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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What was in My Adoption File (part 2)

my amended birth certificate (the fake)
What is in "My Adoption File" (Part 2 - How to Open an Adoption)

For the past weeks, I have been doing research on how to open an adoption; it hit me that there are adoptees who will face the same situation I did. When I found my "maternal source," my natural mother Helen, she refused to talk with me or meet me. I was not able to hear her side of the story. I did get an unsigned letter back that said, “Do not contact me again” and she explained her current husband did not know about me.

This took me a full year to grasp and grieve; I was in therapy in Seattle at the time which helped. Honestly, I was too shocked to even think clearly or know what to do next. Eventually I wrote to Helen again and demanded the name of my father, and she complied and sent me his name.

How does any adoptee not take this personally? It is rejection and it hurts. I tried to think about her feelings and what was going on then. I tried to imagine how Helen felt at age 22 when faced with a missing fiancé (my father) and the bulge in her body that was me.

In 2010, I decided to get a copy of my adoption file so I could read the social worker’s report on Helen and what details Helen told them. Last fall I paid $50 bucks for a court order to release a copy of my Wisconsin adoption file. Wisconsin mailed me a copy.

Let me explain what is in my adoption file:

1 - State of Wisconsin Order for Hearing and Investigation, where my adoptive parents petition in writing to adopt me: Laura Jean Thrall and the court ordered Catholic Welfare Agency of Superior, Wisconsin and the State of Wisconsin to investigate, as required by law. Odd this happened on June 5, 1958 – I was born Sept. 9, 1956. I was living in "Legal Limbo."

2 – The letter to my parent’s lawyer from the Wisconsin State Supervisor of Adoptions, Division for Child and Youth who wrote, “According to our incomplete record, it appears this child was committed permanently to the Catholic Child Welfare Bureau and that agency placed this child in this home (DeMeyer in March 1957). If that is true, no action is necessary on the State Dept. of Public Welfare. We are sure that if our assumption is incorrect, the agency will so notify us and appropriate action of the state dept. can be taken upon receipt of the investigator’s report.” Dated June 9, 1958.  ALSO in my file, the state of Wisconsin sent a letter to the Judge in Superior, Wisc. acknowledging the date of my adoption hearing: June 24, 1958. The investigator was the Catholic Welfare Agency who had complete control of me. Seven months of my early life, I was living in one of their Catholic foster homes.

3- Report: Movements of Child while Under Care: Catholic Infant Home, Foster Care in Superior (with their name and address) and Foster-Adoptive Home (DeMeyer). First Baptism: 9-18-56 (requested by my mother Helen) and a New Baptismal Certificate was issued on 2-21-1964. Wow – Catholics get this done quick and recorded. Up on the top of the form is Legal Status: Illegitimate and Mother’s Name: Helen Thrall. My Birthplace: St. Paul, MN. In my adoption file is the signed “Certificate of Baptism, Cathedral of St. Paul,” listing my adoptive parents and my new name! It is signed by Rev. Barr and dated March 10, 1959 when in fact I had been baptized in Sept. 1956. This falsified baptismal certificate and my amended birth certificate are two fake documents made to hide my adoptee status – in case my parents decide not to tell me I am adopted.

4- Hospital Discharge Report: The Physical Record of Mother. She was admitted to the Catholic Infant Home on May 23, 1956. Her home address is in Chicago, IL. She delivered on 9-9-56. She stayed in the hospital 5 days until 9-14-56. Children living: One. (This is the proof Helen had already had a child who was also given up for adoption before me!) Delivery: Normal, spontaneous (Helen had an lml episiotomy with no complications). On 5-25-56, Helen’s blood work: Her RH factor was positive. Helen was allergic to penicillin. No Sauk Vaccine given. (I am also allergic to penicillin.) ALSO: The Child (me) Physical Report: full-term, 10 lbs., 3 oz., 21 ½ in., Head Circumference 14” and Chest Circumference 14 ½ in. I was discharged from the hospital on 9-26-1956 as a normal female infant. Social Worker: Miss Underhill.

5- Catholic Infant Home Report – Their Address, Nurse: Sister Enid, Physical Exam at Birth and Physical Exam on Discharge from Hospital to Infant Home, 2 doctors signed. Feeding: Similac every 4 hours. (Obviously no breast milk for me!)

6- Medical Exam (Infant to Two Years, Wisconsin Child Center) – Laura Jean Thrall in Foster Care, General physical: Ok with Mild eczema on face. March 12, 1957.

7- Medical Exam – July 15, 1957 – now named Tracy DeMeyer, General Development: Normal and lists all the various immunizations and vaccines I had. (My adoptive mother told me I was covered in rashes and bald on the back of my head when they got me.)

8- State of Juvenile Court, Vilas Country, Wisconsin, Parental Consent to Termination of Parental Rights, dated December 5, 1956. Miss Alverna Underhill (social worker) is the witness. "Father’s consent is not necessary In case of illegitimate child." Signed by my mother Helen Thrall.

9- Leo Block, Director of Catholic Welfare Agency appears before Judge Robert Curran on May 28, 1958, in the matter of Adoption of Laura Jean Thrall and Mr. Block consents to my adoption on this legal form. Block’s reason for consent: for the best interest of the child.

10 – Form letter: Request to the State of Minnesota Dept. of Public Welfare on April 9, 1958, states that Catholic Welfare Agency needs a copy of my birth record to be used as proof of birth to protect the interest of this child at the time of placement of adoption. Required fee enclosed $1.00. Signed Jean Johnson, Supervisor Protection Unit. Certified Photostat April 16, 1958 sent to Social Worker Miss Underhill.

