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Monday, December 19, 2011

ONE SMALL SACRIFICE 2nd Edition coming soon


I have retired the first edition of One Small Sacrifice and will no longer be using (Your 1st Edition paperbacks will be collector's items!)

The Kindle version of the 2nd edition of One Small Sacrifice: A Memoir (Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects) should be up in a few days.

The book will also be uploaded to Nook on Barnes and Noble in January.

The new paperback will be available in January 2012 on using Create Space on! This is better!

The 2nd Edition has been reformatted with chapters and additional writing.

Look for more ebooks and paperbacks from Blue Hand Books in 2012! 

2018: One Small Sacrifice was retired.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More than that! Indian Country responds to Diane Sawyer

Students respond to ABC's "Children of the Plains"
Posted: 13 Dec 2011 10:02 AM PST

"I know what you probably think of us...we saw the special too. Maybe you saw a picture, or read an article. But we want you to know, we're more than that...We have so much more than poverty."
I know many of you saw the Diane Sawyer 20/20 special "Children of the Plains," and I let it pass by without much comment on the blog. I had plenty to say, but I knew a lot of folks from the community, and some of my friends, thought it was great--so I let it go, and didn't think it was really my place to barge in with my super-critical lens on the whole thing.

But some awesome kids from Pine Ridge put together this short, but powerful video in response to the special, which I love:

Reminded me of this quote from Adam Sings in the Timber: "It often seems as if America has only two frames through which to view its Native culture: ceremony and pageantry or poverty and addiction."

There's a lot of power when we get to represent ourselves.

Youtube: More Than That
Send this video around the globe... SHARE

If you're interested in some of the criticisms of the special:
Indian Country Today: Children of the Plains was little more than "Poverty Porn"

The actual special:
ABC 20/20: "Hidden America: Children of the Plains"

Between Pageantry and Poverty: Representing Ourselves

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Indian Country Today coverage

