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Saturday, September 22, 2012

PART FIVE: Victims of Adoption and Lies: Forgiveness

By Trace A. DeMeyer

I woke up with two thoughts: there are two victims of adoption who need help and not necessarily from each other: the adoptee and the first mother. Each has its own burden and neither can heal the other.

Indian Country has many hurts from the past that include assimilation, lies, bad laws and massive abductions of children called residential boarding schools and Indian Adoption Programs.  In order for us to move forward, we work as one people to heal our societies, and yet we must individually move forward in order for this to work. 
Being adopted, living as an adoptee, was my life and was a very important part of my journey.  But it's no longer all that I am nor does it control me. I see my life moving forward now and anger does not control me or my actions.
The following essay is an important part of this collective healing for all adoptees and all mothers.
The Four Directions of Forgiveness
By White Bison (May 2012)

The Elders explained to us that to hold past hurts us….we keep ourself in a prison…and the hurts done to many of our people in the boarding schools are now being passed down generation to generation. This intergenerational hurt is behind the alcohol problems, the violence, the abuses and even the suicides.  It is time we break the cycle of passing this on to our children and our grandchildren.  They told us that our last test is going to be …."can we forgive"…..even to forgive the unforgivable. 
There are 4 directions of forgiveness:  
The First forgiveness is in the east is the everyday forgiveness. Then we say, I’m sorry.  

The Second forgiveness is in the south and is called the forgiveness of the unforgivable.  This would be like violence, domestic abuse or sexual abuse.  We do this type of forgiveness to free ourselves; it doesn’t mean we make the offenders not be responsible for what they did, but we ask the creator to help us be free.
The Third forgiveness is in the west and is the forgiveness of yourself. Sometimes this is harder to do than the first two.  You ever do something stupid during the day or night and the next day you are filled with reqret that won’t go away?  Maybe you try to keep it a secret and the secret eats away at you. Maybe even wishing a thousand times that you had not done what you did.  Help from the creator often is the only hope to forgive self.  There is one thing the Creator CANNOT do and that is NOT help one of His children who asks for help.  He/She must help by his own rules, the rule of love. There is a saying….Love thy neighbor as thyself…and that is the problem… most of us do.

The Fourth forgiveness is in the north and this is when we forgive someone to set their spirit free. Or it could be an institution like a church or the government.  You ever have someone hurt you, you have forgiven them but they cannot look you in the eye?  You do it to set their spirit free.  You forgive even though they don’t deserve it.  You forgive, anyway.
When our children see us practicing forgiveness, they will do it also.
Part 6 will continue in a few weeks...please leave comments and share this series with your friends and families on Facebook and Twitter.... Thank you for reading this blog. Mitakuye Oyasin... Trace

Thursday, September 20, 2012

TWO WORLDS anthology: Major contribution to Native American history published

TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects offers astounding narratives that challenge views on adoption

               After generations of Native children were forcibly removed from their Tribes and placed in residential boarding schools, children were also being placed in closed adoptions with non-Indian families in North America. 

               Finding those children became a mission for award-winning Native American journalist-adoptee Trace A. DeMeyer who started research in 2004 which culminated in her memoir “One Small Sacrifice” in 2010.  DeMeyer was introduced to Cherokee adoptee Patricia Cotter-Busbee, and the collaborated on their new anthology, “TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.”  The book hits Amazon and Kindle in September. (ISBN: 978-1479318285, Price: $19.95 (PAPERBACK), $6.99 (EBOOK).

               “Readers will be astonished since these narratives document a page of North American history that few even know happened,” DeMeyer said. “Today tribal families hope to reconnect with adoptees but we know closed adoptions were planned to assimilate children, to erase their culture and end contact with their tribe. I started this project in 2008 after my memoir, then adoptees wrote to me.  When I met Patricia in 2010, she shared her own amazing story and I knew she had to be part of this book.”

               A recent MFA graduate of Goddard in writing, Patricia Cotter-Busbee welcomed the chance to contribute and help edit. “I could not resist helping with this important book. I felt that this was the project I had been waiting for. I kept thinking where are all these adult adoptees? I am an adoptee and know how badly I wanted to reconnect with my first families. If 1/4 of all Indian children were removed and placed in non-Indian adoptive homes, these adoptees must be looking for help, trying to open records and find clues to their identity. One study even found in sixteen states in 1969, 85 percent of the Indian children were placed in non-Indian homes. This book will help lost adoptees reconnect.”

first edition is out of print
               The Lost Children in Two Worlds share details of their personal lives, their search for identity and their feelings about what happened to them.

