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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why ICWA matters in 2019 and beyond #NAAM2019

#NAAM2019 tweets

BIG HAPPY NEWS for many Native adoptees.

HISTORIC: Gov. Cuomo signs bill giving adopted people in NY their original birth certificates #NAAM2019

November 14: Gov. Cuomo signs bill giving adopted people in NY their original birth certificates

My daughter (center) with her daughter, my mother
and me. My family. 
As on January 2020 individuals born and adopted in New York will be able to have a copy of their original birth certificates with the names of their biological parents, if so listed.

What a simple statement of fact.

How long it has taken to write those words. For me, nearly a half century.

Many of you already know this because it's been all over Facebook and Twitter and even the eleven o'clock news last night. Yesterday evening when I got the news from my husband--Florence called  and she told him--when I was out having tea with a friend not related to this issue. At first, sitting on the couch in our living room, I hardly reacted to his words. I had been assured the signature was coming even though the wait was driving us all nuts, and so now, I thought, Oh, thank god, Cuomo's finally signed the bill.

keep reading

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

ICWA articles

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children published an issue on ICWA.
this is a pdf: Here.
Articles include:
Vandervort, The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Brief Overview to Contextualize Current Controversies
Fletcher & Fort: The Indian Child Welfare Act as the "Gold Standard"
Piper: The Indian Child Welfare Act: In the Best Interest of Children?
Piper: Response to Fletcher and Fort
Fletcher & Fort: Response to Piper

APSAC ADVISOR | Vol 31, Issue 247 
Special Section: Contested Issue
 The “solutions” provided in the article by Dr. Kathryn Piper, ...while well meaning, demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of tribes, the federal government, and the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). There is no data available anywhere that demonstrates Native children are kept in foster care longer than non-Native children because of ICWA, that they are harmed more than other non-Native children in foster care due to the heightened standards for removal or termination, or that applying the placement preferences, with their good cause exception, delays placement for Native children. Instead, the limited data we have on foster care generally shows that placing children in foster care has overwhelmingly negative outcomes, that kinship placements tend to help children, and that keeping children connected to their culture helps with creating resiliency factors they need to overcome early childhood trauma (Gallegos & Fort, 2017-2018; Pecora, 2006). ICWA does not hurt children—it’s the one law out there trying to address the very issues foster care creates.

APSAC Advisor Issue on ICWA

by Kate Fort

Time Machine #NAAM2019

By Trace L Hentz (blog editor)

There is no time machine to transport you back to the moment you were abandoned. You can’t erase how you felt or how it feels now. Or how it controls your life. Or how it breaks your heart into a million pieces. You don’t know how to stop feeling this way. You pray you’ll find your family, some one like you, who gets you, who looks like you. You want to put the pieces of your life back together, but you don’t know how.

These were thoughts I had – as I was processing.

Yes, there are adoptees who also feel this but never get to say it. I see it on their face. I hear their words and their silence.

No matter how much love and care we are given, the truth is – we are (and will always be) someone else’s children. We’re just not able to say it out loud, usually.

No doctor diagnosed me with birth trauma or splitting sickness. Therapists would recommend drugs which would only deaden my senses, missing the whole point. I didn’t want to feel more dead; I was already dead, or at least part of me was. I wanted to feel alive! Instead I just shut down. Power off.
My sickness was a dead zone, a black hole. It was not visible on my skin, nor did it raise its ugly head in one outburst or one tantrum.

I heard a story about another adoptee, a doctor with an Ivy League education, who was unable to meet his birthmother before she died. His wife told me he was never able to get the information he needed to find his birthfather, or know his identity.

Regardless of this man’s expensive education and medical training, the pain wounded him so badly he just couldn’t function, feel love or have a successful relationship. The pain was so deep, he couldn’t see it.

His wife told their therapist about his adoption, how he reacted, and how he seemed cold, heartless. Even marriage counseling didn’t save their marriage. Their therapist thought his adoption trauma was too much for him to handle; trying to work on it might kill what was left of him.

I’m not sure where I got my strength.

(excerpt from One Small Sacrifice, which is out of print)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

“I’ll Take That One” #NAAM2019

So how does this work? 

By Trace L Hentz (excerpt from One Small Sacrifice)

Was I like a lost-and-found item in a department store then put out on display? Did strangers come in, spot me and point, “I’ll take that one.” How did they know it was me they wanted? Why me in particular? It’s not like an interview if I can’t talk yet.

