Get new posts by email:

How to Use this Blog

BOOZHOO! We've amassed tons of information and important history on this blog since 2010. If you have a keyword, use the search box below. Also check out the reference section above. If you have a question or need help searching, use the contact form at the bottom of the blog.

We want you to use BOOKSHOP! (the editor will earn a small amount of money or commission. (we thank you) (that is our disclaimer statement)

This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... WE DO NOT HAVE ADS or earn MONEY from this website. The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Road Trip: BOOK TOUR 2010

By Trace L. Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

I hear this: “Oh, you wrote a book? When do you hit the road to read it?”
            I plan to share the story about American Indian adoptees with my hometown of Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota on my “book tour” next week. 
            Hardly anyone knows this story, unless you’re an American Indian adoptee or an American Indian family who lost a child to adoption during the Indian Adoption Projects.
            Back in 2008 I read from my manuscript at the Wisconsin Book Festival in Madison, Wisconsin. My friend Mark Anthony Rolo (Bad River Ojibwe) read from his book The Wonder Bull and we had a great big audience with great big questions. One young adoptee came up to me afterwards and said he’d never heard anyone say that adoptees have a “gratitude attitude” which we’re expected to display on demand, our entire life. And he thanked me!
            I told him, “Trust me, when we’re adopted, it’s expected. Once you move past gratitude, you’ll find yourself in unchartered waters, torn between acceptance, anger, love and despair…you might even have to break a few laws to find your own parents.”  This young man was afraid to move forward and open his adoption because he imagined it would hurt his adoptive mother.
            How perplexing, I thought, since I’d been there myself, as I handed him my email address. I advised him to be totally prepared and do his adoption search without telling anyone in his family. I know. I wish every day I didn’t have to say this. 
If you’ve read One Small Sacrifice, you know that many parts of the book are truly painful.  My 89-year-old neighbor Karolyn read my book and calls the Indian Adoption Project an atrocity and an outrage.
            What my hand wrote down at 4 a.m. – it was the best I could do. Every page was a canvas, a place to exorcise trauma and stir up ghosts.
            Slowly, the topic of adoption has shifted away from what I call “the gratitude attitude” to a more realistic discussion. Simply look at the numerous articulate writings by adoptees out there. This topic has grown up as we have grown up. Adoptees have sprouted new wings. Adoptees just need other people to hear us and read us. Perhaps then archaic atrocious adoption laws might change.
            So I’m planning a road trip. I am not managed or sponsored by a giant publisher…I’m simply a journalist who scoured adoption history and blended in some personal experience for a book.  
            That is really where the road trip began.  I had to look for strangers. I had to stop being afraid I might hurt someone if I found my family. I had to stop worrying how I might make people uncomfortable. I had to stop being afraid of the truth. 
             I decided I had to grow up.

            Trace’s reading schedule:
            Superior Public Library (on Tower & Belnap) Superior, Wisconsin, Wed., Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m.
            Jitters Coffee, Superior Street, Duluth, Minnesota, Friday, October 1, 5 p.m.
             (Trace will blog again after her road trip!) 

Check out my friend Mark's new book: THE WONDER BULL

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ain’t Life Crazy?

Mind Masons

            By Trace Hentz (blog editor)

Words, words, words. That’s what a blog is, right? Words.
 Yet I don’t think of this as writing words but sharing actual experience, my adoption experience, my American Indian experience, and my overall ain’t-life-crazy experience.
Life is crazy when you think about it. Lots of ideas became American products which started out as patents and experiments: for example – adoption was an experiment and now we’re finding out for those who were the recipients of being adopted aren’t quite tickled pink about their experience. Few in the adoption business want to change anything. They prefer to be known as “do-gooders.”
Secrecy permeates lots of experiments. I put this Albert S. Wei’s quote in my book: “My problem is secrecy. I believe that perpetually secret adoptions assure un-accountability and lack of transparency. And secret adoptions are only the tip of the iceberg. The secrecy permeates the process: secret identities, secret parents, secret records, secret foster care providers, secret social workers, secret judges and lawyers (all their identities are sealed, typically), secret physicians, secret statistics and, in the case of some adoption-oriented organizations, secret budgets and secret boards of directors. In any social practice, when people in positions of power hide behind masks, one can be pretty sure that they have something to hide.”  Wei is special advisor to the Bastard Nation Executive Committee.
 I had no idea how much was secret. Without the internet and light bulbs, I might still be in the dark.
 I write lots of words no one will ever see or read. Why? Writing has been a trusted friend and I consider some of my ideas secret.
Writing is a way to work things out in my head. A way to reason, looking at things one way and then another. If I find out it’s a bad idea, I change my mind.
Too bad those who could change things for adoptees haven’t had this happen yet.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Living a mystery

