprised to find out the children aren't citizens.

"They're supposed to be treated like I had given birth to them," she said.

Layton worked as legislative counsel to then-U.S. Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and wrote the Child Citizenship Act before founding Equality for Adopted Children.

Layton's group advocates for adopted children to have the same rights as any child of American parents. The group has been unsuccessful in getting legislation passed to cover older adoptees who did not obtain citizenship.

"It's no fault of their own. It's neglect and ignorance on the part of the parents," Layton said. "The adoptee should not be punished in such a serious way because of the failure of their parents."

Stevens never will know why her parents failed to apply for her citizenship. Her adoptive father died when she was 6. Her adoptive mother died when she was 16. Her sister died at 19.

'Puts your life in limbo'

Anita Cotter is going it alone with the Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Cotter was a toddler when she immigrated with her American military parents into Texas. She, too, thought her Texas birth certificate was proof of her citizenship.

Cotter, who will be 53 next week, found her German birth mother living in Kansas. About 2 1/2 years ago she moved to be closer to her mother and the immigration problems began.

To get a driver's license in Kansas, Cotter needed to prove her citizenship. But her adoptive parents, like Steven's parents, had never applied for her naturalization.

"I was astounded," Cotter said. "I didn't know what to say. I've lived here all my life as a citizen and to get slapped with this at 50 years old was a total and complete shock."

The couple who adopted Cotter in Germany and brought her to the U.S. are dead. And Cotter is having a difficult time getting the adoption records she needs to apply for citizenship.

The whole process "puts your life in limbo," Cotter said. "I'd be real interested in knowing how many of us there are out there."

No guidance

Most American parents complete the requirements for their foreign-born adopted children to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Grace Willoughby was born in Germany and adopted by an American military family. She lives in California and has a vivid recollection of the naturalization ceremony in Baltimore when she was about 7.

"I stood up, put my hand up and swore I would be a good citizen of the United States," Willoughby said. "I remember that."

Jeanne Dunham of California also recalls a swearing-in ceremony when she was 11 or 12.

Her parents adopted her and the boy who became her brother from German children's homes in the 1950s. The couple were provided with step-by-step instructions written in German, which she still has, Dunham said. One of the steps was to apply for the adopted child's U.S. citizenship.

Kathleen Moakler, government relations director for the National Military Family Association, doubts people received much guidance from the military about how to proceed with an adoption and naturalization of a foreign-born child.

"Everything was so much looser then," Moakler said.

Moakler, a U.S. citizen, gave birth to her son while overseas in 1975. She registered him as a U.S. citizen only because she had "read a blurb" on the topic in a magazine she picked up at the commissary.

"I just wanted to make sure his ducks were in a row so when he ran for president no one would challenge him," she said. "If I had not seen that article, I wouldn't have done it."

Patriotic feelings

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Chris Rhatigan said last year 28 adopted children of military parents were naturalized in ceremonies overseas. Rhatigan said the State Department's website clearly explains to parents about naturalization and the perils of not getting citizenship for an adopted foreign-born child.

What was told or not told to people who adopted 40 or 50 years ago, isn't known. But people who immigrated legally, as did Cotter and Stevens, can apply for citizenship now if they want, Rhatigan said. They will have to meet all the requirements such as passing the citizenship test. Once the application is made, processing time can be as short as five months. But in some cases it takes years, because of residency and other requirements.

Cotter and Stevens intend to get their U.S. citizenship.

"Before all this, I was the most patriotic person you would know," Stevens said.

"I love this country. I have no intention of moving," Cotter said.

But, she added, "It's like a slap in the face. I'm an American and they don't consider me one."

[from my research...Trace]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peter Dodds (views on International adoption) & who is Rita Simon?

In this eye opening interview, author Peter Dodds who was adopted from an orphanage in Germany, describes the harm caused when children are uprooted from their native countries and cultures.
I did read Peter's book "Outer Search\Inner Journey" a few years ago when there were so very few adoptee memoirs. What he says in this interview is what I hear many adoptees say.   Was this the same Rita Simon who published the study:  "Native American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories?" YES! Simon was not talking on this youtube interview... but this Jewish author is very pro-adoption! ......Trace

Rita Simon, University Professor, Department of Justice, Law and Society... recently published her 63rd book in these fields. Area of Expertise: Transracial adoption, history of women's rights, abortion, rape, women and crime, civil rights and liberties in Israel, U.S. immigration, jury system, insanity defense, death penalty, impact of mass media on public opinion.
Rita Simon is a well-known authority on transracial and intercountry adoption, immigration, justice, and women’s issues.
Her books include: In Their Own Voices; The Case for Transracial Adoption; The Jury System: Its Role in American Society; The Insanity Defense; The Ambivalent Welcome: Print Media, Public Opinion, and Immigration; Adoption, Race, and Identity; Women’s Movements in America; Rabbis, Lawyers, Immigrants, and Thieves: Women’s Roles in America; The World Over: A Comparative Analysis of Capital Punishment; Immigration: The World Over; and The Crime Women Commit and the Punishments They Receive.  She served on the Title IX commission.

