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Saturday, April 30, 2011

My interview with Leland P Kirk Morrill, Navajo adoptee (Book 2)

Weaving a new life: My conversation with Dine adoptee Leland P Kirk (Morrill)

There was a reason Indian leaders went to the Senate in the 1970s and demanded an inquiry into the staggering number of children disappearing in Indian Country. It was not just boarding schools creating this mass exodus of children. Adoption programs in 16 states removed 85% of Native children. Programs like the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), established by the Child Welfare League of America in 1967, funded in part by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, paid states to remove children and place them with non-Indian adoptive families and religious groups like the Mormon Church.  ARENA expanded to include all Canadian and United States adoption agencies and offered them financial assistance.
As William Byler, executive director of the Association of American Indian Affairs, testified, “…in Minnesota, 90 percent of the adopted Indian children are in non-Indian homes.”
In 1976, Byler told senators that for many tribes, survival was at stake; Congress agreed tribal stability was as important as that of the best interests of the child, which eventually lead to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
a striking example is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Indian Placement Program. By the 1970s, an estimated 5,000 Indian children were living in Mormon homes. Francis R. McKenna wrote in the Journal of American Indian Education, “… Christian churches have developed massive programs for adoption of Indian children. Adoption of Indian youth is some 20 times the national average. For Navajos alone, some 2,000 children are spirited away for adoption annually by a single agency, the Mormon Church.”
Leland Morrill, Dine/Navajo, is one of ten Native children adopted by one Mormon family under one of the ARENA programs. Leland, now living in California, was adopted on July 15, 1971. He was 4 years old.

Do you know what happened to bring about your being adopted?
Leland Morrill: I found out it was my Navajo mother Linda Carolyn Kirk’s responsibility to enroll me into the tribe and she should have obtained a census number for me at my birth or within a reasonable time. She didn't... I will never know why because she was killed in a car accident in Albuquerque in September 1968. She was living off the reservation. After she died, I was taken to St. Anthony’s orphanage, not affiliated with any tribal nation. My natural father, whoever he is, never claimed me. From the orphanage I was returned to the Navajo Nation and my mother’s relatives. I have been able to piece together that I was abused and neglected by them. When I suffered severe first, second and third degree burns, and broken bones, I was admitted to Keams Canyon Indian Health Services clinic then transferred to the Gallup Indian Hospital. The BIA intervened and assigned Ms. McCray of Arizona Social Services as my caseworker. She found my Mormon foster/adoptive parents, Stan and Gwena Morrill, so I was placed with them upon my release from the Gallup Indian Hospital. I was in foster care for 22 months then adopted by the Morrill’s.

Since you were fostered then adopted, did the tribe or its lawyers appear in any of the proceedings concerning your care and placement?
Yes, Andy G. Smith, a DNA Legal Aid advocate, acted as guardian to the estate of Linda Kirk, my mother. She had life insurance since she was working at the
Albuquerque Federal Building.
DNA People’s Legal Services is a nonprofit who
provides free legal aid for seven tribes in three states, helping low income
people get access to tribal, state and federal justice systems.

Do you read your adoption file?
I do not have access to it because I am not a member of the Navajo Nation. I applied for membership to the Navajo Nation on March 22, 2011. After that, I'm assuming access will be granted by the Navajo Nation but I am not feeling that is a guarantee.

How has not being enrolled affected you?
I have been weaving together my pre-adoption life up to my adoption, though the tribe has not supplied me or my adoptive parents any credible documentation or explanation concerning my lack of enrollment. I have a theory. By not enrolling me into the tribe in 1968 when my mother died, the Navajo Nation avoided the "prior approval of the Advisory Committee"... they’d set up these rules in 1960 concerning Navajo children being adopted out. Since the BIA had a role here, they would have advised against enrolling me, possibly, which made me adoptable. Navajo Judge Joe Bennally should have had me enrolled; it was his duty, but he didn't. The Navajo Tribal Council would have never investigated because I was never enrolled in the tribe by my mother or the judge.
Were you and your nine adopted siblings required to convert to the Mormon religion and expected to be missionaries?
Yes, we converted. None of the ten adopted children went on missions. One of us, Virginia (Ginny), is a practicing Mormon now.

Did the Morrill’s receive compensation as your foster parents?
My parents would have been paid at least $65 per month, per child before our
adoptions and $65 each after the adoption, for a temporary period of time. My
sister Virginia, also Navajo, and I were handled under ARENA, funded by the
BIA.  Our (mixed blood) brother Shaun was adopted as a baby out of a court in Phoenix, not tribal court. The Morrill’s moved to Canada the day after I was adopted.... effectively removing me, my sister and my brother from any biological family or tribal connection.  I have asked myself, “Why so far...why
Canada?”  My father says they were transferred. With the LDS Church Education System, doesn't one request a transfer? In Canada, my adoptive parents adopted seven more kids, all are Ojibwe siblings. I'm assuming there was ARENA money for them, too.

Did you know or meet other Mormons families who had also adopted Native American children?
Yes, my mother’s friends, the Johnson’s, adopted Native children, but I am not sure which tribe. They lived in Chinle, Arizona when we did. John Christensen was my mom's boss at LDS Social Services in Rapid City and they adopted a Native child. My adopted mother eventually worked as a secretary for LDS Social
Services, a division which handles Mormon adoptions.

How was it growing up in a house full of 12 kids - what was a typical day?
That would depend on the day and the year. We had specific rituals as a family. We woke up by 6:30 am, read scriptures from the Old/New testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenance, rarely from The Pearl of Great Price. We did the children’s versions then graduated to "The Standard Works."
After scriptures, we had family prayer, went on a 15 minute walk/run, got ready for breakfast then off to school. As the years progressed, we would rise earlier
and go to early morning seminary. My dad was the local ecclesiastical leader
and the area coordinator for the LDS Seminary & Institute program for the Mormon Church. I think his title trumps the Bishop and Stake President.

We were encouraged to do extra-curricular activities, like I was in the band, and ran track and field. We'd come home after school and had assigned chores that would rotate; sometimes it was cleaning the bathrooms, sometimes the living room, shovel snow, chop wood, wash the cars...we all rotated without regard to our sex.
Of course kids had favorite jobs and sometimes we'd trade each other. Then we'd eat dinner and do homework. By 9-10 pm, we'd go to sleep.

Later, when I was 9, dad set up the Morrill Family Services, a janitorial company. We kids cleaned buildings like a cytology/histology lab and then a local blood clinic. I did it for seven years until I was 16, in addition to having a paper route.
Some of my brothers were hired out to do yard work and shovel snow.

On weekends my adopted mom liked to go to garage sales so sometimes we'd all end up at them. Of course we'd clean houses since the Morrill Family Services had jobs on Saturdays. We had a huge garden and all of us were assigned weeding, taking certain areas.  I always traded for the strawberry patch because I like them. So we'd prepare for Sabbath, cooking, cleaning, setting the table, washing clothes, ironing, things you'd do on a normal day; we always set up for Sunday Sabbath. 
Sundays were for church. We’d be up 7 am, then get ready for three hours of church. We'd come home, eat, mom and dad would have their alone time and us kids would go outside and play quietly, or take a nap. My sister Sheila liked to tan so sometimes all ten of us would be outside tanning our brown bodies on the deck or the side lawn. We rarely included the other two, Kaelyn and Shelly, who were our parents "natural" kids.

