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Thursday, October 27, 2011

NPR's ICWA investigation (Parts 2 and 3, links and transcript)

NPR's year-long investigation has produced startling evidence the certain states are ignoring the Indian Child Welfare Act - and as you have read on this blog, this is often unquestioned criminal behavior, illegal by federal law and overt racism againt Indian People with the abduction of Native Children to foster care and adoption...   and today, some tribes ARE hiding the children they rescue from foster care...

Tribes Question Foster Group's Power and Influence (Part 2)
Transcript from "All Things Considered":
Copyright ©2011 National Public Radio®. 

October 26, 2011 -

MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host: And I'm Michele Norris.
There's a federal law that says Native American children who are removed from their homes should be placed with their relatives or tribes. The idea is to stay close to their culture. But this week, an NPR News investigation finds that in South Dakota's foster care system, that's not happening. Hundreds of Native children are placed instead in private group homes. The homes get paid millions of dollars to care for the kids.
BLOCK: The largest is a place called the Children's Home Society. South Dakota's governor used to run Children's Home, and he was on its payroll while he was lieutenant governor. As NPR's Laura Sullivan reports, that arrangement highlights the influence of South Dakota's powerful child welfare system.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Get ready. Set. Who's on first?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let's go, dude.
LAURA SULLIVAN: On a small crest deep in South Dakota's Black Hills, a dozen children jump on sleds and float across the snow. These kids are wards of the state. This is their home, the western campus of the Children's Home Society.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. Let's go. Let's go.
SULLIVAN: There are rolling hills, a babbling brook, even a new school. On a visit last winter, Children's Home Director Bill Colson says it's a place to help children who can't make it in regular foster care.
We want to solve the problems. And sometimes, it just seems like you're beating your head against the wall, but the reality is we are making progress. And I feel great about it, and our agency feels good about it.
State officials say Children's Home and other organizations like it are necessary. But Native American tribes say the homes are overused on kids who don't need to be there - kids who should be placed with relatives or their tribes.
That's what Congress mandated 30 years ago when it passed the Indian Child Welfare Act. But a 2005 government audit found 32 states are failing, in one way or another, to abide by it. One those states is South Dakota, where 90 percent of Indian children in foster care are placed in non-Native homes or privately run group homes; a generation of children torn from their traditions, cultures and tribes.
Many wind up here at Children's Home. Director Bill Colson says he's heard the tribe's complaints. And he says returning children to their relatives is a top priority
It's hard. It's frustrating for us, too, because we want to see children be successful. Our goal is to have kids, be in a family and be successful.
Children's Home provides services for almost 2,000 children. It's one of the largest nonprofits in the state. But it wasn't always. Ten years ago, this group was in trouble. Tax records show it was losing money. Then in 2002, a former banker named Dennis Daugaard took over as chief operating officer. A year later, he was promoted to executive director, and things began to change.
Money from the state doubled under his leadership. Children's Home grew seven times its size financially. It added two facilities. It seized on a big opportunity when the state began outsourcing much of its work, like training foster parents and examining potential foster homes. Children's Home got almost every one of those contracts. The group paid Daugaard $115,000 a year. But that wasn't his only job.
Governor DENNIS DAUGAARD: I'm Dennis Daugaard, and I want to be your next governor.
SULLIVAN: At the same time he was getting paid to be director of Children's Home, Daugaard was also the state's lieutenant governor and a rising star in state politics. He had just taken office at lieutenant governor when Children's Home promoted him to its top post. The years he spent running the place and his ability to turn it around were prominent features of his 2010 bid for governor.
DAUGAARD: I left the bank then and joined Children's Home Society, a home for abused and neglected children, and became their executive director.
SULLIVAN: He won. He is now South Dakota's governor. It could be that Children's Home was the best organization for the job, at the best price for all of those contracts it got. But it would be difficult for taxpayers to know. That's because in just about every case, the group did not compete for the contracts. They didn't have to bid against any one else. For almost seven years, until this year, Daugaard's colleagues in state government just chose his organization and sent it money - more than $50 million.
MELANIE SLOAN: It's a massive conflict of interest.
SULLIVAN: Melanie Sloan is the executive director of a government watchdog group called Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington. She says any private organization run by a lieutenant governor would have a lot of power in that state.
When you're lieutenant governor, people are anxious to curry favor with you.
Daugaard declined NPR's repeated requests for an interview. In a statement, his office said Children's Home was the only viable organization that could have done the work, and that Daugaard never used his influence as lieutenant governor to secure the contracts.
Tribal leaders, though, say the unusual relationship provides a window into the role money and politics place in South Dakota's foster care system. They say Children's Home's dominance in this area is but one more example of the interests of the state trumping the interests of Native children.
JUANITA SHERICK: They make a living off of our children.
SULLIVAN: In a basement office on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Juanita Sherick manages foster care cases for her tribe.
SHERICK: Hello. May I help you?
SULLIVAN: She says the state pushes aggressively to place kids in Children's Home. Kids, she says, would be better off with their own grandmothers, aunts and uncles.
Give the children back, you know, to their relatives. The Creator gave those children to those families.
In recent years, Children's Home has become a powerhouse. It examines potential foster families and homes, houses the most kids, trains the state's case workers; holds all of the state's training classes; does all examines of children who may have been abused.
Children's Home gets paid millions of dollars every year for this work, and Rose Mendoza says that's ridiculous. She runs social services for the Standing Rock Sioux, and she says her group would do it for free, especially the home studies, the job of examining tribes' potential foster homes.
Why is there no private agency onto our reservation? We can send our worker, our licensing worker out to go do a home study.
In a state where the majority of foster children are Native, Mendoza and many other tribal officials say home study, social worker training and family placements should be done by people who know and understand the children's culture.
ROSE MENDOZA: Everybody says, well, its cultural difference. Cultural difference, but it's a way of life. Our way of life is different.
SULLIVAN: Native tribes weren't the only ones left out. Troy Hoppes ran a similar group called Canyon Hills Center at the time. He says he didn't know about contracts until after they were doled out.
I just remember in the news there were some grants that were awarded, and I was envious. We wanted to get some grants for ourselves, as well.
Hoppes says his organization would have jumped at the chance.
TROY HOPPES: Facilities love the opportunity to branch out with things like that.
SULLIVAN: In its statement, Governor Daugaard's office says any group home with a license can care for kids. But Hoppes says Canyon Hills had a license, yet it struggled to fill its beds, while at the same time, Children's Home had a waiting list.
The statement also emphasizes that lieutenant governor was a part time job, and that Governor Daugaard never supervise any of the people who approved government contracts. Social service officials in their statement said Children's Home was treated the same way as every other organization.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: But I'm so excited. On Saturday is my grandmother's birthday.
SULLIVAN: On Children's Home campus, kids walk through the hallways to get to their next class. This place has won many state accolades for its work with these kids. But none of that means much to Suzy Crow or her granddaughter, Brianna.
SUZY CROWE: She was over there most of three years.
SULLIVAN: Suzy Crow was taken from her family and forced into boarding school like thousands of other Native American children over the past century.
CROWE: Every night, me and my sister would meet at her bed, and we would say, let's run away tomorrow, just to comfort ourselves that we're still there. This foster system reminds me of that.
SULLIVAN: Crow didn't want Brianna to grow up like she did, not knowing who she was or where she belonged. It took a court order for the state to finally send Brianna home.
CROWE: I didn't care what it took. I battled with them.
SULLIVAN: State records show South Dakota paid Children's Home almost $50,000 over three years to care for Brianna. And all across the state, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, family and tribal members would have cared for Brianna and hundreds of other Native American children like her for free; close to their tribes and culture like federal law intended.