Exposing and Repairing the Devastation Caused by the Indian Adoption Project
Roger St. John
St. John, snatched from his family when he was 4, says he was raised without his culture.
  • Read More:
LO RES FEA Photo Adoption 02 Sandra WhiteHawk 270x336 Exposing and Repairing the Devastation Caused by the Indian Adoption Project
White Hawk says courts demand quality research.
LO RES FEA Photo ADoption 03 TerryCross2 270x241 Exposing and Repairing the Devastation Caused by the Indian Adoption Project
Cross says child-welfare workers too often ignore the large support network for Native children.
I’m an angry Indian,” Roger St. John, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, told the First Nations Repatriation Institute’s second annual adult adoptees summit. The elite panel included child-welfare specialists, judges, lawyers, community activists and scholars. The most important experts, according to the organization’s founder/director, Sandra White Hawk, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, were adult adoptees—such as St. John—who related their experiences at the three-day meeting at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in St. Paul.
“I’m more than glad to tell you I’m pissed off,” continued St. John, a 49-year-old truck driver with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. “I was the youngest of 16 children, grabbed at the age of 4, along with three older brothers—no paperwork, nothing. The other kids in the family escaped because they took off.” Soon, St. John and his siblings ended up in New York City at Thanksgiving time. The year was 1966: “We were on the front page of the newspaper, along with lots of good talk about the holiday and adoption. We were brought up without our culture, which took a terrible toll on our lives. I grew up angry and miserable.”
St. John’s experience was replicated all over Indian country in the mid-to-late 20th century. The boarding-school era that had begun in the late 1800s was winding down and the abusive residential schools set up to isolate and assimilate Native children were being closed down or turned over to the tribes, a process that was largely completed by the 1970s. Meanwhile, another means of separating Native children from their communities was gathering steam.
The Indian Adoption Project was a federal program that acquired Indian children from 1958 to 1967 with the help of the prestigious Child Welfare League of America; a successor organization, the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America, functioned from 1966 until the early 1970s. Churches were also involved. In the Southwest, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints took thousands of Navajo children to live in Mormon homes and work on Mormon farms, and the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations swept many more Indian youngsters into residential institutions they ran nationwide, from which some children were then fostered or adopted out. As many as one third of Indian children were separated from their families between 1941 and 1967, according to a 1976 report by the Association on American Indian Affairs.
“People have heard of the boarding-school era and know it was bad, but they don’t know our adoption era even exists,” said White Hawk, who was taken from her family on the Rosebud reservation as a toddler in the mid-1950s. “A few small studies of adult adoptees have been done, and we’re just learning how to talk about what happened. We need think tanks and conferences and scientific research to explore what occurred and how it affected us.”
Then, White Hawk said, that information can inform current Indian child-welfare cases. “When experts take the stand to testify in a child-welfare hearing [about placement of a child or termination of parental rights, for example], they need academic backup to explain the relationship between, for example, suicide and being disconnected from your culture,” she explained. “The courts want Ph.D.-level research to back up what we tell them.”
A paper by Carol Locust, Cherokee, describes Native adoptees suffering from what she calls Split Feather Syndrome—the damage caused by loss of tribal identity and growing up “different” in an inhospitable world. Lost Bird is another term researchers have used to refer to the group, recalling one of the earliest Indian adoptees. A Lakota infant who survived the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee sheltered by the frozen corpse of her mother was claimed as a war trophy by a general who named her Lost Bird, according to her biographer, Renée Sansome Flood in Lost Bird of Wounded Knee.
Thanks to copious newspaper coverage of the massacre and its aftermath, Lost Bird became her generation’s celebrity adoptee, but fame did not save her from a fate that was a harbinger for too many Native children. She endured intolerance and isolation, and when she rebelled as a teenager, was shipped back to her birth family, where she no longer fit in. After a stint in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the loss of three children—two died and she gave away the third, according to Flood—Lost Bird was felled by influenza in 1920, at the age of 30. “Throughout her life of prejudice, exploitation, poverty, misunderstanding and disease, she never gave up hope that one day she would find out where she really belonged,” Flood wrote.
At the summits and other events White Hawk has organized or spoken at since 2003, modern-day adoptees have recounted their dramatic life journeys, sometimes for the first time. “The stories vary from the most abusive to the most beautiful, but that’s not the point,” she said. “Even in loving families, Native adoptees live without a sense of who they are. Love doesn’t provide identity.”
“I never felt sorry for myself,” said St. John, “but if I ever got hurt, it wounded me to my soul, because I felt no one was there for me.” In recent years, he has found his birth mother and connected emotionally with his adoptive parents. “They were so young, in their 20s, when a priest convinced them to adopt four Sioux boys from South Dakota. It was too much—for all of us.”
During the adoption era almost any issue—from minor to serious—could precipitate the loss of an Indian child. Two Native people interviewed prior to the summit said they were separated from their families after hospital stays as young children, one for a rash, the other for tuberculosis. A third was seized at his baby-sitter’s home; when his mother tried to rescue him, she was jailed, he said. A fourth recalled that he was taken after his father died, though his mother did not want to give him up. A fifth described being snatched, along with siblings, because his grandfather was a medicine man who wouldn’t give up his traditional ways. As in St. John’s case, no home studies or comparable investigations appear to have been done to support the removals. “Indians had no way to stop white people from taking their kids,” said yet another interviewee. “We had no rights.”
Eighty-five percent of the Native children removed from their families from 1941 to 1967 were placed in non-Indian homes or institutions, said the Association on American Indian Affairs report. The aim, said White Hawk, was assimilation and extinction of the tribes as entities, as their younger generations were removed, year after year—just as it had been with the boarding schools.
“We can’t be afraid to use words like genocide,” said summit participant Anita Fineday, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, managing director of Casey Family Programs’ Indian child-welfare programs and a former chief judge at White Earth Tribal Nation. “The endgame, the official federal policy, was that the tribes wouldn’t exist.”
As Native adoptees struggle to recover their identities, some have trouble accessing their original birth certificates. Many states seal adoption records to protect the confidentiality of the process. “In a state that does this, you have to be a detective to find out where you’re from,” said White Hawk.
Or lucky. According to Sharon Whiterabbit, Ho-Chunk Nation, a business consultant and internationally known rights advocate, the son she’d given up as a teen mother found her because he lost his social security number. To get a new one, he had to petition the courts for his original birth certificate and, using the information he found there, tracked her down.
Could something be done on a tribal level to keep adoption records open and available for those who want them? Whiterabbit asked the group. This summit was about solutions, as well as problems, and Fineday had an answer: “Tribes have a right to know their members, so we can demand the records. We’re not requesting, though. We’re demanding. At White Earth, we were successful with this tack in a couple of cases. When the [adoption] documents arrived, I got goose bumps.”
Carrie Imus, director of social services for and former chairwoman of the Hualapai Tribal Nation, suggested that tribes do pre-enrollment of children who are being adopted out, to ease their return.
According to Terry Cross, Seneca Nation of Indians and founder and executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, nontribal child-welfare workers usually did not recognize the large support network that Native children enjoy: “In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, children were removed from Indian families because auntie was taking care of them, and the system called that neglect. But it was simply a different cultural way of meeting the child’s needs. To this day, social workers who remove Native children don’t know what an Indian family is and what supports are available
in the extended family and tribe.”
Decades of stolen children caused unresolved personal and community-wide grief and high rates of alcoholism, suicide and other social ills that stalk individuals and tribes to this day. “It took me years to realize nothing was wrong with me and the response I had to the trauma I’d experienced as an adoptee,” said Sandra Davidson, White Earth Band of Ojibwe and a program manager for Praxis International, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating violence toward women and children.
Often referred to as “historical trauma,” the pain can’t be cured with quick-fix programs, said Cross. “In Canada, we looked at places where suicide is the highest, and it’s where the culture is most broken down,” he said. “In such cases, do you start suicide-prevention programs, or do you restore balance in the community through more self-governance? I have found that unless you change a community systemically, you can’t affect the symptoms of imbalance, such as suicide.”
Linear thinking—see a problem, apply a solution—is ineffective, he added. “Mainstream society’s services are so fractured. Medical doctors get the body, psychologists get the mind, judges get the social context, and clergy get the spirit. But, in fact, we are all whole people, and real solutions have to address that.”
Cross pointed to the sweat lodge as a way of caring for the whole person. “It’s done in groups and includes teachers, stories and protocols for how to conduct oneself, which relate to the social context,” he said. “You sweat, and you experience aromatic herbs, which heal the body; you participate in prayers and songs, which are in the realm of spirit; and when you come out, you feel better and have moments of clarity that are aspects of mind.”
That type of healing is required for entire communities, as well as for individuals, and is a part of what Cross called the “remembering” of indigenous cultures. Colonization has pulled indigenous cultures apart worldwide, as colonizers have taken land and resources. “They also usurp sovereignty and attack spirituality,” he said. “The last item is removal of children to educate them in the language and worldview of the colonizer. Now, though, we Native people are remembering our traditions and remembering our communities. We’re healing from within.”
The adoptees’ stories must be articulated so they can heal, so their communities can be restored, and so the experiences can help remedy Indian country’s ongoing child-welfare crisis, said White Hawk. The percentage of Native children cared for outside the home remains disproportionately high across the nation, despite the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a 1978 law that sought to ameliorate the situation—but has yet to do so. In Alaska, Native children make up 18 percent of the child population but 55 percent of the children in foster care; in South Dakota, Indian kids are 15 percent of the state’s youngsters, but 53 percent of those in foster care. Other states topping the list for skewed numbers include Minnesota—where the overrepresentation of Native kids in foster care increased substantially from 2004 to 2009—Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.
Another summit attendee, Gina Jackson, Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, is educating judges through a model-court program of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in Nevada. The program helps jurists understand ICWA and relevant best practices. “We’ve signed up 66 jurisdictions and will help them work for compliance,” she said.
Education of the judiciary is crucial, said Arizona state judge Kathleen Quigley: “ICWA cases are not the bulk of a judge’s work, so many are not familiar with the law.” And the concept of the “active efforts” needed under ICWA to find and notify a child’s tribe of a possible removal from the family is not dealt with sufficiently in case law, she said.
“At this meeting, it has been critical for me to hear from folks who’ve been in the system and to understand how being taken from their families and communities affected their lives,” Jackson said. “I want everyone who works with kids and families to hear these voices.” Michael Petoskey, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and chief judge of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, agreed. “Thank you for sharing your stories,” he told the survivors of the adoption era. “We judges may underestimate the impact on people’s lives when we terminate parental rights.”
“Your saying that is medicine for those of us who’ve been through this,” White Hawk responded. Going forward, the repatriation institute will work to affect policy and will organize a day of prayer and healing for Friday, November 2, 2012. “We’re hoping to have events at state capitols nationwide,” said George McCauley, Omaha, head of the Institute’s board of directors.
Jerry Dearly, the renowned Oglala Lakota storyteller and educator who serves as White Hawk’s advisor, informed the group that healing is about identity, understood on a profound level. “You have to find out who you really are, who you really were,” he said. “Go to a quiet place where it’s just you and the Creator. All of us are beautiful, but you have to believe in yourself.”
“Now I have cancer and am waiting for an operation,” St. John told the summit. “But I believe in myself, and I can survive anything.”

