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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Ok, you remember me writing on this blog I wanted my adoption file. (“My Top 5 Reasons”)
Back in September I had mentioned this to Jackie, who I visited on my recent mini-book-tour. Jackie helped Ben get his adoption file so she gave me the email for the state office in Madison, Wisconsin. I live in Massachusetts so this was super-convenient. I’d simply write an email!
Wisconsin, by law, allows adoptees in a closed adoption (like mine) to request and receive their non-identifying information. You simply fill out their form and request it (and pay them $75 an hour).
Let me clarify: your non-identifying information is a bit of history with no names.  It will not help you locate your tribe or your missing natural parent(s). In fact, it’s so vague, it’s really no help at all!
I decided to request my identifying information (aka the real deal, my sealed adoption file.) They emailed me that I would need a court order. I needed to fill out their form, have it notarized and mail it back to them so I did.
Within a month, I spoke to a woman on the phone who proceeded to fill out the paperwork for a court order. She would present it to the judge and I didn’t need to be there.
Now this was weird. She asked me why I wanted my file? Why was this so hard for me? I have a million reasons. But I didn’t know what the judge wanted me to say. What was a good reason?
I said I wanted my adoption file to help me understand my early history and where I was the first months of my life: that is what I think she wrote down. (I told her I was nervous).
Ok, I’m sure the most used reason for such a request is the need for family medical history.
(I could have said I was nervous dating strangers who might be my real brothers but this was too twisted a reason for a judge. And I’m married.)
There are many good reasons, yes. But what did the judge want to hear? I didn’t know.
If the judge read my form, he’d see I already knew the names of both my natural parents.  (Remember I read my adoption file when I was 22.) Heck I knew their birthdays and when each of them died.
So like all adoptees, I waited and prayed. The un-named judge would review my request. He or she could deny me.  But the judge didn’t.
Because I wrote my birth parents are deceased – that is why I believe the judge granted my request.  It’s only a guess. And if they considered my age – 54, I’m no kid. Maybe that is why.
So this white envelope arrived the day after Thanksgiving and I was too emotional to open it. Yes, I was a wreck! I knew it would hit me like a ton of bricks. It did.
My friend met me for breakfast on Sunday morning and since Loud Blood is an adoptee, she said she would read it to me. That was better, we thought. It was best to do this with a friend who was also adopted. So she read and I cried (in a restaurant)!
The worst part was not my crying. There was family history on one page and a small post-it note that said the next part was not on microfilm. Pages were missing. I did not receive the entire context and testimony my natural mother Helen gave to the social workers. I do not know what more was written down.
So I am processing that I am the daughter of Helen - who, by the way, did want to keep me. This broke me up so hard - my emotions are still ragged and raw. It was 1956 and she was not able to keep me, no way. There was no support for keeping me.
So, if someone in
Wisconsin does want to do this - and if they need tribal information - it is on the form in Wisconsin and the only way an adoptee can do this is through a court order. And pay $75 per hour.
When I was 22, I’d asked a judge to read my file but the one I have now (this file) is different than the one he let me read. He had more legal paperwork in his file.
The effect on me now is greater - plus my fathers version was different than my mothers.
One of the reasons I didn’t mention: 
I was in a foster home. Who were they? Now I have their name and address. That was huge for me. Now I know where I was the first days and months of my life.
I feel so fortunate, so blessed I was able to get my adoption file when so many are still in the dark about their identity and name.
Every adoptee on the planet deserves this information, absolutely. And it's criminal that we can't in all but 6 states in the USA.

NOTE: I do not have a copy of my OBC- original birth certificate. Wisconsin said I'd have to get it from Minnesota where I was born. Minnesota is a sealed record state so I may never see it.

