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Friday, November 22, 2013

Indians still suffering ill-effects of adoption



“I am 72 years old. I was adopted into a white family at age one-and-a-half when my mother died. I realized I was different before I ever went to school. When I asked, my foster parents told me I was Indian, and from that day I identified with Indians, because that was what I was. I didn’t know who I was, and that heartache and anguish has been with me for nearly 70 years. I hope your study can help me find out who I am before I die. I don’t want to die not knowing my true identity. They sealed my birth certificate so I could never find my identity and never see my blood relatives. The pain of this is never ending.” – Participant in Split Feather Study by Carol Locust (Cherokee), 1998




By Trace A. DeMeyer

November may be the month to promote more adoptions, but for North American Indians, adoption is and was a weapon of mass destruction which came in the form of the Indian Adoption Projects (IAP), developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the federal government and the Child Welfare League of America.

The Indian Adoption Program was not a war, not a signed treaty, but their idea. This idea was highly effective since adopting out Indian children would be as destructive as war but it would last longer; it’d last a lifetime.  IAP was not officially signed like other treaties made in Indian Country.  IAP records were sealed and not made public. Adoptions would be permanent. Native children adopted by non-Indians parents would be Americans. Thousands of Indian children were placed in closed adoptions and wiped off tribal rolls. No one knows exactly how many children were affected.
A big black government sedan was reported in many abduction stories and it was not against the law or illegal.  Social workers took some children to residential boarding schools.  Others were placed in orphanages and foster homes, and others would be adopted.

William Byler testified before the Senate in 1974 to ask for what became the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

Here is some of his testimony:

Senator ABOUREZK. Can you describe how removal of Indian children in adoption situation is accomplished?

Mr. BYLER. I can cite certain kinds of experiences that we have had. One case, not too long ago in North Dakota, Indian children were living with their grandparents. Their grandmother was off doing the shopping. The grandfather was 3 miles away with a bucket getting water. While they were away, the social worker happened by at that time and found the children scrapping. When grandfather returned, the children were gone, and I don't know whether, in that case, he was ever successful in finding where the children were. I think they were placed for adoption somewhere.  When that happens, Indian parents or grandparents are told this is confidential information. We cannot disclose to you where your children are. This makes is seem impossible for them to even try to do anything about it.

Senator ABOUREZK. You mean the children were taken from the home and the grandparents never were allowed to see them again or to try to fight the actions?

Mr. BYLER. That is correct, and as far as they knew, they never received any notice that there were proceedings against them or against the parents. This is very often the case, there is no notice given, or if notice is given, it is in such a form that the people who get the notice don't understand it; It does not constitute a real notice.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

In the case of Adoption Awareness Month, those who interpret its value to society do so to protect and promote their myths, touting numerous benefits for the adoptee.  Indian adoptees are called the Stolen Generations and Lost Children for a reason.  It is undeniable our assimilation was America’s answer to Manifest Destiny, to make adoptees non-Indian and prototypes of American citizens, to destroy our future as tribal members.  

Very few tribes have found success with economic development such as casino gaming; most suffer devastating cycles of poverty, the result of America's neglect and misguided programs.  

After the wars, Indian reservations were isolated for a reason - out of sight, out of mind; this is one reason why Indian Country has such severe epidemics and no one in America seems to know.

After National Public Radio’s three part investigation, their evidence proves the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 is not working as it was intended and enacted! Social services in 32 states are violating federal law and still taking Indian children.

No, adoption in America is not something we celebrate in Indian Country.


Trace A. DeMeyer and Suzie Fedorko will be guests on Jay Winter Night Wolf show Friday, Nov. 22 at 1 PM EST - www.wpfw.org

2 comments:

  1. This is an illuminating post. While I knew about the awful damage of "adoptions" in the past, I wasn't aware how prevalent it was now. And out of sight, out of mind is certainly an apt description of a lot of problems facing the community.

    The Warrior Muse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Shannon. Yes, you might call this a battle of awareness in some respects. Many adoptees cannot access their own name or tribe. We have a long way to go for reunions since the records are sealed. Tragic, yes.

      Delete

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

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

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ADOPTION TRUTH

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

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