          By Trace L Hentz (blog editor)

Grief grows when someone’s missing. My “someone” was Helen, the woman who grew me in her womb. Helen decided to sign me away to be raised by total strangers.
            What type of blind faith was that? What was required for her to decide to make me an orphan? How could she know I’d be safe? Someone must have told her.
            Maybe the Catholics convinced her. The Catholics arranged everything for her and for me.
             Why doesn’t America know being orphaned hurts the baby in a profound way? Prisons and psychiatric wards are filled with orphans and adoptees, some of the scariest and most violent offenders. Why haven’t we heard about this? 
            Losing Helen did hurt me in a profound way, but not enough to kill someone.
            Adoption was an experiment. Remember this. No one really knew how closed adoption would turn out. Our mothers never imagined how this could hurt us as much as it hurt them. Mothers were assured giving us up would be ok, and we'd be better off. 
             CUB Mothers are rewriting history and fighting to get us back and fighting adoption secrecy. (CUB means concerned united birthparents). An important essential book on America's unregulated adoption industry is Stork Market (there is a link on this blog). Riben's book will open your eyes in ways you cannot imagine.
            Then I find out our government forgets to count adoptees.  As a journalist, I was disappointed but not surprised to find out their U.S. figures are not recent, reliable or computed systematically. We’re not that important, I guess.
            Writing One Small Sacrifice, I was confronted with one reality then another. I woke up. I lived in a mystery novel. I can say now with certainty, it was an adventure solving the mystery.
             With obvious fear, I opened my adoption, even if it got me banished from my adoptive family or arrested for criminally trespassing in my own family tree!
            What lawmakers decide about unsealing adoption records in 2010, if they were not adopted and if they know their names, they may not get it. Expecting an adoptee to be ok with living a mystery is crazy.
            When you think about this, it’s obvious. The tree roots of trauma takes its hold in children. Orphans roots are scarred. My roots are scarred.
            I don’t think it should be so hard to find the woman who grew you in her womb. I don’t think an adoptee should be denied their name and their family tree and their relatives.
            I think about a lot of things but I pray that moms and dads across the planet can raise their own children and those children become strong and healthy moms and dads. 

** An adoptee wrote on Facebook: My sister and I have so many issues that a shrink wouldn't know where to start… Another wrote: I shut down my emotions at a very early age. Because I agreed with them, I wrote Ghost Shell and posted it on this blog on July 1.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scraps - by Loud Blood

Trace wishes to thank Loud Blood for her wonderful guest blog... 

(excerpt from upcoming book, "Loud Blood")
I have been fed, clothed, sheltered, yet, my spirit must live off cultural scraps that I go begging where Native people gather -- a story, a song, a weave, a smile... where I feel a resonance, filled, soothed, but sadly, also invisible, broken, culturally orphaned; lonely. 

Will I forever be a guest among my own people?   Who will celebrate my joys and triumphs with me?  Who will mourn my sorrows? Who will laugh at some shared history?  Not my adoptive family -- our non-connection continued and became stronger in adulthood. I want to join in the Native community, to participate, to serve and share what I have and to receive recognition and feel valued.  But even on this side, there are those Indians that I thought were friends who walk past blankly in fuller-blood situations, or those who look at me in public settings with flash card eyes as they calculate their racist arithmetic with no thought of how they’ve adopted the blood-quantum mentality constructed by the colonists.  I yearn to feel welcome somehow.  I need to heal myself enough to come forward to work, for otherwise I remain immobilized, hollow, invisible. 

I can hear the critical thoughts of others; I think them myself -- Get over it.  Geesh, move on.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself. 

I’d love to.  The same as someone uses crutches when they are injured, or someone wears bandages after surgery, or someone wears glasses to compensate for not being able to see on one’s own; I am doing the best I can under the circumstances.  But I need to be my own auntie and tell myself, ‘Chin up.  Get over it.  Move on with life.’  This I can do.  It’s the smiles, nods, and hugs that are harder.  My grandmother’s spirit did come with me, but she cannot hold me connected alone.  When I am acknowledged with a smile, a hug, a nod -- these small acts mean so much to me, reminding me that I am here, less hollow, less invisible. 

I must expect nothing.  This is not my business, not my community.   So what am I doing here?  What is the draw?  It used to be my honeymoon, my infancy of native identity.  What didn’t take hold?  What connections failed?  I am not connected to these people, we are connected as human beings, but not as relatives.  I am a guest.