Lauren emailed:  6 states have unrestricted access- Alaska and Kansas never sealed, Oregon was opened by the ballot measure appealed up through the courts; (Bastard Nation, among others, were very key to sparking effort) Alabama, New Hampshire and Maine all opened legislatively. The other conditional access states, IL, TN, & DE all continue to treat adoptees as second class citizens, forcing them to jump through hoops like confidential intermediary systems and parental vetoes. The states and their subcontractors- often religiously based maintain control and dole out whatever number as they see fit. TN has actually criminalized contact if a veto was signed. OH, MI, and MA all have tri-black hole systems, that grant access to some at the direct cost of access for others. None of them can be considered "open records" states.

Volunteers help adoptees connect with their past - Winnipeg Free Press

Canadian adoptees! This is a good resource! Use them!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Four Traumas

1st day of grade school

     More and more of this adoption reality is coming out on the internet, which means more and more adoptive parents and natural parents are in for a few more surprises. One study claims adoptees are more traumatized than a prisoner of war. We suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. A prisoner of war may escape or be released, but an adoptee will suffer its effects our entire life. There is no known cure for PTSD.
     Now I believe there are four distinct traumas in being an adoptee.
     They are: 1) in utero, when you hear what is happening to you or sense what is coming; 2) when you are delivered, abandoned, and handed to strangers; 3) later when you are told you are adopted and realize fully what being “adopted” means; and 4) when you realize you are different, from a different culture or country, and you can’t contact your family, or know them, or have the information you need to find them.
     It took me years to get this. There were more traumas, too – like when I’d fill out forms at the doctor’s office. I had no medical history. I had no idea if I was sitting next to someone who could be my biological brother, mother or father. To think I could marry my own relative and not even know it, that idea was horrifying.
     I could carry a gene that I pass down to my own children – but I wouldn’t know until it’s too late. My child could suffer since I didn’t know. If my birthparents were alcoholics, then I really shouldn’t drink. I could be pre-disposed to diabetes or heart disease or cancer or depression and not know this.
     My list went on and on.

     This is an excerpt from my book One Small Sacrifice. 

Equal Access to Birth Records for Adoptees

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

The dumbing-down of America

          Ok, its not great news. Today’s major television stations and early morning programs have turned into “we will entertain you with dumb drivel.” Who is controlling networks? Teen polls? Suits on steroids? A small clique of mystery moguls?
          On the Today Show they send someone to England to report on the upcoming nuptials of a prince and commoner (a year and continent away) rather than to Haiti where thousands are dying. We might get a one-minute clip that Haitians are protesting what didn’t happen to prevent their cholera outbreak… The media didn’t mention water purification or machinery or tools for their Third World nation after the earthquake.  Where is reporting LIVE from Haiti? Who is asking reasonable questions about this in their news programs?  Why not? How come?
          And you think Sara Palin’s new book is as important as let’s say – mine? Her book will sell thousands and thousands of copies because media will cover her hangnails and bad hair days, just to give her rising fame more power.  
          Palin has a plain ol’ plan that includes running the White House. She needs press. She’s using the “Madonna Playbook” of massaging media with constant exposure and massive marketing.
          I penned a historical memoir about a distinctly racist act of genocide against Native children by removing them from their Tribal Nations. My book “One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects” was self-published. Why? Who the heck cares about Indians these days? Most people think we live in prehistoric teepees.
          When was the last time you saw major media coverage of poverty in Pine Ridge or the plight of Native people or any Third World Nation?
          Nowadays, Matt Meredith Ann and Al are making viral music videos. I simply change the channel to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now. Or I turn to NPR and the BBC who do a much better job reporting on America than our networks ever will. I go online to hear National Native News or watch Indian Country TV streaming from the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation in northern Wisconsin. I read emails daily from Indigenous Thinkers and First Peoples News, both Yahoo news groups.
          Where do you get your news? What helps you make informed decisions?
          It’s not on America’s TV programs. For some of us, it’s only the internet until it costs us more money and we’ll read newspapers, if they still have reporters on their payroll.
          One more place I do visit is the History News Network from George Mason’s University. Their motto is “Because the Past is the Present, the Future is, too.” I found this new book review today: “Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition,” by James T. Kloppenberg.  “…Barack Obama puzzles observers. Derided by the Right as dangerous and by the Left as spineless, Obama does not fit contemporary partisan categories. Instead, his writings and speeches reflect a principled aversion to absolutes that derives from sustained engagement with American democratic thought. Reading Obama traces the origins of his ideas and establishes him as the most penetrating political thinker elected to the presidency in the past century….”
          I feel like the guy in Wisconsin who blasted his TV with a gun when Palin’s daughter ruined Dancing with the Stars (his opinion).
          I don’t see Cable news interviewing Cornell West, who is putting substance in plain English with: “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir” but he was on Democracy Now this morning.
          What do I know? I’m just a dumb viewer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Movie Review: Lost Sparrow solves mystery but leaves wounds exposed