Read more:

[And each story like this one will finally change this devastating history... I will be posting more on this after the holiday season ends... Megwetch everyone...Trace]

NEWS and UPDATES from Trace

Ellowyn's Lakota doll
I thank everyone for reading this BLOG and for signing up to get it via email (on the right side bar).
Experts say you need to ASK your readers to "Like" your Facebook page - so please visit my book page:!/Splitfeathers - and I ask you to please click LIKE.  I thank you for this.
"Like" helps with Google rankings and will help others find this blog, this history and me.
On average I hear from three new adoptees each week. That is good. That was and is my prayer. That is why I am a journalist who blogs about adoption news and being adopted. I will help anyone who contacts me and I will get them the help they need if I cannot do it myself.
I have been working all year on a brand new second edition of ONE SMALL SACRIFICE and it should be out in a few weeks. It's the same book with a few more chapters. It has two prefaces, four major chapters and an epilogue.  Also, there is a new WARNING to readers that this is NOT a chronology but written as I was learning and remembering my own childhood and doing the search for my family.  My book has Indian history born of pain and experience, history you won't read in newspapers or mentioned in North American classrooms.
One of the best comments I hear is I did a lot of research. Yes, indeed. Over five years and counting and I am still learning.
Book 2: SPLIT FEATHERS: TWO WORLDS is ready and we are looking for a publisher. This new anthology goes further and tells individual adoptee stories, in their own words. This book will change hearts and exposes more of our history! I will let you know when we do get it published.
The ultimate goal of this blog is to find new adoptees (Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects) and to have a group of adoptees testify before Congress to expose how we were adopted and erased from our tribal nations - deliberately.  Some of us were physically and sexually abused (YES) and in many states we are STILL denied access to adoption records so we cannot go home to our tribes and families.
A few days ago I made a new relative in South Dakota, Evelyn Red Lodge, also an adoptee and a journalist at Native Sun News. Evelyn is working to make these hearings happen, in the not-too-distant future. She helped NPR do their three-part investigation (posted on this blog in November) which made headlines across the globe. 
Adoptees like Evelyn and Sandy White Hawk at First Nations Orphans Association are rewriting history and helping others to heal with their activism. Here is a link to Evelyn's story on
Evelyn is helping to organize a rally for residents in South Dakota to stop the adoptions of Indian children in her state. More happen each day, in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. 32 states are in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, according to recent NRP reports.
As I wrote on this blog, our goverments in North American made us orphans and sealed our records so we'd disappear completely. But they can't erase our blood or our memory.
If erasure was the intention of the Indian Adoption Projects - to separate families and ensure adoptees would lose contact with their tribal relatives - in many ways they succeeded.
Now, today, our major task is to expose this attempted ethnic cleansing and rejoin our families and our nations.
Until all adoption records are open, in particular the Indian Adoption Projects and Indian Programs, conducted secretly in many states, I will not rest.
And neither should you...

Trace A. DeMeyer

Read more about First Nations Orphans Association here:
Sandy White Hawk is writing her biography now.

I will be back after the holidays...Blessings to everyone...Happy New Year 2012...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dark Side of Adoption: 'Steve Jobs' and 'Blue Nights' #adoption

'Steve Jobs' and 'Blue Nights' Reveal Dark Side of Adoption

ABC News – Wed, Nov 23, 201
(ABC News)

Quintana Roo Dunne, the adopted daughter of writer Joan Didion, had frequent nightmares about "The Broken Man" -- an evil repair man in a blue shirt with a L.A. Dodgers cap and "really shiny shoes" who told her in a deep voice, "I'm going to lock you here in the garage."

"She described so often and with such troubling specificity that I was frequently moved to check for him on the terrace outside her second-floor windows," wrote Didion, 76, mourning the death of her daughter in the memoir "Blue Nights."

Quintana died of acute pancreatitis in 2005 at the age of 39, only two years after the death of her adoptive father, writer John Gregory Dunne, who was the subject of "A Year of Magical Thinking."

Didion agonizes about her parenting and Quintana's recurrent fear of abandonment and a failed reunion with her biological family. "Adoption," Didion writes. "I was to learn, though not immediately, is hard to get right."

Such fear also haunted Apple founder Steve Jobs, who died last month at the age of 56. In numerous interviews with family, friends and lovers, biographer Walter Isaacson unveiled the dark side of adoption in his life.

Jobs ultimately formed strong bonds with his sister, author Mona Simpson, but he refused to meet his biological father, despite the lifelong sense of loss.

More than 1.5 million Americans are adopted, about 2 percent of all children, according to the New York City-based Evan B. Donaldson Institute for Adoption.

Both bestsellers, "Blue Nights" and "Steve Jobs," expose an unspoken truth in the adoption world: Fear of abandonment is universal.

"Attachment and abandonment issues are part of every adoption. It's just a matter of how much," said Marlou Russell, a Santa Monica, Calif., psychologist who works with adoptive families. She, too, was adopted.

"In the best-case scenario, everyone is on board," she said of adoption. "But you cannot separate a child from its mother without an impact. There is always an impact."

Parents of an earlier generation told their children, "You're adopted and you were chosen and very special," said Russell, who is author of the 2002 book, "Adoption Wisdom."

"The problem with that," she said, "is that, "If my adopted parents chose me that means there was someone else who didn't choose me.'"

Such was the thinking of young Quintana Roo Dunne, according to her mother's account in "Blue Nights."

When her beautiful little girl was born at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica in 1966, friends told Didion, "You couldn't possibly tell her."

Many viewed adoption as "obscurely shameful, a secret to be kept at all cost," according to the author.

But Didion said they never thought to do otherwise. "What were the alternatives?" she writes. "Lie to her? Leave it to her agent to take her to lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel?"

Quintana was baffled by their explanation that she was "chosen," according to her mother: "What if you hadn't answered the phone when Dr. Watson called?" or "What if you hadn't been home, what if you couldn't meet him at the hospital, what if there'd been an accident on the freeway, what would happen to me then?"

Psychologist Russell said she advises adoptive parents to say, "Your birth parents were unable to take care of you at that time and that covers every situation, even if they go on to parent other children."

"When you get the story line that you were adopted because you were very loved, that sets up love to mean leaving, and you might leave them, too," she said. "I tell parents not to use love and money or poverty. ... If you are in Toys R Us and say you can't buy something because you can't afford it today, they might think you can pack your bags and go."

Quintana had a fascination with meeting her "other mother." She wondered what she looked like and when her father asked what she would do if she met her birth mother, the girl replied, "I'd put one arm around Mom and one arm around my other mommy and I'd say, 'Hello Mommies.'"

In 1988, a letter arrived from Quintana's full sister, who was one of two siblings born after their mother and father married. "They were "strangers," according to Didion, who "welcomed her as their long lost child."

A reunion was arranged, but it was a weekend of "willed excitement, determined camaraderie and resolute discovery," Didion writes. Soon, Quintana seemed distraught and "on the edge of tears" when her birth mother wanted to explain why she gave her baby up and kept calling.

Eventually, Quintana backed off from her newfound relatives, telling them it was "too much to handle" and "too much too soon" and she needed to "step back."

Her birth mother disconnected her phone and cut ties, Didion says. "She didn't want to be a burden."

The two sisters sent flowers when Quintana died.

Steve Jobs knew from a young age that he had been adopted and had a similarly conflicted relationship with his biological family.

When he was 31, his adoptive mother was dying of lung cancer and he peppered her with questions about his past. "When you and Dad got married, were you a virgin?" he reportedly asked her, according to his biography.

"It was hard for her to talk, but she forced a smile," Isaacson writes. "That's when she told him she had been married before to a man who never made it back from the war. She also filled in some of the details on how she and Paul Jobs came to adopt him."