11- Copy of Investigation, submitted by Catholic Welfare Agency, done March 17, 1957 through May 28, 1958 to the County Court in Wisconsin. Describes The Child (me) and Mother of Child (Helen). INFORMATION NECESSARY FOR CHANGING BIRTH CERTIFICATE in bold type. This is the story I wanted – all the details and dates. Helen had moved to Chicago in 1952 and dated my dad, Earl. (Helen doesn’t say they were living together but they were.) In April 1956, she goes home to Minocqua, Wisconsin because she realized she is four months pregnant. Five months pregnant, she and her mother go back to Chicago to place charges against the alleged father. They were unable to locate him. Then Helen desires to go to a maternity home near her home and they decide her mother will drop Helen off in Milwaukee at St. Mary’s on her drive home. Instead they choose the St. Paul (Minnesota) Catholic Infant Home because it is a work home. May 25, 1956: “Helen is using her own name at the Maternity Home as she saw no necessity for further protection…. This was her first physical exam and the doctors felt that she was further along and at least six months pregnant….Helen stated that she is very anxious to get out into a work home as soon as possible and was concerned she would now have one less month to work towards her expenses. She had no money saved and said her family would help as much as possible but she did not want to ask this of them. She wondered how soon she would have to pay her expenses at the Maternity Home. (It doesn’t say how much money they charged her.) She was told that if we (Catholic Charities) could be certain that she would repay us as soon as she returned to work, we (Catholic Charities) would pay her bill at the maternity home and she could repay us in small amounts. This seemed to be a great relief to Helen. …She was uncertain about plans for her expected child and it was apparent she was very desirous of keeping the child is possible. She thought she would return home briefly after her confinement but would have to leave home very soon in order to find work. Helen was told that we could assist her with temporary plans for her baby for six weeks, during which time she could return home and make her final decision… Helen was with the alleged father for several months and has been under the impression he intended to marry her. She seemed to feel that if she could talk to him, they could work things out. He suddenly left his job in Chicago. She heard through others that he’d returned home.” (The next page of the microfilm was missing.) My first months, Helen’s life, and my adoptive parents life and their desire to adopt me, was revealed on four typed pages.

This is what to expect in an adoption file: documents, reports, letters, stories, arrangements, explanations, descriptions, maybe even a Baptismal Certificate, places and dates. Every adoptee needs this.

I know that Helen was not rejecting me but rather wanting to give me a better life. I can see her struggle. I can live well knowing the truth.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Solid Victory for 600 residential school survivors in Ontario

By Leith Dunick, (August 18, 2011)

Nishnawbe Aski Nation  - 

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatwabin said that adding Cristal Lake Residential High School and Stirland Lake Residential High School to the official list of residential schools paves the way for similar decisions to be made elsewhere in Canada.

About 600 former Aboriginal students at a pair of Northern Ontario residential schools are now eligible to seek compensation for being ripped from their homes and forced to attend the institutions.
The decision, rendered by Chief Justice Warren Winkler of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, adds Cristal Lake Residential High School and Stirland Lake Residential High School to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, in what Native officials are calling a precedent-setting case that will outline the parameters to add further schools to the list.
The two schools had earlier been rejected by the federal government.
Students who attended the remotely located schools will now be permitted to apply for reparations for the time they spent at them, under the Common Experience Payout program.
The program pays $10,000 to each student for their first year of attendance at the school, and $3,000 for each additional year. Former students also receive an official apology from the institution.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin on Thursday called it a solid victory for both the students who attended Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake residential high schools, as well as First Nations across Canada.
“This landmark decision paves the way for other First Nations people who have been institutionalized to be included in this national settlement and we hope they too will continue to fight for justice,” he said in a release issued through NAN’s communications department.
Several other schools have yet to have a decision rendered about their residential school status. The two Ontario schools are the first in Canada to be added to the IRSSA.
Stirland Lake High School, also known as the Wahbon Bay Academy, was opened in 1971 by Northern Youth Programs Inc., a Mennonite-based organization, in the tiny community, located about 275 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout.
It was funded by Indian Affairs, and could house and educate up to 20 boys at one time. Students lived at the school for 10 months of the year.
Cristal Lake opened five years later, in an equally remote area, and was built to house Aboriginal girls.
The two schools merged in 1986, and the joint operation closed its doors in 1991.
Windigo formally requested the two schools be added to the list of recognized residential schools in October 2007, after a unanimous endorsement by NAN chiefs. The request was rejected the following spring, sending their quest to the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario.
The decision is welcome news for the council chairman of Windigo First Nations council, who spearheaded the court challenge.
“The former students of Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake Residential High Schools will now be able to begin their healing journey through the Common Experience and Independent Assessment processes offered by the IRSSA,” said Frank McKay, Council Chair of Windigo First Nations Council, who spearheaded this court challenge.
Students who were physically or sexually abused may also seek further compensation under the independent assessment process.
Susan Vella the legal counsel for both WIndigo and NAN, said they will help applicants anyway they can.
“We are ready to assist these former students with pursuing their legal rights under the IRSSA. We are grateful to the Court for rectifying the oversight in the IRSSA’s failure to include these schools in the original schedule of Indian residential schools.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Open an Adoption Part One (UPDATED)

By Trace L Hentz

August 18, 2011

Depending on where you live, what state you were born and what records and information your adoptive parents have shared with you, every adoptee can now search for their birthparents and biological relatives. Despite the closed adoption records and laws, many adoptees are successfully finding their birthparent’s identity.

How do they do it? A wealth of information and the Internet, including Facebook.

As I am writing this, I remember how I used to think more about my birthmother. Let me remind adoptees - you have two parents and each has their own medical history and genealogy. Like I did, an adoptee may only have one parent’s name but that is enough to begin a search.

As I wrote in my memoir, I opened my own adoption through a kind judge in Wisconsin. I didn’t actually meet my mother after I found her. I met relatives on her side of the family. My uncle helped immensely. Then after I wrote to my mother requesting my father’s identity, I met him and we agreed to do a DNA test to prove his paternity. Many adoptees will do DNA with their dads.

Since I started my search in the late 1970s, I did it without the internet. Yes, I used the phone book. (There are later steps when you do get a name which I will outline in Part 2.)

Why is it so hard? Why are laws sealed? It’s complicated, convoluted, medieval, appalling and simply aggravating – yes, my friends said this – but it can be done. If I could do it, you can do it!