"Native American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories" : Simon's study focuses on the lives of Native American transracial adoptees and their struggle to establish a healthy sense of cultural identity, while being raised in non-Native homes. The 20 participants in this study focus on what methods their adoptive parents used or, in some cases, did not use to help them establish their own sense of cultural identity. In the end, most participants agreed that adoptive parents can help their adoptive child establish a healthy sense of cultural identity by nurturing a connection between their child and their child's tribal community.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Road documentary from Canada (60s Scoop) (with links on youtube)

In 1951, the Indian Act was changed so that provincial authorities would be responsible for the welfare of Indian children. This had little effect initially. This can be seen in the British Columbia statistic for 1955 in which 29 of the 3,433 children placed in protective care in the province were Native, less than 1%. Starting in the 1960s, however, aggressive policies of taking Native children from their families, communities, and from the Native world generally came into play. In British Columbia in 1964, the figure became 1,446 Native children out of a total of 4,228 children, or 34.2%. In his book “Native Children and the Child Welfare System,” writer Patrick Johnston coined the term “Sixties Scoop” to refer to the forced migration of aboriginal children.

The situation was the worst in Manitoba. Between 1971 and 1981, over 3,400 Native children were taken from their homes and removed from their province. More than a thousand of these children were sent to the United States, where there was a demand for children to adopt. American agencies could get $4,000 for every child placed. Native children in the United States had been adopted in a similar way until 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, protecting the children from being taken from their people… There is still no such law in Canada.

In 1982, the Manitoba government finally agreed to impose a moratorium on the export of children outside of the province, the last province to do so. There was an investigation into the practice. Justice Edwin C. Kimelman wrote a report in 1985 entitled ‘No Quiet Place’ based primarily on looking at the 93 children that were “exported” in 1981. He did not mince his words in his conclusions, saying: “Cultural genocide has been taking place in a systematic routine manner. One gets an image of children stacked in foster homes as used cars are stacked on corner lots, just waiting for the right ‘buyer’ to stroll by.” (as reported in Fournier and Crey 1997:88)

WATCH HERE: by Dan MckalisterMcedwardsmccoy (videos)

TORONTO, ONTARIO: Hamilton-based Lost Heritage Productions announced the broadcast premiere of Red Road, a one-hour documentary about one man’s search for identity, aired on, on Saturday, August 28, 2004.

Where does a bricklayer, raised on British afternoon tea, who speaks some Italian and counts among his ancestors the great Sioux leaders Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, begin the process of piecing his life together? Barry (Whitecap) Hambly was born in 1967 on Carry The Kettle First Nation in Saskatchewan. When he was four, his mother, Darlene Whitecap, ran from the reserve and an abusive relationship, taking Barry and his three siblings with her to Regina, 100km to the west. A victim of alcohol abuse, the 24-year-old mother would soon lose her children when social agencies intervened. This era, known as the “Sixties Scoop”, saw thousands of aboriginal children adopted into non-Native homes. Some children remained in Canada while others were sent to the U.S. and around the globe. While some have called it “assimilation”, many claim the “scoop” era to have been a cultural genocide.

Despite a loss of his aboriginal heritage, abuse from one foster family, and the emotional scars from being shuffled through 10 foster homes, Hambly considers himself one of the lucky ones. He was eventually adopted at the age of nine by Maggie and Don Hambly, a couple of British descent living in Hamilton, Ontario. Struggling through his adolescent years, chased by the ghosts of his past, Hambly landed on his feet after a “tough love” decision that saw him thrown out of his adoptive home at age 18.

Successful in the Hamilton construction business today, Hambly began his search for his birth parents and his cultural identity when an aboriginal person called him an “apple”—a slang expression referring to someone who is red on the outside, white on the inside.

Red Road shadows Barry Hambly’s journey, returning to Saskatchewan to confront his past and meet his birth mother. “After my first call to her, I knew that one day I would have to meet her face-to-face, to help me deal with the anger and answer questions I have had all my life.”

The First Nation word “waka” refers to walking a spiritual path in search of one’s origins. Barry Hambly has taken the first step down that road, the “red road”. Finding the way home is not always easy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PONCA tribe wants right to intervene in kids' case (2009) (update!)

[UPDATED!.... Trace]