In the early 1980s, Jobs had hired a detective to look for his birth mother, but found nothing. Until then, he had been hesitant to tell his parents about the search, afraid he would hurt their feelings. But when Clara Jobs died in 1986, he told his adoptive father, Paul Jobs, and began a search in earnest.

Jobs learned the name of his mother -- University of Wisconsin graduate student Joanne Schieble -- and through her the name of his sister. Mona Simpson was a full biological sibling, born after his mother married his biological father, Syrian academic Abdulfattah "John" Jandali.

Jandali left Jobs' biological mother and daughter when Simpson was 5 and she went on to remarry and divorce.

Jobs eventually arranged a reunion, hoping to tell his mother she had "done the right thing."

"I wanted to meet [her] mostly to see if she was OK and to thank her, because I'm glad I didn't end up as an abortion," he told Isaacson. "She was 23 and she went through a lot to have me."

Both mother and sister spent Christmases at Jobs' house, but his birth mother often burst into tears, telling him how much she loved him and apologizing for giving him up. "Don't worry," Jobs told her, according to his biographer. "I had a great childhood. I turned out OK."

Jobs said he was surprised at how much he and Simpson were alike. "As we got to know each other, we became really good friends and she was my family," he said. "I don't know what I'd do without her."

Still, he never took an interest in meeting Jandali. Jobs, then a wealthy man, worried about being blackmailed, but he also was angry that his father had left his family.

"He didn't treat me well," Jobs said. "I don't hold anything against him -- I'm, happy to be alive. But what bothered me most was that he didn't treat Mona well. He abandoned her."

Steve Jobs' decision to ignore his father's overtures was likely rooted in issues of control, according to psychologist Russell.

Even for a man as in control and successful as Jobs, adoption inevitably evokes "a lot of pain and heartbreak," she said.

"When adoption occurs, everyone is out of control," Russell said. "It's a crisis. Adoption doesn't happen when things are going well. Sometimes adoptees do not want to meet their birth parents and the bottom line for that is to be in control, not to meet someone who wants to meet you. The last bastion of power is to say, 'no.'"

But Jean Strauss, a Washington state filmmaker who for 30 years has chronicled the lives of adult adoptees in books and documentaries, argues the "secrets inherent in adoption are diminishing and disempowering."

Fostering open adoptions and allowing adoptees to freely learn about their identities is critical for psychological well-being. Strauss, herself, reconnected with her birth mother and an entire biological family when she was 35.

"Steve Jobs and Quintana Roo did have different experiences and choices regarding their birth parents," Strauss said, "but as the writer Betty Jean Lifton once said, 'It isn't what you find, but that you find it.'"

[Unless a psychologist is an adoptee, they can never truly know or understand what we go thru as adoptees... I wrote my memoir to help them "get" us...Trace]

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Searching for Constancia Tibayon Hernandez

Please share my friend Mary Ann's story "Searching for Constancia Tibayon Hernandez" and share this link to her website. I pray newspapers will pick up the story, too!
If you can help my friend, if you know how to investigate, if you have friends in the Phillipines, please do try...

If adoption records were finally opened and unsealed everywhere, so many families could reunite and hearts could heal...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Movie Review: The Italian (5 STARS)

MOVIE TRAILER is not available

I was asked to introduce this movie THE ITALIAN at Common Ground, the 3rd Middletown International Film Festival on November 10th at the Russell Library in Connecticut. After the movie, I explained that I was also placed in an orphanage then foster care before I was adopted. I told them this movie is based on a true story.
This feature movie is everything I hoped it would be - truthful, complex and forthright.
The setting, a Russian orphanage, is exactly as I imagined, with children parenting each other, the older ones creating a system of providing for the younger ones (by any means necessary, including prostitution) and a corrupt bureaucracy that sells the younger children (let's not call them orphans because they do have parents) to rich buyers who they solicit to adopt.
What unfolds is Vanya (age 6) is slated to be sold to a rich Italian couple and is paraded to them exclusively.
Soon after he has an encounter with a friend's mother; the women is looking for her son from the same orphanage who was adopted to Italy.
You can see clearly how this mother's visit infects all the children with hope and possiblities, especially Vanya.
What happens?
Vanya goes looking for information to find his mother. First he has to learn to read and then find his file locked in a safe. And after a chase and many tense moments, Vanya actually finds her, his mother.
The light on his face - and the shine that returns to his eyes - is why I highly recommend this film.
For anyone interested in the topic of international adoption, this movie will shape attitudes to close such orphanges worldwide, end all international adoptions, treat all children with more respect, address poverty, allow women to keep their babies and children (even unmarried) and educate potential adopters who need to recognize these children were made into orphans by goverments and religions.
The moral of this story: unite children with their families.


Read more:
Vanya Solntsev (played by child actor Kolya Spiridonov), an abandoned young boy living in a rundown orphanage in a small Russian village, rebels when he learns that he is about to be adopted by a rich Italian couple. After getting help to read his personal file, Vanya sets off to find his birth mother. Directed by Andrei Kravchuk.
Categories: Drama, Family. Year: 2005.

Russia, Lenfilm, 2005.

Writer Andrei Romanov and director Andrei Kravchuk constructed this ingenious, tragicomic tale of a desolate, decaying orphanage in the Russian countryside that sells abandoned kids to prosperous Western Europeans. The adults running the operation live in a haze of greed and alcoholic self--pity; the fatalistic elder orphans are thugs and hookers who accept crime and brutality as their only option in life. In this Dickensian world, nine--year--old Vanya is adopted by an Italian family. With a loving family and freedom in a new country on the horizon he is the envy of his fellow orphans. Yet rather than accept this new life, Vanya flees in search of his birth--mother and the truth of his past. A dual--award winner at the Berlin Film Festival and the 2005 Russian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, The Italian is an elegant and poignant allegory for the moral crisis of Russia's new post--communist generation.

Cast: Nikolay Spiridonov, Marya Kuznetsova, Nikolay Reutov, Yury Itskov, Denis Moiseenko, Andrey Elizarov, Aleksandr Sirotkin, Vladimir Shipov, Polina Vorobjeva, Olga Shuvalova, Dmitry Zemlyanko, Darya Lesnikova, Rudolf Kuld.

Director Andrey Kravchuk.

The Italian - Итальянец
It's a pretty tall order to ask a six-year-old to suddenly take on responsibility for his own life. The questions facing Vanya are really tough: does he want to live a comfortable life as an adopted child of a loving family in Italy? After all, for an abandoned Russian child like Vanya it really doesn't sound like a bad option. Serene life under the Mediterranean sun is awaiting him. But the boy longs to find his own mother, so he decides to set off in search of her. But before he can begin, Vanya must learn to read the file that holds the information he needs to find her. He embarks on his quest--and encounters a mysterious and dangerous world. The world of children is a universe with its own laws; a realm in which sometimes one's heart speaks louder than one's intellect. (YOUTUBE)

Friday, December 2, 2011

ONE SMALL SACRIFICE mentioned in national magazine!

My memoir One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects is mentioned on page 40 of this national magazine! (Happy Dance!)
The goal is more people will learn this history and understand how so many children were affected and removed from their tribal nations.