Four Native American children adopted by the Billing family
On November 16, 2010, the documentary “Lost Sparrow” premiered on PBS Independent Lens.  Based on a true incident in 1978, two Crow Indian brothers (both adoptees) ran away from home and were found dead on railroad tracks the next day.
Chris Billing’s film takes a closer look at what killed these two boys and what truth shattered his entire family.
The filmmaker is one of four biological children. His parents adopted six, with four of them from the Crow tribe. Billing was 16 when the boys died. The family buries them in New York and moves on with their lives. His parents eventually divorce.
The filmmaker narrates how his little brothers Bobby (13) and Tyler (11) were trying to help their sister Lana (who is also Crow). Lana told her brothers she was being sexually molested by their adoptive father. The two boys were going to Montana to get help. They knew who they were and knew their tribe.
As the film unfolds, Billings’ story becomes more about the despondent quiet Lana, and how she didn’t survive the sexual abuse or find peace after her brother’s heroic gesture and unfortunate deaths.  Lana runs far away from the adopters to North Carolina. Her pain is so deep the alcohol abuse seems the only antidote she can afford. There are no signs of wealth where Lana lives; unlike the Billings and their homes in New Jersey and the summer mansion in upstate New York.
Journalist-turned-filmmaker Chris Billing said it took three years to make the film. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Billing, agree to see Lana on film but neither managed an appropriate response to her troubled past. Dysfunctional denial, which Mr. Billing’s exhibited while filming, seems inappropriate and not an apology, considering the facts revealed during the course of filming.
The man at the center of the conflict, the adoptive father, an all-controlling philanderer, rich businessman, acts like nothing happened, like he did nothing wrong. What you hope is he was charged as a pedophile and sent to prison. This didn’t happen.
What does happen is the filmmaker and his siblings repatriate the two boys to the Crow tribe and have them interned on tribal land. Chris films the boys’ father and tribal family who knew the boys were adopted by a rich East coast family but could do nothing to stop the adoption. Their grief leaves the viewer tormented.
After revealing the entire truth, the filmmaker said it did little to bond their family or cure old wounds, “If it was good for Lana, then making the film was worth it.”
Wounds this egregious and deep are not healed by a 78-minute film.

From the Lost Sparrow PR: 
On June 27, 1978, a 44-car Conrail freight train struck and killed two Crow Indian brothers near the town of Little Falls, New York -- a day after Bobby, 13, and Tyler, 11, had disappeared. The two boys had run away without warning from the white, Baptist family that had adopted them and their biological sisters seven years earlier, spiriting them from a troubled Montana reservation family to an idyllic Victorian castle across the country. Lost Sparrow recounts award-winning filmmaker Chris Billing's investigation, three decades later, into the dark family secret that prompted his adopted brothers to flee.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month: November 2010

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued every year since 1994. This Facts for Features presents data for American Indians and Alaska Natives, as this is one of the six major race categories.

Note: Unless otherwise specified, the data in the "Population" section refer to the population who reported a race alone or in combination with one or more other races.