First, there are websites to register your birthdate information on the internet. For many adoptees, a birthdate (and hospital) may be all the information you have. First, look closely at your amended birth certificate issued when you were adopted. The hospital where you were born is probably listed and correct. But may be not! The hospital in Minnesota and county where I was born was correctly listed on my amended birth certificate. (The amended birth certificate is issued after an adoption and lists your adoptive parents as your natural parents.)

Check the date when your birth certificate was notarized and what state signed it. I was born in 1956 but the amended birth certificate wasn’t signed until 1958. Like many adoptees I was born in a state different than where I was adopted. In my case, I was adopted in Wisconsin. Adoptee birth certificates are usually missing information. Mine did not list my birth-weight or inches. Missing information is the sure sign you were in a closed adoption.

There are different types of adoption: Foster-to-Adopt; Infant or newborn adoption; International adoption; Step-child adoption; Semi-open adoption; Older Child adoption; Closed adoption; Relative – Kin adoption; Foster Child adoption; Special Needs adoption; Military Overseas adoption; and Embryo Adoption. If possible, ask your adoptive parents which type of adoption and ask them to show you all the paperwork on your adoption. If your adoptive parents are deceased, you may inherit your adoption paperwork, so you need to read them carefully for clues.

Sadly, adoptive parents are not always the best source of information. Asking them could upset them or they might be unwilling to talk with you. This might be the riskiest step of all. If you are not able to talk to them directly, use another family member to collect the adoption paperwork and information for you. They can explain why to your adoptive parents. A compelling reason might be future medical conditions like diabetes and cancer. They can say you need to know about ancestry, siblings, ethnicity, religious heritage, the genetic background of each birthparent, or possible inherited medical conditions. This is a very sensitive step and careful decisions need to be made to keep the peace between family members but it’s important to get all the information you can.

One example: My adoptive mother saw papers you don’t normally see when they adopted my brother. She had his birthparent’s names but did not write them down. This may be the case for other adoptees. Your adoptive parents may know your birthparents name and what you were named at birth. My adoptive mother told me I was named Helen. That was not my name on the adoption paperwork that I read when I was 22. I was named Laura Jean. My birthmothers name was Helen. So remember some information your adoptive parents have may or may not be correct.


For adoptees, there are two types of information you will need: identifying and non-identifying. Identifying information is the real deal with real names – yours and your birthmother. Non-identifying information has no names but descriptions.

In the past, nearly all States required a court order for adoptees to gain access to their original birth certificates. In 26 States: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico, all require a court order (reported in 2009). This will require a lawyer and a judge in the state you were born.

Access to your identifying information is not always restricted to birth parents and adoptees. In 36 States biological siblings of the adoptee are allowed to seek and release identifying information upon mutual consent. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Depending on where you were born, adoptees should write a letter and consent to be contacted.

Some States have a search and consent procedure called a confidential intermediary system: States using confidential intermediaries include Alabama (when consent is not on file), Colorado, Illinois (to obtain updated medical information), Michigan (when consent is not on file), Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

Some States have imposed limitations on the release of identifying information. Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas require the adoptee to undergo counseling about the possible consequences of search and contact with his or her birth family before any information is disclosed. In Connecticut, release of identifying information is prohibited if it is determined that the requested information would be seriously disruptive to any of the parties involved.

Other States use an affidavit system so birth family members can file their consent to the release of identifying information or they can refuse to be contacted and deny the release of identifying information. In Alabama, Alaska, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the written permission of adoptee and birth parents is called a consent, waiver, or authorization form. Some state laws allow information access: Through a court order when all parties have consented - Idaho, Mississippi, and the Northern Mariana Islands. At the request of the adult adoptee: Alabama, Alaska, Maine, Oregon, and the Virgin Islands.

Never give up, adoptees. It may seem impossible at first but help is out there.


Ask your adoptive parents for your adoption paperwork, if they have it.

Find the Department and Application Website for Your State

According to sources such as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Child Welfare Information Gateway, states with open adoption records include Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon and Tennessee. If your adoption took place in one of these states -- or in states such as Massachusetts that allow some adoptees to access their pre-adoption birth certificate -- you can find out how to obtain your original birth certificate by going to the vital records department of that state for the appropriate address and procedure.

Complete the Application
The application form to access an original birth certificate, also known as a pre-adoption birth certificate, asks the adopted adult for information such as your full name, current contact information, place and time of birth, and names of parents if known. Most states require that you include a copy of your state-issued picture ID with the request. This may be a driver's license, a passport, a military identification card or a tribal identification card; follow the specific requirements of your state. Most states charge fees of about $20 to process the request. Wisconsin charged me $50 per hour to search for my adoption file last year. Details about the fees and who the check or money order should be made out to will be included on your state's application, which will outline your options for submitting your materials.

State Vital Records Websites
Specific information from several of the states that allow open access to pre-adoption birth certificates to adopted adults can be found on the websites of the vital records departments of the individual states. The state of Tennessee's website instructs adopted adults to contact its Post Adoption Services office in Nashville. In 1999, the state of Tennessee upheld a 1996 law when its court system concluded that making adoption records accessible "does not impair the vested rights or violate the right to privacy under the Tennessee constitution."

Adoptees need to know what to request, and how much it will cost and what conditions need to be met to access your adoption records and original birth certificate.