               “The history of the Indian Adoption Projects is troubling since it was unofficially ethnic cleansing by the US and Canadian governments, and this practice went on for years without public knowledge, but I am happy to report it failed because we are still here and still Indians; and this book explains how we adoptees did it,” DeMeyer said.

               DeMeyer and Busbee agreed that “TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects” is an important contribution to American Indian history.  

               “Indigenous identity takes on a whole new meaning in this anthology,” Busbee said, “both for the adoptee and those who adopted them.  Adoptees definitely live in two worlds and we show you how.”

               The book covers the history of Indian child removals in North America, the adoption projects, their impact on Indian Country and how it impacts the adoptee and their families, Congressional testimony, quotes, news and several narratives from adoptees in the US and Canada in the 384-page anthology.

               “Two Worlds is really the first book to debunk the billion dollar adoption industry that operated for years under the guise of caring for destitute Indigenous children,” DeMeyer said. “Readers will be astonished since very little is known or published on this history.

               DeMeyer lives in western Massachusetts and Busbee lives in North Carolina.

New York Adoptees can register for FREE

Adoption Information Registry

If you are adopted, or if you placed a child for adoption, or if you are the biological sibling of an adopted person, you may wish to learn more about your birth family. The New York State Health Department's Adoption Registry can help and even facilitate a reunion.

What kinds of information are available?

Three kinds of information are available: non-identifying, identifying and medical.
  • Non-identifying Information: If you are adopted you can get non-identifying information about your birth parents even if they do not register with the Adoption Registry or consent to sharing. This includes their general appearance, religion, ethnicity, race, education, occupation, etc; and the name of the agency that arranged the adoption, and the facts and circumstances relating to the nature and cause of the adoption.
  • Identifying Information: If all are registered and all have given their final consents, adoptees and their birth parents, or adoptees and their biological siblings can share their current names and addresses. If only one parent signed the surrender agreement or consented to the adoption, then the registration of the other parent is not needed for the exchange of identifying information between the adoptee and the registered birth parent.
  • Medical Information: Birth parents can give medical and psychological information to the Registry any time after the adoption. If the adoptee is already registered, the information will be shared with him or her. If the adoptee is not registered, the information will be kept until the adoptee registers. The information is important to adoptees because it can indicate if they have a higher risk of some diseases. Medical information updates must be certified by a licensed health care provider.

The Adoption Information Registry cannot:

  • search for missing registrants;
  • release copies of original birth certificates or adoption records;
  • release non-identifying information or medical information to birth parents;
  • respond to medical emergencies.

Who can register?

The Registry can only accept a registration from an adoptee who was born and adopted in New York State; and is at least 18 years old. However, an adoptee who is under 18 years old can register to receive medical information updates if an adoptive parent signs the application.
A birth parent may not register unless the adoptee is eligible to register and the birth parent's consent to the adoption or signature on an instrument of surrender was required at the time of the adoption.
The Adoption Registry may not accept a biological sibling's application unless the adoptee was born and adopted in New York State and is at least 18 years old.

How long will it take?

Any medical information already submitted by birth parents will be given shortly after an adoptee registers. It will take at least six months to obtain general non-identifying information. It may take years to receive identifying information or it may never be available. This is because it cannot be released until all necessary parties have registered and consented to the release of the information.

What are the fees?

There is no fee to register with the Adoption Registry. However, some adoption agencies charge up to $50 to provide non-identifying information to the Adoption Registry. The adoptee must pay any agency fee.

What if the adoption was handled by an adoption agency?

Some adoption agencies will provide non-identifying information directly to an adoptee. They can provide information more quickly than the Adoption Registry. An adoptee can contact the adoption agency to ask what services they provide and what fees they charge for providing those services. Adoption agencies are entitled to a registration fee not exceeding $20. The adoption agency is also entitled to a non-identifying information report processing fee not to exceed $50. Most adoption agencies do not charge a fee.

How do I register?

If you want to register, you must submit an application. The application must be signed and notarized.
To request an application, write to:
Adoption Information Registry
New York State Department of Health
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602
**Please be certain to include your name, mailing address and the type of application you need (i.e., adoptee, birth parent or biological sibling).
If you prefer, you can download your application as a PDF document from the choices listed below:

Printing Instructions:

  • Use the "Print" button in the Adobe® Reader® menu bar to print the application.
  • Do not attempt to print the application using the print command in your browser.