Where do you live now?
I live in Los Angeles, California. Oddly I felt I was called here. I found out 50
years ago (in 1961) my mother Linda lived here in LA.

Where are your siblings?
Shaun and Adam live in Salt Lake City; Keith is in Pueblo, Colorado; Sharon is in
Springfield, Missouri; Robert is in Tennessee, he just moved; Ginny lives in
Magna, Utah; Cindy lives in Madison, Wisconsin; Debbie is in Raleigh, North
Carolina; Shelly is in Denver; Sheila is in Mount Hope, West Virginia; and Kaelyn
is in Draper, Utah.
Are you the oldest?
No, I am number 8. We counted off 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, eldest to youngest, when we went the Von Trapp whistles.

Where did you attend school?
I first went to school in Burford in Ontario (Canada), then Elementary, Junior
High and High School in Rapid City, South Dakota, then Salt Lake Community
College in Salt Lake City and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

What subjects did you like in school?
I was fascinated with almost any subject. My problem is the structured class; I
can read a whole textbook and take a final exam in 3 days. Our classes lasted
for 3 months. I can be impatient. I really liked my computer classes in the 80s
when "Windows" came out, and especially real estate law... in fact I'm going to a seminar at UCLA School of Law on April 9, 2011.

What you study in College?
I actually didn't finish. I studied real estate, statistics, family law and computer science.

What career path have you chosen?
My first job out of college was working for AIS, worked my way up from data entry to Assistant VP of operations for our Seattle/SLC/Denver offices, with 16-18 hour days, and a great salary, of course. I was a lead researcher for Fidelity
Information Systems, only to be replaced by the cheaper Phillipines and India work mills. Previous to that I worked for the Federal Reserve Bank writing training manuals, and I worked as their information security liaison-reconciler. I'm self-employed now, but it’s very tough in this economy. I have two businesses, Desert Power LLC, and My New Blinds.

Have you had any counseling for being adopted?
Not specifically for being adopted. Therapy, group sessions, AA, even seminars are all good ways to understand and improve yourself. Actually no one tells you you've been robbed of your identity. But yes I would recommend therapy, especially for older adoptees who remember their past. I would recommend therapy to deal with dynamics of the parent/child non-biological relationship, how to verbalize, how to ask, tell, state your wants, needs, desires, how to operate as a human being. Non-biological parents don't understand you and you don't understand them; each person should understand this and have tools to communicate.
Did you feel injury or trauma or isolation?
No. I was taken away from abuse, neglect, malnutrition from those who injured and traumatized me, a child only 1-3 years old, long before the age of reason. I
think as an adoptee, isolation comes with the new territory. It becomes the new
normal because there is no biological connection. Sure, I tried to read, do
sports, swim, run, bike, hike, etc. Yes, I am still alone. But now I enjoy
being alone. I also have chosen my own friends and support group who I can and do call on when we need and want to be around each other.

Many adoptees have admitted they have issues with bonding and low self-esteem. Has being adopted affected your ability to trust and love?
Very good question. Bonding? I choose who I can bond with and made many platonic friendships easily. My best friend and I have been friends for 26 years and talk at least twice a day in addition to texting, emailing and facebook.
Low self-esteem? I really don't understand that. Perhaps this doesn't apply to me. Yes, I have low moments and recognize them. If I need help getting out of my funk, I have mentors, friends, AA, to bounce things off. By the way, on the AA thing, my older sister Sheila had to go to AA so when I was younger, I went
with her for something to do...I still go on occasion... last weekend I went to
an AA meeting.
Trust? I trust my true friends, support group people I choose to love above anyone else. Love? Intimacy I never learned. We Morrill’s never hugged, kissed or any of that until I was in 12th grade. We got therapy to teach us - this coming from a father with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Have you made contact with your tribal relatives?
I found them because when I was studying at BYU in 1984, I met Leanne Begay from Ganado, Arizona and she knew several people in my Kirk family. The following summer a friend and I went to Ganado to visit my mother’s uncle, John Kirk. He took the place of father when my grandfather abandoned them. I also met John’s wife Ruth Shirley Kirk. Both spoke only Navajo so my cousin Calvin Kirk was awkward for me since I only spoke English and French.

Did Dine relatives help you readjust?
I'm still reacquainting. Most relatives went to boarding schools off the rez; some lived in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, New York, Los Angeles, all over. I think culture
remains on the rez. Overall they haven't shared that with me. From another perspective, the government’s assimilation and boarding schools were successful in hurting culture.
Back in 1985, I went back for a day, and they did kill a sheep; the women cooked and we men ate first. I assumed it was customary. I treated it like a formality.

Have you been to pow wows, socials and ceremonies?
Just pow wows put on by Brigham Young University’s Lamanite Generation.  According to the Book of Mormon, a Lamanite is a member of a dark-skinned
nation of
Indigenous Americans that battled with the light-skinned Nephite nation. I really do not which tribes were representative of the Lamanite Generation at BYU.

Have you thought about taking back your name?
Well, actually I've kidded over the years, Kirk is easier than Morrill. After all
those “Moral jokes,” I'd rather be Captain Kirk.

Do you have a photo of your birthmother? What do you know about her?
I did once. There was only one photo and I lost it in a move. A box went missing
with my memories and that was in the box. I looked stunningly like her. I have
my father's crooked smile, if it was him in the picture. I had that picture
less than a year, back in 1985. I know statistical things about her, where she
went to boarding school, her social security number, birthdate and date of
death. I know where she died, and approximately where she is buried.

Is it possible your dad was also Navajo?
Anything is possible. I've heard he's San Felipe Pueblo and San Domingo Pueblo, too.

Relatives said you had a brother? What do you know about him?
His name: Christopher Kirk. He was younger, and he died. That's it. I never saw a picture, so I don’t know what he looked like. But strangely I have feelings for
him. It’s like something is missing. I’ve grieved for him. WHY? I haven't a

Have you thought about living on your rez?
No, not really. I might if I could design programs that would help my nation, such as writing and research, something useful. Oddly I could do everything I'm
doing now on my rez.

Do you have a relationship with your adoptive parents now?
Yes, it comes and goes. It's not the same as a biological connection. It takes work and maintenance over and above what Kaelyn and Shelly take for granted being their biological kids.  

What about contact with your siblings?
I talk, facebook, text everyone except my one sister Debbie.

Was it difficult to discuss adoption growing up?
We didn't discuss adoption at all. We were kept busy at all times. We just never
brought it up; it was never talked about.

At what age did you realize what adoption really meant?
I understood some Indians at church were foster children and went home to their
parents. I stayed with Stan and Gwena. At 10-11 years old, I truly understood.

