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Monday, March 29, 2010

Far From the Reservation, 1972

This longitudinal study was one of the first to systematically explore the outcomes of transracial adoptions. Beginning in 1960, Fanshel followed 97 families that had adopted children through the Indian Adoption Project, more than one-quarter of all the children placed between 1958 and 1967. Researchers interviewed parents in 15 different states at approximately one-year intervals, but made no effort to interview or assess children directly. Most of the children had been two years old or younger at the time of adoption and were not yet teenagers when the study ended. No control group of same-race adoptees or non-adopted children was used for comparison. The study provided detailed tables and statistical correlations, as all outcome studies did, and used the instrument that Helen Witmer and her colleagues had devised to measure the quality of adoptive homes in their study of independent adoptions in Florida. Far from the Reservation also offered a wealth of narrative detail that illuminated what these adoptions meant to the parents involved.

Far From the Reservation was published at a moment of racial polarization and vehement criticism of transracial adoptions. Its main author was David Fanshel, who was one of the most prominent child welfare researchers in the postwar decades. Although Fanshel was white, he had been one of the first to tackle the question of discrimination in adoption services in his 1957 report, A Study in Negro Adoption. Fifteen years later, Fanshel still believed deeply in the promise of empirical research to improve transracial adoptions, but the changed historical context in which he worked shaped his interpretation of research findings.

Fanshel found that factors often identified as strongly correlated with outcomes were not as noticeable in these adoptions. Age at placement, for example, had been considered crucial ever since Sophie van Senden Theis‘ 1924 study, How Foster Children Turn Out, showed that children placed earlier turned out much better.

In Native American adoptions, the influence of age appeared weak, outweighed by other variables, the health status of the birth mother in particular. In addition, many professionals and researchers assumed that white couples committed to racial equality were the most likely to adopt non-white children and succeed as parents. Far From the Reservation suggested that this was not the case. Parents’ social attitudes—about civil rights, politics, and religion—did not matter except negatively. Families that were more socially concerned and active had more problems with their adopted children. Why would this be the case? Fanshel had no idea.

The study’s summary measure of outcomes, The Child Progress Scale, showed that 78 percent of all the adoptees were adequately or excellently adjusted. Only one in ten children had problems that raised serious doubts about their future well-being. This was very good news. It indicated that transracial adoptions could be arranged on a solid foundation of objective knowledge that they would turn out well rather than a subjective hope that they might. The study reassured its audience that transracial placements posed little risk to the physical or emotional well-being of individual children and Fanshel agreed that these adoptions had “saved many of these children from lives of utter ruination.”

Yet he did not equate evidence of good outcomes with endorsement of transracial adoptions. It was a mistake to consider the lives of Native American children one at a time, apart from the future of their tribes, Fanshel wrote. “It seems clear that the fate of most Indian children is tied to the struggle of Indian people in the United States for survival and social justice. Their ultimate salvation rests upon the success of that struggle. It is my belief that only the Indian people have the right to determine whether their children can be placed in white homes. Even with the benign outcomes reported here, it may be that Indian leaders would rather see their children share the fate of their fellow Indians than lose them in the white world. It is for the Indian people to decide.”

Studies that documented very good outcomes empirically were still not answers to some of the most basic questions. Were transracial adoptions wise? Were they right? Who had the right to decide?


Kinship care missing from survey

Seneca tribal expert not surprised by foster numbers

Native American Times, June 6, 2006 - The head of a non-profit organization that works towards the benefit of Native American children and their families was not surprised to learn that more minorities are amenable to the idea of accepting foster children into their home.

An ABC News/Time national poll on foster care issues in 2006 showed 31% of minority members surveyed answered “Yes,” when asked “Would you seriously consider becoming a foster parent or adopting a foster child, or not?” compared to 19% of Caucasians.

Terry L. Cross, executive director of the Portland-based National Indian Child Welfare Association and an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation New York, said the results have their roots in cultural backgrounds.

“Cultural norms, including sustaining strong extended families, handing down of culture and traditions, and establishing a positive identity, contribute to perceptions of our foster care system and notions of your place within that system. What is missing from the survey is how many people would support ‘kinship care,’ or relative care, over foster care placements in a stranger’s home,” Cross said.