Actually, my parents didn’t choose me. I was available and the Catholic Charities people brought me to them and sold them on me. After this transaction, I became invisible, unidentifiable and perfectly suited to blend in with all the other children. I was in a real sense legal property, given a new name and identity and supposedly matched to look like my adoptive parents.

How strange, really. Then I’m supposed to thank them and love them for buying me and giving me a home.  Of course I did.

There must be a rule book on this somewhere, right?

My birthmother Helen was Catholic. Marriage was an institution, central to many religions. Had this religion instructed everyone to judge a woman with an illegitimate child? Make this baby a sacrificial lamb? Did they say to her, “You get a do-over if you abandon your baby…No one will ever know they existed….You’ll never find a husband with a bastard kid.”

It was different in Indian Country. Native women would choose a father for her children and if he didn’t work, she’d choose another one. For many Native mothers, the rule book changed when organized religions took over. Native mothers had many things working against them, like poverty and oppression, and the wrong ideas about savage Indians.

I finally saw the myths created for me. Gratitude is easy when you’re young. Impossible when you’re an adult. My gratitude silenced me, almost permanently.

When I reached adulthood, the words “this was done in your best interest” felt like pure nonsense. 

Clearly that wasn’t enough information to build a life on.

I was not their legal property but a human being.

[I am working on my memoir again... adding more history]

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bitterroot: finalist in Colorado Book Awards #NAAM2019

Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption,
University of Nebraska Press
Winner of the High Plains Book Award in 2 categories: Indigenous Writer and Creative Nonfiction
Finalist in the Colorado Book Awards

Note from Susan:

I've had the honor of adding my voice to the voices of others who are part of the complex structure of adoption.  RG Adoption Consulting asked me to be a part of their programming for this month, and asked great questions for adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents and others involved in this process.

The question I chose to answer was "What was the most challenging for you as an adoptee?"  Please click on the link to listen to the interview, labeled "Through the Eyes of an Adoptee".  
As an American Indian transracial adooptee, this question allowed for a lot of discussion of history, policy and the clash when American Indian children are placed in non-Native families. If you are interested in sharing this video, please do!

All my best for your interest in this story.

Today is Part II, with great and honest information for adoptive parents of racial children.  Please like and share.

I look at it as a human rights issue #NAAM2019

This IS Adoptee Rights:
"I look at it as a human rights issue. Why should people who, to no fault of their own, happen to be adopted, have less rights to their existence?" David Weprin said. "It's really a piece of the puzzle people should be entitled to. In this day and age, there is no reason why there should be a restriction to an adoptee having access to their original birth certificate (OBC)." (via facebook)
By Trace L Hentz (repost from 2010)

This article sums it up...


No Wonder Adoption Agencies are Nervous About OBC Access!

by Jo Swanson on Monday, October 25, 2010 

I was looking for a quote in my 1989 'mini-book' The Adoption Machine and came across something I had forgotten about. It fortifies what we've known all along about why agencies fight so hard to keep adoptees and birth families from locating one another. The agency is in Michigan - it's the one my daughter was placed through. I'll quote directly from the book:

A birthmother who placed her child through our same "Christian" agency contacted me for search help. She had kept in touch with her social worker throughout the years, even after the woman retired, as a way of somehow staying connected to her child. In recent visits, the former social worker had become quite upset about the birthmother's desire to be reunited with her daughter. "Give it up," she admonished her, suggesting that she was merely having a "bad day." "Cheer up! You have another family now! Besides, I checked the phone book recently, and the family isn't living in the area anymore."
Mother and daughter did meet, however, and upon comparing information provided to each by the agency at time of placement and later with the real story, found:

Claim: Birthmother was told by her social worker at time of relinquishment that her infant was perfectly normal and healthy.
Fact: Records indicated the child was diagnosed in the hospital, right after birth, as having a severe hearing impairment (95% loss), possibly due to exposure of mother, unknowingly, to German measles during pregnancy.

Claim: One year after relinquishment, birthmother was sent a letter by the agency, informing her that her child was "in a happy home" and that the adoption was finalized.
Fact: At the time the social worker wrote that letter, this child was back in foster care after a failed adoption. "The adoptive mother was having a nervous breakdown and couldn't handle a handicapped child." A second placement had been made at thirteen months, and fortunately it was a very good placement.

