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Sunday, March 30, 2014

#60s Scoop seek formal apology

Sixties Scoop: Aboriginals Adopted Into White Families Seek Apology

  By Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press 

WINNIPEG - Some aboriginal people who were adopted into white families during the so-called Sixties Scoop say it's their turn for reconciliation and are calling for a formal apology from the federal government.
Dozens of adoptees gathered in Winnipeg on Monday to tell their stories — many for the first time — and figure out how to get justice.
Coleen Rajotte was taken from her Cree community in Saskatchewan when she was three months old and raised by a Manitoba family. Adoptees were robbed of their real families and feel someone has to be held accountable, she said.
"If someone came into your home today, took your children and shipped them to the United States and around the world, we would want answers," she said. "That's what we as adoptees are asking for. Someone has to take responsibility for this."
From the 1960s to the 1980s, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes by child welfare services and placed with non-aboriginal families. Many consider the adoptions as an extension of the residential school system, which aimed to "take the Indian out of the child."
Rajotte said she was lucky enough to be placed into a loving home, but she lost her language, her culture and her connection to her ancestral home. When she recently went to the home she would have grown up in had she not been adopted, Rajotte said it was overwhelming.
"I was physically ill for days just trying to process all of that," she said.
But while residential school survivors have had a formal apology and are the subjects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, adoptees haven't been formally recognized.
"Personally, I would like to see some kind of formal apology to all adoptees that were taken from their homes," Rajotte said. "That's a lot of children — 20,000 children across Canada."
A spokeswoman for federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said there would be no comment.
"As this case is currently before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment further," she said in an email.
A class-action lawsuit launched by some survivors in Ontario in 2009 is slowly making its way through the courts. The lawsuit was certified, but Canada recently won leave to appeal that decision.
Manitoba Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson said it's time adoptees were given the same opportunity for reconciliation as residential school survivors. Some adoptees were put with families where they were treated as farm hands or subjected to horrific abuse, he said.
"It's not an easy thing to talk about the hurts that many of them endured as children, not knowing who they were, being a brown face in an all-white school as an example," said Robinson, a residential school survivor who organized the two-day gathering.
"Those things are very difficult to talk about in this current day but they have to be addressed."
Those adoptees at the gathering hope to emerge with a strategy for recognition and a sense of what supports they need to heal, he said.
"Compensation no doubt will come up," Robinson said. "There's got to be a certain degree of accountability by governments."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet the Authors: Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

Near Niagara, Ontario

By Dr. Raeschelle Potter- Deimel
TWO WORLDS: LOST CHILDREN OF THE INDIAN ADOTION PROJECTS, ISBN: 978-1479318285, Trace A DeMeyer and Patricia Busbee, editors, Blue Hand Books, 2012, paperback on Amazon and ebook $6.99 available for all devices.

TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, is classified as an anthology by the co-editors Trace DeMeyer and Patricia Busbee.  The published book, however, exceeds any and every expectation of this label.  It not only offers an avalanche of information on the book's very pressing topic, but it includes a multitude of written testimonies showing the ills caused by decades of governmental enforcement of Indian Adoption Projects

Trace DeMeyer, co-editor, journalist, and former editor of THE PEQUOT TIMES, successfully brought this issue forward in ONE SMALL SACRIFICE, published in 2009.  It was a heart wrenching tell-all memoir of the author's own life. We followed the writer along her path of trying to find answers to a lifetime of questions.  Now, adoptees DeMeyer and Busbee have succeeded, as co-editors, in bringing together a circle of like souls, "Lost Birds" who have spent their lives wondering if they would ever feel true warmth and belonging.  "Lost Birds" of America and Canada have shared their despair with written contributions in excerpts of books, papers, poems and stories on the topic. One most jolting fact, found in the publication, casts a shadow on the persistent governmental use of Trans-racial Adoption.  Tribal methods of taking care of their own children, kinship, have always been part of strong cultural traditions.  It is all the more astonishing to read: "One quarter of all Indian children were removed from their families and placed in non-Indian adoptive and foster homes or orphanages, as part of the Indian Adoption Projects."  Yes, there is great poverty clouding over many tribes which may, for those who support adoption, help condone the practice of taking Indian children away from tribal families to place them in a more economically adjusted environment.