Cross said kinship care is considered by most to be a cultural norm of Indian Country, and when a crisis arises other family members step in to share the burden of taking care of the children. Given a choice of a child being removed from a home due to maltreatment and being placed in a licensed foster home with strangers in a new community, Cross said, it appears most Indians will choose informal kinship care arrangements, even if it means little financial support for the kinship caregivers.

The association that Cross heads up has been working to change laws preventing children in the custody of tribal courts from receiving the benefits and protections that the association says are currently available to all other children. Congress in 1980 enacted the Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Act, which provides entitlement funding for foster care and adoption assistance services for income-eligible children who are placed by state agencies or public agencies with which the state has an agreement. Children who are under the jurisdiction of their tribe and are placed by tribal courts and agencies are not included in the program. The funds are only available to tribes who have entered into agreements with their respective states, with critics charging these agreements are often limited in scope and may only allow the tribes access to one portion of the program.

Various lawmakers have spoken out against the law.

“All children deserve to have a loving, nurturing home where their basic needs are met”, Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR). “Native American children placed in foster care or adopted through tribal placements should have all the resources available to children placed by state services. This bill makes that happen.”

The nonpartisan Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care has recommended providing tribes with federal child welfare funding.

The association is also pushing to prevent the practice of completely removing children from their home, believing that doing so leads to severing any contact with parents. The Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that the child’s tribe must be notified when placing a Native American youngster in foster care.

[Source: Native American Times, June 6, 2006,]



Moved by: Chief Gerald Esquash, Swan Lake First Nation; Seconded by: Chief Ted Quewezance, Keeseekoose First Nation; Carried. Certified copy of a Resolution made the 22nd day of July, 1999 in Vancouver, B.C.; Phil Fontaine, National Chief Resolution No. 10/99

SUBJECT: Adoption and repatriation services to First Nations people of Canada

WHEREAS First Nation’s people across Canada have been tragically affected by the adoption of their children, (16,810 treaty status children, DIAND Statistics, 1996) in the last thirty years; and,

WHEREAS adoption of First Nations children by the governments in Canada is a continuation from the boarding school policies of the assimilation of First Nations through First Nations Children; and,

WHEREAS the affects of these government policies of assimilation has devastated and tragically affected First Nation’s children, families and communities, culture; and,

WHEREAS the ‘sixties scoop’ was a massive failure on First Nations families and was effectively a form of genocide; and

WHEREAS the long term effects of the ‘sixties scoop’ continue to be felt in every First Nations community in Canada as parents and children deal with the children problems of lost relatives and ensuing social problems; and

WHEREAS these children, now adults, are searching for family, culture and identity and,

WHEREAS birth families, grandparents, mothers, fathers, siblings and extended family are searching for their children lost to adoption; and,

WHEREAS the demand for service to assist and facilitate searches and reunions is enormous; and,

WHEREAS the funding for repatriation services are inadequately funded or non existent in most provinces; and,

WHEREAS the Federal and Provincial Governments are responsible for this destruction of First Nations families and their communities; and,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that National Chief Phil Fontaine support and assist the First Nations communities of Canada in their efforts to secure adequate funding for repatriation programs from the Federal and Provincial Governments of Canada.



Working Together to Strengthen Supports for Indian Children and Families: A National Perspective

Keynote Speech by Shay Bilchik at the NICWA Conference, Anchorage, Alaska on April 24, 2001

I. Truth and Reconciliation

I want to begin with a story that was a favorite of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, also known as Wassaja. He was an Indian activist, a Yavapai who was born in 1875 at Fort MacDowell, Arizona, and a physician, back in the days when doctors made house calls. As he told the story, a certain doctor used to walk once a week or so down a particular street to visit a patient. On his way, he passed by the home where a friend of the patient lived. Each time he passed her door on the way back from his house call, she would be sitting outside, and she would ask how her friend was doing. “She’s improving,” the doctor always reported.

After this had gone on for many weeks, there came a day when he had a different answer: “I’m sorry, she’s dead.” The woman went inside and conveyed this news to her husband. “What did she die of,” he asked? “I don’t know,” said the woman. “I guess she died of improvement.”

When Carlos Montezuma told this story, sometimes in testifying before Congress about the condition of his people, he used it to warn his audience that American Indians and their irreplaceable cultures were in danger of dying from “improvement” if the U.S. government persisted in the policies it was following.

Now the Child Welfare League of America, the organization I represent, has never been a part of the U.S. government. But most of its members, public and private child welfare organizations, represent a profession that has always been dedicated to improvement, in its positive and sometimes negative sense. For that reason, I think that you and all the people you represent deserve an accounting of one phase of our history.