Here is the link:

see my book on page 40

Number of American Indian children in foster care worries tribal leaders

St. Paul, Minn. — Each year about 1,500 American Indian children in Minnesota spend time in foster care or other out-of-home-care, often after allegations of neglect or substance abuse by a parent.           In Minnesota, American Indian children are 14 times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than white children - the widest such gap in the nation. Officials place 66 percent of the children with relatives or with American Indian foster families.
Even as the total number of Minnesota children in foster care dropped 44 percent in the last decade, the number of American Indian children placed in foster care dropped by only 16 percent.
That worries tribal officials like Erma Vizenor, chairwoman of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She said the tribes should be able to determine which of their families need intervention, and what kind.
"When we do not have the decision making and the authority and the control to determine what is best for them, it has become a major concern," Vizenor said.
Aiming to reduce the break-up of Indian families, the White Earth and the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe have taken over responsibility for child welfare on tribal lands. Now the White Earth, Minnesota's largest tribe, is now preparing to care for its children living hundreds of miles away in Hennepin County.
High poverty among American Indian families makes it more difficult to meet a child's basic needs, but that doesn't completely explain why Indian children are much more likely to be removed from their parents' care.
The tribes have questioned whether racial bias is a factor in such decisions, and they've worked with state officials to develop training for county workers to reduce bias in deciding which cases to investigate. The training also seeks to help outsiders understand the traditional role extended families play in raising Indian children.
Dawn Blanchard, the state's ombudsperson for American Indian Families, said removing American Indian children from their homes is "a daily reality."
Blanchard sorts cases into those she can solve over the phone, and those that require an investigation. She reports wide variation in how well counties follow a federal law designed to keep Indian children with other family members, or to at least place them with an Indian foster family.
Blanchard said the most common complaints she handles are disagreements between county social workers and tribes over where children should go.
"The tribe will say we want them to go to Aunt Betty and the county will say, 'we have problems with Aunt Betty. We think that she's not a good person,' " Blanchard said. "Maybe she's too old. 'We've heard' — that's a big one 'we've heard that she's drinking.' Is it substantiated? Do we know for sure if she has a history of drinking or was it 10 or 15 years ago and she's cleaned up her life now?"
Representatives of Minnesota's 11 tribes were so concerned that the needs of their children were not adequately addressed that late last year they sent letters to then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Gov.-elect Mark Dayton requesting immediate action to address the problem.
White Earth tribal officials want to take on responsibility for the tribe's children in Hennepin County, hundreds of miles south of the reservation. White Earth children make up a quarter of Hennepin County's American Indian caseload, or about 2 percent of the county's overall cases.
Margaret Thunder, a program manager for Hennepin County child protection, is enthusiastic about the tribe's effort.
"I think it's a huge deal," said Thunder, a member of the Red Lake band of Ojibwe. "They will have 100-percent say. Not that they don't already have a fair percent."
Tribes do have a seat at the table in child protection cases.
The 1978 federal Indian Child Welfare Act requires tribes be notified and involved in decision-making for their children. Hennepin County, with its large urban Indian population, has a high volume of these cases. The county gets high marks for complying with the act, and that's one of the reasons White Earth officials believe addressing the needs of the tribe's children there is a next logical step.
Transferring such cases to the tribe would give it complete control over American Indian cases such as a recent one heard in juvenile court.
Four children, ages 4, 2, 1 and one month, were placed in emergency foster care following reports that their parents were abusing drugs and neglecting the children. The parents didn't show up for the court hearing. Their father is a member of the White Earth band and their mother is enrolled in the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin.
"Her current address is technically St. Joseph's hospital where the treatment center was," said Mike Hogan, a courtroom monitor for the Minneapolis American Indian Center. "No one's quite sure where she is, even her attorney."
A Ho-Chunk attorney who joined the hearing by speaker phone said the tribe would prepare a list of relatives who could care for the children. White Earth officials agreed to let the mother's tribe take the lead, but they agreed to compile a list of paternal relatives.
A guardian ad litem said the children were doing well under the care of their foster care families.
Hogan's boss, Sheri Riemers, said the embrace of extended families offers the most hopeful outcome for children in such tough situations.
"We do believe when children are removed that their spirit is left behind," said Riemers, program director of Indian Child Welfare for the Minneapolis American Indian Center.
Other tribes around the state and around the country are watching closely.
Erin Sullivan Sutton, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Human Services, said she is not aware of another state transferring public child welfare from a state or county to a tribal system. But there are good reasons to do so, said Sutton, the state's point person on child welfare.
"We're thinking that if services can be provided in a cultural context to Indian families and by tribal agencies that there may be more success," she said.
For state and tribal officials success won't mean eliminating out-of-home placements. There will always be children who need to be removed from unsafe situations, but they hope more tribal involvement will reduce the disparate treatment of American Indian children.
Vizenor said the Hennepin County program could be the beginning of an ambitious venture to expand care for children living off the reservation.
"Without a doubt, I know we will be successful and gradually, we will phase in the metro area and eventually all our children in the state of Minnesota," she said.
White Earth and the state will present a report to the legislature in January. The timeline for the Hennepin County transfer, and the costs, are still to be determined.          

For more, listen:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FINALLY! Good news in Utah!

Utah Appellate Court Decides ICWA Case

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher

An excerpt:
A.J. and J.J. (Mother and Father, respectively) appeal the juvenile court's order terminating their parental rights in M.J. and S.J. (the Children). On appeal, Mother and Father argue that the juvenile court erred in determining that it did not have “reason to know” that the Children were Indian children under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1901–63 (2006), and that ICWA, therefore, did not apply in this case; that the evidence was insufficient to justify termination of their parental rights; and that the juvenile co urt committed plain error by failing to follow the proper procedure when ordering the Children to be removed. We affirm.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Epigenetics: Scientific Evidence of Intergenerational Trauma