The government continued to condone the system under a shield of haphazard statistics gathered by such researchers as David Fanshel, in 1960.  He in turn, preferred to follow earlier methods used in the state of Florida by the researcher, Helen Witmer, during a period of racial polarization.  During this period adoption services were eager to rid themselves of discriminatory accusations and were more prone to favor trans-racial adoption.  There were multiple considerations which should have been respected but were ignored in order to prove that "white couples committed to racial equality were the most likely to adopt non-white children and succeed as parents."  Fanshel felt that there was "little risk to the physical or emotional well-being of individual children and that these adoptions had 'saved many of these children from lives of utter ruination'."(358) 

Most adoptees did have access to formal education, but there are also success stories of tribal supported college students.  What about rituals and lessons traditionally learned in tribal culture, which could not be passed down to children and grandchildren?  What could these generations of children have been able to offer their tribal communities, if their nurturing had been able to continue within their tribal culture?  Patricia Busbee clearly poses the alternative to trans-racial adoption.  The alternative of governmental planning and financial support of Indian and First Nation child care would have actually been the easier path to follow.

"I am Lakota," a contribution in the book, looks into the life of a trans-racial adoptee and defeats stoic assumptions that Native children grow to become totally adjusted in non-Indian families.  Here, the adoptee did not know about her Native heritage throughout her childhood.  The pool in the backyard, the new car, and the possibility of having a good college education, was not enough to fill the constant emptiness felt throughout Diane's young life.  It was also just not enough for her to feel "devoted and proud to be an Irish Tommaney."(12)

A term of endearment comes to mind, when pondering these adoptee narratives and findings, which has come to be the labeling of helpless spirits held bondage under the ills of Indian adoption.  The description is of 'Split Feathers;' those innocently caught up within two worlds.  Their search to simply find themselves comes from not having known the world they were born in. They were unable to experience comfort of belonging in the world of trans-racial adoption.  Bravery to step forward and find their way home did not come easily, with their efforts thwarted by closed files and records.  Success of tribal family reunion was not a promise, only another hurdle to conquer for having been placed on a too distant path, too long.  Still, reports of forced adoption continue, as small voices cry out, lost and in despair.  Even Fanshel, in final conclusion of his early research believed that "only the Indian people have the right to determine whether their children can be placed in white homes." (359)   

Those who seek answers to the many baffling issues surrounding Indian Adoption Acts will become well-versed, within the pages of the anthology, on the history of these acts that were forged under well- known efforts of the country's acts for Assimilation

As a special bonus, the co-editors have presented specifics for viewing problems suffered by First Nations of Canada.  We find that a Canadian survey actually focused on families and their problems, after the removal of their children by provincial child welfare authorities, from the late 1960s to the early 80s. The six-month study report was compiled by Native Child and Family Services and titled OUR WAY HOME.  The staff writer of "WINDSPEAKER" magazine, Joan Black, reports that the survey not only shows effects of adoption and foster care on Indian adoptees. "It also identifies a variety of obstacles that Aboriginal people face in trying to re-establish family ties, and sets out a four-phase strategy aimed at easing repatriation for those who desire it."(331) The question is, will they and other American adoptees, be given necessary documents for proving their identity?
Natives and First Nations of Turtle Island are the only people required to prove their ethnicity.  With modern day research, and access to more adequately translated chronicles and diaries, written by early explorers, it is clear that Native People of the New World were always very diverse in physical features as well as cultural traditions.   DeMeyer's article on "Blood Quantum" is truly an eye opener as it confronts the core of ethnic prejudice which has been nurtured and continues to stifle North America today.  Native people often say, "It was never easy being Indian!" Thus, we remember other aspects of ethnic intrusion.  The scope is wide: from Indian slavery and breeding, followed by official record keeping written by unknowing and illiterate census takers; to the confines of Indian schools; and certainly of course forced or coerced Indian adoption.  All of these intrusions have remained under a cloud of constant propaganda favoring assimilation.  No, it has not been easy being Indian! 