Did you hear derogatory terms about Indians from your parents or other people?
Not from my parents. From others, yes. We grew up in all white neighborhoods, went to all white schools. I just dealt with it. I had good friends who took care of
me. I found this out at my ten year high school class reunion.

Have relatives taught you language and are you going to learn more?
No they haven't. Many of the Kirks speak English. I've been learning some words on YouTube... some white friends are now greeting me with Ya at ahee, which makes us all laugh.

Were you closer to any siblings more than others?
Yes. We have two sides to our family, the American side and the Canadian side. The seven Canadians are all from one family. They all have their own way of
communicating. The Americans: Kaelyn, Shelly (the Morrill natural kids), Ginny,
me and Shaun all hang out together more. Shaun and I run My New Blinds business together. We are the tricksters, the jokers and tend to keep the family lively. He just broke into mom’s Facebook account and sent out some hilarious
commentary. Ginny and I are like twins. We read each other and know what the
other thinks. We were adopted together on July 15, 1971.
I am the "peacemaker" in our family. I can speak to anyone, and I do. I can be the most candid and talk about what most would prefer not to, with ease. I bring out why certain people in our family don't talk to others.  

Was there any abuse in your family?
With the Morrill’s, it was just old fashioned punishment with a belt or a switch; with them there was no sparing the rod. But we're all alive and we've all dealt with what we considered abusive. With the Kirks, I was malnourished and weighed (at most) 30 pounds when I became a foster child. Those severe burns, I have the skin grafts to prove it; I had two broken arms. My right eye still gets tired easily ... something that was wrong before my adoption. There was no sexual abuse, but we did run away... constantly.

Where are your a-parents?
They live in Draper, Utah.

Did your siblings have any success finding their tribal relatives?
Yes, all of them. I am the last one. My search was the hardest because I was an
orphan and undocumented.

You had your wallet and identification stolen. What happened when you
went to replace it?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said I needed a state-issued birth certificate because of the new Real ID Act of 200, it’s a post-9-11 act. I still had my old Utah driver’s license so in May 2010, I went to the Utah DMV and received a temporary driver’s license using my adoption papers, social security card, and my Mormon baptismal record. For any new driver’s license, you’ll need an original birth certificate. I don’t have that. Not many adoptees do. I found out states will only issue a temporary driver’s license or temporary identification card which is what I have now. The temporary is good for a period of one year.
Hopefully my Facebook page, Change for Native Americans Affected by THE REAL ID ACT of 2005, will help. In early 2010, I e-mailed Representative F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to explain how “H.R. 419 The Real ID ACT of 2005” is affecting me and how it could affect other Native adoptees. When we apply for an id or driver’s license, we will no longer qualify. So far, Rep. Sensenbrenner’s office has not replied. Once a temporary license expires, Native American adoptees, me included, become undocumented, thus illegal with no papers.
After 22 years, I now have a copy of the State of Arizona “Certificate of No Birth,” issued on December 21, 2010, after I did continuous research beginning September 07, 1989. With the help of close friends, family, people willing to help, using my own financing and tens of thousands of dollars later, I now have my State of Arizona “Certificate of No Birth” and a second six-month temporary driver’s license expiring July 13, 2011. Then my United States of America citizenship expires.

UPDATE: Leland met recently with Chai Feldblum, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner, to discuss the Real ID Act of 2005. He explained, “We discussed how it affects Native Americans who are adopted out of their respective tribes without a birth certificate, Census number, or Certificate of Indian Blood. When the Final Decree of Adoption does not state our biological parent name(s), birth date, birth place, or census number, it’s separating the adoptee from their birthright and now it affects our employment, creating a sub-class of unemployable "former" US Citizens who now are forced to find their way back to their respective tribal heritage. With 22+ years of advocating for
adoptees, I am now in process of writing an Amendment to The Real ID Act of 2005 with Ms. Feldblum.  She will present it and talk to the author of The Real ID Act, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin).”


Trace is an adoptee who does not have her original birth certificate from the state of Minnesota where she was born but an amended (fake) birth certificate listing her adopted parents as her natural parents in Wisconsin. Trace lives in Massachusetts and will be publishing Two Worlds in June 2011 with Patricia Busbee.  Lee Morrill’s story will be in the new book.

Leland Morrill (Navajo) met recently with Chai Feldblum, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commissioner (at left), to discuss the Real ID Act of 2005 and how it affects Native Americans who are adopted without an original birth certificate, census number, or certificate of Indian blood. Lack of documentation now affects employment, Morrill said, creating a sub-class of "former" US Citizens who are unable to get work without a state issued driver’s license. Morrill, who is an adoptee, and Feldblum are writing an amendment and will present it to Real ID Act of 2005 author, Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin).”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Canada's Adoption History (Oxford Companion)

archive photo
The Oxford Companion to Canadian History
ADOPTION:   Child adoption, both customary and legislative, has left few families untouched in pre- and post-contact Canada.
Although 'adoption' has been commonly used to describe the customary exchange of orphans and non-orphans among kin and non-kin, neither civil nor common law originally provided for the legal transfer of parental rights.
Massachusetts broke with Western tradition, inaugurating the first modern adoption law in 1851.
New Brunswick passed Canada's first modest legislation in 1873; Nova Scotia followed in 1896.
Customary adoption - that without formal legal recognition or protection - nevertheless remained commonplace among both Native and non-Native Canadians.
Canada's most famous orphan, Anne of Green Gables, was typical: her status in the Cuthbert family was never legally confirmed.
The unhappy experience of many British 'home children' - brought to Canada in a form of imperial 'rescue' by groups like the Barnardo and Miss Rye Homes, and supposedly 'adopted' by Canadians - gave ample proof that youngsters needed protection.
As part of efforts to protect children from economic and sexual exploitation and to shore up the heterosexual, nuclear, and middle-class family type that was believed to be optimal for child rearing, provinces in the 20th century increasingly employed adoption legislation: PEI 1916, BC 1920, Ontario 1921, Saskatchewan and Manitoba 1922, Alberta 1923, Quebec 1924, Newfoundland 1940.
Ontario soon demanded sealed records and judicial permission for access to records. This commitment to confidentiality marked an influential policy shift in the nation as a whole. Growing determination, rooted in the optimism of 20th-century behaviouralist sciences, to sever adoptees from their past has been summed up by Canadian scholar David Kirk as 'rejection of difference.'
This preference climaxed in 1957, when British Columbia eliminated the right of property inheritance from the biological family. Birth mothers were commonly stigmatized as psychologically immature or worse. Social workers and policy-makers argued that everyone in the 'adoption triangle' - which included birth mother, adoptee, and adoptive parents, but notably not the birth father - should move on with their lives as if the child had been born to the new family.
With the creation of Montreal's Open Door Society to assist Black children's adoption by white families, the 1950s also introduced Kirk's 'acknowledgement of difference' approach to adoption.
By the 1970s, with the Supreme Court's decree that Native adoptees retained Indian status and with lobbying by groups like AWARE (Awareness to World Adoption and Responsibility to Everyone) for international adoptions, Canadians became more willing to acknowledge, even retain, links to original communities.
Growing recognition of the devastating impact of the 1960s Scoop that brought thousands of Native youngsters into white homes further undermined resistance to adoptees' knowledge of birth histories, just as it raised questions about the shortcomings of cross-cultural adoption.
Silence was further shattered by the adoptee movement, heralded by American Jean Paton's influential The Adopted Break Silence (1954 ).
By 1974 Parent Finders operated in Vancouver and by 1988 BC produced a passive Adoption Reunion registry.
By the 1990s Chinese, Romanian, and Latin American adoptees, among others, made nonsense of earlier insistence on confidentiality and secrecy. In an era where domestic violence was increasingly recognized, the ideal of the nuclear family was also scrutinized more critically and various family forms were more likely to be recognized as legitimate for child rearing.
BC always officially permitted adoption by unmarried women and men.
New Brunswick's belated extension of this right to would-be single parents in 1987 reflected changed attitudes.
By the 1990s, lesbian and gay singles and couples had begun to win the right to adopt. By the 21st century, debates about adoption, of whom and by whom, were one way that Canadians confronted shifts in both family and national ideals and realities.