Part 3  (October 27, 2011) Native survivors of Foster Care Return Home:

Disproportionality Rates of Native American Children In Foster Care (statistics)

Native foster care providers are not getting children in South Dakota? 32 states are failing to abide by the ICWA.... A Congressional Investigation by the Federal Government will be one way to solve this... prosecution of social workers and state government officials? Stop their funding? I am grateful to NPR for this ground-breaking investigation and shining a light on this... 
Please email me if you are interested in providing testimony to Congress... It will take time but We must act...   Trace (my email:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Part 1 of 3: NPR Investigation in ICWA Compliance

Key Findings Of This Investigation
* Each year, South Dakota removes an average of 700 Native American children from their homes. Indian children are less than 15 percent of state’s the child population, but make up more than half the children in foster care.
* Despite the Indian Child Welfare Act, which says Native American children must be placed with their family members, relatives, their tribes or other Native Americans, native children are more than twice as likely to be sent to foster care as children of other races, even in similar circumstances.
* Nearly 90 percent of Native American children sent to foster care in South Dakota are placed in non-native homes or group care.
* Less than 12 percent of Native American children in South Dakota foster care had been physically or sexually abused in their homes, below the national average. The state says parents have “neglected” their children, a subjective term. But tribe leaders tell NPR what social workers call neglect is often poverty; and sometimes native tradition.
* A close review of South Dakota’s budget shows that they receive almost $100 million a year to subsidize its foster care program.
Derrin Yellow Robe, 3, stands in his great-grandparents' back yard on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. Along with his twin sister and two older sisters, he was taken off the reservation by South Dakota's Department of Social Services in July of 2009 and spent a year and a half in foster care before being returned to his family.
John Poole/NPR
Derrin Yellow Robe, 3, stands in his great-grandparents’ back yard on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. Along with his twin sister and two older sisters, he was taken off the reservation by South Dakota’s Department of Social Services in July of 2009 and spent a year and a half in foster care before being returned to his family.

Read more here:
and here:

This must end now, today, forever...Trace

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BAD NEWS: Children of Color Disproportionally in State Foster Care

young Indian men in residential boarding school, the first step in assimilation
Yes, more bad news!
A new report Children of Color Disproportionally in State Foster Care published in May 2011, proves there are still persistent problems of Native children living in state foster care in America.  Native children are still being lost to their system today!
This 2011 study shows Native American children represented 2.6% of the foster care population, yet only encompassed 1.2% of the general child population.
Why is this? Traditional kinship adoption (children being cared for by relatives) is not implemented as in past centuries. State social workers are rarely trained on Indian customs and tradition. They do not appreciate our long history and many lack formal education about Indians.  Tribes have insisted, over and over, they want to run their own programs to care for their children, but monies from the federal government are still channeled to the states instead of the tribes!
Add to that, there are not enough Native people providing foster care services to raise these children.
Programs of assimilation, like residential boarding schools, attempted to end Indian Country by stealing children to erase tribal culture and languages.
For over a century now, Indian Country barely survived these genocidal practices of rampant racism.
A few tribes do well now with economic development like casino gaming, but most tribes suffer devastating cycles of poverty, the result of America's neglect or misguided programs.  

Regular Americans had a glimpse of rez reality with Diane Sawyer's recent 20/20 program Hidden America: Children of the Plains that aired on 10-10-11. In case you missed it, watch a clip here:
Pine Ridge (where they filmed over one year) is only one rez - many more Indian children suffer and are hidden right here in America. 
After the wars, Indian Reservations were isolated for a reason - out of sight, out of mind; this is one reason why Indian Country has such severe epidemics and no one in America seems to know.
Indian's isolation in grass prisons was on purpose.

If you are reading this blog and thinking or writing about adoption, the figures in this report are recent and evidence that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 is not working as it was intended and enacted! State systems are violating federal law!
Who can stop this? Educated politicans who are made aware by voters.

FROM THE REPORT:  Comparisons of Disproportionality by State: Native American Children
Across the United States, Native American children are overrepresented in foster care at a rate of 2.2 times their rate in the general population. While not all state show disproportionality, 21 states do have some overrepresentation. Twenty-six percent of the states that have overrepresentation have a disproportionality index of greater than 4.1.  In Minnesota, the disproportionality is index 11.6.
Read the complete report here:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oklahoma the latest to examine its adoption laws

archival photo
Oklahoma adoption laws merit serious look by Legislature

The Oklahoman Editorial
October 23, 2011

MANY adoptees go through life with nagging questions about their backgrounds. Who were their parents? Why did they give them up for adoption? A cloud of secrecy envelops the adoption process primarily to protect the parents' identity.

Oklahoma is helping adoptees answer some of those questions.  Under a 1997 state law, a child adopted after November 1997 can obtain a copy of his or her birth certificate at age 18, unless the birth parents file an affidavit of nondisclosure. The law also instituted a statewide reunion registry and allowed for intermediary searches. (This is conditional access...Trace)

Older adoptees, however, believe the law should be made retroactive, allowing everyone to obtain their birth certificates. That argument deserves serious consideration by the Legislature next session.

Sand Springs mental health therapist Rhonda Noonan lobbied for the proposal before the House Human Services Committee, which is studying the issue. “Everyone deserves the truth and the ability to find themselves and their ancestral history,” Noonan said.

She told committee members of her 30-year search to find her birth parents and of discovering her grandfather was Winston Churchill, whom (she was told) had shown interest in her as an infant.

Learning about their parents' background also can be invaluable for adoptees for medical reasons. Several adoptees have petitioned the court to have their birth certificates unsealed for medical reasons. One man said he petitioned the court to make sure he wasn't marrying his sister.

Michael Nomura, co-director of a Tulsa adoption agency, warned committee members about negative consequences of adoptees showing up unannounced at the front door of their birth parents. “That may not turn out well for either the biological parent or the adult adoptee who may end up being rejected again,” he said.

However, a study released last year by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute indicates that the majority of birth mothers don't want to be anonymous to the children they relinquished. In four states that grant adoptees unconditional access to birth certificates, only 1 percent or less of the birthparents filed no-contact preference forms.

When Oklahoma sealed birth certificates for adoptees in 1939, it primarily was to protect the parents. Society has changed dramatically in the meantime. The negative stigma of children born out of wedlock is much less these days.

Another concern is that some birth mothers might be under the assumption that the records would remain sealed and may not have told others about giving up a child for adoption. As Noonan notes, everyone should have a right to learn about their ancestry. These are sensitive points and deserve serious deliberation by lawmakers.