By Timberly Ross - May 24, 2009

OMAHA- The Nebraska Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments (in late May 2009) on whether the state's legal procedures can trump a federal law that allows American Indian tribes to intervene in child-welfare cases.
In an appeal filed with the high court, the Ponca Tribe says a Dakota County juvenile court judge denied its rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act because the tribe was not represented by a state-recognized attorney.
"The federal law provides that tribes can intervene in any state child-custody proceeding that involves their children," said the tribe's Denver, Colo.-based attorney, Brad Jolly. "If a tribe has to have a lawyer in each of those cases, they won't be able to intervene."
For most tribes, the cost of having an attorney appear in each and every child-welfare case is prohibitive, he said. 
The Indian Child Welfare Act provides tough standards for removing American Indian children from their homes.
Congress passed the law in 1978 to curb a rise in adoptions of Indian children by non-Indians. In some states, 35 percent of Indian children had been removed from their homes to live with non-Indians.
"Tribal intervention in state child-custody proceedings involving Indian children is one of the primary tools Congress provided to ensure an Indian child's continued relationship with his or her tribe and
community," Jolly wrote in the appeal. "The right of Indian tribes to intervene in state child custody proceedings involving their children is absolute and unequivocal."
In October, the Ponca Tribe filed a motion in Dakota County juvenile court to intervene in a child-welfare case involving two Ponca children.
But the filing was thrown out by Judge Kurt Rager because, according to court documents, it was not submitted by an attorney.
Rather, the motion had been submitted by a trained specialist who counsels tribes on juvenile cases.
In the appeal, Jolly wrote that courts typically grant such specialists the same power as an attorney because of the tribe's sovereign status.
"In refusing to allow the tribe's ICWA specialist to file a motion to intervene on behalf of the tribe, the county court has effectively removed the tribe's right to intervene in the proceedings," he wrote.
The Ponca Tribe is asking the high court to overturn Rager's dismissal of the filing. Arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday.  A message left for Rager was not immediately returned. Judges generally do not comment on pending cases.
Jolly said the Ponca Tribe has faced similar dismissals in other Dakota County juvenile court cases since October.
The Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, which submitted a so-called friend of the court brief in support of the tribe, said: "The state's interest in requiring organizations to be represented by an attorney, however, cannot compare to the interest of tribes in their children and in their survival, an interest which Congress unambiguously intended to safeguard through the ICWA."
Legal Aid of Nebraska, the National Child Welfare Association, Indian Center Inc. and several tribes, including the Winnebago and Omaha, also participated in the brief.

UPDATE: In re Elias L., 227 Neb. 1023 (2009) - Partner Achieves Victory for Tribal Rights Under the ICWA

by Brad Jolly, Partner, June 26, 2009
In a case brought and argued by Partner, Brad Jolly, the Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously held that Indian nations can intervene and fully participate in state court proceedings subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act ("ICWA") without legal counsel regardless of state laws requiring organizations to appear in court only through an attorney.

The case, In re Elias L., 227 Neb. 1023 (2009), originated in the Dakota County Court. The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska filed a motion to intervene pursuant to Nebraska and Federal law through its ICWA Specialist, Jill Holt. The ICWA provides an absolute and unqualified right of Indian tribes to intervene in child welfare cases involving their children. However, the Douglas County Judge refused to hear the motion to intervene on the grounds that Nebraska state law requires that organizations appear in court only through an attorney and the Tribe's ICWA Specialist was not a lawyer. The Judge held that he "is charged with the duty to enforce the prohibition against the practice of law without a license" and that required him to prevent the Tribe's ICWA Specialist from appearing on behalf of the Tribe even though the Tribe had authorized and designated her to do so. The Judge simply returned the motion to intervene, refusing to allow it to be filed.

The Tribe appealed the Judge's refusal to allow the Tribe's intervention and Brad Jolly represented the Tribe as its general counsel. In its opinion, aligning itself with prior decisions from Oregon and Iowa, the Nebraska Supreme Court recognized that the ICWA preempts state law and requiring tribes to appear only through attorneys would interfere with the federal right of intervention guaranteed in the ICWA. Further, the Court recognized that economic barriers which may prevent tribes from being able to afford legal counsel would prevent many tribes from intervening in ICWA proceedings. leaving both the rights of the tribe and key rights of the children unrepresented and unheard. The Court concluded that enforcement of Nebraska's unauthorized practice of law ("UPS") statutes "is incompatible with the federally granted tribal right of intervening in child custody proceedings governed by ICWA."

On the other hand, the Court held, while the state has a legitimate interest in requiring organizations to be represented by an attorney, its interests did not outweigh those of the tribes and the federal government in ICWA proceedings. The Court noted that state law permits individuals to represent themselves in court proceedings and also permits employees of organizations to perform certain acts that otherwise constitute the practice of law when done for the benefit of the organization. The Court also noted that the state's interests were not necessarily compromised because tribes generally appear through child welfare professionals, such as the Tribe's ICWA Specialist, who are familiar with juvenile proceedings and the ICWA.

Ultimately, the Court held that "tribal participation in state custody proceedings innvolving Indian children is essential to achieving the goals of ICWA." Importantly, the Court held that state courts "shall allow the Tribe's designated representative to fully participate in [ICWA] proceedings."

The case is an important victory for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and all other tribes with ICWA cases in the state. Over the years, many county court and juvenile court judges have refused to allow tribes to appear in ICWA cases without an attorney. At times, even when a judge allows a tribe to intervene without an attorney, they do not allow the tribe to participate in the proceedings by refusing to allow the tribe's representative to speak in court, present evidence, or do anything other than observe. The Nebraska Supreme Court's bold opinion finally settles the issue in Nebraska, ensuring that Indian nations will be permitted to not only intervene, but to fully participate in ICWA proceedings in accordance with federal law.