                      Written by Veronica Strong-Boag: "Adoption"  The Oxford Companion to Canadian History. Ed. Gerald Hallowell. Oxford University Press, 2004.  Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press

[thanks to UMASS-Amherst College Student Bridget for this important history.]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Retrain the brain? Yes! New studies!

Resilience for the Rest of Us

There are two ways to become more resilient: one by talking to yourself, the other by retraining your brain.
If you've suffered a major failure, take the sage advice given by psychologist Martin Seligman in the HBR article "Building Resilience." Talk to yourself. Give yourself a cognitive intervention and counter defeatist thinking with an optimistic attitude. Challenge your downbeat thinking and replace it with a positive outlook.
But, fortunately, major failures come along rarely in life.
What about bouncing back from the more frequent annoying screwups, minor setbacks and irritating upsets that are routine in any leader's life? Resilience is, again, the answer — but with a different flavor. You need to retrain your brain.
The brain has a very different mechanism for bouncing back from the cumulative toll of daily hassles. And with a little effort, you can upgrade its ability to snap back from life's downers.
Whenever we get so upset we say or do something we later regret (and who doesn't now and then?), that's a sure sign that our amygdala — the brain's radar for danger, and the trigger for the fight-or-flight response — has hijacked the brain's executive centers in the prefrontal cortex. The neural key to resilience lies in how quickly we recover from that hijacked state.
The circuitry that brings us back to full energy and focus after an amygdala hijack concentrates in the left side of our prefrontal area, finds Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin. He's also found that when we're distressed, there's heightened activity on the right side of the prefrontal area. Each of us has a characteristic level of left/right activity that predicts our daily mood range — if we're tilted to the right, more upsets; if to the left, quicker recovery from distress of all kinds.
To tackle this in the workplace, Davidson teamed with the CEO of a high-pressure, 24/7, biotech startup and Jon Kabat-Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn offered the employees at the biotech outfit instruction in mindfulness, an attention-training method that teaches the brain to register anything happening in the present moment with full focus — but without reacting.
The instructions are simple:
  1. Find a quiet, private place where you can be undistracted for a few minutes — for instance, close your office door and mute your phone.
  2. Sit comfortably, with your back straight but relaxed.
  3. Focus your awareness on your breath, staying attentive to the sensations of the inhalation and exhalation, and start again on the next breath.
  4. Do not judge your breathing or try to change it in any way.
  5. See anything else that comes to mind as a distraction — thoughts, sounds, whatever — let them go and return your attention to your breath.
After eight weeks, and an average 30 minutes a day of practicing mindfulness, the employees had shifted their ratio from tilted toward the stressed-out right side to the resilient left side.  What's more, they said they remembered what they loved about their work — they got in touch with what had brought them energy in the first place.
To get the full benefit, a daily practice of 20 to 30 minutes works best; think of it like a mental exercise routine. It can be very helpful to have guided instructions, but the key is to find a slot for it in your daily routine. (There are even instructions for using a long drive as your practice session.)
Mindfulness has been steadily gaining credence among hard-nosed executives. There are several centers where mindfulness instruction has been tailored for businesspeople, from tony resorts like Miraval to programs in mindful leadership at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Google University has been offering a course on mindfulness to employees for years.
Might you benefit from tuning up your brain's resilience circuitry by learning mindfulness? Among high-performing executives, the impacts of stress can be subtle. My colleagues Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee suggest as a rough diagnostic of leadership stress asking yourself, "Do I have a vague sense of unease, restlessness, or the feeling that life is not great (a higher standard than "good enough")?" A bit of mindfulness might put your mind at ease.

Daniel Goleman is Co-Director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, co-author of Primal Leadership: Leading with Emotional Intelligence, and, most recently, author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights.

[I am posting this since it is essential that adoptees review their emotional thought patterns and retrain the brain... it's our fight-or-flight adrenal reaction to our trauma that needs to be addressed and WE can heal this! ... Trace]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Utah Father seeks custody (April 2010)

John Wyatt never got a chance to hold his daughter. He's never even seen her. All he has are a few pictures.  He hopes that will eventually change.
Wyatt, 21, is embroiled in a multi-state custody dispute after his ex-girlfriend gave their daughter, Emma, up for adoption without his consent.
"I talked about raising the baby everytime I saw her. To me there was never really an option," he told "Good Morning America" today. "I knew that I would do anything to be there for my child because I know what it's like to grow up without a father."
When Colleen Fahland got pregnant at 19, Wyatt said, he was very clear that he wanted to raise their daughter.
"Every time we talked together it was clear we were going to make a decision together," he said.
But Emma, now 1, was adopted by a family in Utah, a state known for siding with mothers in out-of-wedlock cases.
Wyatt said that he told Fahland the night before the birth that he wanted to be in the delivery room. The next day, he couldn't reach her and panicked.
Wyatt said he went with the hospital, but was told she wasn't there. But she was there and had told the hospital not to list her as a patient. He tried to enter the nursery to see his daughter and was threatened with arrest.
He tried for days to find out what happened to Fahland and his baby and was devastated to find out Fahland had given the baby up to Utah couple.
Wyatt went to court in Virginia and won custody of the infant, setting off a legal dispute between Virginia and Utah.
"It's the worst experience I have ever been through in my life," he said.
Lawyers for Fahland told ABC News that she now has "regrets" about how the situation was handled.
Wyatt's lawyer, Stanton Phillips, said Utah has made such situations "impossible" for birth fathers.
"We're being told that Utah law overrides Virginia," Phillips said, accusing Utah of ignoring federal kidnapping laws that gives the child's home state, Virgnia in this case, the authority to decide custody.
The Utah couple who adopted Emma issued a statement to ABC News that they are "saddened that Mr. Wyatt has chosen to try this case in the media, rather than the courts where it belongs."
"As with all cases, there are at least two sides to the story," the statement read. "The adoptive parents prefer to allow the courts to do their job rather than to sensationalize their very personal and difficult situation in the national media."
There are at least 10 other recent cases in which babies were taken to Utah without their fathers' consent.
"Utah adoption statutes are especially harsh with respect to biological fathers who wish to assert rights in an adoption proceedings," said Joan Hollinger, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Link to video:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Example of Adoption Laws: Louisana (updated!)