Read more:

Again, we have to educate lawmakers it is not so much about reunion (though adoptees want a good one) as it is to have the same basic human right as others have - to possess a copy of our Original Birth Certificate and to know our ancestry, tribe and medical history....Trace

Friday, October 21, 2011

The SCARY Culture of Adoption (and the Real ID ACT)
 In March 2007, I gave two workshops on the Culture of Adoption here in western Massachusetts. I used the subtitle, “We can’t fix adoption until we fix poverty..." My earlier post is here. 
Those working in my county were oblivious to effects of adoption on the adoptee. The social services employees who attended my workshops were open to the information but seemed clearly shocked.
Is this what adoption propaganda does to people? Sure it does! It's scary!
Their oblivion makes it all the more difficult to convince lawmakers and policy makers to change adoption laws that continue to prevent adoptees from accessing their adoption file and obtain a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC). 
If these same social workers who handle children and families are not aware of adoption effects, then we remain stuck - addressing the same issues over and over and over!
I don't want to call this ignorance but it does appear to be apathy.
Non-adopted people ask me all the time- "What's the big deal!? Why would adoptees need to know their real identity?"
If adoptees do not have access to our OBC and soon, we face scary and alarming new issues with the REAL ID ACT of 2005. Adoptees could be prevented from voting without a national identification card, which requires everyone produce an original birth certificate. Our old drivers licenses won't suffice anymore. Those of us without this new card could be prevented from voting, getting hired, driving or even flying on an airplane. These new national identification cards will replace driver's licenses.
Believe me, this is an urgent human rights issue for adoptees, one that the writers of the 2005 REAL ID ACT failed to recognize or address.
(Add this to my list of why adoptees need their adoption files and original birth certificate NOW!)
The reason our amended birth certificates will look suspicious are the dates. For example, I was born in 1956 but my adoption was not finalized until 1958. With that much time difference, it makes my amended birth certificate appear suspicious! I had no control that I was adopted then handed fake documents to prove my identity. Can you see how farcical this is?

I am asking you to please write your local lawmakers and ask them to repeal the REAL ID ACT. [This is the actual bill:]
Use this EPIC weblink for information to write your letters or call your state legislators! 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) originally estimated that REAL ID will cost $23.1 billion over 10 years. DHS is planning to extend the deadline for implementation across America to January 15, 2013.
Tell your governor to boycott it!  If you are an adoptee, explain why you cannot access your original birth certificate (if you live in a state with sealed adoption records.) Tell them what you stand to lose!
When an adoption is finalized, a new birth certificate for the child is customarily issued to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents names are listed on our amended birth certificate.  The original birth certificate is then sealed and kept confidential by the State registrar of vital records. In the past, nearly all States required a court order for adoptees to gain access to their original birth certificates. In approximately 26 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico, a court order is still required.
Read more about your state's adoption laws here (2009 report):

Lawmakers ignorance about adoptees is not only dangerous, it's another SCARY chapter of adoption culture!

These states passed legislation Rejecting the REAL ID Act (19 total)

•Alaska, SB 202  (adopted April 11, 2008)

•South Dakota, SCR 7 (passed February 25, 2008)

•Tennessee, SJR 0248

•South Carolina, S 449 ( (enrolled June 5, 2007)

•Nebraska, (adopted May 30, 2007)

•New Hampshire, HB 685  (adopted May 24, 2007)

•Oklahoma, SB 464  (approved May 23, 2007)

•Illinois, HJR 0027  (adopted May 22, 2007)

•Missouri, HCR 20  (adopted May 17, 2007)

•Nevada, AJR 6  (enrolled May 14, 2007)

•Colorado, HJR 1047 ( (signed May 14, 2007)

•Georgia, SB 5 (signed May 11, 2007)

•Hawaii, SCJ 31  (adopted April 25, 2007)

•North Dakota, SCR 4040 (signed April 20, 2007)

•Washington  (signed April 18, 2007)

•Montana, HB 287  (signed April 17, 2007)

•Arkansas, SCR 22 (signed March 28, 2007)

•Idaho, HJM 3  (signed March 12, 2007);
Idaho, HB 606  (signed April 9, 2008)

•Maine, SP 113  (adopted January 25, 2007)

•Utah, HB 449 (unanimously passed by committee on February 19, 2008; lost on House floor)

•Louisana, HB 715 (passed May 14, 2008; signed July 16, 2008)

•Virginia, HJR 42 (SB 492); SB 1431 (enacted March 31, 2009)

•Minnesota, HF 3807 (passed House and Senate May 13, 2008; vetoed May 16, 2008); HF 1351  (passed House April 14, 2008; passed Senate April 21, 2008; vetoed April 25, 2008)

•Arizona, HB 2677 (passed House March 19, 2008; passed Senate May 6, 2008; signed June 17, 2008)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rest in peace Elouise Cobell, you fought the good fight...

In a Dec. 17, 2009, file photo, Elouise Cobell watches a Senate Indian Affairs meeting…
National Congress of the American Indian (NCAI) Statement on Passing of Elouise Cobell

Organization calls on Indian Country to honor tireless leader’s advocacy work with continued action on rights protection and cancer awareness

Washington, DC – The President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Jefferson Keel, has released a statement on the passing of Elouise Cobell, calling for Indian Country to honor the legacy of one of Indian Country’s most influential advocates by continuing to protect the rights of American Indian and Alaska Native people everywhere. NCAI also called for Indian Country to honor her life by confronting the quiet but devastating force of cancer, which took the life of Elouise Cobell and is the second leading cause of death among American Indian women and Natives older than 45.

“Elouise Cobell represented the indelible will and strength of Indian Country and her influence and energy will be greatly missed. Her passing on from this world must be honored by reaffirming our resolute commitment as Indigenous peoples to protect the rights of our citizens and our sovereign nations,” said Keel, President of NCAI, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization. “NCAI joins all who mourn the loss of this great individual. She committed her life to strengthening Indian Country and she contributed greatly.”

Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana and lead plaintiff in the historic Cobell v. Salazar litigation, was presented with NCAI’s Indian Country Leadership Award soon after the Cobell Settlement was finalized in 2010. The award recognized her years of work as the spokesperson and moral force behind the effort to restore justice to American Indian account holders. NCAI has also passed resolutions strongly supporting the Cobell settlement.

“From her life, we have lessons of resilience and commitment, and in her passing, we have lessons that will inspire us to continue improving the health of Native people,” continued Keel. “Just like Elouise taught us, we must not shy away from taking on what seems impossible. We must acknowledge cancer’s vicious assault on Indian Country’s most valuable resource, our people. We will honor her with a promise to the future generation of leaders that follow in Elouise Cobell’s footsteps, to continue the fight for the health of our people.”

According to Native American Cancer Research (NACR), cancer is the second leading cause of death among American Indian women and among American Indians older than 45 years of age. In 2008 the American Cancer Society released the first large-scale national study about cancer rates of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The report stated “For all cancers combined: Incidence rates among American Indians in the Southwest, the Plains and for Alaska Natives were 50 percent higher than the rates for non-Hispanic whites.”

About The National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit

A true warrior has passed and has gone on to be with her ancestors...We will never forget your bravery, strength and determination, Elouise... AHO!... Trace

Monday, October 17, 2011

How do we Mend the Hoop?