I have not met many of you before today, and we don’t yet have an established relationship. Even so, I want to talk with you on a very personal basis about a matter of great importance to all of us.

The spirit in which I stand before you today, as a representative of CWLA and as an individual, is the spirit of truth and reconciliation. In recent years, many countries have dealt with the aftermath of a period of great injustice by creating national truth commissions. This approach was based in the belief that while the past could not be undone, it could be faced squarely, and in a highly public forum- and that a full accounting of the truth was the best possible basis for moving forward to build the future. When the truth had been told as fully as possible, those who had been offended could have at least the knowledge that denial was at an end, and that the world knew what they had suffered. The perpetrators shared that knowledge. Reparations and reconciliation could proceed, on the foundation of truth.

It is with this attitude that I approach you today, and begin a discussion that I realize will need to continue - and to grow over time.

Some of you are already familiar with CWLA, but for those who are not, I’ll offer a brief history. In 1909, the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children recommended the formation of both a Children’s Bureau within the federal government and a non-governmental body that would unite the various public and private groups working across the U.S. for the sake of children and families. Around the same time, leaders of many child-serving organizations in the Eastern and Midwestern states were realizing for themselves that they would be stronger together than alone. They were particularly interested in developing standards to guide child welfare practice, in hopes that high quality services would become the national norm. CWLA opened its doors in New York City in 1920 with 63 member agencies.

This all happened just about the time that child welfare was beginning to take itself seriously as a profession. Individuals viewing the work from something of a business perspective were stepping up to take control away from the “church ladies” and society wives who had originally established many of our agencies, and a few colleges were beginning to offer professional degrees in social work.

Since 1920, CWLA and the child welfare profession have grown up side by side, and although we like to believe that today’s practice is the state of the art, we know that both still have a lot of growing to do. In no area of practice is this truer than in Indian Child Welfare.

Our profession is other-centered. It’s dedicated to improving conditions of life for people, like children, whose capacity to help themselves is limited by age or other circumstances. By its very nature, this exposes us to a strong temptation to think we know what’s best for other people, so we constantly have to rediscover humility and respect.

Although we strive to provide leadership for our member agencies, as a membership organization we haven’t usually been very far ahead of our members, who haven’t been very far ahead of the mainstream culture. For a long time in the early history of child welfare, many educated middle-class Americans sincerely believed that the world would run smoothly and sweetly if everybody would just make the effort to think and behave like they did. In the name of improvement, Irish and Italian children were scooped up from city tenements that looked crowded and dirty, away from “unfit” single parents and the smells of unfamiliar cooking, taken to the countryside in orphan trains, and parceled out to rural families. Most of them never saw their parents or siblings again.

These were terrible acts, no matter how noble or “professional” the intentions of their perpetrators. Next to the death penalty, the most absolute thing a government can do to an individual is to take a child away. But these were acts against individual immigrant families, and no European national group was singled out for these removals to the point of being imperiled.

One ethnic group, however - American Indians and Alaskan Natives - a people of many cultures and governments, and the original citizens of this land - was singled out for treatment that ranged over the decades from outright massacre to arrogant and paternalistic “improvement.” CWLA played a role in that attempt. We must face this truth.

No matter how well intentioned and how squarely in the mainstream this was at the time, it was wrong; it was hurtful; and it reflected a kind of bias that surfaces feelings of shame, as we look back with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

I am not here today to deny or minimize that role, but to put it on the table and to acknowledge it as truth. And then, in time, and to the extent that each of us is able, to move forward in a new relationship in which your governments are honored and respected, our actions are based upon your needs and values, and we show proper deference to you in everything that concerns Native children and families.

These are the facts. Between 1958 and 1967, CWLA cooperated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, under a federal contract, to facilitate an experiment in which 395 Indian children were removed from their tribes and cultures for adoption by non-Indian families. This experiment began primarily in the New England states. CWLA channeled federal funds to its oldest and most established private agencies first, to arrange the adoptions, though public child welfare agencies were also involved toward the end of this period. Exactly 395 adoptions of Indian children were done and studied during this 10-year period, with the numbers peaking in 1967.

ARENA, the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America, began in early 1968 as the successor to the BIA/CWLA Indian Adoption Project. Counting the period before 1958 and some years after it, CWLA was partly responsible for approximately 650 children being taken from their tribes and placed in non-Indian homes. For some of you, this story is a part of your personal history.

