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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This Week In American Indian News: ICWA Summit Off?

available on Amazon and all ereaders
We lead today with an update on the Lakota/Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] summit scheduled for mid-May. I did not think this was public, but as of Saturday morning, the Associated Press is reporting it in a local South Dakota news outlet, so it's now out there.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the "Lakota Spring," including a pair of upcoming hearings organized by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in preparation for the summit. The BIA agreed to the summit after members of Congress, under pressure from Sioux tribal members, demanded an investigation into reports that South Dakota state officials intentionally engaged in repeated violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA] by improperly removing Indian children from their families and placing them in white foster or adoptive homes. In any other context, we'd call that what it is: Kidnapping. In South Dakota, it's called capitalism, since it's a moneymaker for both white families and the state.
Well, after much apparent hemming and hawing, the BIA has released its agenda for the summit - an agenda, I remind you, that was supposed to be a joint project between BIA officials and tribal leaders.
And it's a whitewash. In the multiple senses of that term.
Yes, I do know this, because I've seen the agenda.
Standing Rock officials agreed to this summit on condition that it would address the facts of the kidnapping of their children and work to correct the ongoing violations. They did not agree to help cover them up. Among their very reasonable conditions was that former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk, the original architect of the ICWA, be included in the program to speak about the conditions that compelled him to act in the first place. (Here's a hint: The conditions in 1970s Indian Country looked very much like the conditions in South Dakota today.)
I've seen no official public response from the BIA yet, and I'm not taking bets at this point as to whether the summit will actually occur.

Read more here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/29/1205473/--New-Day-This-Week-In-American-Indian-News-ICWA-Summit-Off-Racists-Apps-Movies-Powwows#

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Adoptees Shouldn't Have to Use Facebook to Find Their Birth Parents

The recent "Adoptee Searching Picture Meme" highlights what's wrong with the American adoption system.   


matchar_jenessa2.jpg
Facebook
This January, a 21-year-old Utah woman named Jenessa Simons located her birth mother via Facebook by posting a picture of herself holding her adoption information ("Born November 17, 1991...They named me Whitney"). The photo went viral, with more than 160,000 shares, and Simons received an email from her birth mother just two days later. In the three months since, Simons' success has inspired countless imitators, both birth parents and adoptees, clogging Facebook feeds with similar messages.
These posts have brought questions of adoption and its consequences to the forefront. While adoption is usually lauded as a win-win, some say situations like Simons' highlight major problems with the institution, problems which cause suffering for birth parents and adoptees alike.
Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, a birth mother who reconnected with her son via MySpace in 2006, sees the recent rash of what she calls the "Adoptee Searching Picture Meme" as a sign that the adoption system is badly broken. Adults like Simons, Corrigan D'Arcy says, should have the legal right to documents revealing their biological backgrounds.
"Imagine a world where adult adoptees could access their birth records like EVERY other American and know the name they were given," she writes. "Then they wouldn't have to post pictures of themselves on Facebook holding signs with personal information all over. Then they wouldn't have to beg for strangers for shares in order to find out who they look like and if cancer runs in their family."
  Read more here: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/adoptees-shouldnt-have-to-use-facebook-to-find-their-birth-parents/275251/

NOTE: We have our own Facebook page for this: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanIndiansSearchingFor

(See box on this blog...) Please make a poster and post it on our page... Trace

Intergenerational Trauma




Published on Apr 10, 2013
The Union of Ontario Indians received funding through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to develop tools and erect a monument to pay tribute to Anishinabek Nation members who attended Indian Residential School. The project is entitled "Honouring Our Children, Families, and Communities Affected by Indian Residential Schools".
As part of the project, a series of five educational videos were created. In this video M'Chigeeng First Nation citizens Krystine Abel and her mother Eve Abel talk about how Eve's experience as a student at St. Joseph's residential school in Spanish, Ontario in the 1950's had an impact on Eve's parenting and Krystine's sense of identity as an Anishinaabe Kwe. Eve has lived in Toronto for over 40 years and has two daughters and one granddaughter. Krystine is now studying Social-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
For more information about the Anishinabek Nation Indian Residential Schools Commemoration Project, visit http://www.anishinabek.ca/irscp/

Sunday, April 21, 2013

MY TOP 5 reaons the adoption establishment bugs me

AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES: BLOG WEEK: MY TOP 5
I am rerunning this post - it is one of the most read on my blog!!