By Trace A. DeMeyer (Winyan Ohmanisa Waste La Ke)

Years ago I was embarrassed to say I was adopted. I did not feel lucky. I did not have a clue that my adoption hurt me so badly, its tentacles reached into every aspect of my life, even as an adult. My hoop, my connection to my ancestors, was broken by my adoption.
I ached to know my own mother, the woman who created me.
One expert wrote, “Loss of the most sacred bond in life, that of a mother and child, is one of the most severe traumas and this loss will require long-term, if not lifelong, therapy.”
Really? No one helped me with this. I had therapy twice. The counselling I received in my 20s or 30s concerned my dysfunctional childhood and yet all my issues stemmed from my adoption wound and loss. They missed it or didn't inquire or connect the dots. Why is that?
For close to 20 years, on my own I searched and simply wanted to find answers and the truth. I made calls before I showed up anywhere; I did not disrupt anyone’s life. If I was invited to meet relatives, I went. This year alone, two cousins have filled giant gaps in my ancestry. Prayers are answered, even the unspoken ones.
I can see how adoption loss can last a lifetime. For some friends, they're stalled with sealed adoption records, not knowing which tribe, and suffer greatly with grief and depression.
For them, I wrote my book as a journalist and adoptee and now I write this blog for other American Indian adoptees, raised by non-Indians.
For those who attempt to open their own adoption, or simply want to understand, I explain many stages, steps I had taken: some good, some hard.
Sharing our stories is how we heal, how we mend the hoop.
Even now there is persistent rampant poverty in Indian Country. Even now it isn’t easy being Indian, on and off the reserves. But it is definitely better to know who you are, which tribe, and not live in a mystery. Someone needs to build a bridge for these adoptees. Open records will accomplish this.
It's hard to admit but adoptees with Indian blood find out soon enough their reservations are closed to strangers. Without proof, without documents, you’re suspect.
We don’t always get our proof since state laws prevent it. Just one Minnesota tribe, White Earth, decided to call out to its lost children/adoptees; this made news in 2007. Just a few adoptees showed up. Why? Adoption records are still sealed in Minnesota.
America’s Indian Adoption Project was not publicized or well known, just like a few more secrets I found out. Congress heard Indian leaders complain in 1974, “In Minnesota, 90 percent of the adopted Indian children are placed in non-Indian homes.”
I was born in Minnesota.
For any adoptee going back to their tribe, this requires a special kind of courage. Adoptees know this. Rhonda, a Bay Mills Tribal member, an adoptee friend of mine, was told early on – be happy, be white. Ask yourself, how would you react?
When did Indian Country become such a bad place to be from? When did this happen? How did this happen?
My mission is to find these answers and build new bridges... it is time to mend the hoop for all adoptees.

The Hoop symbolizes the never ending circle of life which starts with birth, then goes to maturity, then to old age and death with the completion of the hoop in rebirth here or in the spiritual world. The individual who has his life in order stands in the center of the hoop to see, to understand, and to be guided by the various paths of life around him. The best compliment one can pay an individual is to say that he stands in the center of the hoop of life or that he lives on the correct path of life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Open Letter to ‘Occupy Wall Street’: A Lenape Perspective | Unsettling America

INDIANNESS - bitter fights ahead in Indian Country

The Cherokee use the Dawes Rolls to determine tribal membership.

Bitter Fight to Determine Who Is an American Indian Turns to DNA Testing

By Kevin Taylor
October 13, 2011
Indian Country Today

The onset of casino gaming brought great change in Indian country, but it also created unexpected­—and frequently heated—arguments over Indian identity: What makes somebody a member of a tribe, and how it is measured?

Traditional metrics include tracing lineage from flawed base-membership rolls and the sometimes-complicated math of blood quantum. Over the past decade, some tribes have turned to DNA testing to make sure tribal members, and potential enrollees, are who they say they are—at least when it comes to parentage.

This trend has come to just a small number of tribes, perhaps 40 or 50 out of the 265 with gaming, one consultant on tribal government estimates, and just a sliver of the Indian nations overall. But the joined issues of Indian identity and the sharing of lucrative casino profits have had an outsized impact. Through DNA tests or other methods, thousands of Indian people have found themselves disenrolled in recent years for failing to meet tribal criteria.

In August, the Cherokee Nation appears to have won a long and bitter fight to disenroll nearly 3,000 freedmen, the descendants of black slaves owned by Cherokee, who had briefly tried to use DNA to show their “Indianness.”

A small tribe in California, the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, which has been embroiled in enrollment fights for 30 years, in September adopted a DNA-testing ordinance that tribal leaders say will bring stability at long last.

And in Wisconsin, a young Indian woman, Daria Powless, had the fruits of her sweet basketball season turn to vinegar when the apparently jealous family of a teammate unearthed a painful secret to challenge her qualifications as a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. On September 17, the Ho-Chunk Nation General Council voted to disenroll her. The Ho-Chunk began using DNA about 10 years ago, making the tribe one of the earliest to use the technique, but it has only been formalized into the tribal constitution since June 2009. It is only used to augment earlier methods of determining enrollment. “It’s still blood-quantum based,” says Sheila Corbine, attorney general for the Ho-Chunk Nation. “But as with many tribes there is rumor and innuendo about who is a tribal member or not. All the DNA testing is designed for, in our instance anyway, is to prove parentage. And that is to arrive at what the blood quantum is.”

“I have been living with my grandmother since I was two days old,” says Powless, who turns 21 this month. She was born to a mother who left immediately, and a father who came around rarely. “They weren’t married, they just had a kid, and I was going to be up for adoption and my grandmother decided to take me.”

She was raised in a Ho-Chunk house and culture, which included pow wows, regalia, fancy dancing and later a more-modern expression of Indianness—playing basketball. Powless, a six-foot-two power forward and center, was one of three talented players for a Wisconsin Dells high school team that won their conference two years in a row. Powless then enrolled at Division I Texas Southern University and made the basketball team as a freshman walk-on.

It is too common, she says, to see young people blow through tribal funds in a matter of months, spending them on shiny things. For Powless, her future—as a player and an aspiring athletic trainer—was the shining thing, paid for with a scholarship from the tribe. And she feels it has been stripped from her. She says the grandmother of one of her high school teammates called one night while she was home from college on a holiday break to reveal a dirty secret Powless says she had never heard: that the man she’d always believed was her father wasn’t.

“She kept saying she was doing this for [the teammate]. It was really confusing,” Powless says. The DNA results showed Powless to have a zero percent chance of being related to the man she thought was her father, which made her blood quantum too low for membership. Powless says her scholarship money never arrived, and she had to leave Texas Southern owing a year’s tuition. The school is holding her transcripts until she pays up.

“Instead of being a Division I athlete and going to college, I’m a waitress now,” she says. “I haven’t really sat down and cried…but coming home after work is hard. It was over something really small—high school basketball that nobody will remember in 10 years. But what they did to me, they affected my entire life.”

Novelist Sherman Alexie predicts nasty surprises.

DNA results that reveal unpleasant surprises about parentage are a frequent occurrence in Indian country, where grandmothers or aunties often care for infants born into bad domestic situations. “That’s one of the things about DNA testing—it is letting all of the skeletons out of the closet,” says James Mills, president of Creating Stronger Nations, a consulting firm that works with tribes to create policy documents on a range of governance issues, including enrollment. “The moment you draw a line in the sand on enrollment, the moment you have rules, there is going to be some unfairness. There is no perfect system. There just isn’t one.”

There is no perfect system, in part because the methods used to determine Indianness are not Indian. “It was white people who determined how we measure this,” says Sherman Alexie, the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene poet and novelist. “The thing about DNA testing is that if you are going to do it for potential members, you should do it for everybody. I think people in favor of DNA wouldn’t like their results. Depending on the studies [of U.S. populations], between 10 and 20 percent of kids are being raised by fathers who aren’t biological.

