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This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.

2019: This blog was ranked #50 in top 100 blogs about adoption. Let's make it #1... We hit 1 million reads! WOW!

2019: WE NEED A TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION Commission in the US now for the Adoption Programs that stole generations of children... Goldwater Institute's work to dismantle ICWA is another glaring attempt at cultural genocide.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The New Normal: DNA

I feel like I'm a victim of a witness protection program called closed adoption , though I didn't ask to be... Trace
Reblog from 2014


By Trace L Hentz, Blog Editor

Whenever I have a birthday I think of all the years I searched for my parents. It's true that laws prevented me from ever finding them. Laws didn't stop me. I met my dad in 1995. We did a DNA test to prove paternity. It was 99.9% that Earl was my dad.


(2014) Patricia and I are still finishing up the new anthology CALLED HOME, very important history as a collection of adoptee narratives and the historical truths about adoption in Indian Country.  These voices of adoptees are at the heart of what I do. They are the reason there is a blog AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES.

Right now Karen Vigneault and I are working with about 20 adoptees who are trying to find their families. Because of the adoption laws in the USA, we are seeing the “New Normal” for adoptees is having a DNA test.  They have no choice with the laws not allowing adoptees to have access to our own names, our parent’s names and our tribal nations, and we are still denied our basic rights as human beings and citizens of sovereign nations.

Our adoptive parents who raised us may or may not realize that we NEED information and our ancestry and medical background.  (An adoptee can love more than one set of parents and there is no need to panic!) Adoptees tell me they are afraid to search because of their adoptive parents! That fear has to stop because if you wait, you may never get to meet your mother or father!

One of the adoptees in the new anthology talks about finding new cousins who are trying to figure out who her mother is.

This is the new normal. This is not right but because of the adoption industry and their billion dollar earnings, we adoptees are still at the bottom of the totem pole as far as our rights.

I don’t know how many times I have said to an adoptee do not delay your search. If you do get a name or phone number, make the call. Have a friend with you to keep you calm. Write a set of questions. Just make contact then offer to send a letter explaining what you know about your first family. Send them your phone number so they can call you back.

Give people time to adjust to the truth that you are definitely one of their family members.

If you get your DNA results,  which is the new normal, make contact with cousins who share your DNA! Give them your birth date and let them help you try and figure out how you are all related.

The new normal isn’t fair but we’ll use this until the laws change.

Update: One of the adoptees in the book Stolen Generations is moving to Michigan to start a new life with his parents. He found them using a DNA test. Both his parents were looking for him but didn't know how. Drew found them. He's finally in reunion after 40+ years.

The 2nd Edition of Called Home: The Roadmap has a chapter about using your DNA results to do a court order to open your records.  ICWA has a provision for this. Please read this book.

Ottawa ordered to compensate First Nations children impacted by on-reserve child welfare system

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, left, and Cindy Blackstock, head of the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society. The groups filed the original human rights complaint that led to Friday's ruling. (Canadian Press)

Ottawa must pay potentially billions of dollars in compensation to First Nations children harmed by the on-reserve child welfare system, following a ruling Friday by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that also called for payments to some of their parents and grandparents.
The tribunal ordered the federal government to pay $40,000 to each child — the maximum allowed under the Canadian Human Rights Act —  who was apprehended or taken from their homes on reserve, no matter what the reason.
The ruling covers all children in the care of the on-reserve child welfare system at any point from Jan.1, 2006, to a date to be determined by the tribunal.

'Racism, colonial practices and discrimination'

Cindy Blackstock, who heads the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said this latest ruling shows Ottawa learned little from what happened in residential schools and during the Sixties Scoop era.


"They knew better and did not do better resulting in tragedy for First Nations children, families and [First] Nations," said Blackstock in a statement.


"We must demand Canada stop its piecemeal approach to remedying cross cutting inequalities in First Nations public services by fully implementing the Spirit Bear plan to end all of the inequalities once and for all."

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Friday, September 6, 2019

The Billion Dollar Adoption Industry

US Gov’t Spends 10 Times More on Foster Care and Adoption Than Reuniting Families

The name “child protective services” would lead one to believe that these agencies exist to protect children.