Louisiana Adoption Laws

Who May Access Information
Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1126; 1270
The voluntary adoption registry may be used by:
* The adoptee who is at least age 18
* The birth mother and birth father
* The parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent
* An adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adoptee
* The birth siblings who are age 18 or older

Nonidentifying information shall be provided to:
* The adoptive parents
* The adoptee who is age 18 or older
* The birth parents

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1126; 1127; 1127.1
The agency or person to whom a surrender is made shall have the duty to make a good faith effort to obtain the Statement of Family History required by Articles 1124 and 1125, to deliver it to prospective adoptive parents upon placement, and to make it available, upon request, to the adoptee at age 18
or older. If the Statement of Family History is subsequently transferred to another agency or person, the new custodian of the information assumes responsibility to the adoptee.
Any adoptee, or if still a minor, his or her legal representative, or a birth parent, may, upon written request, obtain nonidentifying medical or genetic information without the necessity of filing a motion for disclosure.
Upon such a request, the agency or person shall make a good faith effort to review and abstract nonidentifying genetic or medical information from all available records and sources that are similar in content to the Statement of Family History.
After adoptive placement of the child, the agency or person to whom a surrender is made shall have a continuing duty to maintain these records and supplement them if additional nonidentifying medical or genetic information is received about the adopted child or a birth parent. Upon such a request, the agency or person shall disclose such information. In fulfilling this continuing duty, the agency or person is authorized to contact the adoptee, adoptive parents, and birth parents to provide updated nonidentifying medical and genetic information or to facilitate the exchange of information between the parties.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1270
The Office of Community Services of the Department of Social Services shall maintain a voluntary registry for the matching of adoptees and birth parents or siblings, or both. The purpose of this registry shall be to facilitate voluntary contact between the adoptee and the birth parents or siblings, or
The use of the registry shall be limited to the adoptee who is at least age 18, the birth mother, the birth father, parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent, an adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adoptee, and any birth sibling who is at least age 18. No registration by an adoptee shall be
permitted until all birth siblings who were adopted by the same adoptive parents have reached age 18.
The registry shall not release any information from adoption records in violation of the privacy or confidentiality rights of a birth parent who has not authorized the release of any information.
The registry shall confirm for an adoptee the fact of his or her adoption and identify the court in which the adoption was finalized and the agency, firm, or lawyer facilitating the adoption when that information is known by the department. To receive this information, the adoptee shall be age 18 or
older, submit the request in writing, and provide proof of identity.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 40:73
The original birth certificate is available:
* Upon court order to the adoptee or if deceased, the adoptee's descendants, or the adoptive parent
* To the agency that was a party to the adoption upon court order after a showing of compelling reasons

Where the Information Can Be Located
Louisiana Voluntary Adoption Registry
Louisiana Adoption Registry
PO Box 3318
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
(504) 342-9922
(800) 259-2456

[I really hope we get unconditional access to our adoption records across the United States. Until then, we have more red tape and bureaucratic bull to navigate... ADOPTEES: Always request your non-identifying info and GET YOUR NAME ON A REGISTRY...  Trace]

Hello Everyone,
The day came today! Senator Danny Martiny filed SB155 which if passed will allow all Louisiana adoptee's to obtain their OBC. We need  support in the form of letter's from birthmother's and adoptee's supporting the bill. The letters will be given to the committee when we go before them. If
you need any assistance on what to put, contact me or Kenny Tucker and we will be happy to assist you in writing it. We want them to know that birthmothers were not promised confidentality from the children they surrended, only from the general public. Keep your letters short and to the point. Adoptee's, let them know how being adopted has affected your life. We need numbers! Now is
the time to become strong in numbers. Send your letters to the address below.
You can also read the proposed bill at:
http://www.legis. us/billdata/
streamdocument. asp?did=741855

Thank you to everyone for your support.
Brenda Frisard
315 S. David St
Gramercy, LA 70052

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Child migrants: 'I didn't belong to anybody' (Australia)

Harold Haig was among thousands of child migrants who were deported to Australia and subjected to horrific physical and sexual abuse. A new film depicts their plight...

By Patrick Barkham [, 7 April 2011]
When Harold Haig was 10 years old, a man in a suit came to visit. "He said to me, 'Would you like to go to this wonderful place called Australia where the sun shines all day every day and you pick oranges off the trees, live in a little white cottage by the sea and ride a horse to school?'" remembers Haig, who is 73 but looks younger, with Pete Postlethwaite cheekbones and flowing white hair. "While I was letting this sink in, he added, 'Well, you know you're an orphan, your parents are dead, you've got no family, you might as well go.'"

Oranges And Sunshine
Production year: 2011
Countries: Rest of the world, UK
Runtime: 105 mins
Directors: Jim Loach
Cast: Clayton Watson, David Wenham, Emily Watson, Greg Stone, Hugo Weaving, Tara Morice