Through this project, BIA and CWLA actively encouraged states to continue and to expand the practice of “rescuing” Native children from their own culture, from their very families. Because of this legitimizing effect, the indirect results of this initiative cannot be measured by the numbers I have cited. Paternalism under the guise of child welfare is still alive in many locations today, as you well know.

Far From the Reservation, David Fanshel’s 1972 CWLA study of these adoptions (which only covered five years in the children’s lives), concluded that while the children were doing well and the adoptive parents were delighted in almost every case, only Indians themselves could ultimately decide whether this adoption program should continue. “It is my belief,” Fanshel wrote, “that only the Indian people have the right to determine whether their children can be placed in white homes.”

Indian people knew from the beginning that this policy was very wrong. In Fanshel’s own words, they saw this “as the ultimate indignity that has been inflicted upon them.”

Fanshel came to this realization, as he concluded his research, because of the vigorous Indian activism that was underway in the early 1970s. Your legislative answer, after another 5 or 6 years of education and advocacy, was the Indian Child Welfare Act, passed into law in 1978. In the words of ICWA, Congress endorsed the unassailable fact that “no resource is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children.” As you have clearly articulated, children are the future.

While adoption was not as wholesale as the infamous Indian schools, in terms of lost heritage, it was even more absolute. I deeply regret the fact that CWLA’s active participation gave credibility to such a hurtful, biased, and disgraceful course of action. I also acknowledge that a CWLA representative testified against ICWA at least once, although fortunately, that testimony did not achieve its end.

As we look at these events with today’s perspective, we see them as both catastrophic and unforgivable. Speaking for CWLA, I offer our sincere and deep regret for what preceded us.

The people who make up CWLA today did not commit these wrongs, but we acknowledge that our organization did. They are a matter of record. We acknowledge this inheritance, this legacy of racism and arrogance. And we acknowledge that this legacy makes your work more difficult, every day. As we accept this legacy, we also accept the moral responsibility to move forward in an aggressive, proactive, and positive manner, as we pledge ourselves to see that nothing like what has happened ever happens again. And we can ask- I do ask and hope- for a chance to earn your respect and to work with you as partners, on the basis of truth, on the ground of our common commitment to the well-being of children and young people and the integrity of families and cultures.

We will begin by demonstrating our respect for you and your work, recognizing the authority of your governments, and taking seriously our position of influence with public and private child welfare agencies and the governments supporting them, to fully comply with the spirit and the letter of the Act.

In recent decades our relationship has been characterized by a fluctuating level of effort and many sins of omission. There has been silence from the League on many occasions when we should have spoken out, on ICWA in particular. And we haven’t yet demonstrated sufficient leadership for our members, or the field, in this area.

But more encouraging things have been happening recently, and the trend is definitely looking up. The credit for that goes largely to Terry Cross, of NICWA and the Seneca Nation, and to Faith Smith, founder and president of Native American Educational Services College, who has served on our board since 1992. Faith Smith is an Ojibwe from the Lac Courte Oreilles in Wisconsin. Both of them have been insistent and persistent- in the friendliest possible way. A newer CWLA Board member, Faith Roessel, who is a Navajo from Round Rock, Arizona, has also guided our new course. And a number of our staff members have urged and guided us in this direction, beginning with Burt Annin in the 1980s and including Deputy Director Shirley Marcus Allen, and staff members Linda Spears, Lynda Arnold, John George, Tom Hay, and others. We established an internal Task Force on Indian Child Welfare in early 1999, and some of the recommendations it has developed are already being implemented.

[EXCERPT: Source:]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

November is Adoption BEWARE-ness Month (and $1.44 billion in profits)

As an editor-author, I collected numerous articles concering adoption and plan to share some of the most shocking ones in my files... like this:

Adoption BEWARE-ness Month

[Source: PRLEAP.COM]

November became National Adoption Awareness Month in 1990.  Although “the particular focus of this month is the adoption of children currently in foster care,” November is generally a media-hyped month of various activities, celebrations, and heartwarming stories about all adoptions.

Americans will be subjected to a wide variety of propaganda, both local and nationwide, promoting the wonders of adoption. This has the cumulative effect of convincing the public that adoption is a great win-win, “loving option.” Billboards and television ads, designed to convince a young woman to have her baby and “help build a family,” will feed the supply of babies by enticing vulnerable women to find their way to any one of the thousands of unregulated agencies in this country.