Birth Parent Consent Program

The services of the Adoption Information Registry have been expanded so that birth parents can register whether they give consent or do not give consent for the release of their contact information (name and address) to the adoptee. If the parents have registered their consent, the contact information will be released to the adoptee only after he or she reaches at least eighteen years of age and registers with the Adoption Information Registry.
The new service is referred to as the Birth Parent Consent Program and began on November 3, 2008.
The Birth Parent Consent Program requires birth parents to complete the Birth Parent Registration Form (DOH-4455) at the time of surrender. The form will be filed by the attorney or the adoption agency handling the adoption with the court. The court will forward the form to the Adoption Information Registry when the adoption is finalized.
The Birth Parent Consent Program does not replace the traditional Adoption Information Registry and differs from the traditional Adoption Information Registry in two important ways.
  • First, birth parents who are currently placing a child for adoption are required to complete the Form DOH-4455 at the time of surrender.
  • Second, a birth parent who gives permission for the release of his or her contact information via Form DOH-4455 will not be asked for final consent nor will they be notified of the release of their contact information to the adoptee when the adoptee registers.
Birth parents whose children have already been adopted may also participate in the Birth Parent Consent Program by completing and submitting Form DOH-4455 directly to the Adoption Information Registry. Please note that the adoptee must still be born and adopted in New York State to participate in the Birth Parent Consent Program.
For more information, please consult the attorney or adoption agency handing your child's adoption or the back of Form DOH-4455.
You can download DOH-4455 as a PDF document below:
Adoption Information Registry Birth Parent Registration Form (pdf, 121 kb, 2 pp.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Healing from Indian child ‘takings’ is in the telling


Gov. Joseph Socobasin (from left), Chief Reuben Cleaves, Gov. Paul LePage and Chief Kirk Francis sign a declaration of intent on Indian Island to begin a truth and reconciliation process between the tribes and the state child welfare system.
Gov. Joseph Socobasin (from left), Chief Reuben Cleaves, Gov. Paul LePage and Chief Kirk Francis sign a declaration of intent on Indian Island to begin a truth and reconciliation process between the tribes and the state child welfare system. Buy Photo
Related stories

There is no way to take back the past. But if Maine wants to ensure that it never, ever repeats its racist, oppressive treatment of American Indian families and communities, it must know what it did. Under the first truth and reconciliation commission in the United States to be jointly agreed upon by state and tribal leaders, Mainers will have the opportunity to listen to mothers whose children were taken to be assimilated into white culture, and to those children — now adults — who were forced to live with foster families that were sometimes emotionally, physically and sexually abusive.
In order for the members of Maine’s five tribes to achieve some level of healing, it’s important for everyone who had a relevant experience with the child welfare system over the past few decades to participate in the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Sharing what happened is essential if the commission is to comprehensively investigate and make suggestions for improvements. Also important is the willingness of Mainers not connected to the child welfare system to listen and learn.
The formation of the truth and reconciliation commission is the result of years of work on the part of a convening group comprising people from the state, several organizations and each of the Wabanaki communities: Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkmikuk, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik and the Penobscot Indian Nation. The convening group helped draft a mandate, which the chiefs and Gov. Paul LePage signed on June 29, to lay out the three-year-long truth and reconciliation process.
A selection panel is accepting nominations for commissioners until Oct. 1, when it will choose five who “are trusted by both tribal and state governments and their respective citizens,” according to the mandate. The commissioners then will travel several days per month to reservations to listen to people’s experiences, seek to understand why the experiences occurred and determine what needs to change. The commission cannot pursue criminal or civil claims; its role is to create a written account and make recommendations for child welfare reform.
Historically, efforts to assimilate Indian children into non-native culture, in many cases, devastated tribal communities. In the 1800s, church groups, with government support, took Indian children and sent them to boarding schools, far from their culture, religion, language and families. Many of the children were abused; many died.
In 1958, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League of America partnered to establish the Indian Adoption Project to place Indian children with adoptive white families. Though the children were taken in many cases from reservations suffering from poverty, their removal resulted in a form of cultural genocide. Surveys by the Association of American Indian Affairs in 1969 and 1974 showed that between 25 percent and 35 percent of all Indian children were separated from their homes and living in foster care, adoptive care or institutions at the time. Though the federal Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 to give Indian children more protection, some problems persisted.
Maine’s truth and reconciliation commission is important because it sets the framework for understanding different perspectives of the state’s history. There is an air of something with national significance being accomplished, too. This commission is set to be the third such undertaking in U.S. history and the first to have this level of joint support from the state and tribes, according to commission Interim Director Carolyn Morrison. The nation will watch.
The aim of the process is not to make people feel guilty or seek reparations but to find a way to heal and build the relationship between the tribes and state. For people who will find it painful to tell their stories, know that those of us listening will be celebrating your strength.