By Emma Fiala, The Mind Unleashed
(TMU) — Whether experienced in the foster care system or not, most Americans have at least some idea that the system is flawed and, at times, more harmful than helpful. But just how bad is it, really? As it turns out, according to talkpoverty.org, it’s worse than we thought.
The situation is so bad that some find it simply unbelievable and chalk the idea that government provides an incentive for foster care placements and forced adoption over reunification up to a mere conspiracy theory when in truth, the federal government spends nearly 10 times more on foster care and adoption than it does on reunification.
Some people do phrase it as a conspiracy theory,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. “When they say the government makes money on foster care, that’s not true … on foster care they still lose money, but they lose less money.” Adding that “private agencies do make money on foster care in many cases.”
The common agency name “child protective services” would lead one to believe that these agencies exist to protect the children of the United States. Unfortunately, as they are funded by a host of sources from the federal, state, and local levels, a lot gets lost in translation. These various agencies that exist across the country are not in fact a cohesive national system. Instead, they are simply linked by a set of federal guidelines and loose definitions of child maltreatment.
Thanks to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), financial reimbursements exist for foster care programs, including “adoption bounties”—thousands of dollars that paid to states for successfully adopting out a child. And thanks to the Federal Foster Care Program (Title IV-E of the Social Security Act), states receive a reimbursement ranging from 50 to 76 cents for every dollar spent on “daily child care and supervision, administrative costs, training, recruitment, and data collection,” according to talkpoverty.org.
Government funds foster care and adopts, that much is clear. But what about family reunification?

While the foster care and adoption funding noted above isn’t capped, under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, family reunification funding is. And Title IV-B isn’t even solely for reunification services as provisions allow for funding of foster care programs as well as the promotion of adoption.
Another misappropriation of funds away from services that would assist families exists within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a source of federal funding for child welfare programs. While the program is supposed to be a form of cash assistance for low-income families with children, the funds can also be used to support programs and services designed to help children in need, including “child protection” agencies providing foster care and adoption services.
According to Richard Wexler, at least eight states use TANF funds to pay for adoption subsidies, 23 states use funds to cover CPS investigations, 27 states use funds for foster care, and three use TANF funds to pay for residential treatment facilities for children.
In effect, funds designated to help impoverished families with children are instead being used to finance the separation of impoverished children from their families.
Regardless of situation, under the ASFA, states are required to terminate parental rights after a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months. This sometimes led to children bouncing from foster home to foster home, so the government created an adoption incentive—or adoption bounty—of $4,000 to $12,000 per child. But before a state can collect, they must first exceed the number of children adopted the previous year resulting in an incentive for states to adopt out an increasing number of children every year rather than reunifying them.
Unsurprisingly, the number of adoptions increased and the number of reunifications declined following the implementation of ASFA. And thanks to the Bush administration’s Adoption and Promotion Act of 2003, states that increase the number of adoptions from foster care year to year receive even more money.
According to Wexler, private agencies dealing with foster care placements are probably “paid for each day that child remains in foster care … So the private agency has an incentive to convince itself that the child really, really can’t go home and has to stay with them for a long, long time.”

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Tribal voices matter : Native adoptee Hilary C. Tompkins

The Native American Presidential Forum: Tribal voices matter

(Photo: Hilary C. Tompkins)

A new president could bring about positive change by understanding that they may be the commander-in-chief of the United States, but not for tribes says Hilary C. Tompkins
As an enrolled member of an Indian nation in America, you often get a feeling that you are a foreigner in your land. I am one of those Indians who were separated from their tribe and adopted by a non-Native family before the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, uprooted from my Native culture and language and forced into a new identity. The great truth was that I could never let go of my Native roots, even if I tried to blend into mainstream America. My Native roots were strong, deep, and unyielding. I’m American, but I am a dual citizen with membership in my tribe, the Navajo Nation. I bounce between two worlds, like many of my Native sisters and brothers.
Native Americans are treated as mythological creatures in America, and our modern-day voices are often not heard in today’s world, let alone in the political arena. An excellent example of how Native Americans can feel left out of the conversation is the current criticism of tribalism in our politics. From the Native perspective, tribalism is a source of pride and foundation in one’s identity that doesn’t create harmful divisions. Attend a Pueblo feast day where neighboring members of other tribes partake in a bowl of stew, and you’ll see firsthand how tribalism can be a good thing.
I can count on one hand the times I felt American politicians understood me as a Native American voter. One was when I served under former President Obama with countless other Native American appointees, working together as public servants to restore and rebuild the broken trust relationship between over 500 Indian nations and the United States. More recently, I felt that our voices mattered at the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Iowa a few weeks ago. To hear multiple presidential candidates, speak about treaty rights, the fulfillment of trust responsibilities, and the moral duty to address our plight felt like a new chapter in the fabric of American politics.

The key will be to not become a short soundbite in a campaign cycle. My sense is the candidates at the Forum are committed in heart and mind to the mission of addressing our issues (and by the way, Joe Biden’s absence was unfortunate as I have seen him in action on Native American issues and we have side-barred on the topic, and he says all the right things). The candidates hit all the top issues: public safety, healthcare, education, and economic development, to name a few. Many of these changes and reforms will require significant funding and legislating specialized treatment of Native Americans, which likely means that the Senate will need to flip to make them a viable reality. But it’s a good start with candidates speaking our language for once.