Why does the adoption establishment bug the heck out of me?

Here is my Top 5.

1- (Lack of) Disclosure - Old archaic laws are on the books in many states and it seems every state is having some kind of major meltdown or fiscal crisis. Adoptees who are fighting to gain access to our birth records can’t seem to grab their attention or warrant the lawmaker’s time or serious consideration - unless maybe the lawmaker is an adoptee.  

Yup, we know adoptees are low on the totem pole and status meter and that annoys me.


What are “they” thinking? Oh, it’s obvious - the status quo - let’s not rock the boat, just leave the law as is and let's not disclose information every adoptee needs and deserves, and definitely let’s not disturb the Adoption Industry who lobbies Wash. DC with fancy dinners and big campaign contributions. (Lack of medical history is a huge problem for many adoptees, including me)

I can hear the lobbyist pounding on their tables, “adoptees should be grateful they were adopted.” The adoption industry is a billion dollar business and they don’t want to lose a single dollar in profits. It’s about money. Even now, the adoption industry does not appreciate adoptees or ask how we feel or acknowledge what we endured. We are not invited to sit at their table or join in discussions. That really bugs me!

2- Secrecy - Over and over and over “they” claim our natural mothers demanded secrecy yet many mothers who lost children after closed adoptions are saying, “damn the secrecy, damn the laws, where are my children?”

Uniting all these mothers with all the adoptees on the same stage, fighting the discrimination, shame, secrecy and old laws would be powerful!

Sadly it seems both are on their own warpath to be heard.  Uniting our voices on this issue - especially natural mothers and adoptees who have been silenced for too long - is what is urgently needed. Big crowds marching on Washington DC would get "their" attention.  

Blogs are enlightening the world to our plight. Using our voices, activism and blogging for change is good.

3- Identity - Adoptees are denied our basic human rights to the truth of our ancestry, our tribe(s), our birth name, our family names, our background (which is our identity), our medical history, our original birth certificate (OBC) and information about both our natural parents.

I noticed writing my memoir how adoptees will say they are looking for their mothers -- but we do have a dad somewhere and possibly siblings - and we do need to know who they are and where they are! Adoptees need to add “dad and siblings” to their list of needs when facing adoption industry discrimination and current adoption laws.

The bias in the adoption industry is to protect the adoptive parents and seal our identity so no one will ever find out the truth. That deeply annoys me.

If you are Native American, you cannot be enrolled without documentation and proof. If you are a Split Feather/adoptee, you not only lose your identity but your treaty rights and all that goes along with being an enrolled tribal member. Just remember your identity is Native American with or without tribal enrollment.  We must unite and form a national organization to teach about the government’s use of closed adoption to hurt and destroy American Indian families and cripple future generations.

4- New Identification Cards? Yup, as of 2005 more states will implement this new country-wide identification card. And guess what? Adoptees who cannot produce a real birth certificate (OBC) may (let me stress “MAY”) not be able to renew a driver’s license, vote, or apply for or renew a passport. That scares me and bugs me equally! Those ignorant lawmakers who wrote the Real ID Act of 2005 (and passed it) didn’t consider adoptees or how this would affect us? We pay them big salaries because they represent us. What were they thinking? They were not thinking of adoptees, perhaps 10 million of us in the USA.

5 - Gratitude - Over and over I hear adoptees say - almost by script - how grateful they were to be adopted by their parents. I call this our gratitude attitude. We get stuck there mentally and it’s hard to move on to empowering ourselves to regain our birth rights and identity. I know my gratitude silenced me. Gratitude meant I could not talk to my adoptive parents about anything - how I felt, what I planned to do, or even ask them questions about my adoption file. Laws prevented me from knowing anything about myself and my first family.

AND I found out my new parents were not really informed when they adopted me in 1957. They had basic information like I was illegitimate, how my mom was unmarried.