Truth in advertising does not carry over to adoption. What will not be advertised and promoted are the risks and long-term ramifications for both the surrendering mother and her child who is targeted for adoption. The real facts of adoption surrender often result in a decreased supply of babies as mothers learn that it is not a “win win” solution as publicized. Agencies and “professionals” who benefit monetarily do not want the dark sides of adoption to be known. They fight hard to keep those sad facts under lock and key.

Evidence, both anecdotal and scientifically researched, has show that adoption is not nearly as perfect as it is promoted.

The list of facts not told includes:

“Relinquishers perceive adoption as a lifelong process, and their lives are profoundly changed by the loss of the child (Davis, 1994; Lauderdale & Boyle, 1994).

“A variety of long-term responses to the process of relinquishment have been found to result from the prolongation of the grief reaction. These long-term responses include psychological, physical, and relational problems (Davis, 1994; Tennyson, 1988).”

“The relinquishment experience also influences the woman’s overall health. If the intense grief reaction becomes prolonged, it may manifest itself in psychosomatic complaints as well as secondary illness (Blanton & Deschner, 1990; Condon, 1986).

These physical responses include recurrent gynecologic infections, frequent or severe headaches, somatic symptoms, and sexual difficulties” (Blanton & Deschner, 1990; Burnell & Norfleet, 1979; Millen & Roll, 1985; Rynearson, 1982

“Secondary infertility also may be a problem.” (Deykin et al., 1984; Lancette & McClure, 1992

Also ignored by the 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.

David Kirschner, Ph.D., in his book, Adoption: Uncharted Waters, states that “adoptees are 15 times more likely to commit parricide than non-adoptees.” [Parricide is defined as "the act of murdering one's parent or close relative."]

In addition, agency websites do not mention The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier (1993) which discusses of the feelings of loss experienced by many adoptees.

A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics state that “attempted suicide is more common among adolescents who live with adoptive parents than among adolescents who live with biological parents.”

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.

We say to these mothers, “Please don’t believe the hype. They only want your baby. BEWARE!!”

Editor Note: I recently ordered the book Adoption: Unchartered Waters and will provide a review of his material eventually on this blog.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Orphan Trauma"

or•phan (ôr f n)  Deprived of parents. Intended for orphans: an orphan home. Lacking support, supervision, or care.  ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Late Latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos, orphaned

trau•ma (trô m , trou -)  A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident. An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis. An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption. ETYMOLOGY: Greek

By Trace L Hentz (blog editor)

For days I could only think about adoption, not write about it. Processing was slow. I eventually coined the word “Orphan Trauma.” When a baby or child is taken from its mother, regardless of race, reason or country, it is traumatic, thus wounding the orphan.

I’ve met several adoptees who are more “OK” than others. Not all react the same about being adopted. A few adoptees said their adoptive parents helped in their search for their tribe and family. Not every adoptee had a bad childhood. Not all are hurt or confused. Not all believe they suffered trauma being taken away. Some handled it better than others while others are addicted to drugs or alcohol or self-abuse.

Regardless, when an adoptees’ uncertainty becomes insecurity that is not good for anyone, including those who live with or love an adoptee, like a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend.

Of course, adoptees aren’t the only ones who get numb, split, depressed, suicidal or stressed out. Ask any child of divorce or foster care or missing parents or early loss/abuse/tragedy.

Later, what was even more traumatic for me was to learn prisons and psychiatric wards in hospitals are full of adoptees. Yes. Some of the worst and most violent offenders are adoptees, yet no one mentions this? News and magazine stories fail to write how removing a child from their culture, family, history and identity hurts an orphan and some won’t survive this disconnect emotionally. Some commit suicide. Some are apparently sick enough to become a serial killer.

Americans cling to the idea that we are better here, because we are more advanced or superior, even more militarily-advanced.

Better remains to be seen on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation, still the poorest county in the entire U.S.A. No, not all on American soil are treated equal.

Americans also fail to realize not everyone wants to live like us or be like us. Struggling people want opportunities America offers. Many want to earn a decent wage. If they can’t successfully immigrate to America like in earlier centuries, parents and mothers will relinquish their child just to give them a chance to avoid poverty, like those Mayan mothers in Guatemala who allow Americans to adopt their babies.

