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Karen Vigneault - Helping Native Adoptees Search

MAKING CONTACT: My Interview with Native Genealogist Karen Vigeault-MLIS (updated)

By Trace (DeMeyer) Hentz

I was so surprised and happy to receive a gracious email from Karen as I do know many adoptees who get stuck on doing genealogy when they open their adoptions and have a name or family story that says there is INDIAN BLOOD. Once you have a name, you have to connect a parent or grandparent to a tribal roll. This has been a real problem for many adoptees.
The following interview is with Karen Vigneault-MLIS. She is an academic research librarian, genealogist and historical researcher. Karen is a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel. 
She has offered to help adoptees do family genealogy to be enrolled with their tribal nations. This offers hope for many of us! But remember that adoptees must do all the necessary steps to get their adoption records. She explains why this is so very important.

Karen, you have helped a few Native adoptees find their way back home. Can you share an example?

http://theacademy.sdsu.edu/TribalSTAR/services/EMailNewsletter/Archive/Sep_Oct2013/TS_Drumbeats_Sep_Oct_2013.html
Above is the link to pics and small article showing all that were involved in Patrick's aka Quinton's (his real name) story.  It was interesting because in his case his mom was adopted as well.. but she had passed.. so we had to get both cases opened. By opening his mothers we found more info on grandmothers last name. They spelled it wrong, which meant I had to try and decipher what it possibly matched on Aleutian records. I also called Alaska and spoke to people from villages in the area asking if they ever heard the name I thought it was.. In the end we found the enrollment documents on the tribal website.. Patrick filled them out, sent out the adoption records as well.. and ultimately was enrolled..


Opening records seems to be the biggest roadblock for many adoptees.  How have you opened or accessed records?
I myself did not open the records. I had connections along the way and the ADOPTEE did their part in requesting info and documents... It starts with going to family court and requesting to get the records opened. Here in California we also have CILS (CA. Indian Legal Services)... which also has a form to petition to have your records opened.
http://www.calindian.org/about/cils-history

You work with another person that trains judges on these types of cases. You have opened records to get the adoptee enrolled. How did you do this? 
(see above) It is important that adoptees cultivate relationships with people connected to the court system. 

Have you used the Indian Child Welfare Act to petition the courts?
Yes, definitely!

Do you recommend an adoptee use someone like you and could someone get in touch with you for your help?
Yes, I think working with someone who already has the experience navigating through websites/ documents and Indian country would make the task a little easier. I can be reached at my email: kumeyaayindian@hotmail.com

I wish to thank Karen for this amazing offer to help adoptees in their search.

NOTE:  The Canadian provinces all have post adoption registries. All work basically the same way. When Alberta (for example because it's the one I am most familiar with) open their registry it was advertised that the records were being opened. In the advertising it was stated how an adoptee could access the records (there was a form), it also addressed the issue of a birth parent looking for a child and how one manages a non-release. Although the system is a bit backed up (it takes a while for the information to be sent) it seems to be working quite well. Email me if you need more info...Trace Lara Hentz (laratrace@outlook.com)




Since this article was published, Karen has successfully helped three of my friends who are Native adoptees find their ancestors and relatives. She does not CHARGE money for her work. Do email me now and I will put you in touch with Karen - my NEW email is laratrace@outlook.com


8 comments:

  1. Karen was key in helping me get names of my family! She is a wonderful caring woman who wants to help you if you need her! God bless you Karen and THANK YOU VERY MUCH! You have helped me open a new chapter in my life!

    God Bless you and your work!

    Cynthia Lammers
    aka: Sherry Standing Soldier

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sherry my sister... I am honored to have been a part of your journey... I wish i could help every sister and brother come home...

      Delete
  2. My mom has made a major effort to try and find her son (my brother) recently. She put him up for adoption through the Navajo Nation Social Service. However she did this in the early 1970's and not sure where to start. I don't even know where to begin to help my mom find the necessary resources either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nizhoni, please email me larahentz@yahoo.com and we will work with Karen to get you some immediate help.

      Delete
    2. Please Nizhoni, email: kumeyaayindian@hotmail.com

      Delete
  3. I am hoping there is a way you can help. 


         My name is Leah Marie Hough.  I am writing to you in hopes that you will be willing to help me find a solution to a dilemma that has haunted me all my life.  I am 32 years old and would like to know how to find out about my Native American heritage.  My father, Jared Micheal Hough, who was told he was from The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa Indians,( by the people who adopted him when he was just 2 or 3 years old) has left me with so many unanswered questions. He passed away quite a few years ago and I have been trying to figure all this out since then.  There was an article in one of Michigan's newspapers saying that my grandparents Onalee and Arthur Hough had adopted two Native American children in 1958 I believe.  I no longer have the article because I went to get help a few years ago from a local Indian organization where I currently reside in Milwaukee, WI.  I ended up moving and my phone got turned off and I never heard anything back from them.  I recently tried to contact them and found that the place I went to before is no longer there.  It is now just a Native American church.  My father's adoption record was also with the information I gave them.  It stated that my grandparents adopted him but did not give any names of his biological parents.  All I know is that before he was adopted he was called "Baby Boy Case," which was listed as his name on the adoption record.  I have tried many different ways to figure all this out and have always come to a dead end.  I was told that the birth records place in Michigan that had my father's records had burnt down soon after he was adopted out.  I would just like to know if you have any advice you could give me or any place I can go to get help with this situation.  This has been one of my life goals for a long time.  I have three children and would like them to know about our heritage as Native Americans and like me they have so many questions that I can not answer.  It breaks my heart that I can not share with them any aspects of our beautiful culture.  Thank you for your time reading this.  I would really appreciate any advice you could give me.


                                                                                                                                                                                                     Sincerely, 


                                                                                                                                                                                                   Leah M. Hough


    Sent from my Sprint Samsung Galaxy Note5.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leah, please email: kumeyaayindian@hotmail.com and larahentz@yahoo.com

      Delete
  4. the larahentz email is now changed to laratrace@outlook.com

    ReplyDelete

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

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

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

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ADOPTION TRUTH

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

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