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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at . THANK YOU MEGWETCH for reading

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Judges to improve compliance with ICWA

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Bulletin to Improve Compliance with ICWA

"...The training on the history and spirit of ICWA, including listening to the stories of the adoptees was life changing! It was worth flying across the country just to hear..." 
 – Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, Florida Statewide Model Court

This pdf is very insightful and significant - it's about time every state complies with ICWA! It's long overdue...Trace

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grief Memoir: Mothers at the Catholic Infant Home

Linda Back McKay also went to the same Catholic Infant Home as my mother Helen and Kay.
Over a week ago, I had a conversation with Kay (not her real name) who resided and relinquished her baby at the Catholic Infant Home in Minnesota, about 10 years after my own mother was there. Her story revealed details I had only guessed. I've had conversations with other first mothers, but nothing enlightened me as much as this call with Kay.

Unmarried young women like Kay and my mother Helen were taken to 933 Carroll Street, the address of the Catholic Infant Home (an unwed mother's home that shut its doors in 1969). The girls were dropped off with their suitcase and were expected to leave the same way. 
At check in, each were given fake names. (I call this classic Catholic shaming.)
Each day the girls/women were expected to scrub and clean the home and do chores while they waited out their pregnancies; a few went to work for wealthy Catholic families as day workers and nannies. On a few weekends, Kay was happy to leave there to visit with her family during this difficult time. The women were expected to attend daily mass and "act Catholic," in Kay's words. She admits she cannot even remember details of the rooms since she blocked out those memories.
(Her family expected her to give up the baby, as if this was her only option. Nobody talked about it, not before or after.)
When it was time for Kay to deliver her baby, the infant home called her a cab that delivered her to St. Joseph's, the same hospital where I was born in St. Paul, MN.  At the hospital she begged them to call her mother but they refused. It was a long labor since it was her first delivery and at 19, she was very frightened but noone was interested in helping her or guiding her through the contractions. Eventually they drugged her and when she woke up, they wouldn't tell her the sex of her baby and wouldn't bring the baby to her.  As soon as she could, Kay walked to the nursery and put up a sign with her name so a nurse could point to her child.
She finally saw her beautiful son.
Kay wasn't allowed to hold him.  It was all head games, Kay told me, all to make her feel unworthy of him, and of being a mother. She was told to forget about him, he was gone.
Then a day later, a nurse walks into her room with her newborn and tells her to dress him and get ready to leave. The brief contact she had with her baby was the cab ride back to the Catholic Infant Home.
For years, Kay would not go back to St. Paul. She said it held too many bad memories for her.
She handed over her son and he was whisked away to some deserving family, she was told.  Kay signed the paperwork to relinquish him and signed a payment plan to pay for the hospital bill, which she was expected to pay monthly. (She paid for one year then stopped. It horrified her she was expected to pay when they took her baby.)
Kay never had another child. The trauma of losing him, she believes, hurt her so deeply - she was never able to have another baby.
It took many years but Kay found her son in 1986 when he was 19. (He told her he was raised in an alcoholic home in a wealthy Minneapolis suburb and shown no affection by his adoptive mother.)

I was so sad to hear this story but I thanked Kay for her courage in sharing it with me, and for helping me to understand the pain of the mothers at the Catholic Infant Home.

Next week, Kay and her son plan to have another reunion.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Diane Tells His Name on NPR #NDN #Adoption