The 31st chapter in the book, "Congressional Testimony" proves that the most helpless, the Lost Children of these Indian Adoption Projects and Programs were most vulnerable, as government presented a sure method for forcing assimilation upon children.  William Byler, Executive Director, Association of American Indian Affairs stated that “The disparity in rates for Indian adoption and non-Indian adoption is truly shocking.”  He presents statistics beginning with the state of Minnesota where “Indian children are placed in foster care or in adoptive homes at the rate of five times, or 500 percent greater than non-Indian children.”(183)  His statistics move on through other states which show even greater numbers.  Indian Adoption Acts have continued to be an acute disruption of tribal culture through many decades while Religious groups, with help from federal and state government, have held fast to ill-fated convictions.  With every effort made by Lost Children, seeking out a way home, more problems emerge. "Our American government still defines us today, using census reports that are highly suspicious and definitely untrustworthy to define sovereign status or what degree of Indian blood or blood quantum exists."(Suggested reading: Blood Quantum, 185)

With the disappearance of children from our tribes, generations have been lost and therefore, in some cases, tribal existence has become threatened.  Some Lost Birds have been able to find their way home and have been accepted by their tribal families.  Others, some still not aware of their tribal bloodlines, continue to search for a place of belonging and sovereignty

The anthology answers many questions, but it also presents the urgency for those in power to recognize failed concepts.  The book is in a total thumbs-up category and highly recommended.   

Dr. Raeschelle Potter-Deimel received her PhD from the University of Vienna in Austria in Cultural Anthropology and lectures on North America and Native American topics.  An independent researcher and Fulbright scholar, Dr. Potter-Deimel frequently travels for lectures and master classes to America and throughout Europe.  She can be reached at:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Resonating Reconciliation Project #60sScoop #Adoption

By Trace A. DeMeyer

From their website:

Resonating Reconciliation Project are the radio documentaries. As part of this project, forty campus and community radio stations across the country are working with local Indigenous producers to create a documentary about the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in their communities in Canada. They are the result of the culminating hard work of the Indigenous producers to write, record, and produce the documentaries, and from the stations to train, provide assistance, equipment, and technical support for the producers.
Two Worlds
The documentaries share the stories of survivors, people who work for child and family services, family members, friends, and many more people whose lives have been impacted and shaped by the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.

The 60s Scoop included America, too, and perhaps longer since adoptions effected Native children until 1978 and even continues today with American judges who do not abide by or understand the Indian Child Welfare Act.    Much more work needs to be done to document America's Indian Adoption Projects and ARENA - which is why I am now working on a new anthology CALLED HOME. The first anthology TWO WORLDS collected narratives of adoptees from the US and Canada.

The only way we can change this history of assimilation and cultural genocide is to tell it ourselves...

The following documentary speaks about Adoption and the 60s Scoop in Canada
Click to LISTEN:  (MP3 of part 1) (MP3 of part 2)

Produced by: Dana Wesley
Featured Speakers/Guests (part 1): Beth and "Kayla"
Featured Speakers/Guests (part 2): Laura Maracle and Janice Hill

Music (part 1): "Greetings Sunrise" by the Four Winds Women's Singers from Honoring Our Ancestors; "Wildflower (remix)" by the Women of Wabano from Voices; "Universal Healing" by David R. Maracle from Sacred Healing

Music (part 2): "Universal Healing" by David R. Maracle from Sacred Healing; "Tomorrow" by Nick Sherman from Drag Your Words Through; "Her Dance" by Joanne Shenandoah from Covenant

Summary: This documentary follows the life of its producer and includes interviews with others on how the 60s scoop continues to impact families, communities, and individuals.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Adoption Language and Propaganda: Code Switch

AN EXCERPT by Joy Lieberthal (aka Song Eun Hee)
FROM Adoption Echoes (how the adoption story continues long after you figured it out)

...As more adoptees demand a change in the way adoption is conducted, talked about and discussed, there is another side code switching to make adoption sound urgent, necessary and in peril of going extinct. I should clarify….international adoption.  Frankly, it’s driving me crazy. 

Imminently, our legislators are seeking ways to pass the CHIFF legislation and their code is amazingly effective.   It makes me wonder what is wrong with my brain that I seem to read their words in a completely different way than what I see.  Right now, there are groups in the US who are in near hysterics about the “orphan crisis” in the world, mobilizing people to believe they must adopt, adoption is the only solution.

