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. http://www.grandfathersspirit.com/Hoop-of-Life-Buffalo-Skull.html