NPR StoryCorps on American Indian Adoption

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher
Listen Here.
And it's time now for StoryCorps, the project recording the stories of everyday Americans. And today, we're going to hear from Diane Tells His Name. She's a Lakota Indian. Growing up, she never knew anything about her heritage. She was adopted when she was a baby. And at StoryCorps, her daughter, Bonnie Buchanan, asks Diane about her childhood.
BONNIE BUCHANAN: When did you first feel like you were different?
DIANE TELLS HIS NAME: Probably elementary school. I had a younger sister, and I really didn't like doing the same things that she would do. She would do tea parties and play with dolls and things like that, and I was outside looking at the clouds and the stars. And my sister was blond, tall and thin like my mother, and I was round and brown.
NAME: I remember going through the family albums, looking for my face in the old photographs, and I didn't see me. And eventually, when I was 37 years old, I happened to see a picture of my mom in October of 1951 - and it shocked me, because I was born in November of 1951 - and my mother was not pregnant. So that's when I knew that I was adopted.
BUCHANAN: How did you feel?
NAME: It was very satisfying to know that I wasn't crazy. I didn't blame them. I wasn't angry with them. In 1951, you just didn't talk about those things. So when I got my original birth certificate, it said on there my birth mother's name, and it said that she was born at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
So I went to South Dakota to receive my Indian name and get a crash course in how to be Indian. After that, my husband and I told Indian Family Services we wanted to adopt a child from my tribe, a Lakota child. And, finally, they faxed us a picture of a little Indian child, and she was drinking chocolate syrup out of a Hershey's bottle. And our son said, that's her. That's the one we need to adopt. And it was you.
I started doing research on your family, and when I started looking at your family tree, I saw one of my relatives on your paper. So we are cousins. I thought that was just - that was amazing. I'm glad you're my baby.
BUCHANAN: I know. I'm glad you adopted me.
NAME: I am, too. It's like our whole family was just planned out so that it would be best for all of us.
INSKEEP: You can take a moment to collect yourself. That's Bonnie Buchanan with her mom, Diane Tells His Name, at StoryCorps in San Francisco. Their story will be archived with thousands of others at the Library of Congress. The podcast is at Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
I am so happy that Diane was able to record her story with her daughter. She is a contributor in the new anthology TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.  Her photo is on the cover, next to the book title. I am blessed to call her my relative and friend! ...Trace

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fact Checking Media Coverage of the Baby Veronica Case

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The Baby Veronica Case: Information and Resources

Contact Nicole Adams, Executive Communications Manager, (503) 222-4044, ext. 133
Media Fact Check Matrix
The case of Baby Veronica has garnered much attention this year. NICWA has been following this case closely, carefully reviewing court proceedings, monitoring media coverage, and consulting with partner organizations and others regarding potential legal implications.

NICWA remains committed helping the public understand the complexities of the Indian Child Welfare Act and its application today. Therefore, we have compiled the following information and resources regarding the Baby Veronica case.

Brief Summary of the Baby Veronica Case

The case involves a Cherokee Nation father and a non-Indian mother who at one time were engaged and living in Oklahoma.

Veronica’s father was on active military duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, when the mother broke off their engagement while pregnant with Veronica. The father and his family attempted to contact the mother during the pregnancy, but the mother cut off communication a few months before the birth of Veronica.

A few months before Veronica’s birth, her mother began working with an adoption attorney in Oklahoma to adopt the child out to a non-Indian family from South Carolina, the Capobiancos. The father was not informed of these plans until four months after Veronica’s birth and subsequent placement with the Capobiancos.

Oklahoma state law required notice be provided to the child’s tribe, the Cherokee Nation, but the notice provided by the adoption attorney was not complete and not properly executed. It included a misspelling of the father’s name and the wrong birth date. This delayed the tribe’s ability to certify that Veronica was eligible for tribal membership and become involved until months after Veronica was moved to South Carolina. Additional paperwork required under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, giving authority to the Capobiancos to relocate Veronica to South Carolina, only identified Veronica as Hispanic even though it was known that she had Indian ancestry.

When the child was four months old, Veronica’s father was served with notice of the Capobiancos’ intent to adopt. He was served in a parking lot outside the army base without counsel present just days from his deployment to Iraq. The father signed the paperwork under the impression that he was relinquishing his parental rights to the birth mother, but recognized soon after that it was asking for him to relinquish his parental rights for placement with the South Carolina couple. The father asked for the paperwork to be returned to him and was denied by the server.

Immediately, he contacted the JAG attorney at the military base and began the process of challenging the proposed adoption. He was deployed to Iraq seven days after filing a stay of the adoption proceeding, where he served his country well and was awarded a Bronze Star.

The South Carolina district court denied the South Carolina couple’s petition to adopt and ordered transfer of custody to her father. The South Carolina couple appealed, but the ruling was upheld by a lower appellate court in South Carolina. Veronica’s father assumed custody of his daughter on December 31, 2011, in a highly publicized handing over of Veronica.