Thanks to John Dall for his research on this!...Trace

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Good to know: Canada's Indian Status Card

What is a Certificate of Indian Status or Status card and why does INAC issue it?
The Certificate of Indian Status (CIS), more commonly referred to as a Status card, is an identity document issued for administrative reasons by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to confirm that the cardholder is registered as a Status Indian under the Indian Act.
For more information:
Thanks Linda Roady Thaler for this information!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Indian Child Welfare history and the "Existing Indian Family" exception

[from the archives...   Trace]
ICWA History

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted in 1978 because of the high removal rate of Indian children from their traditional homes and essentially from Indian culture as a whole. Before enactment, as many as 25 to 35 percent of all Indian children were being removed from their Indian homes and placed in non-Indian homes, with presumably the absence of Indian culture. In some cases, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) paid the states to remove Indian children and to place them with non-Indian families and religious groups.
Testimony in the House Committee for Interior and Insular Affairs showed that in some cases, the per capita rate of Indian children in foster care was nearly 16 times higher than the rate for non-Indians. If Indian children had continued to be removed from Indian homes at this rate, tribal survival would be threatened. Congress recognized this, and stated that the interests of tribal stability were as important as that of the best interests of the child. One of the factors in this judgment was that, because of the differences in culture, what was in the best interest of a non-Indian child were not necessarily what was in the best interest of an Indian child, especially due to extended families and tribal relationships.
As Louis La Rose (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) testified:

"I think the cruelest trick that the white man has ever done to Indian children is to take them into adoption court, erase all of their records and send them off to some nebulous family ... residing in a white community and he goes back to the reservation and he has absolutely no idea who his relatives are, and they effectively make him a non-person and I think ... they destroy him."

Various other groups also played a factor. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had an Indian Placement Program that removed Indian children from their tribes and into church members homes.  By the 1970s, approximately 5,000 Indian children were living in Mormon homes. The lack of knowledge of most social workers also played into the high removal rates. Most social workers are conditioned by the "best interest of the child" as outlined by Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (Second Edition), which advocates bonding with at least one adult as a parent figure rather than taking into consideration the tribal culture of the extended tribal family. The common Indian practice of leaving a child with an extended relative was viewed as abandonment by these well-intentioned social workers, but was viewed as perfectly normal by tribal members.
During congressional consideration, at the request of Native American advocacy groups, opposition was raised by several states, the LDS Church, and several social welfare groups. The bill was pushed through by Representative Morris Udall of Arizona, who lobbied President Jimmy Carter to sign the bill.
Congress’s overriding purpose in passing the ICWA was to protect Indian culture and tribal integrity from the unnecessary removal of Indian children by state and federal agencies. Awareness of the issues facing American Indian children came about from the advocacy and research by the Association on American Indian Affairs. Congress reasoned that “there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children.”

"Existing Indian Family" Exception

History of the Exception
In 1982, the Kansas Supreme Court held that the ICWA "was not to dictate that an illegitimate infant who has never been a member of an Indian home or culture, and probably never would be, should be removed from its primary cultural heritage and placed in an Indian environment over the express objections of its non-Indian mother."
Under the facts of the case, the court stated that the ICWA did not apply unless the child was part of an "existing Indian family unit." The court denied the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma the right to intervene in the case, stating that the ICWA did not apply. The court also held that even if the ICWA did apply, the trial court committed no reversible error because the non-Indian mother would have objected to the transfer of the case to a tribal court and, thus, defeated the transfer.
From the Kansas Supreme Court case sprang a body of jurisprudence around the "existing Indian family" exception to ICWA. In the years following the Kansas Baby Boy L. case, approximately half of the states adopted or expanded upon this "existing Indian family" exception, despite the fact that the language appeared no where the text of the ICWA.
Subsequent to the Kansas Baby Boy L. case, in 1989, the United States Supreme Court heard the only ICWA case that it has issued an opinion on to date in Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield. 490 U.S. 30 (1989)
Like the Baby Boy L. case, both parents in Holyfield consented to the voluntary termination of their parental rights and adoption of their infant by a non-Indian family. Unlike the parents in Baby Boy L., the mother in this case lived on the reservation both before and after the birth of the child off-reservation. The Supreme Court found that the child was "domiciled" on the reservation because its biological mother was domiciled on the reservation. Therefore, the exclusive jurisdiction of the tribal court under ICWA should have been invoked. The case was remanded to the tribal court for a custody determination three years after the child had been placed with non-Indian adoptive parents. Noting the potential disruption in the child's life, the Supreme Court noted that any potential harm could have been avoided if the parents and state court had not wrongfully denied the tribe its rights under ICWA.
While the Supreme Court did not consider the "existing Indian family" exception, some sources cite Holyfield as an implicit rejection of the exception. Other sources have noted that the Holyfield case is relied upon as support for both sides of the debate over the "existing Indian family" exception:

"Surprisingly, Holyfield has been relied upon by courts and parties both to support and reject the existing Indian family exception, which has been invoked in proceedings involving Indian children and families who are living off the reservation and who are, therefore, subject to state court jurisdiction concurrent with that of the tribal court."

As of 2010, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and Tennessee still use the "existing Indian family" exception. Alabama and Indiana have limited its application by further court decisions. Nineteen states have rejected the doctrine, either by court decision or statute, including Kansas, where the Kansas Supreme Court expressly overturned the Baby L. decision in In re A.J.S., stating:

"Given all of the foregoing, we hereby overrule Baby Boy L., (citation omitted), and abandon its existing Indian family doctrine. Indian heritage and the treatment of it has a unique history in United States law. A.J.S. has both Indian and non-Indian heritage, and courts are right to resist essentializing any ethnic or racial group. However, ICWA's overall design, including its "good cause" threshold in 25 U.S.C. 1915, ensures that all interests--those of both natural parents, the tribe, the child, and the prospective adoptive parents -- are appropriately considered and safeguarded. ICWA applies to this state court child custody proceeding involving A.J.S., and the Cherokee Nation must be permitted to intervene."


