|Another book about this appalling history|
The Adoption Crunch, the Christian Right, and the Challenge to Indian Sovereignty
About Kathryn Joyce
Kathryn Joyce is the author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption and Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement (Beacon Press 2009). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, Slate, Mother Jones, the Atlantic, and many other publications.
While the demand for adoptable babies is increasing in the United States—driven in large part by evangelical Christians—the number of babies available for adoption is declining. Adoption agencies are now targeting tribal nations as a potential new source of babies to adopt, and forming alliances that threaten to undermine the sovereignty of Native American nations.
On September 23, 2013, a child-custody battle that was nearly five years in the making came to its conclusion in Oklahoma when an Army veteran from the Cherokee Nation, Dusten Brown, handed over his daughter, Veronica, to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a White couple from South Carolina who had raised her for the first two years of her life.1
Brown gained custody of four-year-old Veronica in December 2011, after a South Carolina court ruled that the adoption process had violated federal Indian law. Brown’s attorneys also argued that Christina Maldonado—Brown’s ex-fiancé and Veronica’s biological mother, who is Latina—had deliberately concealed plans to let the Capobiancos adopt her.2 As the custody decision was reversed following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling,3 and Veronica was tucked into the Capobiancos’ car to return to South Carolina, the scene was broadcast across national and social media to two polarized camps. Brown’s supporters condemned the Capobiancos as baby-snatchers stealing an Indian child from her loving father, as tens of thousands of Native children had been systematically removed from their families in decades past. The Capobiancos’ supporters condemned Brown as a deadbeat dad who had given up his rights long ago and was hiding behind an obsolete law....In the 1950s and 1960s, boarding schools gave way to the Indian Adoption Project, which removed children from Native homes and placed them in foster care or adoptive homes. By the 1970s, an astonishing one-quarter to one-third of all Indian children in the United States had been taken away from their families, and 85-90 percent of them were placed in non-Indian families. The generation came to be known as the “Lost Birds.”55
“There were literally American Indian communities where there were no children,” said Terry Cross. As the broader Native American community realized what was happening and began to collect testimony for Congress, other stories emerged: of Native American women pressured into relinquishing babies for adoption just after birth while still under the effects of anesthesia, and of women waking up to find that their babies were gone and, sometimes, that they had themselves been sterilized.56
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