Register with every Reunion Registry:  - FREE, The International Soundex Reunion Registry is a non-profit agency founded in 1975 by Emma May Vilardi. ISRR is a mutual consent reunion registry for persons desiring a reunion with next-of-kin. This agency serves the needs of family members who have been separated from each other by adoption, divorce, foster care institutional care, abandonment, etc. - FREE, The Internet’s #1 Adoption Registry. - FREE, for adoptees desiring a reunion with their birth family, or to learn about their medical history and birth family genealogy and for birth mothers, fathers, siblings and birth family members desiring a reunion with the adoptee that was given up for adoption, or to give the adoptee their medical history or birth family genealogy. They offer Search Forms for the US and other countries, helpful links, live chat, state adoption laws, links to support groups, a Black/Grey Market registry for adoptees, and Search Angels.  – FREE, Emergency Medical Locators for Adoptees (EMLA) is a nonprofit organization that conducts free biological searches for those who are in critical need of their family medical histories in times of life-threatening medical crisis. Each year, thousands of adopted men, women, and children lose their precious lives to catastrophic illnesses because they are unaware of their biological medical histories. Many more live day to day without knowing that they are at risk of contracting any number of disorders—including diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer —that could be effectively treated, if not prevented, had they sufficient time, adequate information, and access to what is rightfully theirs: their family medical histories. EMLA is equipped with a worldwide, around-the-clock team of expert emergency medical locators who have successfully retrieved vital information on behalf of countless adoptees facing medical emergencies. This information has ranged from critical data on familial disorders to links that have resulted in lifesaving bone-marrow transplants. - FREE, The Adoptee-Birthparent Support Network (ABSN) is an all-volunteer search and support group serving those in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC and related areas, whose lives have been affected by adoption. ABSN is an affiliate organization of the American Adoption Congress and is active in adoption reform efforts locally and nationally.  – FREE, help in searching VA, DC, MD and more! –FREE, Reunion registry for adoptees, adoptee blogs and information.  – FREE, There are several Adoption Search groups in states like New York, Michigan, South Carolina and more. Look up Adoption Search and your state and join the yahoo search group to get daily emails, advice and free assistance. For example: – This is the Florida Search Angel Group on Yahoo.  – NOT FREE, The Adoptees Liberty Movement Association, or The ALMA Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation funded entirely by registration fees and donations which are tax-deductible. ALMA does not do the search for members. They assist with your search through our chapters and search assistants. They do not act as an intermediary in contacting birth relatives, etc. Registration fee of $50 covers expenses. Volunteers are strictly volunteer. EMAIL: Marie Anderson, or write a letter to: The ALMA Society, P.O. Box 85, Denville, NJ 07834  -NOT FREE, Paul Brown (Private Investigator-Adoptee) offers a free search evaluation but will charge a fee. Their website: We are a premier search organization with two primary search programs for Adoptees, Mothers, Fathers and Siblings separated by adoption: Consultation Approach - We will consult you throughout the search until you find who you are looking for. Our coaching will help you narrow down the choices and identify your biological mother, biological father, or biological siblings. Full Search Approach - We will conduct a full search on your behalf until we locate the individual. We will find your biological father, biological mother, or biological siblings where ever they may reside.

Google Adoption Search Registries for more but these are some that were recommended.


Get your non-identifying (Non-ID) from the state where you were adopted. Non-identifying information includes birthparents age and (in recent years) medical history at the time of the child's birth; their physical description (height, weight, eye color); heritage (religion, national origin, race); number of other children, and whether they’re adopted. More detailed data is collected describing your birthparents, not adoptive parents.

Nearly all States allow the adoptee to access non-identifying information upon written request. Usually the adoptee must be at least age 18 before they may request information. States that allow birth parents and adoptees access to non-identifying information are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. (This information is current through June 2009.) Also 15 States (Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont) give such access to adult birth siblings.

You simply must have your non-identifying paperwork so search angels and registries can post all your information. Put a consent letter in the state files where you were born. LAWS in each state govern when and how adoptees and birthparents may be allowed to contact each other. When both the adopted child and the birthparent want to be found, each can file a "letter of consent" with the appropriate agencies. Read this tutorial:

Policies on what information is collected and how that information is maintained and disclosed vary by State. Read more:

Go to a judge in the county where you were born and request to read your adoption file. (I did this in Wisconsin in 1978, a sealed record state)

Ask your adoptive parents to file a request for your adoption file and court proceedings. If they signed the documents, the adoptive parents have the legal right to request them and read them with the adoptee. Your birthmother had to sign the paperwork, too.

File a court order through an attorney to access your adoption file citing the reasons why you need this information. (Use medical reasons)

Contact a local newspaper where you were born and tell a reporter your story, and follow up especially if you find your parent or sibling. Some adoptees run ads in newspapers or create a Facebook Page with their birthdate. There are free ads on Craig’s list. One adoptee wrote a tribal newspaper and his siblings recognized him in his photo and contacted him right away. Use the media!

Contact your own state’s Social Services/Human Services and work with a social worker to gain access your adoption file.

Use SEARCH ANGELS: Search Angels like Soaring Angels  and Mary Weilding’s I-CARE in Wisconsin are volunteers who help you though all aspects of the complex process of a search, from start to finish. They may direct you to Web pages or other resources that you may need to explore. Some may ask for gas and expenses for their time and effort to search records.

Use Mutual Consent Registries - they are available in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia. A mutual consent registry requires at least one person from the birth family and one from the adoptee/child's family to register. These registries often fail to work because birth certificates are often falsified in closed adoptions when birthdates may be altered or incorrect. The original adoption agency from 10, 20 or 30 years ago may no longer be in business. Or, the birthparent or adoptee may not know or remember the agency's name or address (or state or country). Also, accidents happen, so mutual consent-forms that were filed previously may have been lost or damaged, due to fire or flood or human error. Plus, some adoptions did not involve agencies at all, or were not fully legal, so there may be very few (or zero) paper-trails or current-day administrators or storehouses of the adoption agencies’ paperwork. Mutual consent is not the best but do it.


Watch “Adoptees - Knowing Your Family History Can Save Your Life” by Jean Strauss: .  The Surgeon General of the United States and top geneticists concur - family medical history is a key component of a person's health. He said for adopted Americans, even knowing your original last name can be of great benefit, for it may give clues to their ethnic heritage. Access to information could, quite possibly, save your life. Get educated on why you need to open your adoption and have the tools to make your case when you speak to your adoptive parents, the media and others who inquire.

If you need help and support, visit: - Adoption Healing is the largest network in the world for helping those separated by adoption with over 400 adoption search and support groups worldwide. A not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charity, Adoption Healing has adoption-related literature, support groups, healing weekends, conferences and a nightly chat. They are dedicated to helping people who have been separated by adoption to find each other.

Remember, knowledge is power. Every adoptee must do the emotional work to be ready for the next steps which include the searches and reunions. It will take more courage and persistence. The adoptees I know seem to have that in abundance!