The Capobiancos then appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s decision. In the state Supreme Court decision, the court said that there was no evidence that Veronica was not presently in a safe and loving home with her birth father. The Capobiancos have now indicated that they will be applying for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Link to the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a minor under the age of fourteen years, Birth Father, and the Cherokee Nation

Fact Checking Media Coverage of the Baby Veronica Case
The extensive media coverage of the Baby Veronica Case has included many inaccuracies. Here, NICWA fact checks some of these recurring assertions.

Statement (Source)


Text of Supreme Court Opinion

“We were told she was not an Indian child, so we didn’t think it was going to make a difference.” –Melanie Capobianco (Fox News, January 11, 2012)
Mother knew of father’s Cherokee heritage and informed the adoption agencies and the Capobiancos.“Mother testified that she knew ‘from the beginning’ that Father was a registered member of the Cherokee Nation, and that she deemed this information ‘important’ throughout the adoption process…Mother reported Father's Indian heritage on the Nightlight Agency's adoption form and testified she made Father's Indian heritage known to Appellants and every agency involved in the adoption.” (pg. 4)
“At just two years old, this little girl is caught up in one of the strangest adoption cases that we’ve ever heard. Her story begins in 2009, when Veronica’s biological parents put her up for adoption. That’s when Matt and Melanie Capobianco entered the picture.” (Anderson Cooper 360, February 22, 2012)
Mother never informed father of her intent to place Veronica up for adoption, and placed Veronica without discussing it with him.“Mother never informed Father that she intended to place the baby up for adoption. Father insists that, had he known this, he would have never considered relinquishing his rights.” (pg. 3)
“Four months later, Brown (birth father) changed his mind and decided that he wanted custody despite the fact that he had never met the baby. His lawyers filed suit against the Capbiancos to gain custody of Veronica. (Huffington Post, August 23, 2012)

Anderson Cooper: The biological father did waive his rights, apparently, early on, and then two weeks later changed his mind.

Jeffrey Toobin: He did.
Father was not made aware of the Mother’s intent to adopt out Veronica until four months after her birth.

Father signed an “Acceptance of Service and Answer of Defendant” which was not a lawful “waiver” of his rights.

After signing, Father realized that the paper did not relinquish his rights to the mother but instead to potential adoptive parents and immediately attempted to retrieve it.

Father sought the advice of a JAG attorney. Five days later, he requested a stay of the adoption. Eight days later he filed official documentation to establish paternity, child custody, and support of Veronica.
“January 6, 2010, approximately four months after Baby Girl was born and days before Father was scheduled to deploy to Iraq. On that date outside of a mall near his base, a process server presented Father with legal papers entitled ‘Acceptance of Service and Answer of Defendant,’ which stated he was not contesting the adoption of Baby Girl and that he waived the thirty day waiting period and notice of the hearing. Father testified he believed he was relinquishing his rights to Mother and did not realize he consented to Baby Girl's adoption by another family until after he signed the papers. Upon realizing that Mother had relinquished her rights to Appellants, Father testified, ‘I then tried to grab the paper up. [The process server] told me that I could not grab that [sic] because . . . I would be going to jail if I was to do any harm to the paper.’”

“After consulting with his parents and a JAG lawyer at his base, Father contacted a civilian lawyer the next day, and on January 11, 2010, he requested a stay of the adoption proceedings under the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (‘SCRA’). On January 14, 2010, Father filed a summons and complaint in an Oklahoma district court to establish paternity, child custody, and support of Baby Girl.” (pg. 6)

“It is undisputed that the only consent document Father ever signed was a one-page "Acceptance of Service" stating he was not contesting the adoption. Thus, Appellants did not follow the clear procedural directives of section 1913(a) [of ICWA] in obtaining Father's consent. Moreover, even if this "consent" was valid under the statute, then Father's subsequent legal campaign to obtain custody of Baby Girl has rendered any such consent withdrawn. Therefore, neither Father's signature on the "Acceptance of Service" document, nor his stated intentions to relinquish his rights, were effectual forms of voluntary consent under the ICWA.” (pg. 18)
In this case, now-2-year-old Veronica was adopted by Matt and Melanie Capobianco. (Associated Press, July 27, 2012)

The state of South Carolina finalized the adoption and terminated Brown's rights as a father for lack of action on his daughter's behalf. Brown waived his right to contest the adoption. At that time, Veronica, then an infant, legally became the daughter of the Capobiancos. (Huffington Post, August 23, 2012)
The adoption was never finalized.