AND my adoption file didn’t include medical history. Really. Apparently the adoption industry didn’t think about the child at all when compiling information for the adoption hearing. It was about convenience and expedience for adoptive parents. Really.
Looking back the adoption industry should be so embarrassed and horrified they didn’t get our medical history when they “sold” us to our new parents.

So, what about the Adoption Establishment annoys you? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

After adoption

For instance, among Indians who participate in the Daily Kos group Native American Netroots, at least four of us have relatives who were yanked away from their families and sent to boarding schools (aji: great-grandmother; me, grandmother and great-aunt; navajo: mother; cacamp: grandparents, parents and himself).

Aji tells the story of her great-grandmother:
[My mom's grandmother] died without ever knowing who or what she was; it's taken a lot of work, years later, to piece her "self" together. Initially, the family thought she was of Scots descent, not realizing that the Scottish surname was that of her by-then-widowed mother's second husband.  Her adoptive name was English. There is no record of what her traditional name (or any surname) might have been; they were more interested in covering up the very fact of adoption than anything else. In the 1870s, the Catholic Church in Michigan was very invested in saving Indian children from an alleged "epidemic" of illness.  What they were really doing was stealing kids and farming them out as fast as they could to reliably Catholic families who would … "save the [wo]man by killing the Indian." No one knows how many were lost to white families via church theft. Hundreds, at a minimum. Probably thousands over the course of one generation alone. But one day in the late 1870s, a good white Catholic couple of English extraction left their home and traveled to the rez for two months, and came back bearing their new little Indian "papoose," promptly given a white name and identity, with never a reference to be made to the adoption, much less from where.
Ironically, when she married, her husband ran his father's logging business, and during the summer months, he traveled around the state; in his absence, she ran the business for him. She hired and fired — you guessed it — Indian laborers, some of whom were undoubtedly relatives, but neither side ever knew it. She died thinking that 1) she was English, and 2) she was the lineal descendant of those English "parents." To this day, I'm not sure how they explained the differences in coloring — probably via the "Gasp! That's not discussed in polite company" method.
Also ironically, after her adoption, her new parents went on to have nine biological children of their own. You'd've thought they could've been a little less greedy about acquiring someone else's child as a possession.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/26/1030339/-South-Dakota-kidnaps-Indian-children-and-sticks-them-in-white-foster-care 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How Being Separated From My Family and Tribe Affected Me


By Jacqueline Davis, Activist          

Today the Supreme Court will hear Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a case about a South Carolina Indian girl who the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the child must be returned to her Indian father. The child's mother ignored the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, a federal law designed to protect Indian families from "abusive child welfare practices that resulted in the separation of large numbers of Indian children from their families and tribes through adoption or foster case placement" and, as a result, both the tribe and the father were denied their rights under ICWA.
As the Supreme Court hears this case, the coverage has been largely one-sided. I thought it was important for people to hear my story, and how being separated from my family and tribe has affected me.
My name is Jacqueline Davis. I am one of six siblings affected by a decision made by the state of South Carolina. I am a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and my grandfather is Chief Dave Bald Eagle.
Read the rest here:
http://www.aclu.org/blog/racial-justice/how-being-separated-my-family-and-tribe-affected-me

 

ICWA briefing

Please listen to this now:

http://dl.luxmedia.com/casey/ICWA_Briefing.wav

The history is told here, the agencies are apologizing for the Indian Adoption Projects, our trauma as adoptees is validated, and they agree we need ICWA as much today as we did when it passed in 1978.
Trace

LAKOTA SPRING: PUBLIC HEARINGS ON SOUTH DAKOTA ICWA SCANDAL

 
 photo HoweandSheehanofLPLP_zps09c2ee71.jpg They call it the Lakota Spring: Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation are partnering with the Lakota Peoples Law Project [LPLP] to engage in a massive, far-reaching organizing effort to recover their children, stolen from their families in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA]. The LPLP and Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] officials are scheduled to co-host a three-day summit, May 15-17, on the current state of Native foster care and ICWA violations affecting Lakota children. To prepare for the summit, tribal officials are convening two public hearings: the first on April 20, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, at the Grand River Casino in Mobridge, S.D.; the second on April 28th, from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM, at the Prairie Nights Casino in Fort Yates, N.D. The purpose of the hearings is two-fold:
At these hearings Lakota relatives who have lost children to the foster care system will be invited to speak, on camera, about their experiences with the Department of Social Services. . . . The Standing Rock tribal government is making a substantial investment to explore having its own family welfare system and to secure long term direct federal funding to support it.