Adoption has its own economy, generating jobs and casework for social work agencies and psychologists, with its own special laws and special lawyers. “Quiet” and “behind the scenes” works best for the billion dollar adoption industry. Adoption advocates don’t advertise trauma. Governments can’t shut down the adoption industry now. Adoption is a machine they can’t shut down. It makes some people, some governments, a lot of money. People who advocate and promote adoption use the loudest voice, “we save these poor children.”

I certainly wasn’t aware of trauma. I was living it and not even aware.

After five years of research, my view of adoption changed radically; my shock – finally – wore off. I’d have figured it out if I were talking with prison inmates or mental patients. No one claims adoption is abuse. Yet with so many types of adoptees and orphans, trauma is truly serious! It’s crisis. Think of a serial killer like Charles Manson. Then remember his years in foster care. Manson is a classic split.

Consider what makes some people crazy? When does it start? What creates troubled teens, school shooters, violent youth offenders who become adult career criminals, child molesters or con artists? Children who experience trauma. Children who were molested. Ask any prison population. The vast majority in prison are minorities from poor families, or no families.

Mental health is not addressed when discussing poverty and adoption. This is a tragedy. America’s mind-full citizens are unable to connect all these dots.

When I talk about trauma, I mean splitting sickness, soul sickness. It’s so obvious but rarely put into words, rarely understood. The root of this mental or emotional disease takes its hold in children.

I was one of those children.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Think Tank on Celebrity Adoption

By Trace Hentz  (3-9-2010)

Read the news. More and more celebrities are adopting. It's a trend. Obviously adopting will not fix the dire poverty in the village, country or continent where an orphan/adoptee was born. That doesn't matter. America becomes their new home and culture - but I wonder, what is American culture?

When celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie made international adoption headlines, we heard nothing about their adopted children (of different skin color and ancestry) who lose their language, identity, family connections and traditional diet.  It’s taken for granted their adopted children will survive emotionally. Tabloids may cover these families intensely but it’s doubtful Madonna or Angelina will ever leak news about their children’s bonding issues, reactive attachment disorders or any signs of emotional trauma.

Madonna adopted an indigenous boy, David, from the Malawi tribe in Africa in 2007. Oiling the adoption machine, Madonna gets more publicity, this time as savior. Oprah’s audience listened as an unapologetic Madonna described taking (and saving) David from his poor tribe.

Oprah neglected to ask Madonna, “Will his tribe make any money from the movie you and your husband shot while adopting David in Malawi, or from your appearance on my show today?” Madonna made the rounds on numerous talk shows for several weeks touting her plan to adopt and save David, describing horrible poverty and diseases in Africa. Apparently David was near death and Madonna got him immediate medical attention.

Oprah and Today show’s Meredith Viera also forgot to ask, “Will your biological kids equally share their inheritance with David since he’s your adopted son? How will they treat him, as an equal or inferior or an outsider?”  The rich in America use very different rules when it comes to adopted children, even step-children, who will inherit and share wealth. Take Warren Buffet who didn't want his adopted granddaughter to inherit any of his billions.

More is always better when it comes to Madonna. Even though she has enough money to end the poverty in Malawi, it would require a much greater sacrifice than adopting just one or two of its children. In 2007 she announced her plan to adopt another orphan, this time a girl from Malawi named Mercy (right). By June 2009, Madonna had done it and Mercy was secretly flown to London to join Madonna. In another headine, Madonna said she will adopt again, this time in India, a British tabloid said.

Even if David and Mercy get a nanny with a skin color like theirs, these precious children will feel isolated. They will have been colonized. Malawi culture will be removed for a cleaner “whiter” existence with Madonna and her two biological children.

Right after this happened to David, I consulted my “think tank,” friends who are Native American adoptees. The consensus was: when you are taken away from what is familiar, tribe or family, taken by strangers, it’s traumatic and very confusing. “Where am I? Who are these people?” That’s what David or any young adoptee/orphan is really feeling.  It’s not happiness but fear, unspeakable fear.
Will a grown David be able to discuss his alienation from his tribe? Not likely. Will his tribal brothers and sisters be jealous or resentful of him? Not likely, since he’s not there anymore. David may become a legend among his people. Will David run back to Africa? Maybe, once he’s an adult but he may not feel a part of his culture anymore and may feel too uncomfortable (and different) to rejoin them.