Because my mother was taken into the dominators boarding school and brainwashed and culturally broken, she gave me over to a white man’s church-people with the hopes they would find a wonderful family for me.  I am indebted my adoptive parents, Ole and Arleta, who did choose to parent me, and raise me in the best way they knew how.  But I must accept that I am henceforth a guest among my tribe.  Anyway, my lack of tribal knowledge and family history must make me seem like some sort of imbecile in a place where the connected members are at home.  It is as though when my mother said, “Goodbye,”  all conscious Native training ceased. When I reconnected with my Native family, and began listening to Native stories, songs, and conversations, my life as a Native resumed.   So I gather scraps, like Yvonne, an educator and Chehalis master weaver who collects cedar bark scraps from the weaving tables because she soaks and blends them and makes them into functional, spirited cedar paper.  I want to gather the bits and pieces of my life and process them into something functional and spirited.  I can’t wait to get over this deep-seated wound of detachment and melancholy.  I want to heal and live fully the life that isn’t about solving disconnection.  Once this is healed and resolved, what will I be writing about?  What work comes next?  Who am I in another context?  I long to find out.

It has been so soothing to be present at Native gatherings --witnessing tribal connections, witnessing families, witnessing powerful leaders; seeing Indian faces after growing up among blondes.  When attending the 150 Year Anniversary of Treaties Symposium in The Evergreen State College Longhouse, one word stood out:  “Quyana”, the speaker said.  Thank you in my mother’s original language.  Quyana, I heard.  Quyana, I comprehended.  Quyana, I felt run down my cheek. 

Quyana to you, Alaska Native speaker Sally Smith. 

A group of young speakers from the Makah Nation stood together at the microphone to share stories about their life and relations. Afterward, I wrote to them:

Thank you for appreciating the beauty of your culture and tribal connections.  As a person who was given away from her family and tribe as a newborn baby, who feels so alone in this world, who has no family connections to celebrate big days, like the births of my three babies who are strangers to the people who would be their grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  I also mourn my losses alone.  This is a heavy burden; a wound I don’t know if will ever heal.  But perhaps it will, because when I see young people like you that love and appreciate the connections you have to each other and your culture, this beauty gives me healing.

Thank you for appreciating knowing the names of your grandparents and great-grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins.

Thank you for speaking.

I fully support my birthmother’s pseudo-decision to release me to adoption.  What choices were there?  How is it that she and I are one set among over 100,000 others (check for numbers) that experienced this?  Whose genocidal plan conceived this “solution?” Instead of creating or supplementing support systems for mothers in great need, they were set up to break contact with their family’s next generation; en masse.

Part of my story is finding out that there are so many others.  It changes everything.  I experienced myself as an Indian who stood alone, yet now I know there are hundreds of thousands of other Indians directly affected, and hundreds of thousands more affected in the aftermath.  This fact produces in me an empathetic stupor for us hundred thousand humans dispersed and scattered into strangers homes.

On a Dakota-Lakota-Nakota site, a link reads,
            For the Children in Exile. 
I feel the exile pain. Though I’m not a child anymore, the exile remains.  I live free, moving to many places.  A tumbleweed.  Free. Just the same, the longing for connections to my people, my tribe, my familiar blood, rises in waves like a daily tide. The exile is not punishment from my tribe, but a natural consequence of the benign genocidal practices of the colonists. 

In our lives, the security of connection to parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents is absent.  I’ve no older relations to call up and ask important questions or drop-in to witness, observe, share.

According to a quote by the International Indian Treaty Council from the 57th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2001, as Agenda item #13: Rights of the Child, it seems that all or a majority of us have suffered extreme loss:
Current studies have investigated the damaging effects of transracial placement which include psychological damage, ethnic identity confusion, self-concept formation difficulties, and adolescence repercussions such as alcoholism and high rates of suicide.

Growing up, I thought something was very wrong with me -- not looking like others, not thinking like others, and when I could feel, not wishing to live.  But fortunately, I didn’t feel often. 

Ok!  Enough of that!  Beloved Upper Skagit elder, Vi Hilbert came to the microphone to give an even shorter variation on her signature “Ten line story” about Lady Louse.  
Lady Louse was a sponge.  Lady Louse became self-absorbed, and that was the end of Lady Louse.

I am going to be ok.  I am willing and able to work, I just also need to heal enough to not fall into that huge gaping wound at my core and walk and talk.  I see the hole now and can go around, jump over, build bridges of songs, stories, smiles, hugs, drumbeats, actions, and continue to listen, learn, light up the bridges and work around it.  I have encountered many full wings -- on my own, with my husband, the spirit of my grandmother, all my spirit helpers -- all lifting me up. 