Shortly after his second birthday, my son stopped talking. The onset of symptoms was just that abrupt. After nearly two years of visits to doctors and specialists, he was finally diagnosed with atypical autism.
Autism encompasses a spectrum of psychological disorders in which the use of language, reaction to stimuli, interpretation of the outside world, and the establishment of social relationships are difficult and unusual. One in 110 children have autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and males are more likely to have it than females.
Autism is a complex disease with no single known cause. The range of disorders that autism comprises is such that no two children who’ve been diagnosed with autism are the same. Autism arises from a mixture of genetic and environmental factors, which as of yet, have not been clearly delineated.
Epigenetics, a relatively new field in science, could help define the causes of Autism and offer up new modes of treatment for the disorder, as well as other diseases like cancer, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Epigenetics is the study of gene expression governed by the epigenome, the cellular material that sits on top of our genetic code. The epigenome does not change the genetic code inscribed in our DNA; rather, it activates or silences genes through the mobilization of molecules called methyl groups. These chemical changes are triggered by our environment. Toxins, pollutants, changes in diet, deficiencies in prenatal nutrition, and exposure to stressors alters the way our genes are expressed through the epigenome. Furthermore, epigenetics has proven that these changes in gene expression are passed down to our offspring, for at least one generation. Epigenetics renders the argument of nature vs. nuture moot because it establishes that the two are are inextricably intertwined. In regards to human development, one is as important as the other.
We know that negative behaviors like smoking cigarettes, poor diet, or drinking access amounts of alcohol shortens our lifespan, but now epigenetics is confirming that these behaviors can predispose our children, and even our grandchildren, to similar diseases and decrease their longevity too.
Research in epigenetics reveals that both paternal and maternal toxic environmental exposures play a role in the development of disease in their offspring and future generations. Parental exposure to the popular herbicide Roundup has been linked to birth defects in their offspring. Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the herbicide agent orange, like my father was, pass on an increased risk for spina bifida and other diseases to their children. The prenatal nutrition of mothers has been shown to have an impact on an offspring’s risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. A study on the eating habits of multiple generations of families in Sweden revealed that grandfathers who went from a normal diet to regularly overeating had grandsons who died an average of six years earlier than the grandsons of those who didn’t. The bottom line is this: your grandparents’ and parents’ behaviors, and any toxins or trauma they were exposed to, affects your health directly. Likewise, your behaviors and any toxins or trauma you’re exposed to could affect the health of your children and grandchildren.
Epigenetics may provide hard scientific evidence of intergenerational trauma among American Indians and link it directly to diseases that currently afflict us, like cancer and diabetes. The term “intergenerational trauma” has been used to describe the cumulative effects of trauma experienced by a group or individual that radiates across generations. For natives, intergenerational trauma has presented itself in the form of genocide, disease, poverty, forced assimilation via removal of children from their families to boarding schools, the seizure and environmental destruction of homelands, and other routes of European colonization. The effects of intergenerational trauma include substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other emotional problems. Emotional stress has also shown to effect gene expression via the epigenome. Studies show that the withholding of affection by a mother elicits brain changes in her infant that impairs their response to stress as an adult.
Epigenetics offers remarkable potential for the prevention of disease among American Indians as well. We can use epigenetic inheritance to restore the action of our genetic code from one generation to the next. Once environmental stressors are removed and behavior is corrected, our DNA will revert to its original programming. We could cure diabetes through behavioral changes that allow our epigenome to operate correctly. The elimination of toxins and pollutants could greatly reduce the incidence of cancer and birth defects. Such modification of environmental exposures and behaviors will restore and even improve the overall health and capacity of our genetic line.
As for my son, further research in epigenetics may soon decipher the specific mixture of genetics and environmental exposures that lead to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Along with other scientific discoveries, we are hopeful that such studies will develop treatment that will lessen the severity of the symptoms that make his life difficult. Until that time, we’ll continue to love and nurture our son, and thank the Creator for entrusting us with such a miraculous, artistically talented child, whose brave struggle to learn how to express emotions like anger and love inspires everyone around him.
Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton-Wahpeton/Mdewakanton/Hunkpapa) is a writer, a pro-bono tribal attorney, a science professor, and a columnist for the Indian Country Today Media Network. She can be reached at

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Monday, November 28, 2011

More Celebrities Adopting

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 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.
This is a repost from March 2010 which I think is very relevant to Adoption Awareness Month - just click AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES: Lost Children, Lost Ones, Lost Birds: Think Tank: .

Have you read of any new celebrity adopters? Leave a comment here!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Changing World of Adoption

Adoption is changing! Depending on who you are and if you have adopted or are an adoptee, this story about declining foreign adoptions is a predictor to me that all adoptions will decline. See AP story here:

Why? There has been change in the adoption myth. Adoptees are human beings, and we are not adapting as well as the adoption industry has mythologized. When we are displaced and taken from our home and placed in American homes, there will be confusion, sometimes anger and more than a few questions coming from the adoptee.
As I have said here on this blog many many times, being adopted feels the same as being abducted. Even if the adoptive family is nice, generous and saving you from Third World conditions, adoptees like me question WHY was I adopted?
And if you (the adopter) do not tell them, that is akin to a lie.
If you adopted from China or Ethiopa, their culture and diet is unique. The health consequences, lack of traditional foods, and the lack of medical history, could be the time bomb waiting for the adoptee adult.
Until myths about adoption change completely, until adoption records are unsealed, until every adoptee has the right to possess a copy of their original birth certificate and know their ancestry and name, the Adoption Industry is winning the war with secrecy and deception.

Google "adoptee rights" and you will see there is a battle in the changing world of adoption and the just war is being fought by adoptees.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weiner, Thurman, Edwards, Schwarzenegger and other philanderers…

This is a repost from June 2011.

I have decided adoption laws haven’t changed because too many law-men and law-women are not adoptees. That is right. If adoption doesn’t affect them or their wife or their kids or their relatives, they don’t care. There are bigger fish to fry, like getting reelected each time. Usually the law-maker is wealthy, and their friends are the kind of people who adopt.
Think of Arizona Senator John McCain who adopted a daughter from India. Do you really think he wants her to open her adoption and find her Third World family? I don’t think so.
Rich adopters believe the adoptee should be grateful and satisfied to be one of them -- and they’d prefer the adoptee not go looking for trouble. They probably like our adoption laws the way they are – sealed tight and secret. Why? No risk, no complexities, no contact between adult adoptee and his or her birth-family, no headlines. Remember adoptees become legal property and apparent heirs of their adoptive family…and an ungrateful adoptee risks losing all that.
Caring about adoption privacy (or not caring) goes back to the era of “judging” single women. It was thought some of these women could not possibly raise a baby alone. (Oh really?) And darn them for getting knocked up in the first place. (What about the sperm? It takes two people.) Darn those girls for being unable to say no. (You just can’t pass over relic judgments like these that still exist.)  Who is thinking about children who become orphans? (Not a chance. There are lists of people willing to pay thousands of dollars for a baby and adopters prefer secrecy, too.)
A lot changed in the 1970s – which seems pretty recent. Available adoptable babies dropped significantly. There is still no accountability for the guys who knocked up the girls. There is no stigma for the sperm-deliveryman.
This leads me to an interesting idea. Some of these law-men had mistresses (more than a one) and their offspring could have been placed in a closed adoption. Wouldn’t that be a revelation? Think of Anthony Weiner who just lost his Senate seat over sex-ting. At least we know about Strom Thurman and John Edwards who each had a child with a mistress.
Then we have the philanderers. Think of presidential-hopeful Newt! Back in 1999, shortly after Gingrich stepped down from his position as speaker of the House and resigned from Congress, he met Callista. She was 33 to his 56. They had an affair for six years during the Republican-led impeachment of Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich told wife #1, after 18 years of marriage, that he was seeing someone else over the phone. (It could have been worse: According to his first wife, Newt was married when he met Mrs. Gingrich #2, and he asked #1 for a divorce while she was recovering from cancer surgery in the hospital.) Newt married his mistress Callista, now-wife #3, in 2000.
Then we have Austrian-actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger whose little tryst with the housekeeper produced a son and caused an uproar and his upcoming divorce to Maria.
Other governors, like David Patterson and Mark Sanford had mistresses. Some 30 years ago, a Maryland governor’s made his mistress his wife. After Marvin Mandel issued a statement confessing his love for the tall, blond Jeanne Dorsey, his wife refused to leave the governors mansion for half a year. The governor had to stay in a hotel. Mandel's divorce was finalized in 1974; that very same day he married Dorsey, and they lived happily ever after. (Well, first Mandel was convicted of mail fraud and racketeering and went to jail. Then he got out and then they lived happily ever after.)
There are reasons for secrets and secrecy, right? Perhaps the rich and powerful make their own rules about family values, hiding the affairs and the offspring.
It seems obvious to me now. Closed Adoption is the perfect way to hide a secret.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Little Papoose"