UPDATE: LAWS in Washington state, Rhode Island and Missouri have changed so it is very crucial that you check with your state as to its laws. Some adoptive parents WERE allowed to change your place of birth so adoptees may have only their birthdate to start with. Just be aware that it is difficult to search if you don't know WHERE you were born!

(Copy and paste, print, or share this with every adoptee you know, please! Megwetch.. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wabanaki, State of Maine, Team Up to Stop Abuse of Indian Foster Children

The signing ceremony was an emotional moment for Altvater.

By Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today, August 15, 2011

When Denise Yarmal Altvater talks about the abuse she and others suffered as Indian children in foster care in Maine, the stories are so painful to hear that it is impossible to imagine how those little girls lived through it.

On May 24, Altvater, a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik (Pleasant Point, Maine) and of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, participated in a public ceremony at the Penobscot Indian Nation’s Sockalexis Bingo Palace on Indian Island to launch a Truth and Reconciliation process that will help heal her and others like her who endured the same awful separation from their families and communities and the brutality of a government child-welfare system whose negligence was horrifying.

At that ceremony, chiefs of the Wabanaki nations, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Altvater signed a Declaration of Intent to Create a Maine/Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Process that will heal the past and create the best possible child-welfare system for Wabanaki children. A truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) will be convened as part of the process.

(Wabanaki means “the people of the dawn” or “first light.” The Wabanaki nations are the Houlton Band of Maliseets, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point and the Penobscot Indian Nation at Indian Island.)

TRCs have been established in various places around the world, most notably in South Africa, where it dealt with the violence and human rights abuses under the apartheid system. TRCs are an alternative to the criminal-justice system—the idea behind them is restorative justice, which considers crime or wrongdoing to be an offense against an individual or community rather than the state and seeks to repair the harm through cooperative processes that include all the parties involved.

Maine’s policy regarding Indians was to assimilate them into the dominant society, a process that has its roots in the federal boarding-school program defined by the slogan, “Kill the Indian to save the man.” In Maine, Native children were removed from their homes and tribes almost 20 times more frequently than other children placed in foster care. During the past century across the country, some children were put up for adoption, others were sent to boarding schools where a number died from neglect and abuse, and still others were placed in foster care. The truth and reconciliation process will encourage Wabanaki people to come forward and share their childhood stories of abuse and neglect. The idea is to work — through acknowledgement of the wrongdoings — toward healing and reconciliation, reparations and institutional reform to ensure that the abuse and neglect never happen again. The TRC may include public testimony from the victims, comprehensive reports by the commission and policy recommendations.

When she was 8 years old, Altvater, who is now 52, and five sisters were removed from their Sipayik home where they were being raised by a single mother and placed in foster care with a non-tribal family in Old Town near Indian Island. Two of her sisters were older than she and three were younger — the oldest was 11 at the time, and the youngest around 3 years old.

The decades-old memories are blurred around the edges, but Altvater remembers the day they were taken. “They showed up with big station wagons and they came in and took all our clothes in big garbage bags and put us in the station wagons and drove away—they were state workers,” Altvater says, adding that no one had told them they were going to be taken away from their home. “I don’t even remember if my mother was there. Nobody said anything the entire ride. Nobody talked to us. When we were little on Pleasant Point we didn’t have any cars. We were surrounded on three sides by water. We didn’t have TV or running water or bathrooms back then. We were very isolated so when they took us it was terrifying. We didn’t even know the road went that far and they just kept driving and driving and driving till they got us to this great big house in Old Town.”

In foster care, she was repeatedly abused, Altvater says. No charges were ever brought against the couple that abused her. “In this [truth and reconciliation] process I’ve always used my maiden name, Yarmal, because I think my two [deceased] sisters need to be remembered, and had we not gone through what we did, they would be alive today,” says Altvater. When Altvater joined the working group she says she was filled with mistrust, anger and fear. “I came as an adult with childhood memories of all the torture and abuse I suffered as a young child, as a little girl.”

While the truth and reconciliation process has already helped her heal, Altvater is still reconstructing events as memories emerge. She doesn’t know how the state was notified to remove her and her sisters from their mother’s home. “My mother is old and I know my mother suffers a lot and I just want my mother to have the rest of her years.… ” Altvater says, without completing the thought. “I don’t want my mother to have to deal with this so I’m not going to ask her. It’s too late to ask my two sisters who probably remembered, because they’re gone, but I did contact the state and ask for my records because I wanted to find out why we were removed. Did my mother call the state and say, ‘I can’t take care of them, come and get them’? Or did the state decide they needed to come and take us out of the home? I’ve made two requests already. The state said they can’t find the documents.”

Another recently recovered memory solved the mystery of why the fall season was always so disturbing, Altvater says. “I just found out it was the fall when we were taken away. Recently, with all this [publicity surrounding the TRC], I remembered that when we got to the house the leaves were falling off the trees. All these years I had no idea why I hated the fall.”

A lot of work has led to this point, she says. More than a decade of efforts preceded the signing of the declaration of intent. For 13 years, Altvater and other Wabanaki women worked with a Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group composed of individuals from Maine’s Tribal Child Welfare programs, state Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services and staff from the Muskie School of Public Service, American Friends Service Committee and Wabanaki Mental Health Association. She says that taking control of her childhood story has helped in the healing process. “It has been 13 years since I first told my story. I didn’t even know it needed to be told. Since then I’ve learned to feel, care, love and, most of all, strive to become the person the Creator meant for me to be when I was born. Healing is not going to be easy, but it will transform all of us.”

After two decades of work as a social-justice activist for the Wabanaki people of Maine, Altvater was well prepared to take the lead in moving the truth and reconciliation process forward. Altvater works as the Wabanaki program director with the American Friends Service Committee in Perry, Maine, where she advocates for the rights of all Indigenous Peoples. During her 16 years on the job, she has brought together tribes, state workers and communities to confront injustices and promote healing among Maine’s four Wabanaki tribes by holding regular meetings hosted by the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. She and other Wabanaki adults who went through the Maine foster-care system as children helped train more than 500 Maine Department of Human Services workers since the Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group formed 13 years ago on complying with the 1978 federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was passed to reduce the inordinately high number of Native children being sent to live with non-Native families. She has also provided anti-racism and cultural training for Washington County jail guards and the University of Maine System. Altvater is currently a member of the Maine Indian Child-Welfare Coalition and chairs the Wabanaki Criminal Justice Commission, which exposes and addresses issues of racism and abuse in the Maine Criminal Justice System. “Everyone wants to know what the goal of this project is,” she says of the TRC. “For me, it is about healing, education and learning. It is about changing how we do our work so that every child we are responsible to protect is treated with kindness and dignity and given the best we have to offer so they will have a place that is always safe.”