Claim: The adoptive family no longer lived in the area.
Fact: Adoptive father was deceased, but the mother still lived in the same home as at the time of adoption, and was still listed in phone directory. (Adoptive mother was supportive of her daughter's desire to meet her birth family.)

Claim: The adoptive couple had been told by the agency social worker after placement that the child's birthmother had died subsequent to the birth! (Common practice, we now know, as was telling birthmothers their infants died before or after birth.)
Fact: This agency social worker had spun so many lies that she was in a virtual panic that the two parties might actually meet one day and learn the truth!

We're getting the truth out drop by drop. But we've been doing it for so many decades - when will legislators begin to "get it" and realize how power has been abused by adoption brokers at the expense of children and their mothers?...Trace

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Think about these quotes #NAAM2019

“My problem is secrecy. I believe that perpetually secret adoptions assure un-accountability and lack of transparency. And secret adoptions are only the tip of the iceberg. The secrecy permeates the process: secret identities, secret parents, secret records, secret foster care providers, secret social workers, secret judges and lawyers (all their identities are sealed, typically), secret physicians, secret statistics and, in the case of some adoption-oriented organizations, secret budgets and secret boards of directors. In any social practice, when people in positions of power hide behind masks, one can be pretty sure that they have something to hide.”

 -Albert S. Wei, Special Advisor to the Bastard Nation Executive Committee

“Storytelling is an important aspect of Ojibwe culture. My ability to tell a good tale can be used as a tool for teaching and connecting. Even though I grew up outside of my Native community and culture, my stories helped me to become a part of the community that I had lost. Adoption is part of the contemporary tales that Native people need to tell…”

- Tamara Buffalo, published author-poet-visual artist

“Everyone has a right to knowledge about their lineage, genealogy and identity. And if they don’t, then it will lead to cases of incest...”

-Lord David Alton quoted after married adoptee twins were granted annulment in Great Britain (January 2008)

“We, as adoptees and birth mother’s, have become so conditioned to keep quiet and take the living in shame as just a part of our life that we don’t unite. As if we are not allowed to unite. The fear and stigma is so incredibly strong, it is all controlling. I truly don’t think adoptees realize this.”

- 73Adoptee Blog: Chynna Girl, November 14, 2008 []

🔺I saved these quotes I used in my memoir One Small Sacrifice - they speak volumes and as you can see they are from 2008 and earlier... Trace 

in the next few posts you will learn more about complex PTSD like this:

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools documented in registry #TRC

Charlie Hunter was one of the children who never came home.

He died in October, 1974, days shy of his 14th birthday, after he fell through ice while attending St. Anne’s Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., his sister Joyce Hunter said on Monday after his name appeared on a registry of deceased Indigenous children.

“Those are stories and those are lived experiences,” Ms. Hunter said. “They matter.”

The list of Indigenous children who died in Canada’s residential school system

The National Residential School Student Death Register – 2,800 names presented publicly for the first time on a scarlet banner at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau – is a permanent reminder of fatalities as a result of the government-funded education program that spanned more than 100 years and forcibly removed more than 150,000 Indigenous children from their families.

The National Residential School Student Death Register was presented publicly at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission...

READ: Names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools documented in registry

Stop blogging about "YOUR" adoptees #NAAM2019

Looming hot issue concerning "privacy" for minor adoptees

By Trace L. Hentz (Blogger- Adoptee) (repost from 2014)

I am an adoptee, well past the age of majority, and because of my closed adoption, I had to climb a mountain and claw my way up to discover any details about who my natural family was. Records were sealed in Wisconsin. Growing up, I had no medical history. I did not share my adoptive parents blood or ancestry. Mine, on paper, didn't exist.

Even recently I told a surgeon I am not sure about most of my birthmom Helen's medical history, though I do know she died from complications of diabetes.

I have not stopped thinking about the post I wrote on the LOST DAUGHTERS BLOG that APs need to stop blogging about adoptees. This is a looming hot issue concerning "privacy" for minor adoptees.  At the 2014 MIT adoption conference, I heard it loud and clear.  I'm sure many adoptive parents had not considered the ramifications of blogging about their children's lives, especially when adoptees are still minors. The dangers of sharing on social media and blogs are REAL yet being ignored.

