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Friday, January 4, 2013

Stolen Generations: Adoption as a Weapon

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Stolen Generations: Adoption as a Weapon

By: Peter d'Errico  January 02, 2013 (Indian Country Today Media)
Edited by Trace A. DeMeyer and Patricia Cotter-Busbee, themselves adoptees, the history is told through chronicles by those who lived through it.
Ethnic cleansing by child removal is a counterpart to the boarding school system, aimed to "kill the Indian and save the man." Boarding schools take children away from home for months and years at a time, returning them as "civilized." Adoption projects take children away permanently, to assimilate them into non-Indian society via non-Indian families.
A common element of the stories is painful curiosity, children trying to figure out who they are, and why their biological parents gave them away. Answers are sometimes never discovered. What is learned may compound the pain, when the child's displacement turns out to be a subchapter in the parent's (or parents') own survival struggle.
In many cases, the birth parents' generation was already victimized by the Dawes Act and the Indian wars: one wore the face of "friends of the Indian," the other the face of outright hatred. The "stolen generations" is only part of the trajectory of Indian genocide.
Two Worlds shows that the pain of the non-Indian adoptive families often compounds the pain of displacement. For whatever reasons—many are discussed in the multitude of stories—adoptive parents may be trying to escape from their own pain when they take an Indian child into their homes. Those who try a to fill a void or carry out a messianic belief by adopting an Indian child cause pain that multiplies pain; everyone is scarred.
Given the fact that thousands of Indian children are adopted out of Indian communities, it is possible—as some adoptee stories show—that a displaced life is not pain-filled. But even in those cases where adoptees live a comfortable life with loving parents, the stories point to an inchoate pain shared by adopted children of any culture: the pain of not knowing one's origins. Adoption agencies exacerbate this by policies of secrecy, as if self-knowledge were a bad thing.
As if all this pain were not enough, the stories tell of a whole new world of pain that may open up at the end of the genealogical quest, when the search for the past has led to the present: the pain of re-assimilation; or worse, the pain of not being able to re-assimilate into one's origin community.
Sometimes the pain at the end of the quest is caused by absence: the birth parents have passed on. Sometimes it's caused by rejection: the birth parents don't want to revisit their long-ago decision to give away a child, or believe that the reasons for their previous actions are still viable today.
Sometimes, it's a mixed bag: one or more biological relatives welcome the returning child, while others spurn the reunion. The variations and permutations are many. They don't fit into neat pigeonholes, though they do show certain patterns.
One pattern is the difficulty of re-assimilating not simply to a birth family, but to a birth culture, where language is crucial. As anyone who has learned a foreign language knows, it is easy enough to learn how to make small talk, and much more difficult to learn enough to talk about life (or politics, or spirituality, or anything truly intimate). In these instances, the past remains past, no reunion is possible, and the lost way of life is water under the bridge.
At a hearing in 1974, the Congressional Subcommittee on Indian Affairs learned that in states with large Indian populations, about 25 percent of all American Indian children are taken away from their families by adoption, in addition to the thousands removed into boarding schools. About 85 percent of Indian adoptees were placed in non-Indian homes.
By 1978, Congress felt sufficiently concerned to enact the Indian Child Welfare Act. Unfortunately, this legislative response to the genocidal policies of the adoption projects is more honored in the breach than the observance. A 2011 investigation by National Public Radio found that "32 states are failing to abide by the act in one way or another."
Each of the storytellers in this collection has survived displacement, battles with adoption agencies, the reflected pain of their adoptive and birth parents, and the confusion of not knowing their origins. Many suffered through abuse, self-abuse, and substance abuse, as they struggled through doubts and difficulties of genealogical discovery. The path to discover the past is not easy.
The storytellers display courage, commitment, and compassion. The fact that their stories are being replicated today by more stories we have not yet heard is testimony to the ongoing assault on indigenous peoples.
Peter d’Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. Staff attorney in Dinebeiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970. Taught Legal Studies at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. Consulting attorney on indigenous issues.


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Takeaway Podcast ICWA

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

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.


National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

Membership Application Form

The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

Source Link: NICWSN Membership


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.

Dawnland 2018