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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Academics debate ICWA and Baby Veronica case

archival photo
Quite a lengthy academic style of discussion is happening over at Family - here is an excerpt by John Culhane:

“Baby Veronica” Is No Longer a Baby

08.28.2012, 11:18 AM
You might have missed it, but there’s been a huge controversy over whether a little girl who’s been with her adoptive parents for about two-and-a-half years should have been returned to her biological father on the sole ground that he’s a member of the Cherokee tribe (and thereby qualifies to rescind his consent to the adoption under a piece of federal legislation called the Indian Child Welfare Act). She’s been dubbed “Baby Veronica” (perhaps by media eager to sentimentalize this important story), but that term is hardly accurate any more. She’s a toddler with emotional ties to her adoptive parents.... read the rest and comments here:

My friend Mark Diebel posted his reply and gave me permission to print it here on my blog. Thanks Mark - good words deserve a good audience like my blog readers....

Mark Diebel says:
JC writes, “voting in tribal elections, running for office, taking advantage of tribal scholarships and benefits, participating in customary and ceremony rights, plus [her] relationships with extended families.” Does anyone really think that these benefits—which Veronica might or might not take advantage of in any case—outweigh the psychological harm to a child taken from the only home she knows?”
Yes, there are some that think that the psychological harm taken from the “only home she knows” is less. Adoptees, for example, are aware that the significance of the battle being waged that pits biology against adoption is to misdirect attention from the deep significance of human origins and historical relations. Origins are always with us, no matter how old we are, and the reality is that having them removed from us for whatever reason does not remove the importance they have in later life. It is often only an adult who looks to know where he or she comes from. Children and young adults are more interested in the forward view. The time lost with original family, culture and language cannot be recovered. Ever. The case is not about biology or tribalism…it is about origins and historical continuity.
The harm caused by a separation of a child from the so-called “only home she knows” is in fact real, but already admitted. The child already lost her first mother. Harm is already affirmed and denied by the happy adoptive family myth. The myth is that adoption heals the earlier separation and loss. If so, then the child can heal yet another loss. If not, then the child was never really healed with the adoptive family. Yes, more harm is caused in the new separation, but now the separation and loss is raised to another and higher level that involves courts and claims by various adults that the child will have to evaluate for herself as an adult. She did not create this situation. The adult world made this stuff up. She will be the judge of it all.
I am ignoring for the moment abusive situations in order to reframe the discussion. Parents and children have rights to each other. Adoption must stop the practice of owning adopted children and learn to see that their adopted children are also the children of other parents whom the children have rights to.
I wish that good-hearted adopters would find out if there are adult adoptees who have lived situations like this and ask them what they think about what happened to them. (And, btw, not all adopters would do as Baby Veronica’s adoptive parents…some of them actually acknowledged the importance of the first family and returned children. makes for a very different story, more love and less anger.)

Mark stood up to them. Comments are closed over at the Family Scholar but I suggest you study the mindset of those who claim academic thinking on adoption. They're just not "getting" ICWA history and that is one of our biggest issues.... Trace

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tribunal will rule whether Ottawa retaliated against native rights’ advocate Cindy Blackstock

Cindy Blackstock
Cindy and I are friends on Facebook. The Canadian government has been monitoring her Facebook and Twitter page - something you'd expect from a desperate government who would rather take away First Nations Children than keep them with their tribal families and support tribal family preservation in Canada with $$ and sufficient funding - an issue that Cindy has worked for.
We can see governments will spend untold millions to fund programs that remove Tribal children in the US also, despite the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. Removing a child for adoption and foster care is still a huge problem on very poor reserves in North America.
"Instead of dealing with that funding gap, Ottawa has spent nearly as long searching for dirt on Blackstock. In total, it has spent more than $3 million trying to derail her bid to have the government’s funding policy ruled as discrimination against Native children."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NICWA responds to Dr. Phil's coverage

Read here:

"Veronica’s pre-adoptive placement was kept secret by her mother and attorneys representing the Capobiancos. Her placement with them was not revealed to Veronica’s father for four months–just days before he was sent to Iraq. Upon learning of his daughter’s proposed adoption, the father quickly moved to affirm his rights to parent Veronica. After three decisions supporting his rights in the South Carolina courts, he has been parenting her since January 2012."