I do have my immediate family to celebrate with, to laugh at shared history with, to mourn tragedies with -- my brilliant husband, and three beautiful daughters, each bestowed with multiple intelligences.

The day I stepped off the plane and met my mother, brother, and sisters, then, I looked like someone.  I met cousins, aunts, uncle, and cousin’s children.  From that point, I looked like a lot of people and something began to settle.  Some new sense of belonging, visibility, and authenticity rose above feeling detached and unseen and mismatched.  With this strength growing inside, I must squeeze the self-absorbed sponge, and focus outward.
To contact the author, email:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lost Siblings

    My definition of being lost is being separated from your natural family, your genetic first family. I know a few Lost Birds who were placed into adoption with a sister or brother. In many ways I consider them fortunate because they had each other. But being adopted is no less traumatic. If you don’t believe me, read my memoir.
      I had a dream this morning about an adoptee in Australia has 20 (?) siblings who are also lost. Now they are searching for each other. Can it be true?
            This was enough to get me out of bed at 4 am. Then I thought: how many siblings are separated, lost, and not together?  Why would social workers and adoption agencies separate siblings?  That seems inhuman.
            Their answer is somewhat obvious: they can’t find or place that many kids with one adoptive family. A social worker might place one or two children together but not often. Why? The childless couple only wishes to adopt one. The agencies and adopters didn’t put much weight on our blood connection and how we are a natural family who would never choose to be separated nor would we wish to be adopted out separately.
            Being separated from your natural parent(s) is hard enough but being separated from siblings – that is a nightmare - especially when you knew them and remember them. This feeling of being lost can truly be a nightmare for those in a closed adoption.
            I feel this way because I was told I have a sister. She was lost to adoption, when my natural mother Helen had her four years prior to me, and she was adopted out. Then a psychic told me Jewel-Jules-Julie was already dead. The psychic saw their family tombstone that read Russo. I dreamt about this sister a long time. I wanted to know what she was like and see her face. I wanted to know she was ok.
            Really, I love stories about reunions with siblings, when you meet your long-lost brothers and sisters.
            In my reunion with my natural dad, he had five kids after I was born so I have five in my dad’s family, 4 boys and 1 girl. They never knew about me until I met them.
            When you meet someone who looks like you, it’s PRICELESS.
            When you hear their stories, it’s like a place in your heart is finally filled. This made me feel less alone in this tough cruel world.
            Why states and provinces in North America have not opened adoption records and files to reunite lost siblings – it’s not just a crime of humanity, it’s absolutely obscene.
            So a dream of lost siblings in Australia was the reason I woke up early. Siblings need to find one other. That alone is reason enough for countries to change their laws and open adoption records.
            It’s not about privacy, it’s about love.

American Indian girls should be with siblings

 (online source Red Lake Nation News)

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas -- Twin girls with American Indian heritage should be placed in the custody of their mother's third cousin in keeping with the guidelines of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the state Appeals Court ruled Wednesday.
The opinion overturned a decision in 2001 by Van Buren County Circuit Judge Linda P. Collier to award custody of the 9-year-old sisters to their mother's fourth cousin in Arkansas.
The appeals court said the girls should be with their four siblings, who live with the mother's third cousin, also in Arkansas. The court noted the Indian Child Welfare Act gives preference in child custody disputes to extended family members, other members of the Indian child's tribe or other Indian families.
While neither cousin is Indian, the appeals court said the third cousin has custody of the twins' four siblings and their Indian tribe recommended they be together. The court pointed to a brief the Tohono O'odham Nation filed that said: "The only family the children have in Arkansas are each other, and their placement together is the closest approximation of placement with 'extended family' intended by the Act."
The twins' mother, Tina Gaspar, has at least 13 children, the appeals court said. The twins and four other children have the same father, Ruben Sanders, who is a member of the Tohono O'odham Nation.
Gaspar sent the girls to live with her third cousin in Van Buren County in August 2002 after Sanders abandoned the children, and Gaspar gave her relative "a signed, written statement conveying the guardianship of all six children," the court opinion said. Gaspar made the arrangements because of concern the state of Arizona would take the children from her when she went to prison in that state, the court said.
Because Sanders fathered the six children and then abandoned them, they qualify for enrollment in the Nation and the Indian Child Welfare Act applies to the custody issue, according to the opinion written by Judge Robert J. Gladwin.
Gaspar's fourth cousin then visited her in Arizona in late 2002, and obtained the mother's signature relinquishing custody of the twins to her. The fourth cousin filed the document in Van Buren County and got custody of the twins with the help of law enforcement officials.
The appeals court questioned the legitimacy of the second document and noted that "the Nation clearly and repeatedly states that its preference is for all six of the siblings to be together with appellant."
While both cousins "are on equal footing when it comes to the preferences," Gaspar's third cousin had an advantage because she has custody of the twins' four siblings. The court said she also has remained in closer contact with the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Losing your right to be Indian