The challenge will be finding the political will to implement these reforms. We had that political will under the Obama administration where we made significant gains with the annual White House summit, the historic settlement of many tribal trust lawsuits including Cobell, and the recognition of tribal inherent authority to prosecute non-Native domestic violence offenders, among many others. A new president will provide an opportunity to build upon the Obama platform. I recommend that any new administration not only address the social ills and injustices that we face but also focus on reforms that will strengthen and protect tribal self-governance. It is easy to get caught up in the parade of horribles inflicted upon Native Americans in campaign rhetoric, but tribal nations are also emblematic of high strength and resilience that should be celebrated by the candidates.

One area the candidates should add to their list is that a president should walk the walk of being a good trustee by protecting tribal sovereignty in the courts. This commitment starts with appointing an Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice that will file litigation affirmatively with the Tribes in support of tribal sovereign authority, such as to protect treaties, tribal lands, and tribal jurisdictional authority. During my stint as Interior’s Solicitor, a large part of my job was educating my federal colleagues about why the official U.S. litigation position was not consistent with the federal government’s role as trustee. I had some successful outcomes, but countless other losses where I remained the minority view (literally and figuratively) that the U.S. litigation position should be on the right side of tribal sovereignty.

Another area that the incoming president should address is the appointment of Native Americans to the federal bench. He or she should be developing a list of potential candidates as we speak to align with upcoming vacancies. Given the magnitude of federal cases that impact Indian nations, we must have judges that possess a basic understanding of federal Indian law. There are over 800 seats in the federal court system with only three Native American judges appointed. The lack of Native American representation in our federal judiciary perpetuates the disenfranchisement and dispossession of tribal authority.

A final example of where a new president could bring about positive change is by understanding that he or she may be the commander-in-chief of the United States, but not for the Tribes. The future of Indian Country should be defined by tribal leaders with the federal government in an ancillary but supportive role. The candidates are rightly focused on the dire conditions in Indian Country. It is unacceptable that: some reservation communities still lack running water and electrical services; Indian Country is often hardest hit by the impacts of climate change from drought, wildfires, and sea-level rise; and energy projects shouldn’t be forced upon tribes. But in the same breath, the candidates need to acknowledge that the Tribes are the ones which are best suited to determine how to address these and many other pressing challenges.

A president has great power to make a change for the better in Indian Country, but it is ultimately the Tribes that must determine their future path. We saw that dynamic when former President Obama used his presidential power under the Antiquities Act to designate the Bears Ears National Monument based on tribes’ cultural knowledge and identification of this sacred landscape. Together, the Tribes and a new president could make more great history, if our voices are heard not as another voting constituency, but as dual citizens with a perpetual trust relationship with the United States unlike any other entity in the American body politic.

Hilary C. Tompkins, Navajo, served as the first Native American Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Obama administration and currently is a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., practicing Indian law.
Source

Monday, September 2, 2019

We are still fighting to protect Indigenous Children #ICWA

Commentary: Appeals court affirms indigenous children belong to a political class, not racial

Jodi Rave
Jodi Rave

The battle to keep indigenous children, north and south of the Mexico-U.S. border, with their families now plays out fairly regularly in the U.S. media. But, it’s not new news. Indigenous children have been stripped from their families for decades in the United States.
In 1978, the federal government recognized an alarmingly high rate of Indian children removed from their homes compared to white children resulting in the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Forty years later, a wealthy, white Evangelical Christian family threatened to uproot the law after winning a custody battle over a 3-year-old boy whose biological mother is Navajo and bio father Cherokee. A federal judge in Texas awarded Chad and Jennifer Brackeen custody of the boy. Not satisfied with the win and afraid they may possibly lose custody in the future, the Brackeen family led a charge to declare the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, unconstitutional. On Aug. 9, a federal appeals court upheld the constitutionality of the act.
The appeals court ruling affects the children of 573 tribes, including children in Texas which was historically occupied by tribes such as the Apache, Kiowa and Comanche. Alex Kim, a family court judge in Texas felt that once the boy’s mother left the Navajo Reservation she lost a connection to her people. In a New York Times article, Kim said his Korean-born grandfather and father understood they and their children would lose part of their heritage by moving to the United states: “But that’s part of the decision we make to immigrate to other cultures and countries.”
As indigenous peoples of the Americas, we didn’t move to another country. We lost our traditional territories to white immigrants, land grabs and squatters. As part of our forced assimilation, many of our children were sent off to Christian-based boarding schools or put up for adoption. As late as the 1960s, upwards of one-third our kids were being taken from Indian homes.
In the 21st century, we are still fighting to protect indigenous children whether it is north or south of the Mexican border. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act was a critical step to keep our families, communities and identities intact. Now, some legal protections need to be enacted for the indigenous children being stolen at the Mexico border.

Jodi Rave is the founder of the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance. She is a Nieman journalism fellow of Harvard University.

Takeaway Podcast ICWA

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!
Survivors, write your stories. Write your parents stories. Write the elders stories. Do not be swayed by the colonizers to keep quiet. Tribal Nations have their own way of keeping stories alive.... Trace

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

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.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

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.