APs are, in my opinion, in essence creating an "unsafe environment" for their child.* 

Blogging about any child is an invasion of their privacy!

A toddler cannot consent to having his or her life experiences documented on public spaces. (I predict some day some clever lawyer will take this on and attempt to sue an adoptive parent for publicizing and publishing an adoptee's early private experiences, albeit from the APs perspective.) (There might already be stalkings and kidnappings due to the increased use of social media. You can find anyone with the click of a mouse.) (There was already one lawyer in CA suing adoption agencies for damaged goods - when an adoptee is ungrateful or not what the APs expected. This is what lawyers do!)

If someone must blog, then private password-protected blogs, shared between family members, is the only way to protect any child. Parenting blogs are one thing; blogging about the children you adopt is another.

Many adoptees have told me and related on social media, much needs to be changed about "adoption" - ending the lack of access to our own adoption files, having a copy of our real birth certificate, knowing our ancestry, our medical history and so much more....including an understanding of birth trauma, anxiety and stress disorders in adoptees.

My goal as a writer/adoption author/adoptee is to advocate for adoptees too young to advocate for themselves. I will do whatever it takes to make this issue understood from the adoptee perspective.

In my foster care training in Oregon back in the 1990s, there was no mention of protecting a minor child's privacy but people were not blogging and tweeting and Facebooking back then!

Yet there was plenty to read about confidentiality for birthmoms - if they chose not to tell anyone and gave a baby up for adoption - adoption agencies like Catholic Charities assured them no one would ever have to find out. The child (like me) would have a new identity and the records were sealed permanently.

This created a fantasy I had to deal with and live with as an adult. Until I met my dad Earl, I had no medical history or ancestry.

So much needs to change about adoption. It's a complicated mess. For 20+ years, I've done research on adoption as a topic. I am not a lawyer. More and more is coming to light that "adoption" is not at all what we thought.  Much of what we read is/was created by the billion dollar adoption industry so it's their sale pitch, aka propaganda for adoptive parents (APs) and potential APs.

I am old enough now to advocate for those adoptees who can't.  And I will.

If I run into APs and lawyers who get upset with me (or my blog) for voicing my opinion, get in line.


Here is a very revealing post from Jason on his blog concerning failed adoptions and the practice of advertising adopted children you no longer want: REHOMING:

Children For Sale: Get 'Em While They're Hot

His post
Hi Anonymous, Thanks for taking the time to comment. You've raised an important issue: every child should have a safe and supportive home. Do you advocate that only adoptive children who are in homes with parents unable or unprepared to raise a child be taken away? Should parents of biological children who are unprepared, unwilling, or unable to raise their children be allowed to offer up their children to better homes?

As we consider posting pictures or information about the lives of children on the internet, we must also consider the impact on the children (you are considering only the needs of potential adoptive parents). Does the internet have a right or need to know any information about these children? How might the children be impacted in the future with their personal and private information being shared with any stranger that comes across it?

What baffles me--and endangers children--is when adults think of their needs and fail to reflect on what children need. In this case their is an enormous impact that you are failing to consider.

and:  Hi Anonymous, you've raised some important concerns about the foster care system, which is a different issue than what this post is about. I'm deeply concerned about what happens when the private and personal information about children is shared publicly. Children can have safe, secure, and supportive homes without their backgrounds being put up on the internet and shared with the world

I will end with Von's comment on Adoptive Parents blogging about adoptees:

The full exposure some adopters give to adoptees is seriously wrong and abusive. Some of you might remember the 'Potty Wars' and the 'Slant Eyes Fiasco' when adoptive mothers were adamant that their right to write whatever they wanted trumped the rights of children. Many claim they are not racist or abusive and that adult adoptees are over-sensitive and need to get a life, be prayed for or learn to be grateful. They pretend to pity us for our sad lives and state that their adoptees do not suffer and will not as we have. They know so little of the trauma of adoption and do so little to protect those they have adopted from further trauma. Anything posted is forever available and will undoubtedly be used by someone somewhere to bully, castigate, abuse etc because that sadly is the down side of our social media. Anyone who overlooks this is either naïve, stupid or deliberately abusive.

HEALTHLINE chose this blog as one to read in 2017

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?