In addition, the "LPLP is also circulating an online petition to encourage members of Congress to attend the May summit."
The push for the summit with the BIA comes out of a report that Lakota tribal officials recently submitted to Congress, highlighting the serial violations of the ICWA that are routine in South Dakota. The report, combined with previous efforts on the part of the tribes and the LPLP, demonstrated a deliberate pattern of stealing Lakota children from extended families perfectly able, willing, and qualified to care for them, and illegally placing them with white families — in part, for "perverse financial incentives." The result was a hellish record of physical, psychological, and even sexual abuse (including rape) for many Indian children, and State officials subsequently prosecuted two of their own child welfare officials for blowing the whistle on these crimes.
For historical background, see Denise Oliver Velez's front-page piece from yesterday on "Stolen Generations," and Meteor Blades's diary on the long-term effects of stealing children from their families (some of whom are Kossacks today). For greater background about the current "removals" going on among the Lakota, read the LPLP's diaries on the cover-up of rape and other abuse of Indian children in the South Dakota foster care system, and on NPR's coverage of the report to Congress. See also my own diary on the racism and "perverse financial incentives" that keep the illegal practice of Indian child removal going strong.
If you live in the area of either hearing, you can help in two ways: First, if you know of Native families who may be affected by these issues, please help spread the word. Second, contact your elected representatives, and encourage them to support the efforts of the Standing Rock members (and those of other affected Lakota nations) to recover their stolen children and enforce compliance with the ICWA.
Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/15/1201757/--New-Day-This-Week-In-American-Indian-News-Stolen-Masks-Stolen-Children-Sherman-Alexie

Sunday, April 14, 2013

18 National Child Welfare Organizations Join Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Support of Indian Child Welfare Act

Two Worlds anthology shares how adoptees felt about adoption
Contact Information
Sarah Fridovich
206.378.4613
sfridovich@casey.org
Download
Amicus Brief
PDF: 52 KB
Press Briefing Audio
WAV: 43.8 MB
Position Statement

PDF: 372 KB

The case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, now before the Supreme Court, calls into question the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
April 11, 2013
    
    
SEATTLE – Casey Family Programs with the support of 17 other national child welfare organizations has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  The case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, now before the Supreme Court, calls into question the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The coalition of philanthropic and nonprofit organizations represents decades of frontline experience working to improve the lives of vulnerable children and their families. The group supports ICWA because it has helped establish the values and practices that have become central to effective child welfare practice. In particular, this law reinforces the important role that families and communities play when determining the best interests of children in their care.
“The Indian Child Welfare Act reflects the best practices in child welfare,” says David Sanders, Casey Family Programs’ Executive Vice President of Systems Improvement. “It works to prevent the unnecessary breakup of families and helps keep children connected to their communities.”
“The same values and best practices found in the Indian Child Welfare Act are reflected in federal legislation that applies to all children and families. The federal government emphasizes three goals for child welfare: keeping children safe from abuse and neglect; ensuring a stable and permanent family; and improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children. We see these goals reflected in recent legislation, including the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Fostering Connections Act,” said Sanders.
Casey Family Programs is joined in this amicus brief by other leaders in child welfare including the Children’s Defense Fund, Child Welfare League of America, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Donaldson Adoption Institute, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Voice for Adoption, Black Administrators in Child Welfare, Inc., Children and Family Justice Center, Family Defense Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, Foster Care Alumni of America, FosterClub, National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, National Association of Social Workers, National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, and National Crittenton Foundation.
Adoptions are an important permanency option for children when placement with their own family is not possible. Ensuring successful adoptions requires a consistent and transparent process. And that is why is it is important to note that national adoption organizations are supporting the brief.  They recognize that the protections and safeguards included in ICWA support successful adoptions and are reflective of the best practices for children. 
Anita Fineday, Casey Family Programs’ Managing Director of Indian Child Welfare Programs says, “For more than 35 years, ICWA has helped to establish important principles for strengthening families and encouraging community engagement to produce the best results for children. That is why we are committed to helping others understand the important role this law continues to play for both Native American families and in shaping broader policies that support the rights of families to raise and care for their children within their own cultures and communities.”
Casey Family Programs has provided direct services to children and families involved in public and tribal foster care systems for more than 40 years.
Hear what Casey Family Programs and other child welfare experts had to say during an Indian Child Welfare Act press briefing regarding the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Indian Affairs, Adoption, and Race: The Baby Veronica Case Comes to Washington