“And,” he jokes, “considering the hair on my chest, one of my grandmas had to lie.”

People interviewed for this story, whether they are for or against the use of DNA testing, agree there is already a litmus test—for you to be considered Indian any of the following statements are true:

A) Your family/people experienced a traumatic history with disease, displacement and death;

B) Your family/people endured generations of intense poverty and disenfranchisement;

C) That you are alive means your family/people survived repeated attempts by various governments to exterminate them—physically, culturally, spiritually.

“Really, the measure of being Indian should be a pain index,” Alexie says. “You know, how many funerals have you gone to?”

But even that test is subjective. “It comes down to who is a tribal member,” says Mills, pointing to the authority granted by Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, a landmark 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that notes sovereign Indian nations determine their own membership. “Tribes have rules about membership and for many years, many tribes were very lax about their rules. [But now], if you are a successful per-capita tribe, people will come out of the woodwork,” clamoring to be members. “Tribes began to get stricter about the enforcement of their rules…and thus you have this disenrollment phenomenon.”

California Indian peoples have endured slaughters and displacement from waves of invaders—Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans. Some tribal groups became so shattered (there were only an estimated 15,000 California Indians in an 1890 census) that they wound up not on reservations, but on rancherias—small plots of land for homeless Indians.

And then came termination.

By the late 1950s, when the federal government came calling, the 80-acre Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians had just a few families left—a tribal elder and two of her adult children. That made it easy to decide who was in the tribe. The fireworks started when reinstatement finally came in the 1980s.

Factions formed between the two families who had remained on the land and others who had left over the years. The Chukchansi were barely 30-strong but competing tribal constitutions were submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. People were disenrolled and reenrolled depending on who was in power, and at least twice enrollment records were stolen from tribal headquarters near Coarsegold, California.

The 2003 opening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino exacerbated the already ugly enrollment fights. One-hundred-fifty-five tribal members, including the chairwoman, were kicked out in 1999 during negotiations to build the casino, and 363 more in 2006.

The upheaval “is not what this tribe created or any other tribe created,” says Jennifer Stanley, tribal councilwoman. “It is what the Bureau of Indian Affairs created long ago. They created those rifts. We carry the burden.”

She adds that the tribe’s newly adopted DNA ordinance is “just going to ensure that anybody who’s enrolled in the future will have a legitimate connection back to the allotments that are within our constitution.”

Stanley and Council Chairman Reggie Lewis say enrollment mistakes were made repeatedly during the first three decades since reinstatement, including over-enrolling to attract more federal money. The tribe had more than 1,000 members in the late 1990s.

Cathy Cory scoffs at this claim. “It is all about the greed and the power of people in tribal government,” she says. Cory and 41 members of her family were among the 363 ousted in 2006. She traces a Chukchansi ancestor to a type of allotment the council does not recognize. “It has been really difficult dealing with that emotional issue of one day you are Indian and the next day they try to tell you you’re not,” she says.

There has also been a moratorium on enrollment since 2003. Once lifted, everybody on the waiting list will be DNA tested, and Stanley and Lewis say they are bracing for inevitable surprises.

The ordinance only applies to new members, Stanley says. “You run into a lot of issues if you allow it to go 50 or 60 years back,” she says. “You would have people making a ton of allegations, and how would you substantiate any of those allegations?”

A thornier question for Cory, and for Laura Wass of the American Indian Movement, is finding due process for people facing expulsion from several central California tribes that are in casino-induced turmoil. This is a challenge when tribes, citing sovereignty, make arbitrary rulings and provide limited options for appeal. The federal government, despite lawsuits grinding through U.S. District courts, refuses to step in.

So the nice person in the lab coat just used a giant Q-tip to swab some saliva from inside your cheek. Does it go through some shiny, space-age machine that eventually spits out the answer: “Yup. Dude’s Indian” or “Nope. Dude’s lying”?

In a word: No. In a few more words: “Anybody who claims that they can find out if you are an Indian through DNA testing, that’s a fairy tale,” says Mills.

While there are different ways to use DNA to determine ancestry—even as far back as prehistoric times—tribes use a far–more specific, and less-anthropological, type of test. “The only way it’s really used is determining whether or not you are the child of the parent that you claim,” Mills explains.

Dr. Kittles has done testing for the freedmen.

This method accesses only a sliver of the 3 billion nucleotides in the human genome, says Brian Kemp, an assistant professor of molecular anthropology at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, where he analyzes the DNA of prehistoric populations. “Blood and DNA are the same thing, because you are really talking about: What is my ancestry? Who did I inherit my blood from? And the cutoff is arbitrary,” he says. It has to be, because the further we go back, the more connections we have.

“You go back, and in time there can’t be that many people we don’t share ancestors with,” he explains. “You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents. You keep going back and it’s 32, 64, 128, 256 relatives…and that’s only a couple hundred years ago. So we all share relatives in the recent past, even if we don’t remember [them].”

The freedmen were hoping to find such a connection to prove they belonged in the Cherokee Nation, and in 2004, Dr. Rick Kittles, a biologist and scientific director of the Washington D.C.-based genealogy company, African Ancestry, offered to provide genomic testing for them. The freedmen were profoundly disappointed when tests showed low percentages of Native ancestry markers.

But there’s a deeper story, Kittles says. The results showed an unusually high degree of European ancestry markers among the tested freedmen, far higher than among other African American groups. These match the high degree of European markers found among Eastern Seaboard tribes, such as the Cherokee, who intermingled with white Europeans for half a millennium. “That’s something I’ve been thinking about for the last couple of years,” Kittles says. “How can we prove that the high fraction of European ancestry among freedmen came through Native Americans? It would be very, very difficult to prove that.”

Even paternity testing has holes, says Mills, especially “if you have flawed records to begin with.” He cites numerous instances of error or even fraud on base rolls. “[If] I’m a member even though I shouldn’t be, and you do a DNA test on my kid, it’s going to prove that it’s my kid. The DNA test doesn’t tell you the accuracy of what you are testing other than that you are the parent. So the notion that [DNA testing] is a panacea…is just nonsense.”

There are powerful forces at play here, pitting treaty rights against sovereignty against gaming revenue against race.

The Cherokee Nation high court, in its ruling August 22 that freedmen were not Indians, narrowly reasoned that the Cherokee people accepted free blacks and former slaves as citizens to abide by the Treaty of 1866, and therefore the Cherokee people maintain the right to determine citizenship today. In other words, they have the right to change their collective minds. “That’s basically what the entire case has been about—whether the Cherokee people have the right to decide what their own criteria is for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation,” says Diane Hammons, the tribe’s attorney general.

Some identity test is needed, tribal authorities say, because the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 hot-wired the economies of the Cherokee Nation and the other casino tribes. This has created a boom in membership: The Cherokee Nation had 50,000 enrolled members in 1980; today there are more than 300,000.

Hammons discounts charges of racism in the freedman case, pointing out that there are freedmen descendants who are enrolled Cherokee, and whose membership is not affected by the ruling. These folk can trace lineage to an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls, which is used by the Cherokee Nation to determine membership.