[The new anthology TWO WORLDS, narratives by Native American and First Nations Adoptees will be out this week... tell your friends...Trace]

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Adoption Indian-style: Culture, Tribal Ways Still Matter

Commentary: Culture, tribal ways still matter

The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, September 01, 2012
- 9/1/12


By Harlan McKosato

Personally, I love being Native American. It’s different than being an “ordinary” American. I was adopted recently by the Youngbear family from the Meskwaki tribe in Iowa. The Meskwaki (People of the Red Earth) are the Fox within the Sac and Fox. I am Thakiwa (People of the Yellow Earth), or Sac, so we’re close relatives. It was an honor to be chosen, and with it comes certain responsibilities.
This adoption is not a legal matter. It is a matter of the heart. I was put in place of a much respected man within the tribe, the late Dan Youngbear Jr., the grandson of the legendary Fox Chief Pushetonequa. Adoptions are a long-held tradition of many tribes and traditional tribal families, although many families have let this part of the past slip away.
I spent several days in Meskwaki country, getting to know the history of my relatives as well as their modern existence. I stayed at their luxurious resort hotel and casino, visited their settlement (or reservation), their powwow grounds, their museum and the Iowa River, and I visited with my relatives who came up from Oklahoma to witness the occasion.
Here is an excerpt from the book Mesquakie and Proud of It, by author John M. Zielinski, published in 1976: “The [Meskwaki] are a unique tribe of American Indians. They are of the most ancient Algonquin stock — their language, legends and lore show less influence from the white culture than almost any other Indian group.
“When most Indians were being unceremoniously herded from their ancestral lands, the [Meskwaki] refused to give up their beloved forests of Iowa for the open plains of Kansas. They had been called the ‘scourge of the northwest’ by the French who waged a war of annihilation against them for more than 100 years. Yet they chose a peaceful means to fight for their land in Iowa.
“At a time when most of the major Indian battles were yet to be fought the [Meskwaki] turned to diplomacy in the early 1850s and began lobbying for the right to live in Iowa. By 1856 the state legislature passed a law giving them the right to live in Iowa. In the same year Governor Grimes agreed to hold the deed to their land in trust for them. Indians, no more than animals, had any right to own land. They were not made citizens until 1924. [The] land was bought and paid for with [Meskwaki] money … it is a refuge against time and change.”
The adoption ceremony took place Saturday evening and most of Sunday. One of my aunts described it as “pretty.” The setting was scenic and not too hot for July. The Youngbear family was very giving, and the people from the community were generous with their time and energy. It was a refuge against time and change, at least for a day.
The previous weekend, my son and I traveled back home to Oklahoma for a Native American Church ceremony in a tipi along the Cimarron River with my Ioway family and folks who traveled down from Wisconsin from the Ho Chunk Nation. It was held to offer blessings for my younger cousin, who joined the Navy. This has been a family tradition on my mom’s side for generations, and it’s a common practice of many tribes to bless their warriors before they go off to battle. I felt blessed to be part of the ceremony.
I share this with you because these traditions define who I am as a tribal person, as a Native American. You can kick me off the tribal rolls, you can take away my tribal ID card, the government could strip recognition of my tribes, but no one can tell me I don’t love being Indian.
Harlan McKosato is Sauk/Ioway and Director of NDN Productions.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lakota Child Rescue Project: SD violates ICWA each year

Archive photo
For 100 years, Native American children have been removed from their families. It began in the 1880s under a US government policy of assimilation: children as young as five were taken from their homes, shipped to boarding schools, and instructed in the ways of white culture. Today, a generation of children is once again losing its connection to its traditions. This time, it's through state-run foster care. Every year in South Dakota the state takes nearly 700 Native American children, when some 95% of them are placed in non-Native foster and state-run care—in direct violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
Why? Each year the state receives almost $100 million in federal money for foster care services.