This court battle is based upon the South Carolina District/Family court’s decision to deny the Capobiancos’ petition for adoption of Veronica because Father’s parental rights were not and should not be terminated.
“Appellants filed the adoption action in South Carolina on September 18, 2009…On November 25, 2011, the family court judge issued a Final Order, finding that: … (3) Father did not voluntarily consent to the termination of his parental rights or the adoption; and (4) Appellants failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Father's parental rights should be terminated or that granting custody of Baby Girl to Father would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to Baby Girl. Therefore, the family court denied Appellants' petition for adoption and ordered the transfer of custody of Baby Girl to Father on December 28, 2011.” (pg. 8)


Media Coverage

January 4, 2013 NICWA responds to U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear Veronica case
December 24, 2012 NYT Covers Veronica case
November 13, 2012 NICWA fact checks Dr. Phil
October 20, 2012 NICWA responds to Dr. Phil
September 18, 2012 U.S. Supreme Court could hear "Save Veronica" case Fox23 News, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Summer 2012 Case highlights failure to follow ICWA dictates by Joe Kroll, executive director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, Adoptalk.
August 23, 2012 Doing what's best for the tribe by Marcia Zug,
July 27, 2012 NICWA responds to South Carolina decision
July 20, 2012 Full compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act, not its dismantling, is needed Op-ed by Terry Cross, NICWA executive director, The Oklahoman.

I have written about this case on this blog, also objecting to the Dr. Phil show which was truly appalling and slanted and biased... Trace

Thursday, January 10, 2013

30 Stories in 30 Days #Adoption #NDN

Adoption: 30 stories in 30 days; adoption and Native Americans (links)

Kathy  Hinson, The Oregonian By Kathy Hinson, The Oregonian
Russians demonstrated against President Vladimir Putin's ban on adoptions by American families. A couple of essays on Huffington Post have interesting takes on the issue.
Huffington Post has a fascinating feature called "30 adoption portraits in 30 days." As the website says in its intro, the series is "designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birth parents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption."   That's an important statement -- all too often sites and bloggers (including me) dwell too much in their own part of the adoption equation, whether adoptive parent, birth parent or adopted child, and don't delve enough into other experiences. While you're at the Huffington Post site, see two views on the recent Russian ban on adoptions by Americans. John Simmons writes about his daughter, and her friend who was adopted by a Russian family. He compares present-day Russia with the U.S. at the turn of the last century, as far as adoption attitudes. Yasmine Ergas compares adoption to iron ore ... hang with it for the statistics on adoption rates by Americans and Russians, which ties into Simmons' thesis.
U.S. families looking to other countries now that Russia has barred them will find that India has added a temporary roadblock.
Meanwhile, The New York Times writes about the heartbreaking case that led the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue of adoption and Native Americans.

Go here:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adoptee, sibling reunite in #California

Gina Aragona and Maynard Smith
 Half-siblings Gina Aragona and Maynard Smith stand together in Stockton. The brother and sister met for the first time during New Year’s weekend thanks to G.J. Chris Graves, a retired gentleman who helps adopted children and birth parents find each other. Photo courtesy Maynard Smith
Recently, the retired bank vice president drafted an unusual email to the Review. He was looking for photographs of one Yvonne J. Smith.“Her partner is deceased, her house has burned down. This email is about the last gasp we are making to find a photo of her,” Graves’ message explained. “This is to give to her daughter, adopted out at birth.”

Who is Ms. Smith?
The Review found no photos in its archives and learned only a little about Smith, based on a memorial announcement that ran in the paper on May 9, 2001.
It said Smith had lived in Pescadero the last 21 years of her life — that she had a “‘sparkling’ presence at the Pescadero Art & Fun Festival.” There, she sold chili with Ron Roeschlaub, her partner of 23 years.
Before Smith died, she told Roeschlaub that she didn’t want a funeral. She wanted a party.
She ended up with a parade.
On May 13, 2001, a Sunday, a parade in her honor wound along Stage Road from the I.D.E.S. Hall to the Pescadero Community Church.
A Scottish bagpiper helped lead the way. A donkey-drawn cart, decorated with black roses, carried Smith’s bones in the back. Medieval-style dancers pranced around them, accompanied by European country-dance music, and a local rock band met the procession at the end at I.D.E.S. Hall when the parade came full circle.