The Dawes lists “are race-based and are worse than biased,” says Ralph Keen II, a Stilwell, Oklahoma, attorney who represented freedmen in the nation’s courts. He is the namesake son of a revered Cherokee Nation jurist. Many blacks who may have been fully integrated members of Cherokee society for a century by the late 1800s were excluded from the rolls by the Dawes commissions, based on nothing more than racial appearance.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association, can’t understand why the Cherokee Nation embraces the Dawes lists, which have been used to inflict pain and loss on Indian people for more than 100 years. “When the blood quantums were put out there by the federal government, that was more a way to further steal property and land and resources from the members of the tribe,” than it was about identity, she says. The Dawes Act stripped a shocking amount of land from Native peoples and also broke an age-old tradition of communal ownership.

“No one will admit to racism,” but the impetus to exclude freedmen comes from the shrinking percentage of Cherokee Nation full-bloods (10 percent or fewer of tribal members), says Keen.

There is, of course, another way of looking at the issue, one that includes rather than excludes. “Indians have always been multiracial and multicultural,” says Alexie, whose works often powerfully examine what it means to be Indian.

“What makes you Indian? That question is always up in the air,” says Janis Contraro, enrollment director of the Suquamish Tribe. “Most traditional Natives say it’s culture—if you live in a community, you are part of the community.”

Before the Dawes Act, Vann points out, “There were no lists. Just like right now there are no lists of American citizens [who] are a half-blood American. You’re a citizen or you’re not.”

“Tribal enrollment now is completely political and economical. Casinos have turned reservations into banana republics. DNA is an utterly white thing to do. It’s capitalism, it’s racism, it’s apartheid, it’s colonial,” Alexie says.

“DNA cannot tell you about your culture,” says Kemp. “Genetic tests can’t tell you who you are. They can tell you something about who you are, but they can’t tell you who you are.”

The Dawes Rolls have quite a controversial history. Read more here:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"IDENTIFICATION" -- my interview Saturday 4 pm

my fake birth certificate
By Trace Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

There are so many issues for adoptees, right?  Now we have to worry about identification and the lack of access to our original birth certificate!  Read Amanda's great blog here:

The photo (left) is a copy of my amended "fake" birth certificate, issued in 1958 (I was born in 1956)... it lists my adoptive parents as my biological parents.  The state of Minnesota refuses to release a copy of my original birth certificate (both my natural parents are deceased) so who would secrecy protect in my case? Why can't I have a copy of the original? Their law.

I will be on Hidden from History this weekend - Saturday, Oct. 15th, 4 pm Eastern to discuss Adoptees and Identification issues.  Here is the link:
The show will also be archived there, too.

If anyone reading this blog has been denied a driver's license because you are an adoptee and do not have a copy of an original birth certificate  - please email me:  You can also read about Navajo adoptee Leland Morrill on this blog - use the google toolbar to find the post. He had difficulty replacing his lost driver's license...

Read about Identity documents in the United States

Since February 1, 2008, the United States issues the Passport card to its citizens upon request. Although its main purpose is for land and sea travel within North America, under the REAL ID Act, the passport card will also be accepted for federal purposes (such as domestic air travel or entering federal buildings), which may make it an attractive option for people living in states whose driver's licenses and ID cards are not REAL ID-compliant when those requirements go into effect. TSA regulations list the passport card as an acceptable identity document at airport security checkpoints.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has indicated that the U.S. Passport Card may be used in the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 (form) process. The passport card is considered a “List A” document that may be presented by newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process to show work authorized status. “List A” documents are those used by employees to prove both identity and work authorization when completing the Form I-9.

The passport card can be used as a valid proof of citizenship and proof of identity both inside and outside the United States.

For most people, Driver's licenses issued by the respective state and territorial governments have become the de facto identity card for several purposes, including purchasing alcohol and tobacco, opening bank accounts, and boarding planes. Individuals who do not drive are able to obtain an identification card with the same functionality from the same state agency that issues driver's licenses.

The United States passed a bill entitled the REAL ID Act on May 11, 2005. The bill compels states to begin redesigning their driver's licenses to comply with federal security standards by December 2009. Federal agencies would reject licenses or identity cards that do not comply, which would force Americans accessing everything from airplanes to national parks and some courthouses to have the federally mandated cards. At airports, those not having compliant licenses or cards would simply be redirected to a secondary screening location. The REAL ID Act is highly controversial, and with 25 states have approved either resolutions or binding legislation not to participate in the program, and with President Obama's selection of Janet Napolitano (a prominent critic of the program) to head the Department of Homeland Security, the future of the law remains uncertain, and bills have been introduced into Congress to amend or repeal it. The most recent of these, dubbed PASS ID, would eliminate many of the more burdensome technological requirements but still require states to meet federal standards in order to have their ID cards accepted by federal agencies.

The bill takes place as governments are growing more interested in implanting technology in ID cards to make them smarter and more secure. In 2006, the U.S. State Department studied issuing passports with Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, chips embedded in them. Virginia may become the first state to glue RFID tags into all its driver's licenses. Seventeen states, however, have passed statutes opposing or refusing to implement the Real ID Act.

Canada' identification card for citizens:

In Canada, different forms of identification documentation are used, but there is no de jure national identity card. The Canadian passport is issued by the federal (national) government, and the provinces and territories issue various documents which can be used for identification purposes. The most commonly used forms of identification within Canada are the driver's licence and health care cards issued by provincial and territorial governments. The widespread usage of these two documents for identification purposes has made them de facto identity cards.

In Canada, a driver's licence usually lists the name, home address, and date of birth of the bearer. A photograph of the bearer is usually present, as well as additional information, such as restrictions to the bearer's driving licence. The bearer is required by law to keep the address up to date.

A few provinces, such as Québec and Ontario, issue provincial health care cards which contain identification information, such as a photo of the bearer, their home address, and their date of birth. In British Columbia, the BCID card is a convenient form of identification for individuals who do not possess a driving licence. The BCID card contains a picture of the bearer, as well as their home address and date of birth.

For travel abroad, a passport is almost always required. There are a few minor exceptions to this rule, with these exceptions mainly applying to international travel within North America, such as the NEXUS programme and the enhanced driving licence programme implemented by a few provincial governments as a pilot project. These programmes have not yet gained widespread acceptance, and the Canadian passport remains the most useful and widely accepted international travel document.


Thank you everyone for your support and interest in my blog!  If you are an adoptee, print this or send this blog post and link to your state senator and congressman immediately! Ask them to repeal the REAL ID ACT in your state.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

favorite quote from the late great Steve Jobs

"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do..."