To learn more about how you can support the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s efforts to strengthen protections for American Indian children and families and to access more information on this case, please visit our website at

Get the Story:
Marcia Zug: Doing What’s Best for the Tribe (Slate 8/23)

South Carolina Supreme Court Decision:
Adoptive Couple v. Cherokee Nation (July 26, 2012)

Related Stories:
Couple wants rehearing in ICWA case of Cherokee Nation girl (8/14)
Court supports return of child to Cherokee father under ICWA (7/26)
Terry Cross: Compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act needed (7/25)
New group lobbies Congress to change Indian Child Welfare Act (7/11)
Couple in ICWA case says Cherokee child is more 'Latino' (04/19)
South Carolina court hears ICWA case for Cherokee child (4/17)
Former Sen. Abourezk clarifies comment about ICWA case (01/24)
South Carolina Supreme Court pushed to take up ICWA case (01/18)
Cherokee Nation seeks gag order in ICWA dispute making news (1/5)
Cherokee Nation man wins custody of daughter in ICWA case (1/3)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr. Phil’s Hollywood-ized Adoption Propaganda

By Trace L Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

Watching clips of today’s episode (10-18-12) of Dr. Phil, watching those teary adoptive parents show their anger, outrage and despair over losing their babies because of some (ridiculous) (unjust) Indian Child Welfare Act, I knew right away this was going to be a one-sided show touting the benefits of adoption, even if they had a few Indian experts on the show, too.
Dr. Phil was obviously not allowing enough time to teach about ICWA and the wholesale removal of Indian Children in Canada and America, ethnic cleansing via non-Indian adoptions, or explaining why Indian children are called Stolen Generations.

Until I wrote my memoir, I couldn’t find much information in one place and had to dig pretty deep. That’s another reason why I wrote two books hoping it will counter such ignorance and this Hollywood-ized adoption propaganda that still dominates TV.
As I watched, it was obvious how young adoptees being Indian citizens didn’t really matter to the non-Indians parents who adopted them.  All they really cared about is keeping them.

If these Americans had any knowledge of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the testimony of Indian leaders in 1976, or the history of America’s neglect of Indians (poverty, starvation and concentration camps called Indian reservations), and the legal theft of thousands of children, maybe then we’d stand a chance going on TV or entering the public courts. Maybe then America might catch a glimpse what 100+ years of theft of tribal children looks like.
Facing down teary adoptive parents who expect praise, not condemnation, we Indians are very familiar with their race-based judgments. Indians went direct to the Senate to get ICWA.  Indians won’t win any debates on public TV in three-minute segments. Our history on this topic alone could fill several library collections.

Can you see how not telling prospective parents about ICWA is working out in 2012?  Can you see how the lack of Indian history can fuel ignorance and inflame racism in America? Can you see how adoption-propaganda still sells the public on how these nice white people only want to raise (and save) these poor little Indian kids? 

Doesn't anyone realize children do not choose to be taken from their natural parents and tribe?
Oh - they also rolled out how some of these kids are part-Indians. There is no such thing as part-Indian. Which part, a foot? A finger? Blood is blood. That is the “racist construct” Indians hear all the time - blood this, blood that. It’s getting old….

Had these adopters ever met an adult Indian? Not likely. It’s like these adopters believe there is nothing greater than being American. In their minds, it's better to adopt these Indian kids and transform them into Americans? Really? (I was thinking of Tim Wise and his lectures on white privilege.)
The tribal judge/lawyer stated 30% of all children were removed and abducted. Dr. Phil, no expert on Indian history, jumped on the word “abducted” and quickly joins with the chorus of adopters with “what’s in the best interest of the child" and allow these nice people to keep their kids - and how it’s actually selfish for a tribe to want to keep their own citizens. (This show was not good for my blood pressure.)

Indian Children adopted as infants will not be able to explain the importance of blood, culture and connecting with their tribal relatives. As they grow up and see they are different in their white neighborhoods, and feel like they don’t belong there, then the truth will really matter. It will matter when the child meets other Indians and doesn’t know who he or she is or which tribe or clan.
Knowing who you are matters. Ask anyone in my new anthology “Two Worlds.” Ask them how much they wanted to find their first families and tribes.

Dr. Phil, are you ready to meet some adult American Indian adoptees?

[Join the boycott of Dr. Phil on Facebook: (They hope to get 1,000 LIKES)]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two Worlds contributor has story in British news

Native American hopes adoption story will give strength to others

Friday, October 05, 2012   Kent and Sussex Courier
          ​BACK TO HIS ROOTS:  Tunbridge Wells life coach Johnathan Brooks tracked down his natural parents to an Indian reservation in Montana
A NATIVE American Indian who first told his incredible story in the Courier last year has contributed to a pioneering study on babies who, like him, were secretly adopted from Indian reservations.
Johnathan Brooks, who lives with his wife and daughter in Grecian Road, Tunbridge Wells, explained how he was adopted as a newborn baby by a German aristocrat and her husband, an American film producer.
Read: BACK TO HIS ROOTS: Tunbridge Wells life coach Johnathan Brooks tracked down his natural parents to an Indian reservation in Montana