Haig was one of 7,000 children from British care homes who were shipped mostly to Australia and Canada between the second world war and 1967. The scandal of the lies and abuse suffered by these child migrants was exposed thanks to the tireless work of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham, who, in 1987, took it upon herself to help them find their families. As Oranges and Sunshine, a moving new film by Jim Loach – son of Ken – shows, Humphreys defied death threats to discover the truth about these former child migrants and their past lives. When Haig begins to talk, it is eerie because his softly spoken words and manner exactly resemble those of Jack, a traumatised former child migrant in the film who is played by Hugo Weaving. The British-Australian actor met and talked to Haig about his experiences before taking the role.
Apart from the man in the suit talking of oranges and sunshine, Haig barely remembers anything of his childhood in Britain. "Because of my lack of memories, I may as well have been born in Australia when I was 11 years old," he says, bleakly. He was sure he had a sister called Marie, but he could not remember anything at all about his mother: no image, no voice, no smell. "Just a blank. An absolute blank."
Surrounded by other "orphaned" children, the voyage to Australia was an adventure ("we ran riot"). When Haig arrived, he was dispatched to a Church of England boarding school in Melbourne. Other child migrants were less fortunate, as Oranges and Sunshine reveals through the story of Len, played by David Wenham. Many ended up in the care of the notorious Christian Brothers where they were treated as slave labour and suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse. One victim told an official inquiry that his Christian Brother carers competed to become the first to rape him 100 times.
Haig escaped such trauma – he would be beaten with a strap if he did anything wrong – but, as he says: "The thing missing in an institution for children is that there is no love. You get punished but there is no one there to put their arm around you and say it's OK." One of many powerful scenes in Oranges and Sunshine is when the character based on Haig falteringly explains how he feels: "There's an emptiness in me. There always has been and I think the only thing that could fill it was her, my mother." Haig says something similar when he talks of how he married, had three children and established a successful signwriting business: "Anyone would've thought there's a fella who's got everything, but it was like I had a block of ice inside me. I felt empty. I knew I was missing something. I couldn't work out what it was. And there was this feeling – I didn't know who I was. I didn't know where I'd come from. I didn't belong to anybody. I was in this void."
In the 1960s, Haig sank into a deep depression. He was prescribed antidepressants, saved them up and swallowed them all. "I wanted to die. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up to get rid of this pain, this emptiness," he says. His wife, normally a good sleeper, woke up and saved his life. He wishes he hadn't tried to take his life at home, while his children slept.
The "beautiful" younger sister he was always convinced he had eventually traced him through the Salvation Army. Marie had been separated from their mother and Haig, and raised in care homes in Britain; unlike Haig, she remembered her sibling. One day, in 1987, Marie told him she was coming to Australia with a social worker, Margaret Humphreys, who she wanted him to meet. Haig, by then divorced and wandering the Australian outback ("I don't know what I was looking for"), was unimpressed. "I'd seen a lot of social workers and I had no respect for any of them," he says.
While Oranges and Sunshine shows Humphreys struggling to win the trust of some child migrants, Haig quickly came to respect her. She was the first to raise the possibility that Haig had been told a terrible untruth – that he might not be an orphan after all. "I didn't think anyone would be so cruel to tell you that sort of a lie," he says. He is amazed by Emily Watson's performance as Humphreys in the film. "I could've been watching Margaret," he says.
Haig visited Britain for six months in 1989 to get to know Marie, who passed away 14 years ago, and to help Humphreys track down his mother. With so little record-keeping by the authorities, still in denial over the scale of the trauma they created, it took another few years for them to get confirmation that Haig had not been an orphan. His parents had separated during the war, and with two children, no benefits and no relatives nearby, his mother had been forced to give up her son and daughter.
Humphreys discovered Haig's mother had lived two miles from where he was kept in homes (eight institutions in 14 months before he was "deported" – as the former child migrants say – to Australia) and had died just a year before he first visited Britain. The belated release of more suppressed information 10 years ago also helped Humphreys, who was awarded a CBE this year, finally identify Haig's deceased father.
No photographs remain of his mother, and Haig will forever wonder why he was given up and whether his mother tried to find him. As Oranges and Sunshine shows, parents were often deceived by the authorities and told their children had been adopted or even that they were dead. "Mothers went to their graves never knowing that their children were still alive, and happy, and well," says Haig. "It's criminal. I don't know what worse you can do to people."
Why did this happen? For the British authorities, a one-way ticket to Australia was cheaper than looking after children in care homes. For the Australian government, petrified they would be overrun by Asian immigrants, white children were ideal fodder for the racist "White Australia" policy.
In 2009, the Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to child migrants. "It's a day we'll never forget," says Haig, who is secretary of the International Association of Former Child Migrants and their Families, and is still good friends with Humphreys. Gordon Brown followed with an apology on behalf of the British government a year later.
The trauma of all these state-sanctioned lies and abuse has left a long, scarring legacy. Haig is still estranged from his two daughters who felt deserted when his depression destroyed his marriage. "They think I abandoned them, and in many ways I did. I had trouble looking after myself," he says, anguish in his voice. He has since been reconciled with his son, and he hopes the film might yet bring him back together with his daughters.
"What Margaret did for me and for thousands of child migrants is to give us back our lives, give us back our identity, and shine a light in where there was just darkness." Where would he be without Humphreys? "I have my doubts about whether I'd be here alive," he says. "You should ask, where would all of us be?"

Adopted overseas as children, they're not U.S. citizens at all

By Melanie Payne ( August 15, 2010

Alexis Stevens liked to describe herself as a model citizen. She was adopted from England by a U.S. military family who moved her to Texas. She raised a family, put herself through college and became a school teacher.

Four years ago, Stevens and her husband, Wayne, decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Stevens' completion of her master's degree by going on a trip to Europe.

"I've always wanted to see where I was born," Stevens said.

The couple submitted passport applications and made a deposit on the trip. A few weeks later, Wayne's passport arrived in the mail.

His wife's did not. Turns out the model citizen was not a citizen at all.

Stevens' parents never went through the process to allow Stevens to become a U.S. citizen. The mistake her parents made by not applying for naturalization of their adopted children almost 50 years ago has sent Steven's life reeling, leaving her uncertain of her identity and her future.

Stevens has heard horror stories of adoptees returned to their birth country because they'd broken the law. She wonders if that applies to her because she voted in every election since she turned 18 and signed documents to get jobs and college aid stating she was an American citizen.

"It's a scary feeling," Stevens said in the kitchen of her Estero home. "Am I going to end up deported?"

'Who am I?'

Stevens' adoptive father was in the Army, stationed in England, when he and his wife adopted the 2-year-old Stevens and her younger sister.

When Stevens was 3 the family moved to Texas, where a court made the adoption official in the U.S. and issued Stevens a Texas birth certificate.

Stevens obtained a Social Security card, a driver's license and voter registration card. Her citizenship never was questioned and she assumed she became an American when Americans adopted her.

Now 52, Stevens breaks into tears when she talks about not being a U.S. citizen.

"I guess what makes it hard is it brings up the feeling of, 'Who am I?'" she says.

Costly mistake

After realizing the State Department had not simply made an error in not issuing her passport, Stevens went for an interview with the immigration service in Tampa. She was given the wrong form to submit for citizenship. The application was rejected and she lost the $420 fee.

That's when she hired an immigration attorney, spent thousands of dollars and had her legal residency card reissued. The attorney told her he needs $4,500 if she wants him to represent her before an immigration court judge.

"You have many hundreds if not thousands of children who were adopted and are here legally, but are not U.S. citizens and therefore not afforded all the protections of U.S. citizenship," said Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption, an advocacy organization.

More than half of the children adopted overseas by American parents become U.S. citizens when they enter the country thanks to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. But the law doesn't apply to anyone who was 18 or older on Feb. 27 , 2001.

"We've been in conversations with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State and they know this is an ongoing problem," Johnson said. "But no one has offered a fix."

After adopting three siblings from eastern Europe, McLane Layton was surprised to find out the children aren't citizens.

"They're supposed to be treated like I had given birth to them," she said.

Layton worked as legislative counsel to then-U.S. Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and wrote the Child Citizenship Act before founding Equality for Adopted Children.

Layton's group advocates for adopted children to have the same rights as any child of American parents. The group has been unsuccessful in getting legislation passed to cover older adoptees who did not obtain citizenship.

"It's no fault of their own. It's neglect and ignorance on the part of the parents," Layton said. "The adoptee should not be punished in such a serious way because of the failure of their parents."

Stevens never will know why her parents failed to apply for her citizenship. Her adoptive father died when she was 6. Her adoptive mother died when she was 16. Her sister died at 19.

'Puts your life in limbo'

Anita Cotter is going it alone with the Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Cotter was a toddler when she immigrated with her American military parents into Texas. She, too, thought her Texas birth certificate was proof of her citizenship.

Cotter, who will be 53 next week, found her German birth mother living in Kansas. About 2 1/2 years ago she moved to be closer to her mother and the immigration problems began.