Maine’s rate of placement of Indian children in white homes was 19 times higher than the national average, says Esther Attean, a Passamaquoddy who works with the Muskie School of Public Service, which is facilitating the reconciliation process between Maine’s child-welfare agency and the tribes. After the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, Maine’s child-welfare agency made improvements, but there were still problems in 1999 when the Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group began. The formal process of reconciliation began in 2008 because child-welfare advocates felt “an invisible wall” was impeding their progress, she said.

The invisible wall surrounding the abuse and neglect of Indian children continues to exist although improvements have been made in the system. One of the difficulties is collecting information, according to a study by the National Indian Child Welfare Association. At best, only 61 percent of the data on abuse and/or neglect of American Indian and Alaska Native children, which often leads to foster care, are reported. The primary investigators of abuse or neglect at the tribal level are the tribes themselves (65 percent), followed by the states (42 percent), the counties (21 percent), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (19 percent) and other sources (nine percent), the report says. It is clear, however, that Indian children are disproportionately represented in foster care compared to their representation in the total U.S. populations: American Indian children make up one percent of the U.S. population, but comprise two percent of the foster-care population, according to research by the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care.

While Indian foster care has improved greatly in Maine over the past several years, the Maine Tribal-State Child Welfare TRC is expected to accelerate its improvement even more. The agreement will be the first of its kind in the country, Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis said at the signing ceremony. “This is truly a historic event.… This TRC process is unique in that [tribes and the state] have come together with the best interests of Wabanaki children and families at heart. It is a model of collaboration that can be replicated in other areas of tribal-state relations in Maine and has the potential to be a model for other states as well.”

Francis said that many Indian children in foster care were punished for being Native. “They wanted to assimilate them and make Native people [be] like everyone else. The TRC will assure that past atrocities will never happen again and our children have the right to stay Wabanaki and stay connected to that. My hope is this collaboration [from the tribes and state] will serve as a model for how to respect each other and overcome our difference while acknowledging our past.”

Maine’s TRC is driven by three key goals: to create an understanding between the Wabanaki and the state concerning what happened and what is still happening to Wabanaki children in the welfare system; to act on the information revealed during the TRC process to implement changes to improve the system; and to promote healing both among Wabanaki children and their families and the people who administered the abusive system.

LePage, who came to Indian Island for the signing ceremony, spoke about his own childhood, adding a note of empathy to the event. When he was 11 years old, LePage was forced to flee his impoverished home and the abuse he regularly suffered at the hands of his father.

“It’s beyond me to think that, in my case, I chose to leave home,” says LePage. “And to think that somebody would be taken from a home, and think that it could be replaced, is beyond imagination.”

LePage says that the TRC project is “long overdue” and that the signing of the declaration of intent is “an important step to allow the commission to establish its mandate and get to work.” He added that although there have been abuses in the past and “the system has had a negative impact,” the state is now committed “to protecting the rights, dignity and traditions of the tribes” while delivering needed services to all children and families.

More photos of signing here:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guatemalan Child Kidnapping for Adoption

Missouri Couple Silent on Order to Return Adopted Daughter to Guatemala


A Guatemalan judge has ordered an American couple in Missouri to return their 6-year-old adopted
daughter to her birth mother in San Miguel Petapa, Guatemala.
There are major questions about whether the judge’s ruling is enforceable in the U.S. and whether the
couple who adopted the girl, Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan of Liberty, Mo., will comply or simply ignore it.
The Missouri couple has remained silent since the judge’s ruling.
Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez ruled on Monday in favor of the child's birth mother, Loyda
Rodriguez, who is represented by the Guatemalan human rights group, Survivors' Foundation. The foundation claims that the child was kidnapped from her mother in 2006 and was illegally put up for
adoption by traffickers who financially benefited when the child was adopted by the Missouri couple in
The foundation does not allege that the U.S. couple knew the girl had been kidnapped, according to the
Associated Press.

Court Rules Missouri Couple Adopted Stolen Baby
Court documents released by the Survivors' Foundation lists the adoptive parents as Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan of Liberty, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City.  Calls to Monahan, an orthopedic surgeon, were not immediately returned to
Hernandez ordered the cancellation of the child’s passport, made out to Karen Abigail Monahan
Vanhorn when she was adopted out of the country.
The court order says that the American Embassy should coordinate efforts with local agencies in
Guatemala to help locate the child in the U.S. and return her to Rodriguez. If she is not returned within
two months, Interpol will be solicited to help locate and return her, the court stated.
Nine Guatemalans, including a judge, have been charged in the case.
Survivors' Foundation said in a statement, "The resolution is considered historical and it's a light of
hope for all the Guatemalans, because the justice in Guatemala, despite all of the obstacles, is changing
not with giant steps but hopefully case by case."
In 2008, Loyda Rodriguez told, "My daughter... was kidnapped as I was entering my
home. A woman appeared in my backyard and grabbed her out of my arms. There was nothing I could do."
At the time, the child was known as Anyelí Liseth Hernández Rodríguez. Her birth mother said that
local police were indifferent to her case and offered virtually no help in finding the kidnappers.
The foundation said that Rodriguez and other mothers whose children have been victims of rampant
trafficking have endured "fear" and "desperation" in their constant search of their children for the last five years.

I write about Guatemala and the crisis of child kidnapping in my book "One Small Sacrifice." If you want to read the e-book version, email me: I will send it FREE!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Papal Bull declared war on Indians in 1452

"The power to commit horrible crimes against children, and others, and then absolve itself and the rapists and killers it shields within its ranks, has made the Vatican a criminal, rogue body under every international standard of law and morality."

