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Friday, March 1, 2019

15 years later, how much changed #ICWA Brackeen v. Bernhardt

15 years already? How I changed...but has adoption perception changed?

If  you had asked me in 2004 or 2014 what I had planned for myself, I would have not said “writing” about adoption, child trafficking, Indian Adoption Programs/Projects, the 60s Scoop, Stolen Generations and Cultural Genocide research.

As an adoptee, I'd attended the first Wiping the Tears ceremony in Wisconsin and met the organizers Sandy White Hawk (an adoptee) and elder Chris Leith.  Then my world changed.
I'd learn more hidden history. 

How adoption affected me: I'd never told my story of opening my adoption while I lived it. A few friends knew details but not all of it. I got the idea for a book when I wrote an article in 2005 about stolen generations of North American Indian children placed for adoption with non-Indian parents. That article, "Generation after Generation, We are Coming Home" was published in Talking Stick magazine in New York City and then in News from Indian Country in Wisconsin. It took me down a path I never expected.

I'd find new information, new history, meet new adoptees, and grow more concerned.*

It's true many bloggers hoped we made a strong and lasting impression, to impact and end the propaganda since the early 2000s. I am not sure we can actually gauge or measure how world views of adoption have changed. (If books on Amazon are an indication, memoirs by adoptees are now climbing the ranks over all the propaganda books about how to buy/adopt a baby.)

It's also true some blogger friends stopped blogging on adoption out of pure exhaustion!


If the statistics on adoption are any indication, the number of babies adopted by Americans are dropping each and every year.  There is definitely a BIG demand for infants (primarily because of infertility) but there remains a short supply of newborns/babies to adopt.  (I do think the adoption traffickers are constantly reinventing new ways to grab a fresh supply of infants.

What new poor countries or communities they will invade as this demand increases?! Read THIS) On this website we published stories ( Adoption Reality: Adoptee returned to Russia #NAAM (and) Adoption Reality: Guatemala #NAAM) and (Trafficking) on many countries who became the suppliers and traffickers of newborns and children. Child exploitation, labor bondage, organ trafficking and illegal adoption is also an ongoing problem that award winning Moroccan medical doctor in pediatrics and UN expert Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid says is not decreasing.

Indian Country has lived through this over a century with forced assimilation, child snatching and disappearing children. The government's motive: take more LAND (or what is on or under the land). Targeting children, the future of Indian Country, was obvious.

White people believe they deserve the right to adopt without considering the best needs of the Native child who is sovereign and future of their tribal nation.

On January 16, 2019, 325 tribal nations, 57 Native organizations, 21 states, 31 child welfare organizations, Indian and constitutional law scholars, and seven members of Congress joined the United States and four intervenor tribes in filing briefs to urge the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the long-standing federal law protecting the well-being of Native children by upholding family integrity and stability.


The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, litigation organization and veteran opponent of ICWA, joined the Brackeen lawsuit in 2018 to challenge the federal law ICWA.  (Use the search bar on this website and use keyword: Goldwater.)   Brackeen v. Bernhardt is a lawsuit brought by Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, and individual plaintiffs, who allege ICWA—a federal statute that has been in effect for more than 40 years and has helped thousands of Native children maintain ties to their families and their tribes—is unconstitutional.
With this action: Such groups have attempted to capitalize on misinformation and stereotypes as a way to undermine ICWA.


ICWA only applies to citizens of federally recognized tribes. Indeed, the statute has no application unless an “Indian child” is at issue, and “Indian child” is defined as “Any unmarried person under the age of 18 and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.“ The act is directly and inextricably linked to citizenship in a sovereign nation.

*A couple night ago I wrote several pages of notes of what I would say to the Brackeens about this Navajo child they wish to adopt and how their legal actions seek to undermine his sovereignty and the future of ICWA. (I will publish these thoughts soon.)


What I’d hoped would change is the overall perception of closed adoptions, how it’s not as great for adoptees as most people were made to believe.  PAPS (potential adoptive parents) (the Saviors and Do-Gooders) have the common "saving the child mentality" which the billion dollar adoption industry banks on... The adoption industry still prefers newborns, hoping the younger the child is, a baby will bond better with the strangers who adopt them. (Again, that is a proven fallacy. No matter the age, adoptees will have issues: such as severe narcissist injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. There is new science called birth psychology so I read studies about adoptees in treatment for identity issues, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), depression and suicidal thoughts.)

The idea of an OPEN ADOPTION was a strong indication that times and opinions were changing but already…they are failing too. Some children have been re-homed or un-adopted in what they call Failed Adoption.

This is a quote I saved about open adoption:
…ignored by the adoption agencies is the reality of “open adoption.” Only 22 of fifty states in America recognize open adoption agreements, but failure of the adoptive parents to comply with the agreement is not legally enforceable by the surrendering mother.

Broken Adoptions: When Parents "Re-Home" Adopted Children ...

As countries such as Guatemala and China close their international adoption programs or implement strict new rules, the pool of adoptable babies has shrunk dramatically in recent years, leading to a rise in more challenging types of adoption of older or disabled children that are more likely to end in dissolution.


A quote by adoptee-author-blogger Elle Cuardaigh:

And adoption certainly is “worked.” When supply of newborns decreased in the 1970s, the adoption industry had to put a new spin on relinquishment  to stay in business. Since women could not be so easily shamed by single motherhood, they changed tactics. Potential suppliers (pregnant women) are now encouraged to “make an adoption plan.” She reads the “Dear Birthmother” letters and interviews hopeful adoptive parents. She is provided with medical care and possibly even housing.  She is promised this is her choice, and that she can have ongoing contact with her child in an open adoption. It would seem she has all the power, but she is being systematically conditioned to accept her role, her place. She doesn’t want to hurt the baby’s “real parents,” feels indebted to them, emotionally invested. She is soon convinced they are better than she is. She becomes “their birthmother.” It almost guarantees relinquishment.  


Adoption is still in the headlines but not nearly as often...

This website AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES has reached over 900,000 hits/reads! If that is any indication, history is changing.  We thank you readers. It's worked!

So what will the next 10 years be like? Sign up for future posts via email and find out.

(How I Changed, Part 8 was the final installment in 2014) 

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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.


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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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