5 million
As of July 1, 2009, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race. They made up 1.6 percent of the total population. Source: Population estimates

8.6 million
The projected population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, on July 1, 2050. They would comprise 2 percent of the total population. Source: Population projections 

Increase in the nation's American Indian and Alaska Native population from July 1, 2008, to July 1, 2009. The population of this group increased by 1.7 percent during this period compared with the overall population growth of 1 percent. Source: Population estimates

Median age of the American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2009, younger than the median of 36.8 for the population as a whole. About 30 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives were younger than 18, and 8 percent were 65 and older. Source: Population estimates 

The American Indian and Alaska Native population in California as of July 1, 2009, the highest total of any state. California was followed by Oklahoma (415,371) and Arizona (366,954).

About 13,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives were added to Texas' population between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009. That is the largest numeric increase of any state. Texas (4.2 percent) also had the highest rate of increase during the period. Source: Population estimates 

Number of states where American Indians and Alaska Natives were the largest race or ethnic minority group in 2009. These states were Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Source: Population estimates 

Number of states with more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents on July 1, 2009. These states were California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Washington, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Alaska, Oregon and Colorado. Combined, these states were home to 65 percent of the nation's American Indian and Alaska Native residents. Source: Population estimates 

The proportion of Alaska's population identified as American Indian and Alaska Native as of July 1, 2009, the highest rate for this race group of any state. Alaska was followed by Oklahoma (11 percent) and New Mexico (11 percent). Source: Population estimates  

The number of American Indians and Alaska Natives in Los Angeles County, Calif., as of July 1, 2009. Los Angeles led all of the nation's counties in the number of people in this category. Harris County, Texas, added about 2,100 people to this group between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, leading the nation's counties in largest increase of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Source: Population estimates 

Among counties or equivalents with total populations of 10,000 or more, the number that were majority American Indian and Alaska Native, as of July 1, 2009. Shannon, S.D., led the way, with 86 percent of its population from this group. Source: Population estimates 

                            Families and Children
The number of American Indian and Alaska Native families in 2009. Of these:
-- 39 percent were married-couple families, including those with children.
-- 18 percent were married couples with their own children, under the age
    of 18.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population;

Average number of people in an American Indian and Alaska Native family in 2009. This was larger than the national average size for all families, regardless of race (3.23 people).
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population;

The percentage of American Indian and Alaska Native householders who owned their own home in 2009. This is compared with 66 percent of the overall population.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population

Median value of homes owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives. The median value of homes for the overall population was $185,200.  Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

Percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives 5 and older who spoke a language other than English at home, compared with 20 percent for the nation as a whole. Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

The percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma. Also, 16 percent obtained a bachelor's degree. In comparison, the overall population had 85 percent with a high school diploma and 28 percent with a bachelor's degree. Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

Number of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 and older who had a graduate or professional degree.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

$34.5 billion
Receipts for American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned businesses in 2007. These businesses numbered 237,386.

Number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms in California in 2007, which led the states. Oklahoma, Texas and New York followed.

3 in 10
Number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms that operated in construction and other services (such as personal services, and repair and maintenance) in 2007.

Number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms that had paid employees in 2007. These businesses employed 191,472 people.

Number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms with receipts of $1 million or more in 2002. These firms accounted for nearly 2 percent of the total number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms and more than 64 percent of their total receipts. Source: American Indian- and Alaska Native-Owned Firms: 2002  Note: This is the most current data available -- 2007 data will be released in March 2011.

Number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms with 100 or more employees in 2002. These firms generated nearly $5.3 billion in gross receipts -- 24 percent of the total revenue for American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned employer firms. Source: American Indian- and Alaska Native-Owned Firms: 2002 
Note: This is the most current data available -- 2007 data will be released in March 2011.