Some critics have complained that the existing Indian family exception requires the state court to determine what it means to be an Indian child or an Indian family, by applying tests to determine the "Indian-ness" of the child. One such test involved evaluating if the child lived "in an "actual Indian dwelling," apparently thinking of a teepee, hogan, or pueblo."[43] Another work notes that "state courts have taken it upon themselves to determine individuals' relationship with their tribes by examining such contacts as subscription to a tribal newsletter."[44]
In her 1997 testimony before the Joint Hearing of the House Resources Committee and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Ada Deer (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin) stated:

"...we want to express our grave concern that the objectives of the ICWA continue to be frustrated by State court created judicial exceptions to the ICWA. We are concerned that State court judges who have created the "existing Indian family exception" are delving into the sensitive and complicated areas of Indian cultural values, customs and practices which under existing law have been left exclusively to the judgment of Indian tribes... We oppose any legislative recognition of the concept."
     (all footnotes removed) Source: Wikipedia

Court rules Indian Child Welfare Act doesn’t apply in Cherokee boy’s adoption

Complicated Utah case involves Cherokee Nation
By Brooke Adams [The Salt Lake Tribune April 6, 2011]

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday (April 5) that a lower court erred when it determined parental rights were improperly terminated in an adoption proceeding involving a child who was later identified as a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Britney Jane Little Dove Nielson relinquished her parental rights in 2007, a day after giving birth to a boy who was adopted by Joshua and Sunny Ketchum. In that proceeding, a Utah judge ruled the baby’s grandmother was a registered (enrolled) member of the Cherokee Nation, but Nielson was not and the adoption did not need to abide by the Indian Child Welfare Act. The adoption became final in May 2008.

In June 2008, Nielson filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging the adoption was invalid under the act, which imposes a 10-day waiting period before parental rights involving an “Indian” child can be terminated. Nielson also argued the baby qualified as a member of the Cherokee Nation because his grandmother is an enrolled member of the tribe and, under a Cherokee Nation law, every newborn who is a direct descendant of such members receives temporary citizenship.

In a 2009 ruling, the district court judge agreed and ruled the termination of Nielson’s parental rights was invalid. The judge left the adoption decree intact, however, and said a state court would have to sort out the baby’s custody.

Nielson filed a lawsuit in state court seeking return of her child and, when that judge ruled the statute of limitations barred the action, appealed. The case is now pending in the Utah Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Ketchums (adoptive parents) appealed the district court decision to the 10th Circuit.

The appeals court said in its newly released opinion that Nielson’s child is a direct descendant of a Cherokee Nation enrollee. But it found that the type of temporary citizenship bestowed by Cherokee Nation law does not apply for Indian Child Welfare Act purposes. The act only covers full members, the court said, not those with temporary status.

“We find that Congress did not intend the ICWA to authorize this sort of gamesmanship on the part of a tribe [authorizing] a temporary and nonjurisdictional citizenship upon a nonconsenting person,” the court said. “The tribe cannot expand the reach of a federal statute by a tribal provision that extends automatic citizenship to the child of a nonmember of the tribe.”

Because of that, ICWA and its 10-day waiting period did not apply, the court said. It remanded the case back to district court.

Nielson’s options now include asking the full bank of 10th Circuit judges to reconsider the case or appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

James B. Hanks, who represents the Ketchums, said that barring an appeal, his clients will ask the district court to dismiss the case. “They are thrilled,” he said of the Ketchums. “They’ve been on pins and needles for a long time now. It is a wonderful day for them.”

The Tribune was not able to reach attorneys for Nielson or the Cherokee Nation on Tuesday.

[Reading this in 2011 is astonishing...Native children are still lost to the system of adoption and then courts, not tribes, give rulings in favor of adoptive parents over biological parents. Why was this child's mother not enrolled? Probably because she is an urban Indian and not on the Cherokee reservation, so apparently her son is not enrolled either - what is wrong with this picture?   Bottom line: ICWA is really not working as it was enacted in 1978. The article doesn't say the Ketchums are Mormons... Trace]
UPDATE: She did, however, state that they were considering enrolling Nielson in the next few
months, and Nielson in fact became an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation on August 5, 2008.

ICWA states: When an Indian child is placed for adoption, the ICWA requires that, in the absence of good cause to deviate, the child should be placed with: (1) a member of his or her extended family, (2) other members of his or her tribe, or (3) other Indian families.

Facing the Future: Indian Child Welfare Act at 30

By Matthew L. M. Fletcher, Wenona T. Singel,  Kathryn E. Fort

This is a comprehensive evaluation of well-intentioned but problematic federal legislation: The U.S. Congress is charged with responsibility for the protection and preservation of American Indian tribes, including Indian children. In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), with the intent to "protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families." ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe. ICWA also sets out federal requirements regarding removal of Indian children and their placement in foster or adoptive homes, and it allows the child's tribe to intervene in the case.