To get a driver's license in Kansas, Cotter needed to prove her citizenship. But her adoptive parents, like Steven's parents, had never applied for her naturalization.

"I was astounded," Cotter said. "I didn't know what to say. I've lived here all my life as a citizen and to get slapped with this at 50 years old was a total and complete shock."

The couple who adopted Cotter in Germany and brought her to the U.S. are dead. And Cotter is having a difficult time getting the adoption records she needs to apply for citizenship.

The whole process "puts your life in limbo," Cotter said. "I'd be real interested in knowing how many of us there are out there."

No guidance

Most American parents complete the requirements for their foreign-born adopted children to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Grace Willoughby was born in Germany and adopted by an American military family. She lives in California and has a vivid recollection of the naturalization ceremony in Baltimore when she was about 7.

"I stood up, put my hand up and swore I would be a good citizen of the United States," Willoughby said. "I remember that."

Jeanne Dunham of California also recalls a swearing-in ceremony when she was 11 or 12.

Her parents adopted her and the boy who became her brother from German children's homes in the 1950s. The couple were provided with step-by-step instructions written in German, which she still has, Dunham said. One of the steps was to apply for the adopted child's U.S. citizenship.

Kathleen Moakler, government relations director for the National Military Family Association, doubts people received much guidance from the military about how to proceed with an adoption and naturalization of a foreign-born child.

"Everything was so much looser then," Moakler said.

Moakler, a U.S. citizen, gave birth to her son while overseas in 1975. She registered him as a U.S. citizen only because she had "read a blurb" on the topic in a magazine she picked up at the commissary.

"I just wanted to make sure his ducks were in a row so when he ran for president no one would challenge him," she said. "If I had not seen that article, I wouldn't have done it."

Patriotic feelings

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Chris Rhatigan said last year 28 adopted children of military parents were naturalized in ceremonies overseas. Rhatigan said the State Department's website clearly explains to parents about naturalization and the perils of not getting citizenship for an adopted foreign-born child.

What was told or not told to people who adopted 40 or 50 years ago, isn't known. But people who immigrated legally, as did Cotter and Stevens, can apply for citizenship now if they want, Rhatigan said. They will have to meet all the requirements such as passing the citizenship test. Once the application is made, processing time can be as short as five months. But in some cases it takes years, because of residency and other requirements.

Cotter and Stevens intend to get their U.S. citizenship.

"Before all this, I was the most patriotic person you would know," Stevens said.

"I love this country. I have no intention of moving," Cotter said.

But, she added, "It's like a slap in the face. I'm an American and they don't consider me one."

[from my research...Trace]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peter Dodds (views on International adoption) & who is Rita Simon?

In this eye opening interview, author Peter Dodds who was adopted from an orphanage in Germany, describes the harm caused when children are uprooted from their native countries and cultures.
I did read Peter's book "Outer Search\Inner Journey" a few years ago when there were so very few adoptee memoirs. What he says in this interview is what I hear many adoptees say.   Was this the same Rita Simon who published the study:  "Native American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories?" YES! Simon was not talking on this youtube interview... but this Jewish author is very pro-adoption! ......Trace

Rita Simon, University Professor, Department of Justice, Law and Society... recently published her 63rd book in these fields. Area of Expertise: Transracial adoption, history of women's rights, abortion, rape, women and crime, civil rights and liberties in Israel, U.S. immigration, jury system, insanity defense, death penalty, impact of mass media on public opinion.
Rita Simon is a well-known authority on transracial and intercountry adoption, immigration, justice, and women’s issues.
Her books include: In Their Own Voices; The Case for Transracial Adoption; The Jury System: Its Role in American Society; The Insanity Defense; The Ambivalent Welcome: Print Media, Public Opinion, and Immigration; Adoption, Race, and Identity; Women’s Movements in America; Rabbis, Lawyers, Immigrants, and Thieves: Women’s Roles in America; The World Over: A Comparative Analysis of Capital Punishment; Immigration: The World Over; and The Crime Women Commit and the Punishments They Receive.  She served on the Title IX commission.

"Native American Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories" : Simon's study focuses on the lives of Native American transracial adoptees and their struggle to establish a healthy sense of cultural identity, while being raised in non-Native homes. The 20 participants in this study focus on what methods their adoptive parents used or, in some cases, did not use to help them establish their own sense of cultural identity. In the end, most participants agreed that adoptive parents can help their adoptive child establish a healthy sense of cultural identity by nurturing a connection between their child and their child's tribal community.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Road documentary from Canada (60s Scoop) (with links on youtube)

In 1951, the Indian Act was changed so that provincial authorities would be responsible for the welfare of Indian children. This had little effect initially. This can be seen in the British Columbia statistic for 1955 in which 29 of the 3,433 children placed in protective care in the province were Native, less than 1%. Starting in the 1960s, however, aggressive policies of taking Native children from their families, communities, and from the Native world generally came into play. In British Columbia in 1964, the figure became 1,446 Native children out of a total of 4,228 children, or 34.2%. In his book “Native Children and the Child Welfare System,” writer Patrick Johnston coined the term “Sixties Scoop” to refer to the forced migration of aboriginal children.

The situation was the worst in Manitoba. Between 1971 and 1981, over 3,400 Native children were taken from their homes and removed from their province. More than a thousand of these children were sent to the United States, where there was a demand for children to adopt. American agencies could get $4,000 for every child placed. Native children in the United States had been adopted in a similar way until 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, protecting the children from being taken from their people… There is still no such law in Canada.

In 1982, the Manitoba government finally agreed to impose a moratorium on the export of children outside of the province, the last province to do so. There was an investigation into the practice. Justice Edwin C. Kimelman wrote a report in 1985 entitled ‘No Quiet Place’ based primarily on looking at the 93 children that were “exported” in 1981. He did not mince his words in his conclusions, saying: “Cultural genocide has been taking place in a systematic routine manner. One gets an image of children stacked in foster homes as used cars are stacked on corner lots, just waiting for the right ‘buyer’ to stroll by.” (as reported in Fournier and Crey 1997:88)

WATCH HERE: by Dan MckalisterMcedwardsmccoy (videos)

TORONTO, ONTARIO: Hamilton-based Lost Heritage Productions announced the broadcast premiere of Red Road, a one-hour documentary about one man’s search for identity, aired on, on Saturday, August 28, 2004.

Where does a bricklayer, raised on British afternoon tea, who speaks some Italian and counts among his ancestors the great Sioux leaders Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, begin the process of piecing his life together? Barry (Whitecap) Hambly was born in 1967 on Carry The Kettle First Nation in Saskatchewan. When he was four, his mother, Darlene Whitecap, ran from the reserve and an abusive relationship, taking Barry and his three siblings with her to Regina, 100km to the west. A victim of alcohol abuse, the 24-year-old mother would soon lose her children when social agencies intervened. This era, known as the “Sixties Scoop”, saw thousands of aboriginal children adopted into non-Native homes. Some children remained in Canada while others were sent to the U.S. and around the globe. While some have called it “assimilation”, many claim the “scoop” era to have been a cultural genocide.