Ellowyn Locke's doll
     I’ve been thinking how some things have not changed significantly in Indian Country. The following testimony happened in 1974, when Indian leaders decided to stop the wholesale removal of Indian children to boarding schools and for adoption to non-Indian families.  Mr. Byler spoke eloquently to Senator Bartlett and Senator Abourezk about detribalization.  The result  was the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which is meant to prevent non-Indians from adopting American Indian children.

            Senator BARTLETT. Do you feel that the boarding school removes some of the parental responsibility …that it creates a gap between the children and the parents, in which it makes the job of the parents more difficult and harder to achieve?

            Mr. BYLER. Yes; I think this is very much the case. In addition, I would say also we can really take the whole educational experience. Dr. Edward P. Dozier criticized Headstart programs for some Indian communities on the ground that an Indian child has such a short time in his life to learn how to behave in his own environment, to pick up the cultural and behavioral patterns of his parents. It was bad enough to start school at five or six because that bobtailed the opportunity the kids had to learn this. Now with Headstart in some communities, that age is down to 3 years, so these preschool experiences denied the children the opportunity to learn how to function properly in their own society.
            And it demoralizes the whole functioning of families when those children who grow up in a boarding school become parents themselves and have not had the opportunity to observe normal child rearing.
            In some of the early poverty programs funded under OEO, Indian tribes asked for funds to train their teenagers to be parents because they didn’t know what it was like because they had been away in boarding school.

Senator BARTLETT. What should be the structure for facing up to the emotional needs of Indian children and also in meeting the educational needs?

Mr. BYLER. I believe that in terms of the educational needs, that would be contracting the Indian schools with tribes that wish to contract for those schools. Where the tribes have taken over those schools, and there are not many yet, the educational result has been dramatic.
            For example, in Florida the Miccosukees had never had a school at all, none of their children attended school until 1961 or 1962. They took over their school about 4 years ago and, 1 year after the tribe itself had taken over the school, the comparative educational achievements of the children improved by 50 percent.
            Dropout rates have dramatically been reduced in the Busby school on Northern Cheyenne, and the Rocky Boy school, both in Montana, since Indian tribes have taken them over. So, I do think that educational needs can be met more adequately by the Indian community controlling the schools themselves.
            In terms of the emotional needs, I think perhaps one of the most central things to the emotional life of the Indian family and the Indian child, is to remove from that family the threat that their children will be taken away from them. I think this is the most dangerous aspect. It has a far greater impact on Indian emotional life than any other single factor.
            I think that in societies throughout the United States, and Indian societies, not all impoverished children or families suffer this kind of family breakdown. Among the Miccosukees, children are not taken from their parents, nor among the Coushattas of Louisiana; it’s unknown, the kind of breakdown that one sees in some Indian communities. It’s not because of Indian poverty. There are many societies in the world that are much more poverty stricken than the average American Indian community, but exhibit little or none of the family breakdown.
            I think it’s a copout when people say it’s poverty that’s causing family breakdown. I think perhaps the chief thing is the detribalization and the deculturalization, Federal and State and local efforts to make Indians white. It hasn’t worked and it will never work and one of the most vicious forms of trying to do this is to take their children. Those are the great emotional risks to Indian families.
            [More of this testimony is available at:]

            So what happened years ago, its effects are still being felt today. Loss of culture and language could have destroyed Indian Country but it has not. We may be wobbly but we’re still working…
            For adoptees that went through what I did, we look in a mirror and know something is wrong, yet we feel helpless to change it.  Who can discuss identity issues with you if you’re not a part of your tribal nation? I’m troubled tribes are so busy surviving they don’t reach out and search for their lost tribal members, like adoptees.
            I am so troubled by this disconnect, I try to connect adoptees to each other since we share the feeling of being lost. Our grief can’t be healed until we’re united successfully with family, relatives and tribe. Many have succeeded. Many more are trying.
            Many Native American adoptees are opening up and talking. Our identity is not mirrored back to us. We lost more than culture. We lost our right to be Indian. We have to fight to regain it. And with sealed adoption records, we may never be able to…

Happy Visitors!

They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
click image to see more and read more

Blog Archive

Most READ Posts


You are not alone

You are not alone

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.

Diane Tells His Name

click photo

60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
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.

Google Followers