-- Steve Jobs (1955-2011) adoptee
There is something about creativity and adoptees that cannot be denied.... Trace

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Descendants fight to stay in Cherokee tribe

In this Oct. 6, 2011 photo, Rena Logan, a member of a Cherokee Freedmen family, shows her identification card as a member of the Cherokee tribe at her home in Muskogee, Okla. Thousands of people whose ancestors were enslaved by the Cherokee Indians in the 1800s are fighting to keep their status as members of the tribe. Loss of citizenship could also mean losing valuable tribal benefits such as medical care, housing assistance and grocery stipends. Logan, a retired cook who keeps her ancestors’ Freedmen Roll number of 3918 close to her heart every day, gets treatment at tribal clinics for her arthritis, hypertension, osteoarthritis and a dislocated back disc. “We are black, and we were slaves, and they want to keep us that way,” Logan said. “It really hurts the heart. What did we do to be discriminated against?” (AP Photo/Dave Crenshaw)
read story here:

and here: Freedmen rally outside Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters

Read more:

The separation of Cherokee based on skin color and race classification when they took the Dawes Roll makes the Dawes Rolls utterly useless and racist... Trace

Friday, October 7, 2011

First Nations adoptees/Split Feathers

Eric, his brother Chris and his sister Marlene were adopted to New Orleans after their parents were killed. Marlene and her siblings were born in Northern Manitoba near Swan River. Their parents died in an automobile accident. After the accident, Marlene and her two brothers were adopted to an American family in New Orleans, La.  Their biological relatives were told nothing.  Marlene and her siblings were adopted by a family that subjected them to physical and emotional abuse.  No one from Canada ever came to check on them.  Her brother Eric is currently in a LA prison.  Her other other brother Chris is still in the U.S.   Marlene made her way back to Canada and still lives here with her two daughters.   Approximately 3,000 Canadian Aboriginal children were adopted to non-aboriginal homes in the 60s, 70s and early 80s.  The impacts are still being felt today. ARENA WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY FIRST NATIONS ADOPTEES TO BE RELOCATED FROM CANADA TO THE USA.  Eric is now serving a sentence for manslaughter. The family want Eric back in Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence (at the very least!) to be close to his family and friends.

And another Split Feathers video "OUR STORIES: OUR IDENTITIES: Bernice and Me" (By Theresa Archer, Residential School issues and Identity) on youtube.
Watch here:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Return to Tradition on White Earth

Return to tradition on White Earth Reservation in fight against poverty, hunger
verty in Minnesota is on the rise. But census numbers released in September show poverty hits some groups harder than others -- including American Indians. On the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, tribal officials estimate up to 50 percent of American Indians live below the poverty line. See more photos and story here:

Pine Point, Minn. — Waasamoan Neeland, 5, of Round Lake, Minn., showed off her corn husk doll in Pine Point, Minn., on Sept 23, 2011. Neeland was attending Family Fun Day at Pine Point School, where her mother Ashley Martin, 23, was teaching a class on corn braiding to students and parents. The class is part of an effort to teach young people traditional ways of growing, harvesting, and preserving food. Corn braiding involves braiding together the husks of several ears of corn in order to dry and preserve them through the winter. The class was sponsored by the White Earth Land Recovery Project. (MPR Photo/Caroline Yang)     

NOTE: White Earth Elders were the first tribe to "call home" their adoptees in 2007... Trace         

Monday, October 3, 2011

Adoption and Murder?

Adoption Forensics: The Connection Between Adoption and Murder

Of the 500 estimated serial killers in U.S. history, 16 percent were adopted as children, while adoptees represent only 2 or 3 percent of the general population. Adoptees are 15 times more likely to kill one or both of their adoptive parents than biological children.
So far in 2007, there have been at least six high-profile homicide cases in the U. S. and Canada in which the accused perpetrator has been identified in the media as being an adopted child.
Joshua Komisarjevsky, age 26, has been charged in the brutal Cheshire, Conn., killing of a doctor's wife and two daughters.
Codee Wheeler, age 16, is accused in the arson murder of her adoptive father, in Blairsville, Pa.
Sandra Bridewell, aka "the Black Widow," now in her 50's, has been arrested in Dallas, Tex., as a suspected serial husband killer.
Edwin Roy Hall, age 26, stands accused of murdering an Overland Park, Kan., teenager.
Graham Beange, age 20, is charged with the attempted murder of his adoptive parents, in Toronto, Canada.
Aaron Howard, age 19, is being sought in the first-degree murder of his adopted mother, in Ottawa, Canada.
And then, there is Michael Devlin, age 41, indicted for the abduction and four-year disappearance of teenager Shawn Hornbeck, in St. Louis, Mo.
Just coincidence? Or is there a connection between murder (and other criminal behavior) and adoption?
Since 1987, I have been a consultant or expert witness in 20 homicide cases in which the accused was adopted, usually as an infant, or in early childhood. In every case of these adoptees who killed, we have found a remarkably similar pattern, including a history of sealed original birth records, a childhood of secrets and lies (re: birth parents and genetic history), frustrated, blocked searches for birth parents, and untreated, festering adoption issues of loss, rejection, abandonment, identity, and dissociated (split-off) rage.
Interestingly, this sub-group of adopted killers whom I've seen consistently had a strikingly similar fantasy of the birth mother: That she was an all-giving, all-loving, nurturing, wonderful, perfect being. I had expected to find conscious anger/rage directed at a malevolent, rejecting bad mother – but instead there was this paradox of an idyllic birth-mother-fantasy image. The anger and rage toward birth parents was there – but deeply repressed, often dissociated and cut off from consciousness, and ultimately acted-out with violence toward the adoptive parents or others. In these extreme cases, the split, false, secret self described by many adoption experts, had evolved into a more malignant, clinical Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder).
Joel Norris, in his book, Serial Killers, notes that "many serial murderers were raised by adoptive parents or caretakers both within and outside of their biological parents' families." The FBI estimates that of the 500 recorded serial killers in U.S. history, fully 16 percent were adopted – an incredible statistic, considering that adoptees represent only 2-3 percent of the general population. To name a few adoptee serial killers: Charles Albright, the Texas "Eyeball Killer," Kenneth Bianco, the California "Hillside Strangler," David Berkowitz, New York City's "Son of Sam," Steve Catlin, the Bakersfield, Calif., serial wife and mother poisoner, Joseph Kallinger, the "Philadelphia Shoemaker," Gerald Eugene Stano, executed killer of 42 women in Florida, and Joel Rifkin, New York's most prolific serial killer.
Adoption has long been neglected by mental health experts, as well as the criminal justice system, in the search for causes of eruptions of extreme violence. For instance, even in the celebrated case of the Hillside Strangler, no fewer than six psychiatrists rendered opinions on Ken Bianco's diagnosis and "mens rea" (state of mind during the killings), yet none of them apparently explored the possible influence of adoption on his motivation and psychological makeup. Likewise, the significance of adoption was never examined in a courtroom, in the case of David Berkowitz, the notorious Son of Sam, nor in most of the other high-profile serial killer cases mentioned above.
Dr. David Abrahamsen, however, who had many interviews with Berkowitz in prison, notes in his book, The Mind of the Accused, that "Berkowitz's adoption became a central concern in his life, and the notion of being different also engendered in him a feeling of ambivalence toward the rest of the world." Abrahamsen states that Berkowitz "developed a deep and abiding feeling of estrangement; there was he felt, something basically wrong with him."
Significantly also, Berkowitz's killing spree started soon after a reunion with his birth mother, whom he located with the help of an adoption support group. The mother brought her other biologic child (a sister he never knew about) to this reunion. The discovery/trauma that his birth mother had raised this sibling, while giving him up for adoption, may have resonated with his already intense feelings of rejection/abandonment. The murders started shortly after this ill-fated reunion, in the same neighborhood as his meeting with the birth mother, and were likely triggered by it.
Berkowitz later revealed to a prison mate that he believed that he had been conceived out of wedlock in the back seat of a car, and that his purpose in killing couples in cars was to prevent a repetition of his own conception, birth, and abandonment through adoption.
Interestingly, Joel Rifkin, New York's most prolific serial killer, whom I interviewed for more than 110 hours, also told me that his "whole life was about adoption," and that his explanation for strangling prostitutes in cars, was similar to Berkowitz's story – as he too, always believed that he was conceived in the back seat of a car. And Rifkin (like Ken Bianco, the "Hillside Strangler," and many other adopted serial killers, always fantasized that his biologic mother was a "working girl" – though our investigations in the case, revealed that Rifkin's birth mother was not in fact, a prostitute – but a troubled young college student.
Aside from the serial killers, Paul Mones, a defense attorney and expert, who wrote the book When a Child Kills, reports that adoptees are 15 times more likely to commit parricide (kill one or both adoptive parents) than biologic children. Among adopted children who have killed both of their adoptive parents, I have personally examined and/or testified for: Patrick Campbell (Darien, Conn.), Patrick DeGelleke (Rochester, N.Y.), Matthew Heikkila (Somerset, N.J.), Daniel Kasten (Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) and Patrick Niiranen (Portland, Ore.). (Most of these cases, with my forensic evaluations, are described in detail, in my book Adoption: Uncharted Waters.)
In addition to the serial killers and parricides who were adopted, there have also been many cases of adoptees who killed strangers, such as Jeremy Strohmeyer, an 18-year-old high-school honor student, who was plea-bargained by star defense attorney Leslie Abramson (of Menendez case fame) to life without parole, for the killing of a 7-year-old girl in the restroom of a Nevada gambling casino during the Memorial Day weekend of 1997.
It was an act as bewildering as it was gruesome, and it made national headlines when Jeremy's friend, David Cash, who witnessed at least the first part of the event, publicly shrugged off any responsibility. The case led to "Bad Samaritan" laws and "Watch Your Child" signs in casinos. Jeremy's adoptive parents, John and Winnie Strohmeyer, also sued the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services for their pain and suffering. The Strohmeyers were never told when they adopted Jeremy that he was born in a psychiatric hospital, or that his birth mother was a mentally ill drug abuser. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich responded by calling for the Department of Children and Family Services to review its adoption policies and procedures for disclosure of information about the background of birth parents. "Adoptive parents have a right to know about children's biological background as soon as possible," Antonovich said. "The Department of Children and Family Services must be honest." There are three chapters on the Strohmeyer case in my book, Adoption: Uncharted Waters.
From his prison cell in Ely, Nev., Jeremy wrote to me to say, "For some of us who were adopted, not knowing whom or where we come from can wreck our lives. It can make us walking time bombs, full of rage we don't consciously experience, full of the false belief in a dark and evil nature that we unwittingly set out to prove the existence of." In another letter, Jeremy wrote, "Dr. Kirschner. . . have you ever read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky? If you have, do you remember the character, Raskolnikov, who confessed to a murder, when in actuality he was not the perpetrator? He confessed to crimes he didn't commit, because he had this overwhelming sense of guilt about his life in general. In his mind, actually committing the crimes and thinking he could commit them, were one and the same. That's the best way I can give you an idea of how I got here."
Do a majority of adopted children turn into killers, or engage in other kinds of anti-social, criminal behavior? Of course, not! Although the trauma of abandonment is inherent in every adoption, the vast majority of adoptees do work through their issues and manage to navigate responsibly through life with the rest of humanity. The forensic cases referenced above represent only a sub-group, a percent of adoptees, at the end of a spectrum of adoption issues/problems. But there is a risk factor. Adoptees comprise an unusually high proportion of children involved in outpatient psychotherapy (5 percent rather than the expected 1 to 2 percent), young patients in residential treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals (10 to 15 percent instead of 1 or 2 percent), and children identified by school systems as either ADHD, ADD, or perceptually, neurologically or emotionally impaired (6 to 9 percent or even higher instead of 1 or 2 percent), according to research illustrating the validity of ACS. And as John J. Carway, LMSW, and director of probation, Nassau County, N.Y. family and criminal courts has observed; "In the criminal justice system, young adopted offenders are vastly overrepresented."
There is a great deal to learn about the impact of adoption from these extreme cases – about early diagnosis, treatment and prevention. In my opinion, none of these killings would have occurred, and all of the victims would be alive – given a more open, validating adoption system (original birth records are still sealed in 44 of the 50 states). While even the soundest among us contain dualities of personality that are often in conflict with one another, adoptees have a particularly difficult time weaving these components into an integrated sense of self. Adoptees, after all, actually do have two identities, and this split is fertile soil for serious problems, especially in at-risk families that conform to the tacit injunction not to validate their children's need to know, or really confront the complex issues of rejection, abandonment, loss, identity, and sometimes, buried, dissociated rage raised by adoption.