Johnathan has an incredible narrative in the new anthology "Two Worlds!" Click on the book link in the sidebar!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Victory for First Nations could cost Ottawa billions

Ottawa spends $3 million to battle First Nations child welfare case

OTTAWA - The federal government has been billed more than $3 million for its unsuccessful attempts to keep a high-stakes battle over First Nations child welfare out of the courts.
Invoices obtained through Access to Information show the Justice Department, acting on behalf of Aboriginal Affairs, paid out at least $3.1 million for legal services between 2007 and June 2012.
Government lawyers were trying to quash claims from First Nations child rights advocates that Ottawa is short-changing native communities by funding child welfare services at 22 per cent below provincial levels.
The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations launched a human rights challenge that dates back to 2007.
They say the federal government is discriminating by not providing the same level of child welfare support to First Nations children as other children in Canada receive from provincial governments.
Ottawa has challenged the advocates with legal technicalities at every step along the way, arguing that the case does not belong in the court system.
After much back and forth, and more than $3 million later, the Federal Court rejected the government's arguments, ordering a full hearing at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
"They've spent that trying to avoid this hearing on the truth," said Cindy Blackstock, the society's executive director.
"That really raises the question of what they're trying to hide. All we've wanted from the get-go is a factual hearing on whether they're discriminating or not."
Indeed, last week, the tribunal decided to set aside several weeks of hearings on the issue in February and March.
"I'm expecting Canada to really drag it out and use about any tactic they can to drag it out," said Blackstock.
Blackstock obtained the federal invoices through an Access to Information request and provided the documents to The Canadian Press.
At stake is far more than federal funding for child welfare.
If the First Nations advocates win the day, the case will put pressure on Ottawa to increase child welfare funding, as well as to match provincial funding in other areas of First Nations services, such as schooling, special education, policing and health.
Already, First Nations have started legal action on special education and policing in Ontario, using similar arguments to the child welfare case.
Victory for the First Nations could cost Ottawa billions.
"We think that after these cases go through, the federal government's programs for First Nations people will need a drastic overhaul in order to deliver services equal to what other Canadians receive," said Kent Elson, a Toronto lawyer who is involved in the policing and special education challenges.
But if the government wins, recently won powers for First Nations to launch human rights complaints would be severely restricted, the acting head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission has said.
"We think this is one of the most important human rights issues this decade," Elson added.
Aboriginal Affairs officials said Monday they don't intend to speculate on how much the case will cost at the end of the day, but spokeswoman Genevieve Guibert said in an email that the government hopes the tribunal will dismiss the complaint, putting an end to litigation.
The government has increased the funding from $449.5 million a year in 2006-07 to its current level of $580 million, Guibert said.
A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said last week that the federal government does not believe the courts are the proper forum for differences over child welfare.
"We believe that the best way to ensure First Nations children and families get the supports and services they need is by working together — with First Nations, provinces and territories — and not through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal," Jan O'Driscoll wrote in an email.
"Our commitment to supporting First Nations children and families is clear."
O'Driscoll said funding for family services has "significantly increased" and the quality of such services has improved to focus on preventing the problems that jeopardize the welfare of native children.
"As this matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further."
But Blackstock said she and the AFN worked for 10 years behind the scenes to negotiate a compromise with the government, before turning to legal action.
"The bigger question is, do we want to be a country where racial discrimination is a way that we save the government money? This case is fundamentally about the type of Canada we want," she said.
"It's not a legitimate fiscal restraint measure."
First Nations children are dramatically over-represented in the child welfare system, mainly because of poverty, overcrowded housing and poor parenting linked to substance abuse and neglect, research shows.
Recent census data shows there were nearly 30,000 children in foster care in Canada on a given day. Other research suggests about 70,000 children pass through foster homes at some point in a given year.
Up to 40 per cent of those children are First Nations kids, Blackstock said.
Last week, the United Nations committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child took Canada to task over its treatment of aboriginal, immigrant and disabled children.
When asked about the criticism in the House of Commons, Conservative parliamentary secretary Bob Dechert lashed out at the UN committee rather than address the child welfare matter.
"The sad reality is that Syria is a member of this committee," Dechert said.
"Syria, a country whose rulers are stealing the innocence of an entire generation of its children, is criticizing Canada. Imagine that. This is no doubt to distract from the atrocities that Syrian children are currently facing every day."

Read it on Global News: Global News | Ottawa spends $3 million to battle First Nations child welfare case

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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

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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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