The history of the Act is a tangle of legal, social, and emotional complications. Some state courts have found unusual legal arguments to avoid applying the law, while some states have gone beyond the terms of the Act to provide greater protections for Indian people. This collection brings together for the first time a multidisciplinary assessment of the law — with scholars, practitioners, lawyers, and social workers all offering perspectives on the value and importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Paperback Edition: Notes, references, World rights, 320 pp., 6 " x 9 ", December 2009, $39.95, ISBN: 978-0-87013-860-7

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Infamous murder in Maryland involves adoptees!

You know everything happens for a reason. I just received the book “Sudden Fury” about an adoptee who killed his adoptive parents in Maryland. I opened to page 378 and saw this …"Early in 1989, Michael began searching for the natural parents and siblings he left behind when he was four. ‘I’d like to know where I’m from. All I know is I’m an Indian from somewhere.’” This book was published in 1989.

I have not read the book yet but I did read this: Michael’s adopted brother Larry confessed to murdering their parents alone and did not indict his adoptive brother Michael.

This is the news I found…

Cape St. Claire killer Larry Swartz dies at age 37

By ERIC HARTLEY, Staff Writer (2005)

Annapolis, Maryland - A man whose brutal slaying of his adoptive parents nearly 21 years ago became one of the county's most infamous murders, inspiring a book and a made-for-TV movie, died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack, his former attorney said.

Larry Swartz, released in 1993 after serving nine years in prison, had moved to Florida, was married and had an 8-year-old child, said his longtime lawyer, Ronald A. Baradel. He was 37.

"It was like losing a son," Baradel said. "He and I had developed pretty much of a fondness. We'd been out of contact for a couple of years, but re-established contact a couple of weeks ago."
To protect the family's privacy, Baradel declined to say where in Florida Mr. Swartz was living.

On the night of Jan. 16, 1984, 17-year-old Larry Schwarz fatally stabbed his father Robert, a computer technician, in a downstairs clubroom. Kay Swartz, a teacher at Broadneck High School, was stabbed and bludgeoned with a splitting maul after being chased through the community. Her nude body was found next to the family's swimming pool.

County police arrested Larry, the oldest of the Swartzes' three adopted children, a week later after determining that his footprints were in the snow near his mother's body and a bloody handprint was his.

The police investigation found that Mr. Swartz suffered from a personality disorder and had suppressed his anger against his parents for years.

Robert and Kay Swartz were devout Catholics, and their household was described as one of strict discipline. Kay Swartz was unable to have children of her own, and her husband, an anti-abortion activist who picketed Planned Parenthood offices, was eager to adopt unwanted children.

Larry's sister Anne was at home during the murders, but his brother Michael had drug and behavior problems that had landed him Crownsville Hospital Center.

In 1990, Michael Swartz helped to murder a man for a jar of quarters. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. (note: this is the adoptee who is Native American)

Larry Swartz finally snapped one night after drinking in his bedroom. He first stabbed his mother, then attacked his father, who tried to stop him. After pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released Jan. 23, 1993.

The case inspired a book, "Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder" by reporter Leslie Walker. It became a New York Times best-seller. A 1993 television movie based on the murders, "A Family Torn Apart," starred Neil Patrick Harris of "Doogie Howser, M.D." as Larry Swartz.

Mr. Swartz died without any warning, Baradel said. An autopsy was planned and funeral arrangements weren't available. Baradel said he was always confident that Mr. Swartz could have a normal life if given the chance. He never thought the murders reflected Mr. Swartz's true character.

"It's not the kind of person he was," Baradel said.


photos from book

UPDATE to this post dated 1991:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Illegal aliens? Deported adoptees?

Some stories keep me up at night. Some stories shake me to my very core. Last night I learned more about Navajo adoptee Leland Morrill who is one of 10 Native American children adopted by one Mormon family.
How does this happen? 10 kids? Did adopting this many children offer some form of financial gain? Or was there a religious conversion planned? His adoptive father worked for the Church of Latter-Day Saints education systems and retired recently after 40 years.  Lee's sister Virginia (also Navajo) was fostered two years then adopted with Leland. The day after their adoption was finalized, the family moved to Ontario, where they proceeded to adopt Shaun who is a mixed blood and seven who are Ojibwe Canadians: Sheila, Debbie, Cindy, Robert, Sharon, Keith and Adam who are all siblings.
Lee had the misfortune of losing his wallet which led to his discovery that his adoptive parents did not have the legal paperwork or proof of his citizenship in his Navajo tribal nation.
He said on his blog, "So, in January 2010, I visited the DMV. I filled out the application to replace my drivers license only and went up to use my Navajo Nation Final Judgement of Adoption and Social Security card as proof to get the replacement and was denied. New procedures had taken place on January 1, 2010 under the Real ID Act of 2005. I now was required to produce a state-issued birth certificate. I had none, as the Tribal Court of the Navajo Tribe Judicial District of Chinle Arizona had adopted me without any other documentation only documentation: Final Judgment of Adoption. IT WAS THEN I REALIZED I AM AN ILLEGAL ALIEN."
I am sure this story will unravel in Leland's favor, as to his citizenship. He has been in contact with his Kirk relatives regularly on the Navajo reservation and I will post my interview with Leland very soon.