New York; Los Angeles; and Gallup, N.M.
The three cities with the largest number of American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, with 7,134; 5,767; and 2,642, respectively, in 2002.
Source: American Indian- and Alaska Native-Owned Firms: 2002;;

Note: This is the most current data available -- 2007 data will be released in March 2011. Source for data in this section, unless otherwise stated: Preliminary Estimates of Business Ownership by Gender, Ethnicity, Race and Veteran

The percentage of civilian-employed American Indian and Alaska Native people 16 and older who worked in management, professional and related occupations. In addition, 24 percent worked in sales and office occupations and about the same percentage worked in service occupations. Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

Among American Indians and Alaska Natives 30 and older who lived with their grandchildren, the percentage who were also responsible for their care. The corresponding rate for the population as a whole was 40 percent. Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

The number of American Indian and Alaska Native veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

                             Income and Poverty
The median income of American Indian and Alaska Native households.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

The percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives that were in poverty in 2009.
Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

                              Health Insurance
The percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives who lacked health insurance coverage. Source: 2009 American Community Survey for the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more races population 

Note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau's Public Information, Office: telephone: 301-763-3030

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Complicated, Baby

All across America, people still prefer to adopt babies. Millions of Americans adopted babies and some of us were adopted as babies. I’m guessing it’s because tiny babies don’t show their feelings; baby screams sound just like cries.  This may also explain why so many children languish in foster care: they’re just too old. Older kids do exhibit fear, uneasiness or apprehension; some kids even act like babies.
            Adopting babies is easier. Adoptive parents can hope their new baby will adjust and bond favorably by the time baby will talk. Some adopters believe they saved us as babies since our mother was a slut or wretched teenager, or maybe a sick woman on an Indian reservation or from a trashy tenement. Maybe we're Third World babies from an over-populated Chinese, Russian or African orphanage. Sometimes adopters simply ignore our culture and history, like it doesn’t exist. Some of my friends heard words like “dirty savages and filthy heathens.”
            Adopters might hope to mold “orphan babies” into something they want. They'll try loving us first. Yet we know love doesn’t cure everything. Love can’t erase genetics or ancestral memory. If love doesn't work, the adopters might try bullying us or drugging us into submission until we show them some gratitude.
            An even more complicated reality exists, a much bigger untold desperate story. 
            Adoptable babies are scooped up quick, especially if they are white and healthy and from America. You can even order one, but it will cost you thousands of dollars.
            If that doesn’t work, and if you can afford it, you can always buy a surrogate mother; these women widely advertise now. She’ll carry and deliver your baby for a price. Some sisters will do this for an infertile sibling.
            Then there’s a huge “underground market,” where they still kidnap and sell babies. Baby peddlers, some who practice law, are out there making money, too. Some abducted babies were made child sex slaves. Guatemala is now under investigation for illegal baby peddling. Someone made a ton of money on babies!
            A newer adoption scam is happening online – when a woman fakes a pregnancy, offers her unborn baby as bait, then steals the unsuspecting couple’s money (thousands of dollars) using the internet as a trap.
            There are tragic stories about sick women or couples who will kill a pregnant woman just to take her baby. This happened in Massachusetts recently.
            There are more stories about babies being dumped (abandoned) all across America. One mother dumped three babies in California (two were saved but one died from exposure). In New York, three sisters were arrested for helping one sister dump her newborn girl in the trash, causing the baby to die.
            Some mothers are illegal immigrants and don’t want their new baby. They'll do their child a favor by dumping them off at a firehouse. Those adoptees rarely find their mothers, since birth records won’t exist. There is a slim chance their mother will seek them out for a reunion since they are considered felons and criminals in most states.
            For the millions of us who have been handed over, dumped, or exchanged (or sold, or taken) for a hundred years – has anyone dared to ask how we felt at the exchange? 
            Apparently we are studied, not consulted.
            Bear in mind, babies didn’t create this billion dollar adoption industry or cause infertility. Babies can't solve social issues but we're sold as one solution. Babies can't cure the pain in women who can’t conceive. Babies didn’t create poverty. Some would say certain babies arrived at the wrong place at the wrong time. We were an inconvenience, or a sin, or a mistake.
            How will we ever fix this? It's complicated, baby!

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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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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.


Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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