Despite a loss of his aboriginal heritage, abuse from one foster family, and the emotional scars from being shuffled through 10 foster homes, Hambly considers himself one of the lucky ones. He was eventually adopted at the age of nine by Maggie and Don Hambly, a couple of British descent living in Hamilton, Ontario. Struggling through his adolescent years, chased by the ghosts of his past, Hambly landed on his feet after a “tough love” decision that saw him thrown out of his adoptive home at age 18.

Successful in the Hamilton construction business today, Hambly began his search for his birth parents and his cultural identity when an aboriginal person called him an “apple”—a slang expression referring to someone who is red on the outside, white on the inside.

Red Road shadows Barry Hambly’s journey, returning to Saskatchewan to confront his past and meet his birth mother. “After my first call to her, I knew that one day I would have to meet her face-to-face, to help me deal with the anger and answer questions I have had all my life.”

The First Nation word “waka” refers to walking a spiritual path in search of one’s origins. Barry Hambly has taken the first step down that road, the “red road”. Finding the way home is not always easy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PONCA tribe wants right to intervene in kids' case (2009) (update!)

[UPDATED!.... Trace]

By Timberly Ross - May 24, 2009

OMAHA- The Nebraska Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments (in late May 2009) on whether the state's legal procedures can trump a federal law that allows American Indian tribes to intervene in child-welfare cases.
In an appeal filed with the high court, the Ponca Tribe says a Dakota County juvenile court judge denied its rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act because the tribe was not represented by a state-recognized attorney.
"The federal law provides that tribes can intervene in any state child-custody proceeding that involves their children," said the tribe's Denver, Colo.-based attorney, Brad Jolly. "If a tribe has to have a lawyer in each of those cases, they won't be able to intervene."
For most tribes, the cost of having an attorney appear in each and every child-welfare case is prohibitive, he said. 
The Indian Child Welfare Act provides tough standards for removing American Indian children from their homes.
Congress passed the law in 1978 to curb a rise in adoptions of Indian children by non-Indians. In some states, 35 percent of Indian children had been removed from their homes to live with non-Indians.
"Tribal intervention in state child-custody proceedings involving Indian children is one of the primary tools Congress provided to ensure an Indian child's continued relationship with his or her tribe and
community," Jolly wrote in the appeal. "The right of Indian tribes to intervene in state child custody proceedings involving their children is absolute and unequivocal."
In October, the Ponca Tribe filed a motion in Dakota County juvenile court to intervene in a child-welfare case involving two Ponca children.
But the filing was thrown out by Judge Kurt Rager because, according to court documents, it was not submitted by an attorney.
Rather, the motion had been submitted by a trained specialist who counsels tribes on juvenile cases.
In the appeal, Jolly wrote that courts typically grant such specialists the same power as an attorney because of the tribe's sovereign status.
"In refusing to allow the tribe's ICWA specialist to file a motion to intervene on behalf of the tribe, the county court has effectively removed the tribe's right to intervene in the proceedings," he wrote.
The Ponca Tribe is asking the high court to overturn Rager's dismissal of the filing. Arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday.  A message left for Rager was not immediately returned. Judges generally do not comment on pending cases.
Jolly said the Ponca Tribe has faced similar dismissals in other Dakota County juvenile court cases since October.
The Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, which submitted a so-called friend of the court brief in support of the tribe, said: "The state's interest in requiring organizations to be represented by an attorney, however, cannot compare to the interest of tribes in their children and in their survival, an interest which Congress unambiguously intended to safeguard through the ICWA."
Legal Aid of Nebraska, the National Child Welfare Association, Indian Center Inc. and several tribes, including the Winnebago and Omaha, also participated in the brief.

UPDATE: In re Elias L., 227 Neb. 1023 (2009) - Partner Achieves Victory for Tribal Rights Under the ICWA

by Brad Jolly, Partner, June 26, 2009
In a case brought and argued by Partner, Brad Jolly, the Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously held that Indian nations can intervene and fully participate in state court proceedings subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act ("ICWA") without legal counsel regardless of state laws requiring organizations to appear in court only through an attorney.

The case, In re Elias L., 227 Neb. 1023 (2009), originated in the Dakota County Court. The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska filed a motion to intervene pursuant to Nebraska and Federal law through its ICWA Specialist, Jill Holt. The ICWA provides an absolute and unqualified right of Indian tribes to intervene in child welfare cases involving their children. However, the Douglas County Judge refused to hear the motion to intervene on the grounds that Nebraska state law requires that organizations appear in court only through an attorney and the Tribe's ICWA Specialist was not a lawyer. The Judge held that he "is charged with the duty to enforce the prohibition against the practice of law without a license" and that required him to prevent the Tribe's ICWA Specialist from appearing on behalf of the Tribe even though the Tribe had authorized and designated her to do so. The Judge simply returned the motion to intervene, refusing to allow it to be filed.

The Tribe appealed the Judge's refusal to allow the Tribe's intervention and Brad Jolly represented the Tribe as its general counsel. In its opinion, aligning itself with prior decisions from Oregon and Iowa, the Nebraska Supreme Court recognized that the ICWA preempts state law and requiring tribes to appear only through attorneys would interfere with the federal right of intervention guaranteed in the ICWA. Further, the Court recognized that economic barriers which may prevent tribes from being able to afford legal counsel would prevent many tribes from intervening in ICWA proceedings. leaving both the rights of the tribe and key rights of the children unrepresented and unheard. The Court concluded that enforcement of Nebraska's unauthorized practice of law ("UPS") statutes "is incompatible with the federally granted tribal right of intervening in child custody proceedings governed by ICWA."

On the other hand, the Court held, while the state has a legitimate interest in requiring organizations to be represented by an attorney, its interests did not outweigh those of the tribes and the federal government in ICWA proceedings. The Court noted that state law permits individuals to represent themselves in court proceedings and also permits employees of organizations to perform certain acts that otherwise constitute the practice of law when done for the benefit of the organization. The Court also noted that the state's interests were not necessarily compromised because tribes generally appear through child welfare professionals, such as the Tribe's ICWA Specialist, who are familiar with juvenile proceedings and the ICWA.

Ultimately, the Court held that "tribal participation in state custody proceedings innvolving Indian children is essential to achieving the goals of ICWA." Importantly, the Court held that state courts "shall allow the Tribe's designated representative to fully participate in [ICWA] proceedings."

The case is an important victory for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and all other tribes with ICWA cases in the state. Over the years, many county court and juvenile court judges have refused to allow tribes to appear in ICWA cases without an attorney. At times, even when a judge allows a tribe to intervene without an attorney, they do not allow the tribe to participate in the proceedings by refusing to allow the tribe's representative to speak in court, present evidence, or do anything other than observe. The Nebraska Supreme Court's bold opinion finally settles the issue in Nebraska, ensuring that Indian nations will be permitted to not only intervene, but to fully participate in ICWA proceedings in accordance with federal law.

Thanks to John Dall for his research on this!...Trace

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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.

Diane Tells His Name

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Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
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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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