Soul seeker
Graves has been able to fill in some of the blanks about Smith with basic information, despite never having known the woman. He learned when her birthday was, that she had had children, married and divorced. With scant clues, he was even able to find some of her friends in the Pescadero community.
When Graves isn’t tending his outdoor master garden, he is particularly keen at scouring the Internet in response to inquiries to find people like Smith...
Graves is a self-proclaimed “Search Angel,” helping adopted children find their birth parents, and vice-versa.
“Do you want to know what pain is, my friend? … There’s 9,349 people looking for someone in the state of California alone. That’s a lot of pain,” said Graves. He added that on birth parent search websites such as Adoption Registry Connect, three to five new inquiries are listed every day. Search Angels like Graves all over the country work around the clock to answer the inquiries.
The interest started shortly after Graves’ retirement in the mid-1990s. First, his wife’s cousin wanted to find a birth mother, followed by a man in his 30s whom Graves had hired to paint his house. Graves took it upon himself to locate them — and succeeded.
Read the rest here:

What about the other 9,348 people looking for someone in California?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tiny Horrors

Tiny Handcuffs. Photo by Mary Annette Pember

A Chilling Reminder of How Cruel Assimilation Was—And Is

Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today, January 01, 2013

For such small objects, the child’s handcuffs are surprisingly heavy when cradled in the palms of one’s hand. Although now rusted from years of disuse, they still convey the horror of their brutal purpose, which was to restrain Native children who were being brought to boarding schools. “I felt the weight of their metal on my heart,” said Jessica Lackey of the Cherokee tribe as she described holding the handcuffs for the first time.
Lackey, an alumnus of Haskell Indian Nations University, was working at the school’s Cultural Center & Museum when the handcuffs were unwrapped last spring after being kept in storage for several years. I had heard rumors about the existence of the handcuffs during visits to Haskell over the years and had made numerous inquiries to school authorities about them, but people seemed very reluctant to discuss this touchy artifact. This past summer, however, Haskell agreed to allow a public viewing of the handcuffs. Andy Girty, one of the elders who first blessed the handcuffs when they were given to Haskell in 1989, helped unwrap them for me.
Known as the Haskell Institute in its early years, the school opened its doors in 1884. It was originally founded as an instrument of the final solution to this country’s “Indian problem”; Haskell Institute’s mission then was embodied in the now infamous motto of Captain Richard H. Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School: “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” This mind-set led to decades of forced acculturation through brutal military-style incarceration cloaked as education in U.S. Indian boarding schools.
Although begun as a model for assimilation, native students have, over the years, transformed Haskell into a model for self-determination. The school’s early curriculum featured training in domestic and farming skills but has since evolved into four-year university.
Haskell’s Cultural Center & Museum, located on campus, tells the full—and often cruel—story of Haskell’s painful past as well as providing a venue to showcase Native art, culture from the past and present. Opened in 2002, the center features the permanent exhibit Honoring Our Children Through Seasons of Sacrifice, Survival, Change and Celebration, featuring artifacts, photos and letters from the school’s early days.
Read the rest here:

Happy Visitors!

They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
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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.

You are not alone

You are not alone

What our Nations are up against!

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?


Diane Tells His Name

click photo

60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie


As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.


In some cases, companies may even take it upon themselves to control the narrative according to their own politics and professed values, with no need for government intervention. For example: Google, the most powerful information company in the world, has been reported to fix its algorithms to promote, demote, and disappear content according to undisclosed internal “fairness” guidelines. This was revealed by a whistleblower named Zach Vorhies in his almost completely ignored book, Google Leaks, and by Project Veritas, in a sting operation against Jen Gennai, Google’s Head of Responsible Innovation. In their benevolent desire to protect us from hate speech and disinformation, Google/YouTube immediately removed the original Project Veritas video from the Internet. -

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