Read about the Papal Bull and what it means to federal laws here today in the US in the article "Ending Catholicism And Related U.S. Imperialism" by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer at

Papal Bull declares the legitimacy of Christian domination over (Indian) pagans, sanctifying enslavement and expropriation of property:

Romanus Pontifex, January 8, 1455 - …We bestow suitable favors and special graces on those Catholic kings and princes, …athletes and intrepid champions of the Christian faith… to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and… to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate… possessions, and goods, and to convert them to… their use and profit.* (European Treaties bearing on the history of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Editor Francis Gardiner Davenport, pages 20-26)

HISTORY: Papal Bulls are the fabric of United States and International law. Papal authority is the basis for United States power over Indigenous peoples, not generally understood. The Doctrine of Discovery is still being used as an active legal principle by the United States Supreme Court in the twentieth-first century, revealed in the case City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York decided in March 2005. The case involved a dispute over taxation of ancestral lands of the Oneida Indian Nation. During oral arguments, it became clear that the case would hinge on whether, in the opinion of the Court, the Oneida Indian Nation “has sovereignty status” with regard to the ancestral lands the Oneida Nation had reacquired. To decide the sovereign status of the Oneida Indian Nation, the Supreme Court relied upon the Doctrine of Discovery. Revealed in footnote number one of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsbergʼs decision for the Court majority: “Under the Doctrine of Discovery,” wrote Justice Ginsberg, “... fee title to the lands occupied by Indians when the colonists arrived became vested in the sovereign — first the discovering European nation and later the original states and the United States... The Supreme Courtʼs reference to the Doctrine of Discovery places the context for the Courtʼs decision in Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York within the Framework of Dominance, dating back to the era of the Vatican Papal Bulls.”
Empire attitudes and dominance are not dead. ----Trace

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Nations Children Still Taken from Parents (CANADA 2011) photo contest
John Beaucage has given the heartbreak he sees around him a name: the Millennium Scoop.

The First Nations leader was recently hired by the Ontario government to look into aboriginal child welfare and what he found -- not just in Ontario, but across the country -- was despair.

After decades of wrestling with the impact of the residential school system -- and then with the "Sixties Scoop" that placed so many aboriginal children in non-aboriginal homes -- First Nations are now facing another tragedy of lost children in the new millennium.

There are more First Nations children in care right now than at the height of the residential school system. That system was a national disgrace that prompted Prime Minister Stephen Harper to apologize for its catastrophic impact on natives.

Instead of being at home with their parents, brothers and sisters, tens of thousands of First Nations children are in foster homes, staying with distant relatives or living in institutions.

"It's a culmination of decades worth of social ills," Beaucage says.

A disheartening mix of poverty, addiction, history and politics has conspired to separate First Nations children from their parents.

Researchers aren't certain how many native kids are no longer living with their parents. A major study in 2005 pegged the number at 27,500. Since then, provincial and federal data as well as empirical reports suggest the numbers have risen.

That's easily double the size of the cohort forced away from their homes and into residential schools during the late 1940s and 50s -- a brutal period of Canada's history that still haunts First Nations families.

There's no question native children dominate the child welfare system.

Former auditor general Sheila Fraser estimated First Nations children were eight times more likely to be in care than other Canadian kids. She pointed out that in British Columbia, of all the children in care, about half are aboriginal -- even though aboriginals are only about eight per cent of the population.

Beaucage's report says aboriginal people make up about two per cent of the population, but between 10 to 20 per cent of the children in care.

"Given the data I've had a chance to see, if anything, it's an underestimation," said Nico Trocme, director of McGill University's Centre for Research on Children and Families.

"It's getting harder to be a parent in these communities."

Jeremy Meawasige is on the cusp of becoming the next child in that pile of statistics.

The 16-year-old Mi'kmaq from the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia has myriad challenges: autism, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and a tendency to hurt himself.

But his latest affliction comes courtesy of inter-jurisdictional squabbling.

Ever since his mother had a double stroke last year and was no longer able to give her son the support he needed, she has had to rely on government funded social services.

But with each level of government pointing to the other for support, and his mother turning to band generosity in the meantime, Jeremy is now poised to be sent to an institution far from the only home he has ever known.

"They did an assessment on us, and say Jeremy is at the level where he should be institutionalized. I told them, over my dead body," said mother Maurina Beadle.

"I'm the only person he will eat for. If you put him in an institution, that's it."

But with no one willing to provide long-term funding that would cover the costs of supporting Beadle and Jeremy on reserve, authorities want to send him to an institution outside the province.

His supporters say it's a classic case of what has become known as Jordan's Principle.

"Jordan" was Jordan River Anderson, a Cree boy from Manitoba who died in hospital at the age of five as he waited for federal and provincial governments to agree how to pay for his care.

Ottawa and provincial governments have vowed not to let such a thing happen again. They say a child in need of services will receive the services immediately, and the governments will work out the payment scheme later.

But Jeremy's mother argues that if her son were off-reserve, he would be entitled to far more funding and services than he is receiving now -- funding and services that would enable her to keep Jeremy at home where he belongs.

"I've decided I'm going to fight for that," she says.

She has launched a formal court challenge, one that echoes a broader dispute taking place at the Federal Court of Canada.

In that case, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, along with the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, are arguing the discrepancy in funding for child welfare services on reserves versus off reserves constitutes discrimination.

Ottawa contends it's not fair to compare the two.

Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the caring society, says she sees case after case of First Nations children in trouble being sent routinely into care because that's where the funding is instead of trying to help families deal with their problems.

As the lawyers duke it out, laments Beadle, "Jeremy regresses."

It would be myopic, however, to blame only jurisdictional wrangling and funding discrepancies for the high rates of First Nations children in care.

Expert after expert recognizes that family dysfunction is more broadly rooted in poverty, poor health and the oppressive legacy of the residential school system that robbed the parents of first-hand knowledge of how to raise a family.

"The simplest reason why, the most important reason why, is that these children are living in communities where families are facing enormous hardships," says McGill's Trocme. "The supports to bring up kids just aren't there."