A little girl is at the heart of a big case at the Supreme Court next week, a racially-tinged fight over Native American rights and state custody laws.   

Veronica with her biological father Dusten Brown and his wife, Robin. (Courtesy of John Nichols)
The United States Supreme Court next Tuesday hears argument in a head-spinning case that blends the rank bigotry of the nation's past with the glib sophistry of the country's present. The case is about a little girl and a Nation, a family and a People. The question at the center of it has been asked (and answered) over and over again on this blessed continent for the past 400 years: Is the law of the land going to preclude or permit yet another attempt to take something precious away from an Indian?
The case is styled Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, but everyone knows it as the "Baby Veronica" case. The "baby" is a little girl, now nearly two-and-a-half years old, born of the fleeting union of an American Indian man named Dusten Brown and a Hispanic woman named Christina Maldonado. Before Veronica was born, her mother arranged for her to be adopted without telling the baby's father. When, months after the baby's birth, the father found out about the adoption, he exercised his rights under federal law to undo the adoption and gain custody. The two state courts which have reviewed the case have both sided with him.
Read it here: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/indian-affairs-adoption-and-race-the-baby-veronica-case-comes-to-washington/274758/

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Battle for Baby Veronica

Native America Calling: (feat. Kate Fort)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 – The Battle for Baby Veronica (listen)
The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl next week. The case could have long term effects on future adoptions of Native children. The child, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was given up for adoption by her non-Native mother without the consent of the father. At the heart of the Supreme Court case is the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which regulates adoptions of Native children outside of their tribe. We're taking a closer look at this case and what it means for Native America. How might the outcome of the case impact families or tribes? What's the role of tribes in the adoption process? Guests include Chrissi Nimmo (Cherokee) Assistant Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation.
NOTE: I had a meeting so I missed this program. Click on the links and listen. Terry Cross from the National Indian Child Welfare Assoc. did call in - so glad he did.  What was said briefly: If the adoption lawyers had paid attention to the federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, this case never would have happened, if lawyers had followed the law -- and Baby Veronica would have been placed with her father (or a member of his family since he was serving in the military at the time of her birth.) The natural mother in this case also didn't respect (or was ignorant about) existing federal law when she went to relinquish her newborn and chose adoptive parents.  Sovereign Tribal Nations have the right to control where their children are placed (via adoption) because of ICWA (and the history of removals of children) but some states and non-Indian lawyers do not respect or know ICWA.

I was thinking about what Veronica will think about this when she becomes an adult. If she is like me, she will be grateful that her father fought for her and gained custody. It's not that I don't understand how the adoptive parents are distraught and wish her back. They need to realize Baby Veronica is a member of a tribe by birth, and with existing ICWA law, she should be raised by a member of her birth family or tribe. Why ICWA is important: Every child is the future of a tribe.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Daily Bastardette: Washington Battleground: The Annual Murder of Adoptee Rights Continues

The Daily Bastardette: Washington Battleground: The Annual Murder of Adoptee Rights Continues

As we are all living in 2013, these battles continue and it's Washington state who should be called out for discriminating against adoptees and our right to know who we are and have our birth certificate and adoption records given to us....Trace

Across North America

Every. Day.

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

To Veronica Brown

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

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

Read this SERIES

Read this SERIES
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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.

Our Fault? (no)

Leland at Goldwater Protest

#defendicwa

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