More news: Here is a story about an adoptee from India who may be deported.... example of international adoption meets immigration... Schultz is facing possible deportation to India due to his adoptive parent’s not getting him citizenship. His adoptive mother is white, and his case is quite unique in that he is Mormon, speaks only English and know nothing about his country, India or his culture.  Read his story here:

Can it happen... will adoptees can be targeted for deportation when their adopters do not finalize their US citizenship? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Signs of Poverty: Lost Kids

By Trace A. DeMeyer

It’s easy to pop a pill these days. It’s even easier to bury what bothers us because our minds will do that without drugs, with something as simple as memory loss. Street drugs are one way to self-medicate. Recommended medical treatments for emotional distress are pharmaceuticals.

It’s work to analyze where we disconnect, where we feel bitter, sad or disappointed, or when we seemingly lose all hope.

It’s also less work to lock a person in a prison cell. Across the US in the last 50 years, mental hospitals have been replaced by jails and prisons. In Massachusetts alone, 16 hospitals that treated mentally ill patients closed their doors. There was 7,000 mothers (with a combined 16,000 children) incarcerated in Massachusetts in 2007. The majority of women are there for non-violent offenses. Some 85% in prison in Ludlow, Massachusetts, have an addiction problem. Their crimes were prostitution or drugs. Social, economic and health problems are billboards, obvious signs of poverty.

“When women are locked up, there’s another group of people who are adversely affected: their kids. Across the US, there are 1.3 million kids whose mothers are under some form of ‘correctional supervision,’” according to journalist Christina Rathbone, author of "A World Apart, Women, Prison and Life behind Bars."

“Give maximum affection to your children,” the Tibetan holy man, Dalai Lama told a gathering here in Massachusetts. He understands the tragedy when people have children then neglect or abuse them. One broken child becomes a mother or father who may create another broken child. These cycles must end.

To shine light on any crisis, it will take sensitive people and serious money. Yet it always comes back to poverty, who has money and who doesn’t and who cares.

Pathways to Prosperity:

Northwest Area Foundation Awards Grant to United Indians of All Tribes Foundation

ST. PAUL, Minn.-- The Northwest Area Foundation announced the award of a two-year, $3.5 million grant to the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation (UIATF) located in Seattle, WA. UIATF will utilize the funds to implement the 'Pathways to Prosperity,' project, a holistic community development initiative designed to systematically address the determinants of poverty faced by urban Native American populations. This initiative is a union of in-depth community-based research and cutting edge community development theory. 
"We are working from a cultural and spiritual foundation that recognizes poverty as much more than simply a lack of money," states UIATF CEO Phil Lane, Jr. (Yankton Dakota/Chickasaw) "Poverty is many things braided together. It's an interdependent web of social, cultural, political, economic and personal factors that combine to trap families, and whole communities in patterns of ill health, deprivation, and dependency. The only way out of the trap is to truly engage these same families and communities in a journey of learning, healing and building."
"We believe, and experience is demonstrating, that poverty reduction initiatives have greater chance of success if they are owned by the community," said Kari Schlachtenhaufen, interim president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation. "We are excited to make this grant and hope other funders and partners will join in this effort to reduce poverty long term." Source: U.S. Newswire, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Colonizer and Assimilation (great quotes)

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.”

"...Even now, researchers trying to determine exactly how many Aboriginal children were removed from their families during the 60s 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 percent of the children in care were First Nations children, although First Nations people made up only 25 percent 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.”

Quote from news article: STOLEN NATION (article posted on this blog! use google to find it)

[Child welfare is (in fact) the permanent and closed adoptions of North American Indian Children by non-Indian parents... these quotes are from my archives... Trace]

Alaska tribes win adoption court case

Alaska tribes win adoption court case: "FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that tribes share jurisdiction with the state in most child custody issues, providing the second major victory for tribal sovereignty advocates..."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jesuits settle with American Indians on Sex Abuse cases

Jesuits settle Indian Sex Abuse Suit
January 4, 2008

An order of Roman Catholic priests announced a $5 million settlement January 3, 2008 with 16 people who said they were sexually abused while attending a boarding school on an American Indian reservation. The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuit Order of priests, will pay $4.8 million in cash to the abuse victims and raise another $200,000 for the homeless in the area, the Jesuits and lawyers for the accusers said. The Jesuits operated St. Mary's Mission and School near Omak (Washington) for more than 60 years until turning it over to the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in 1973.

Catholic Order Reaches $166 Million Settlement With Sexual Abuse Victims
By WILLIAM YARDLEY [New York Times March 25, 2011]
SEATTLE — A Roman Catholic religious order in the Northwest has agreed to pay $166 million to more than 500 victims of sexual abuse, many of whom are American Indians and Alaska Natives who were abused decades ago at Indian boarding schools and in remote villages, lawyers for the plaintiffs said Friday.