David Kirschner, PhD., is a forensic psychologist and psychoanalyst with a private practice in Woodbury, Long Island, N.Y. He founded and directed for 25 years a community mental health clinic – The Nassau Center for Psychotherapy.  His book  Adoption: Uncharted Waters, which was published by Juneau Press, LLC in 2006. It can be purchased through the link above or from the publisher at You may email Dr. Kirschner at DK21544808

I read his book and became sure that adoption trauma has real consequences on the adoptee's emotional health life.. Trace

Sunday, October 2, 2011

American Indian Adoption History & Honor Song

Two NEW VIDEOS: First Nations Repatriation's Sandy White Hawk on the History of the ADOPTION ERA in America and American Indian Adoptees. Click here:
Jerry Dearly, writer of the sacred Honor Song for American Indian Adoptees: Orphans Be Strong, Watch here:

These wakan words are for all of you adoptees who are reading this blog..... Be Strong, You are Not Alone... Trace

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ireland's gross negligence in adoption

First ever agency audit uncovers 50 cases of illegal adoption

October 01, 2011

THE first ever audit of the Adoption Authority’s records has uncovered approximately 50 cases of illegal adoptions.  The Adoption Authority said it found 99 people who have identified themselves as adopted, for whom it does not have a corresponding adoption file. Around 50% of these relate to so-called "adoptions" prior to the introduction of legal adoption in 1952.

The remaining 50% point to "under-the-counter" adoptions which were never formally approved by the Adoption Board, and may involve cases where the birth registration of the child was illegally falsified so to appear as the natural child of the adoptive parents.

"The authority intends to undertake further work to explore the full extent of the issue. The board of the authority will then consider possible next steps to contribute to an understanding of the issue, including any advice to the minister. As you are aware, the authority has no statutory responsibility in respect of the matter but is extremely sensitive to the issue," said a statement.

It is understood to be the first such audit of any of the AAI’s records. It was announced in June of last year following the Irish Examiner’s investigation into the case of Tressa Reeves, whose son was illegally adopted and falsely registered as the natural child of the adoptive parents without her consent. This was facilitated by St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency in Dublin.

However, adoption groups have labelled the audit a cosmetic exercise and say to uncover the true scale of illegal adoptions, the AAI must examine the files of adoption agencies and files in the possession of the HSE.

The Adoption Authority has said it "has no statutory responsibility" in respect of people who were illegally adopted as it did not grant an adoption order.

However, the Irish Examiner is aware of at least one case where an adoption order was granted, by the then Adoption Board, for the children of married couples. This was not permitted under the Adoption Act. In at least one case, that of Carol O’Keeffe, who was adopted in 1972, it granted an adoption order without a birth certificate — the key piece of documentation needed to grant an adoption.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said it was "tantamount to gross negligence" for the authority to claim it had no statutory responsibility.

"It has echoes of the former central bank regulator saying he did not know what the banks were up to and we all know where that led," she said.

Read more:

Stay tuned for updates... 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.

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Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie


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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