Amateur genealogist tracks down daughter's birth mother
11/25/2011 By Noelle McGee,

Left to right, Susy Riggle of Georgetown; her adopted daughter, Amy Norman, of Indianapolis; her husband, Rich Riggle of Georgetown; and Karen and Cliff Andersen of Baraga, Mich, Norman's birth mother and brother, taken in July in Michigan. Susy Riggle searched for and found Karen Andersen in 2009. This past summer, Andersen reunited with Norman 33 years after she gave her up for adoption.

GEORGETOWN — As an amateur genealogist, Susy Riggle has researched generations of relatives all the way back to before the Civil War.

But one of her most meaningful searches uncovered a woman who isn't related by blood or marriage — her adopted daughter's birth mother.

Riggle found the woman in the fall of 2008 after about a year of searching for her. This past summer, Riggle helped reunite the birth mother with the birth daughter she hadn't seen since placing her for adoption 33 years ago.

"I really believe it was a God thing," said Riggle, who credits God with bringing her daughter — Amy (Riggle) Norman, who now lives in Indianapolis — into her and her husband's lives and bringing Norman and her birth mother together again.

Both lifelong Georgetown residents, Riggle — a retired teacher, guidance counselor and principal in the Georgetown-Ridge Farm school district — and her husband — Rich, a retired coal miner — had a son, Matthew, in 1970. A few years later, after trying unsuccessfully to have another child, they turned to adoption through the Easter House Adoption Agency in Chicago.

Amy Riggle was born on June 27, 1978, in Chicago. The Riggles took her home when she was four days old.

"She was precious," Riggle recalled. "She had dark hair and dark eyes. When my son saw her wrapped up in her blanket he said, 'She looks like a little papoose.'"

The Riggles raised their children on about 30 acres of land 2 miles east of Georgetown that's been in Susy Riggle's family for 175 years. Norman said she had an ideal childhood, growing up in a loving, Christian family with both sets of grandparents nearby.

"I always knew I was adopted, but I never thought anything of it," said Norman, who learned when she was 4 years old. "My mom was a counselor, so she thought it was important to tell me everything she knew, which was two typed paragraphs from the adoption agency. She never spun it like I wasn't wanted. I always viewed it as an unselfish act by someone who knew she couldn't take care of me. Because of that and because I had such a great family, I never felt like I needed to go looking for greener pastures."

The two typed paragraphs didn't reveal much, only that her biological mother was 20 and her biological father was 24. Both parents had dark hair and dark eyes. The back of Norman's adoption decree held one more clue: the name Cadeau.

"We had been told she was French," Riggle said of the birth mother's nationality.

Riggle was inspired to launch a search in the fall of 2007 after meeting a woman who had been adopted through Easter House and recently reunited with a sister. "I always thought if I could do anything to help her find out more about herself or her heritage, I would," said Riggle, who had her daughter's blessing.

With the help of a retired policeman, who was an adoptee himself, and a Massachusetts woman, Riggle got the name of two likely candidates. One was Karen (Cadeau) Andersen who lived on the west side of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Rich Riggle had been taking deer hunting trips on the east side for years. So in fall 2008, Riggle joined him, and the two made a side trip to Baraga, where Andersen lived. During their two days there, a librarian found an obituary for a woman named Cadeau, who was a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga.

"That's the first time we learned about the Native American connection," Riggle said, adding the woman turned out to be Norman's biological grandmother.

While visiting the local newspaper, the couple tracked down Andersen's cousin, John Cadeau. "He was kind of hesitant at first, but he agreed to let her know we were trying to get in touch," Riggle said. "When we got back home, the phone rang. A woman said, 'I'm Karen Andersen. I heard you've been looking for me.'"

Over the next few months, Riggle, Andersen and Norman, now a mother herself, exchanged phone calls, emails and pictures. Andersen learned that Norman was an exceptional student who graduated in the top of her class at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School and a standout athlete who set records in volleyball, basketball and track and later attended Georgetown College in Kentucky on volleyball and academic scholarships. She also learned Norman and her husband, Isaac, had a son, Jonah.

"It affirmed her decision to place me for adoption," said Norman, who discovered Andersen wasn't married and didn't have a good job when she got pregnant. "She wanted her child to grow up in a two-parent home, in a home that was religious. She was so happy to learn that I've had a good life."

Norman was equally happy to learn that Andersen is "in a good place." She said her birth mother and her family — who are Ojibwe or Chippewa — moved back to Michigan and reconnected with their Native American community. Andersen married and had a son, Cliff, who's 24. She earned a bachelor's degree, and now works as a wildlife technician for her tribe.

The Riggles first met Andersen, her son and siblings in person at the tribe's annual pow wow in Baraga in July 2009. This past summer, they took Norman and her family — including infant daughter, Elizabeth — and their son, his wife and their kids.

When Norman met Andersen, who was dressed in native attire for the pow wow, she described feeling the way she did when her children were placed in her arms for the first time. "We both teared up, though neither one of us are emotional," Norman said.

That weekend, Norman also got to know her biological brother, an uncle and several aunts, one of whom could pass for her older sister.

"We formed a quick bond," Norman said of Andersen's sister, Denise. "We're both tall and look alike. We played the same sports in high school and college. We also have similar personalities."

Norman said can't help but feel doubly blessed to have her adoptive parents, who "will always be my mom and dad," and this new family, with whom she plans to keep in touch via Facebook. She said she and her husband also hope to visit them every other year or so.

"As my kids get older, I want them to know about this part of their heritage and culture," she said.