Every time this happens, I call upon my friends and colleagues who are adopted and it does feel like we are reading another language.  We don’t agree universally on every issue, but I appreciate the passionate civility we dialogue.  Our code has always been with the intention to have the adopted as the center of our focus.  It is clear and trusted.  I asked for help and I got it.

Melanie Chung-Sherman, my co-author, lives in a place that I swear speaks a different English at times.  Her “Blessings” sign-off at the end of every email causes me to chuckle and I look to her to help me better understand the language religion plays in the adoption world.  Living in a more secular, rather less evangelical, area has be me blind to the codeswitch.  She agreed to write with me and help clarify from her perspective the code switching that happens in the world of “saving the orphan” movement that I struggle with. 

So, here is our list of how the code is switching in our heads.  I am hoping it drives you equally mad!  I am hoping when you read the CHIFF legislation and future media pieces on adoption that you may begin to see the code for yourself.
  • child advocates- code for those in support of perpetuating and increasing the number of foreign born children being adopted to White American couples.  If you read the list of supporters of the CHIFF legislation, the list of adoptee organizations and organizations internationally recognized as working for preserving children in their country/family of origin is glaringly light.
  • children in families first – code for children from Third World countries into the homes of privileged, American couples
  • growing up in a family is a child’s basic human right – code switch for “growing up in an adoptive family in America”; perpetuation of international adoption
  • international adoption as a solution – code for international adoption is THE solution
  • best practices – code for ways to primarily advance the process and promotion of international adoption
  • orphan - a complex code word steeped in biblical meaning that has been simplified that has categorized  and subsequently emotionally petitioned the adoption community into action on behalf of children in need who may or may not be legally available for adoption. It does not diminish the fact that there are children without direct care, but is overly referenced for all children who appear in need and lacking a road to Christian salvation by Western standards. At one time this terminology was antiquated, but was revived at the height of the evangelical adoption movement.
  • rescue –to save a child in need by means of international adoption in a Westernized home (“being called to adopt”) and many times not critically considering the long-term implications for that child and first family, alternatives to permanency in-country or the possible reasons and/or methods in which a child was referred for international adoption originally. Taking on the theological salvation narrative and attempting to vertically apply to the child while overlooking the fact that adoption is about permanently building a family, not rescuing someone.
  • resources can be reallocated to achieve more timely, effective, nurturing, and permanent familial solutions for children living without families– code for taking existing federal funds already benchmarked to promote family permanency in-country and reallocating them to ensure international adoption policy, practice, and placement is securely funded.
  • shall lead the development and implementation of policies that will ensure the timely provision of appropriate, protective, and permanent family care for children living without families – policy codeswitch that will engender the least restrictive, fastest, and Western-centric measures to ensure international adoptive placement while deconstructing and maneuvering around current international and federal accountability standards in an effort to boost numbers of adoptions.
And for the ultimate codeswitch, when we read that a piece of legislation is in keeping with the core American belief that families are the best protection for children, this really means, regardless of global cultural considerations, which include the impact of poverty, gender and social class bias, diverse social norms, as well as a country’s sovereignty, Americans still know what is best. Thus, it is only in an American family that a child can truly flourish.

[And we find ourselves as American Indian Adoptees with this same situation in regards to the
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) who wish to open the floodgates AGAIN and end ICWA protections so more white people can adopt from Indian reservations...Trace].

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Native American Leaders Call for DOJ Investigation of ICWA Violations

Published: February 3, 2014

PORTLAND, OR—Today, National Indian Child Welfare Association Executive Director Terry Cross formally requested the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division launch an investigation into the unlawful treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children in private adoptions and public child welfare systems.
Cross presented a letter on behalf of four leading national Native American organizations—the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Rights Fund, and the Association on American Indian Affairs—during a meeting at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland hosted by Department of Justice Acting Attorney General for Civil Rights Jocelyn Samuels.

NOTE: This letter gives me the idea that WE adoptees can also draft a letter to the DOJ asking for an investigation into this case, mentioning our own adoptions pre-ICWA.... Use the addresses on this letter to write your own letter solution is public outcry - that is needed now... Trace

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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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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