Several of my adoptee friends remember wanting to run away as very young children. It’s more common than Americans (or our adopters) realize. One adoptee friend who is Lakota ran away at age 13, surviving horrific abuse by his adoptive parents in New Jersey. He barely survived on the Manhattan streets for several years.

Sadly, there is yet another reality Mercy and David from Malawi will grow up with - guilt. They and other adoptees feel they owe their new family, especially when they “save” you from ugly poverty. Anything less than gratitude (and praise) fills you with guilt. Boys especially do not want to disappoint or hurt their adoptive parents, my “think tank” decided.

Many adoptees wait until their adoptive parents die before they search for answers. It’s big this guilt.

PHOTO INFORMATION: Mercy Chifundo James, the 3-year-old toddler adopted by Madonna, was secretly flown from her home country of Malawi to London early Saturday morning (reported June 21, 2009).  "A private jet flew in from South Africa and collected her at five minutes to six last evening," an airport source tells PEOPLE. "She connected to London from Johannesburg at 10:30 p.m."  Mercy, who will be joining big sister, Lourdes, brothers Rocco and David Banda, – also a 3-year-old from Malawi – was accompanied by a nanny, a child nurse and another aide. Madonna has homes in England and in the United States.

This was one early headline: Madonna adopts baby from Malawi

[October 5, 2006 ] Madonna, whose talent has gained her reputation as one of the world‘s wealthiest women, has officially adopted Africa as a cause - and has sealed the endorsement by adopting an African baby boy.  Government officials in Malawi said the 48-year-old singer had chosen the one-year-old orphan from among 12 children specially picked prior to her arrival. The landlocked southern African country, rated the 10th poorest in the world, has legions of children orphaned by Aids.
Government spokeswoman Adrina Michiela told reporters that "She asked us to identify boys only, which we have done after visiting four orphanages in Lilongwe," Ms Michiela said Madonna actually wanted to adopt a girl but changes her mind in the last two weeks.
The popular £248m artist, arrived at the capital of Lilongwe by private plane yesterday and today she will have to spend time traveling another 30 miles to the village of Mphandula, where she financially support the Raising Malawi centre to feed and educate HIV orphans.
Orphans at this centre are taught a curriculum based on Spirituality for Kids, linked to the Kabbalah school of mysticism, of which Madonna is a follower.
Mphandula is a village of mud huts with thatched roofs, no mains electricity and only a handful of radios, where few have heard Madonna‘s music. Madonna visit to this village is highly speculated. Many of Mphandula‘s households are headed by children whose parents lost their lives to Aids and raise their children alone. Malawi‘s has population of about 13 million, one million of the children have only one parent.
As local tribes rehearsed on the songs to welcome her, the Head of Village said: "We will show her how we in Malawi welcome such visitors who are ready to help."
Madonna plans to spend at least $3m (£1.6m) on programmes to erase out poverty in Malawi and another $1m to support on the documentation of plight of children in the country. She has plan the project with former US president Bill Clinton to see whether they could try to work at bringing low-cost medicines to the region.
Madonna got together with the economist Jeffrey Sachs to assist his "millennium village" programme, in which he is looking into changing the fortunes of individual villages.
Social Welfare Department told reporters that Madonna was expected to file the adoption papers today.
This would be Madonna first visit to Africa. She has long shown interest in assisting the continent to a "better perspective" on life derived from Kabbalah believes that “we‘re put on this earth to help people," Madonna told Time magazine when she revealed her plans in August.
Malawi is a country needing a lot of attention. It has few resources apart from land, and agriculture employs 85% of the working population. HIV/Aids has made a cut down of the adult population.
It was uncertain as to whether Madonna would leave the country with her adopted child or block by the Malawi non-resident adoptions rules might have to be reunited later.

Malawi People:  Malawi is often called the "warm heart of Africa." because of the warms and friendliness of the people. Malawians typically live with their extended families in huts that are grouped together in villages. A spirit of cooperation prevails as family members share both work and resources.  Malawi has a population of about 10,000,416 (July 1999 est.), with 90% of the population living in the rural areas, and population growth rate of 1.57% (1999 est.).  The Malawi people are of Bantu origin with the ethnic groups including Chewa, Nyanja, Yao, Tumbuka, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, Asian and European. The Chichewa (Chewa) people forming the largest part of population group and are largely in the central and southern parts of the country.  The Yao people are predominately found around the southern area of Lake Malawi. Tumbuka are found mainly in the north of the country. There are very small populations of Asian and European people living mainly in the cities. Source:

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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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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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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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