A child at risk often comes from a home that is over-crowded, with up to four people to a sparse room. The home may not have clean drinking water. It may have mould or boarded-up windows as the house falls into disrepair.

The parents are often not there, or not paying attention.

Instead, they're in their own cycle of trouble, often related to addictions. Or they have not developed the social skills or parenting skills they need to deal with a precarious situation.

In the fridge, there might be some pop or processed food, but little fresh produce.

At school, there would be reading and writing. But not much in the way of library books or gym equipment or things to do after school.

In remote communities, the volunteer network that the urban poor rely on, such as the Salvation Army, shelters or food banks, is virtually non-existent.

In some cases, the child at risk is the victim of violence or abuse. More often than not, when the child welfare system steps in, it's because of neglect.

Neglect, however, "is not trivial," Trocme warns. Studies have shown that neglected children have the hardest time moving beyond their troubles, as their cognitive development becomes impaired.

"They have the absolute worst outcomes," Trocme says.

Still, the Millennium Scoop is not the Sixties Scoop, when children were removed from their homes and adopted by families far from the reserve. There was little discussion then about what would happen to a child once he or she was taken into care.

There is now a recognition that assimilation is not an option, says Beaucage, and there is some attempt to plan for family reunification.

Troubled children are increasingly being removed from their homes, but about half the time, they are placed in other First Nations homes, says Trocme. About 90 per cent of them eventually wind up back home at some point, perhaps as an adult, he says. So the family ties are not being broken as in the past.

"Families don't disappear when you remove a child," he says.

The number of First Nations children in the child welfare system is rising. But slowly funding is also on the rise and so is discussion and innovation about how to help them, he said.

In mainstream society, the number of children in care dropped suddenly in the 1970s. That's when child welfare agencies switched their focus. Instead of removing children from their home as a first resort, they devoted resources to prevention and help for troubled families.

The same approach wasn't applied toward First Nations, Trocme says, but that is changing.

The federal government has added a new layer of child-welfare funding directed toward prevention. It is also funding a growing number of child welfare agencies run by First Nations themselves.

Many First Nations complain that their other child services are so broke that the prevention dollars are sucked away by other more immediate needs.

But Ottawa points to some success in Alberta, where it invested $98 million over five years for its new approach.

The number of children in the care of First Nations agencies in that province has now stabilized, or even edged down slightly, federal documents show.

Not every province has such a program quite yet, although Ottawa hopes to achieve that by next year.

The federal numbers don't take into account the children who are in the hands of provincial agencies. And there are pervasive reports of widespread disillusionment and despair at the local level, says Beaucage.

But there are signs at senior levels of government of creative thinking and a willingness to allow First Nations a stronger hand in child welfare, he says.

"There's a fair bit of flexibility and open-mindedness at the top level," he said.

"We're going to have to measure our success in decades and generations."

From the cause: First Nations & Aboriginal Rights

America has its own story which you will read in the new anthology "Two Worlds'...the book is available on every e-reader and at Trace

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Coming Home to Self: Interview with Nancy Verrier

Read this interview with the brilliant author of "Primal Wound" Nancy Verrier. She writes about “The Three A’s” for adoptees which are awareness, authenticity, and accountability in her second book "Coming Home to Self."

Here is the link to the interview in Adoption Mosaic.

Verrier's work helped me so much as I was writing my adoptee memoir "One Small Sacrifice." Writers do read much more than they write! It seems I had to release myself out of a fog and find the light. All my issues as an adoptee had to be viewed and witnessed all over again, childhood to present, victim to survivor.

Verrier said in this recent interview," One of the things people need to recognize is that there is no biological mirroring for the adopted child. They don’t see physical and personality traits reflected in the relatives around them. (These are inherent genetic traits; they’re not things you just pick up from living around people.) People who are born into biological families and stay in them take biological mirroring for granted. But this isn’t present in an adoptive family. So the adoptee is always trying to figure out how to be in that family and the family is trying to figure out how to be around that child."

True words for the thousands of us adoptees who were transracially-adopted and assimilated via adoption..... Trace

Monday, August 1, 2011

Journey Home: Wayne Snellgrove (archive)

One Man's Journey Home

Torn Apart 32 Years Ago By Canadian Policy Toward Aboriginals, A Mother And Son Met For The First Time.

September 21, 2003|


He called himself Lost Cub, and for years he tried futilely to find his way home.
Then last year, feeling that at last he was closing in, Wayne Snellgrove hired a private investigator to follow up on the final four names on his list. He needed a shield, a buffer from the searing pain of renewed rejection. When the Canadian investigator finally telephoned her news, Snellgrove took the phone to the bedroom, closed the door, and, lying down on the bed, braced himself.
"I found your mother," she said. Then it all tumbled out.
Nora Smoke, a Saulteaux Indian living on a reserve in Saskatchewan, told the investigator, she loved Wayne, always had, that it was the happiest day in her life that he had found her. She had never forgotten the child she'd never seen.
"Please tell my son," Smoke pleaded with the investigator, "I've always thought of him."
And the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound athlete sobbed, sobbed like a baby, sobbed with 32 years of repressed emotion, sobbed like a kidnapped child returned to his bereft mother.
The search had ended; however, the story of a newborn's disappearance three decades ago was yet to be told.
Snellgrove, like many Canadians, calls it kidnapping. Others call it cultural annihilation or cultural genocide. Officially, it's been dubbed the Sixties Scoop.
Throughout the 1960s, 70s and into the mid-80s, thousands of Native children were separated from their mothers and adopted out to middle-class, non-Native families in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
"Some communities lost an entire generation," says Darrell Racine, professor of native studies at Brandon University, in Manitoba, Canada.
At best, say the critics, the action of the Children's Aid Societies, authorized at the time to administer Canada's child welfare services, was misguided. At worst, it was racism.
"It goes back to the usual manifest destiny complex white people have over red people and the idea they are more civilized than aboriginal people. They thought they were doing the aboriginals a favor," says Emma LaRocque, professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba.
The problem was those removing the children were usually white and, because of bias or ignorance of Aboriginal culture, they were, say critics, unqualified to determine what was in the best interest of the native child.


Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
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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

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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.

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