I love stories like this!   Trace

The Declassified Adoptee: Indians Still Suffering Ill-Effects of Adoption

The Declassified Adoptee: Indians Still Suffering Ill-Effects of Adoption:
Guest Entry by: Trace A. DeMeyer

Trace's book is on Amazon and

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Laws protect full-bloods

Some states have revised the Indian Child Welfare Act
Laws Protect Full-Bloods
To protect Indian children from adoption agencies, tribal leaders pushed for the much-needed Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), made law in 1978. Since its passage, full blood Indian children are supposed to be protected and kept in their tribal community.
But the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, (amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996) decided: “If it turns out that a child is of mixed ancestry, including some Indian heritage, but is not an “Indian child” under ICWA, then the child’s placement is not subject to ICWA and the child is entitled to the MEPA-IEP protections against discriminatory placement decisions. If a caseworker has reason to know that a child may have some Indian heritage, it is essential to determine whether the child is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, or may be eligible for membership by virtue of being the biological child of a member. Delays in determining a child’s status as an “Indian child” can have the unfortunate consequence, years later, of disrupting stable placements with non-Indian foster or adoptive parents to rectify an earlier failure to abide by ICWA.”
I’m a mixed blood, meaning my blood was somehow tainted or ruined. The ax cuts both ways. Tribes might lose children if one parent was white and doesn’t disclose the child’s Indian ancestry. Some tribes exclude mixed bloods based on blood quantum. Some tribes dis-enroll members who move off their reservation.
Entire tribes were terminated by the 1950s, when the U.S. government ended its federal trusteeship of roughly three percent of the Native population through a process called termination. Of the 109 tribes and bands terminated, 62 were in Oregon and 41 were in California. Others were in Minnesota, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin. (Many adoptions happened in those states, too, before the ICWA.)
Termination caused cultural, political and economic devastation for those tribes. Some did reestablish the trust relationship but for others, their lawsuits lasted years.
Lost Birds I’ve met want to find their families, even if not federally recognized. Mixed blood children now can certainly fall into these loopholes and disappear. Caseworkers might determine your Indian status based on how you look, which is ridiculous.
Really, it’s a mess. There are 250 tribes on a list of non-recognized tribes, with 150 of them petitioning for federal recognition. State-recognized tribes like the Abenaki in Vermont, who receive no federal benefits, are currently petitioning the federal government. The idea that a tribe doesn’t exist is troubling. If there are tribal members, there is a tribe.
Not long ago, Vermont decided to apologize for sterilizing Abenaki Indian women and children, after a deliberate attempt to make sure there would be no more Vermont Indians. Vermont’s apology took the form of teaching Abenaki tribal history in all its schools. For many years, the Abenaki were so afraid of the government militia called Roger’s Rangers; they did not teach their children the Abenaki culture, language or ceremony.
Some history I wish wasn’t true.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tribal STAR Response to Unwarranted Removal of Indian Children in Recent Media Coverage

Tribal STAR Response to Unwarranted Removal of Indian Children in Recent Media Coverage

Contact: Rose-Margaret Orrantia, Tribal STAR Program Manager, 619-594-8291

In response to the recent reports and media (ABC’s 20/20 and NPR) surrounding the mal-treatment of American Indian children, it should be pointed out that there are numerous recent reports[1] that illuminate that this is not an isolated phenomenon. Indian children across the country continue to be subject to inappropriate and questionable removal and placed in non-tribal foster or adoptive homes. The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed to ensure Indian children remained connected to their families and cultural heritage. ICWA was passed in 1978 and the media reports show that we are not living up to our legal and moral responsibilities.
The question is what can we do right now? Here are four directions that states, counties, and tribes may consider:

1. Use existing federal mechanisms to strengthen local response: The Federal Child and Family Services Review (2001) requires child welfare systems to engage with tribes to improve system performance. The Fostering Connections to Success Act (2008) requires that relatives and extended family members be identified for all children in the child welfare system. These mandates and other initiatives[2] can be used to strengthen cultural competence and appropriate engagement of county and state social workers when working with tribes and Native families. Simple steps such as training and communication with ICWA social workers can enhance the county and state social worker’s understanding of the prevailing cultural standards of the local tribes as required by ICWA. State and County child welfare improvement plans should include goals and objectives that increase ICWA-related training, and collaboration between states, counties, and tribes.

2. Improve proper placements and certify more AI/AN homes. Keeping a child connected to family and culture is supported by the Fostering Connections to Success Act through the identification of relatives and extended family members for possible placement. Additionally, states, counties, and tribes need to identify more American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) homes for children in care and support Tribal certification of homes. Encourage local child welfare directors and states to exercise the authority to grant exemptions when red flags occur because of old offenses. Research shows that AI/AN children who stay connected to their cultural heritage and extended families have more protective factors and exhibit more resilience than those placed with strangers while in the child welfare system.

3. Increase judicial support to effect ICWA outcomes. Courts have a key role in ensuring Native children are protected and the mandates of ICWA are followed. Courts need to require that inquiry and notice procedures are followed and ensure that tribal representation occurs at every ICWA-related hearing. We recommend that all judges and court personnel receive ICWA and cultural competency-related training in order to have a clear understanding of the historical and emotional context of the legislation.
The current reality of depleted federal and state budgets leaves little room for additional resources to serve this population. However, it is to the benefit of every state, county, and tribe to identify every AI/AN child and link them to culturally appropriate services such as Title VII Indian Education (supports mentoring, tutoring for completion of primary and secondary education, and provides cultural restoration), Tribal TANF (temporary assistance for needy families), and some Tribal health services. When tribal children are identified and linked to these services the costs are shared, diffused, and ultimately reduced. Unfortunately the current funding mechanisms provide resources based on the number of children served by the system with few options for focusing on prevention. How can we reduce the number of children in our care when our system funds jurisdictions based on children in care?

4. Prevent new cases through collaboration and active efforts. Collaboration and authentic engagement with tribes and urban tribal communities needs to occur at federal, state, and local, levels to reduce the disproportionate representation of Native children in child welfare and prevent new cases from entering the system. Once an Indian child is identified, states, counties, and tribes should begin active efforts[3] to link the child and family to services and resources that can reduce risk and prevent the case from entering the child welfare system.

There are a number of promising and model programs that demonstrate collaboration and court involvement to achieve ICWA compliance. For more information go to the following websites:
· National Resource Center for Tribes:
· National Indian Child Welfare Association:
· National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges:
· American Indian Enhancement Project of California Toolkit:

Tribal STAR is a program of the Academy for Professional Excellence, SDSU School of Social Work, funded by the State of California Department of Social Services. Since 2003 Tribal STAR has provided training and technical assistance to Southern California Counties with a mission to ensure that American Indian/Alaska Native children remain connected to culture, community and resources.
For more information go to

[1] Disproportionality Rates for Children of Color in Foster Care: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, California Disproportionality Report, and “An Unsettling Profile” Coalition of Communities of Color: Portland Oregon State University.

[2] Family to Family, Family Finding, Client Engagement, Signs of Safety, and Active Efforts.

[3] Indian Child Welfare Act : Pub.L. 95-608, 93 Stat. 3071, enacted November 8, 1978.

Please share this with tribal officials and contact Tribal STAR for more attention.... Trace

Monday, November 21, 2011

Killers Walk

Ivan Skorobogatov/Nathaniel Craver Case Update: Killers Walk

I have to say that this story has upset me so deeply, I'm crying. I'm crying for Ivan and for all the other adoptees who were murdered by their parents. This is the month to portray all aspects of adoption, and this is certainly one of the most disturbing aspects to me and to many others... Trace

Canada's Residential Schools

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.

no arrests?

Crime Scene

so far...

so far...
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What our Nations are up against!

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.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Did you know?

New York’s 4o-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to all New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12.

Diane Tells His Name

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

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.

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