Watch The Lakota Child Rescue Project -  on YouTube (Posted by Lakota Law) com/watch? v=JDMiWmI_ bwE&feature= channel&list= UL


Janice Howe receiving letters of support:
The response to Janice Howe's story on NPR was overwhelming. This video shows her receiving the first 1200 letters of support from around the country. Danny Sheehan, the chief counsel for Lakota People's Law Project personally delivered the letters. com/watch? v=gji9F23ssUY

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Part 2: Victims of Adoption and Lies: Lost Time
Part 2: By Trace A. DeMeyer

I woke up with thoughts: there are two victims of adoption who need help and not necessarily from each other: the adoptee and the first mother. Each has its own burden and neither can heal the other.


One big "adoption problem" first mothers and adoptees have to face is "lost time." If an adoptee is lucky enough to open their adoption and find their natural family, and the reunion happens, there is so much time, perhaps years, you cannot replace or reinvent because you simply weren't there.  You can't get around it, no how - no way!

Transracial Adoptees (children raised outside their culture and country) instinctively know there are stories, culture, history, language and even people you didn't experience in your adoptive family.  Adoptees will try to balance this out by reading up, if you know your country or tribe and if information is in books or on the internet.  Like my friends, I read everything I could get my hands on before I went into my reunion.

And our birth parents must realize they cannot fill in those years in a matter of minutes.  The burden for both is "how do you catch up or make up for lost time?"

These messy details are never discussed by the adoption industry because obviously in their policies, they do not expect there will be reunions since adoptions are closed and records tightly sealed in all but seven states!

One story that hurt to hear was an adoptee friend who found her siblings were very jealous of her and the time she spent with her birth mother, once she'd opened the adoption records and found them, not an easy thing to do.  Her brother and sisters made their mother-daughter reunion very very difficult.  Jealousy can be a big hazard in reunions.  My friend tried to spend time with everyone in her family to calm their fears (she wasn't going to steal their mother away) but nothing could fill in the large gaps of time she was missing from her family, lost through a closed adoption.

After several years passed, her siblings still seemed overly-protective of their mother, acting like they wished my friend had not found them. My friend felt bullied and stepped back.  This is called Reunion PullBack, when you (the adoptee) have to distance yourself from situations you never expected in reuniting with your first family.  No adoptee can predict the emotions you will encounter in meeting new people, even if they are your blood relatives and siblings.

Adoptees are expected to be wise and know how to navigate through all these tensions and somehow put everyone at ease, which is a very difficult thing to do but I have seen adoptees do it.

In story after story I hear, lost time cannot be replaced. Even if you spend a month alone with your birthmother, you cannot catch up on all you missed, adoptees tell me.  You have to start at the day you meet and go from there, and hope your first family will recognize they need to be gentle with you (the adoptee) and not bombard you with negativity and drama.  (I keep reminding myself adoptees did not choose to be adopted - yet we are thrown into these situations and then expected to be OK.)

The time you spent with your adoptive family cannot be erased either and has its own responsibilities since you (the adoptee) are their child, and they put in the time and money and effort to raise you.  Adoptees do feel guilt when they ask questions or start to look into opening their adoption records. That guilt is what I call "the gratitude attitude." I know one adoptee who said he cannot ask his adoptive mother anything about his adoption because she will think he's ungrateful.

In my own experience with reunion, I feel it is up to the adoptee if they share any news of their first family and finding and meeting them.  Most adoptees tell me they do not discuss any reunion details with their adoptive parents! Why? The possibility exists of being dumped and abandoned by your adoptive parents, even left out of the will and inheritance, which has happened to more than one adoptee I know.  In other words, you are punished (emotionally and financially) for looking and god forbid, you actually go meet them!

That is a strange expectation for adoptees: Protecting your adoptive parents from the truth, protecting your relationship with them, then having to lie to protect their feelings and calm their insecurity they might lose you.

This balancing act is expected of adoptees.  Reunions can bring about a whole new set of expections from your "new" first family and ultimately ruin your relationship with your adoptive family.

My point here is the adoption industry created "unreal expectations" for the adoption triad which can lead to lies, deceit and still perpetuate society's belief in their propaganda that adoption creates a "forever family."

PART THREE will continue in a week... Please share your thoughts in the comments... Trace

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You are not alone

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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60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


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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