The settlement, with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, known as the Northwest Jesuits, is the largest abuse settlement by far from a Catholic religious order, as opposed to a diocese, and it is one of the largest abuse settlements of any kind by the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are the church’s largest religious order, and their focus is education. The Oregon Province includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

“There is a huge number of victims, in part because these Native American communities were remote and vulnerable, and in part because of a policy by the Jesuits, even though they deny it, of sending problem priests to these far-off regions,” said Terry McKiernan of, a victims’ advocacy group that tracks abuse cases.

The province released a statement saying it would not comment on the settlement announced by the plaintiffs’ lawyers because it was involved in bankruptcy litigation. The bankruptcy stems from previous abuse settlements, totaling about $55 million, reached several years ago. A small group of victims and their lawyers have been negotiating the current settlement for more than a year as part of the province’s bankruptcy-ordered restructuring.

An insurer for the province is paying the bulk of the settlement, which still is subject to approval by hundreds of other victims and by a federal judge.

John Allison, a lawyer based in Spokane, Wash., represented many clients who were abused in the late 1960s and early 1970s while they were students at St. Mary’s Mission in Omak, Wash., near the reservation of the Colville Confederated Tribes, one of the largest reservations in the country. The Jesuits ran the St. Mary’s school until the 1970s, when federal policies began to encourage more Indian control. St. Mary’s is now closed, though its building stands beside a new school.

Mr. Allison noted that English was not the native language for some of the students at the time of the abuse. Some were 6 and 7 years old and came from difficult family situations. Some were orphans. At the same time, many Jesuit priests were not happy to have been assigned to such remote places.

“They let down a very vulnerable population,” Mr. Allison said.

Lawyers representing some of the victims initially suggested they would go after assets of some of the region’s large Jesuit institutions, including Gonzaga University and Seattle University. But the settlement does not involve them, and their future vulnerability is unclear. Mr. Allison said some of the accused priests, now in their 80s, live at Gonzaga under strict supervision.

Mr. Allison and another lawyer, Leander James, of Idaho, said the settlement required the province to eventually apologize to the victims.

One of the plaintiffs, Dorothea Skalicky, was living on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in northern Idaho in the 1970s when she said she was abused by a Jesuit priest who ran Sacred Heart Church, in Lapwai. Ms. Skalicky, now 42, said that her family lived across from the church for several years, and that she was abused from age 6 to 8.

“My family looked up to him,” Ms. Skalicky said of the priest, who is deceased. “He was somebody high up that was respected by the community and my parents.” The church, she said, “was supposed to be a safe place.”  [Laurie Goodstein contributed reporting from New York.]

[I ask you all to say a prayer for the survivors. Money cannot alleviate the memory....Trace]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old World Lie

Here are my thoughts on Divinity:

In Indian Country, a human being is as divine and sacred as any other living thing on our planet.

It’s apparent the sacred divinity of humans didn’t apply to all people and didn’t exist in ancient history like Rome, or in many religious settings. Divinity didn’t apply to both sexes or to the racial constructs of Conqueror, Slaveholder and Pilgrim either.

In Ancient Rome, one tenth of one percent held all political and social power, with senators, governors and knights its ruling class, much like today in America. America, the land of opportunity, will pollute the land, sky and water and even rob others, to make rich people richer.

Arrogant aristocratic Romans enjoyed savagery, feeding people to lions and other animals, as punishment for breaking the laws. Poor people, poor slaves did nearly all the work - like then, like now.

As Gandhi said, poverty is the worse form of violence.

“Owning or killing people was as natural to Romans as water running down hill… Who can comprehend a father tossing an infant into the village dung heap for being female, sick or a surplus mouth to feed. The Romans were not offended, especially if the father followed the law and invited five neighbors to examine the baby before he left it to die,” according to Lewis Lord, author of “Bread and Circuses in the Year One: Life Under Augustus was dirty, brutal and short” (page 76 – 79, The Ancient World, Mysteries of History, US News and World Report Special Edition, 2004.)

Children were not considered human until they walked and talked in Roman times. It doesn’t seem that much has changed.

For those in the Middle East, Christ’s arrival brought change and peace. Christianity, the world’s largest religion with some two billon followers, gave hope to a hopeless world. The teachings of Christ confront and challenge the disparities between the rich and the wretched, teaching his followers “blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

In my humble view, the Roman Catholic Church actually did more to divide and conquer the sexes than it did to convert a sinner to sainthood. The Roman Catholic Church is the richest in the world, quite a contrast to Christ’s teachings during His tumultuous journey on earth.

American does little to ease suffering of the poor or weak. It’s more a haven of greed, fear and corruption like Rome.

If you watch the Discovery Channel, you’ve learned by now there is no such thing as “race,” per se, but this truth is not widely acknowledged, since most people don’t grasp that skin color and pigment is a product of ultraviolet exposure, rather than being about one’s superiority or supremacy, or who is more eligible for heaven.

I also have to remind myself that Indigenous knowledge is ancient and America is just a couple hundred years old. So why is the truth about “race” so scandalous?

“New World Order, Old World Lie,” Santee Sioux musician John Trudell said this about exploiting human beings, with one group dominating another.

Even now, men rule and manage their institutions, except in Indian Country where women are sacred and honored. Even the Earth is a woman and called Mother in Indian Country.


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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National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

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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.


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)

Leland at Goldwater Protest


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