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Thursday, April 26, 2012

DNA tests: Finding the Truth and your Family

Finding the truth and family is what we adoptees live for, right?

I have wanted to write about DNA tests for quite some time, since it concerns Lost Children/American Indian adoptees who may find themselves in the snarky position of having to prove their blood while in reunion with tribal family - often years after the adoption.

Why years? It takes time and money (and lawyers sometimes) to open sealed adoption files.

How do you prove you are? DNA - it's absolute, it's blood and tests results can't be disputed.

I have a close American Indian friend who just did the DNA test with her mother's brother and indeed, she is related to her mother's family and her mother's tribe in Minnesota  - no question, it's absolutely true.

Why was this so important to do? Since her mother had already died, my friend had found her siblings.  It was her mother's children who doubted who she was.

Yes, that hurts. It really really hurts.  After all you have endured being separated from them, then you find your own brothers and sisters question your legitimacy.  Her siblings were raised by their mother, and their mother had told them they had a sister out there lost to adoption.

Yet these siblings could not and do not comprehend what my friend lived through or felt. My friend's siblings lacked compassion for her and her loss; they had their mother their whole life and now my friend would never meet her own mother since she had already died.

These are the snarky scenarios of adoption reunions and we have to know about them. It can be complicated and DNA can be costly! You never know what you will face until you get into your reunions.

What I also want to mention is my friend had no problem with her natural dad's family when she found them and their tribe. Her father's side had no doubt who she was or is...  So there are big differences in families and tribes - definitely.

In finding the truth, the painful part of reunion in Indian Country might be your own brothers and sisters who throw you a curve and demand proof of who you say you are...!

I warn adoptees - be prepared for all these scenarios.

Another friend Rhonda, who I mention in my memoir One Small Sacrifice, had to do DNA with her uncle because her father had already passed on by the time she could open her adoption in Michigan. Rhonda met both her father and mother's sides of the family and had a good reunion with her brothers, her mom's sons. DNA was required for her to be enrolled with her father's tribe.

For me, I did DNA with my natural father Earl back in 1994 - that seems like a lifetime ago. It was so expensive - around $500!

I saved the test results and the polaroid photo they took of Earl and me like it was the greatest gift anyone ever gave me.  We needed to do DNA because neither of us was sure. And indeed, 99.9% DNA positive, Earl was definitely my dad.

If you need to have a DNA test, contact me. Others on Facebook are making recommendations I can share with you... I had mine done at a lab in Springfield, Illinois.

Be well and be strong in search and reunion....I am here if you need to talk... Trace

2 comments:

  1. I am an adoptee and found my birthmother some 25 years ago (give or take). It went fabulously well to begin with but turned very sour after a while. Why? I don't know. She made things up about me that the rest of the family chose to believe. Not much i could do about it. While she would not tell me a thing about my birthfather, it did get back to me that he is half Cherokee. I have researched the name given me but it is a huge family and I have had no luck. On top of that, he has no knowledge she was even pregnant.

    I founded and lead a search and support group and have facilitated in many reunions, some went wonderfully, some not so much, but in the end all were good because answers were given. The amputated roots began to heal as did the gaping holes we all felt inside. I feel I will never know my true heritage or at least half of it and for this I hold her solely responsible. It is the epitome of selfish to intentionally hide a child's heritage from them, especially after a long and protracted search.Mine was particularly difficult.

    For all of those searching out there, never give up! The answers you get, no matter how dark on the surface, are much better than one at all. I wish everyone the very best in their quest!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shadoseer, thank you for sharing your story - it is so appreciated! I feel your pain -- I didn't have any reunion with my own mother - but did meet my dad who had the Tsalgi blood. Every reunion is different - as I wrote in this blog post. Thank you so much for this wonderful insight and support. As I wrote in my memoir, without an Original Birth Certificate, many are not able to be enrolled in the Cherokee nations.
    Adoptees, we are all in this together...

    ReplyDelete

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

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

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

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

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

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.