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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Task Force Aims To Recruit More American Indian Foster Families

Anne Artley |May 12, 2014 | SOURCE

Indian Child Welfare Act task force (Kenneth Ramos)
Indian Child Welfare Act Task Force (Kenneth Ramos)

The way Navajo Indian Leland Morrill sees it; he was a victim of trafficking when he was four years old. In the 1970s, Morrill, 48, was living with his grandparents on the Arizona Navajo reservation. His mother had died in a car crash a few years earlier. Besides one picture, her relatives were all she left behind for her young son.
But, as the state government would soon decide, that wasn’t enough.
The Morrill grandparents lived in a hogan, a Navajo Indian dwelling made of dirt, branches and mud, with an open fire pit. Morrill’s grandfather was blind. One day, when his great-grandmother went out with the sheep, Morrill stepped into the fire.
At the hospital, doctors determined that he suffered from first, second and third degree burns, broken bones and malnutrition. Morrill said the last affliction was through no fault of his grandparents.
“There was no electricity and no running water on the reservation. I would say everyone in that area was malnourished,” Morrill said.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), a federal organization designed to provide services to American Indian tribes, placed Morrill with a Caucasian Mormon couple as foster parents. The BIA paid them $65 a month to give him a home. Soon after, the Morrills adopted Leland and moved the family to Canada.
Now, tribes across the nation are trying to recruit Native American foster families to keep their children in the tribe. Morrill has fought on the front lines in this effort. He filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl last year. The case interpreted the Indian Child Welfare Act and concerned a Cherokee girl whose mother adopted her to a non-native family without her father’s consent. The father, who ultimately lost, sought to obtain custody of his daughter again.
“I know the inequality of children not being able to speak for themselves,” Morrill said. “Who’s going to speak for them?” Fifteen years would pass before Morrill himself saw the Navajo reservation again.
During that time, Leland Morrill was one of about 2,000 Navajo children adopted annually by a Mormon family, according to the blog American Indian Adoptees.  This was due to the Indian Adoption Project, a plan launched in 1958 by the BIA and the nonprofit Child Welfare League of America. The project paid states to remove American Indian children and place them in non-native or religious families to assimilate them into ‘conventional’ society.  One goal was to give them opportunities the impoverished reservation could not provide for them, according to Reuters.
In the 1970s, Indian leaders went to the Senate and demanded an inquiry into the large numbers of their children disappearing. William Byler, the executive director of the Association of American Indian affairs, testified that under current conditions, tribal survival looked grim, according to American Indian Adoptees. In response, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978. Under this law, states must do everything possible to keep Indian children with their families, or at least send them to Native American adoptive or foster families that the child’s tribe selects.
But many states, such as New Mexico, Alaska and California, lack licensed Indian foster families.
In Los Angeles, about 200 American Indian kids are in the foster system and the city has no licensed foster families, according to L.A. children’s court judge Amy Pellman. In California, 439 Native American children entered foster care in 2012. This is a large number, given that Native Americans make up slightly over one percent of the state’s population, according to the Child Welfare Dynamic Report System, a joint effort of the California Department of Social Services and the University of California at Berkeley. The disproportionate amount suggests that welfare agencies still may pull Indian children from their homes too quickly, which children’s social worker Roberta Javier confirmed.
“When I was growing up, I had a cousin in my adoptive family who stepped into a pile of burning trash,” Morrill said. This was similar to the incident Morrill suffered that resulted in his removal from his Navajo grandparents. “When I asked my adoptive family why he didn’t get taken, they had no response.”
Javier, who is Cherokee and Sac & Fox Indian, formed a task force with other Los Angeles Natives to recruit more foster and adoptive families. They are working on a public service announcement to air on local TV channels and FNX, a Native American channel. The key message, ‘lend a hand,’ evokes a cultural ideal. Morrill attends the task force meetings and has contributed ideas, but is not a member of any committee.
“It’s traditional in Native American culture when you see someone who needs help you step up. It’s part of being in a collective community,” Javier said.
Adopted Native children are often disconnected from their culture. Growing up, Morrill’s foster parents raised him in the Mormon Church. They did not teach him anything about his tribe or its customs.
“My dad once took me on a business trip to Pine Ridge reservation (South Dakota). I don’t think he really understood the importance of culture,” Morrill said. The reservation is home to the Oglala Sioux, a tribe that Morrill does not belong to.
Even if non-native adoptive parents do show appreciation for their child’s background, children can still feel alienated without others around like them. Jennifer Varenchik, 42, an adoptee and member of the Tohono-O’odham tribe, said her adoptive dad researched her tribe and hung their baskets in the house. But she said still felt like an outsider in her predominately white neighborhood.
“When I was in sixth grade, a black family moved down the street and I was so happy because I wouldn’t be the only one with dark skin,” she said.
But when Varenchik tried to learn more about her roots, the process was not as natural as she expected.
“I took some Native studies classes in college, but it felt really foreign to me,” Varenchik said. “I felt like it should have a deeper meaning, but it didn’t.”
After finishing college at St. Mary’s, in Moraga, Calif., Varenchik moved to Los Angeles, which she knew had a large urban Indian population (the second largest in the U.S., according to Indian Country Today Media Network). She started work at United Indian American Involvement, a nonprofit providing service and support to American Indians in California, and began attending powwows. She even reconnected with her biological siblings on the reservation in Arizona.
But not every adoptee’s story ends as happily. Javier’s own painful experiences compelled her to campaign for more Native foster families.
“I’ve been in 17 foster homes from the ages 6-16. I was separated from one of my (biological) sisters who then got lost in the system. A social worker took her to a group home and my sister ran away. Four days later, her social worker killed herself so there was a disconnect (in information),” Javier said. “It took me 25 years to find my sister.”
The task force efforts began two years ago, but members have yet to find a single foster family. They are collaborating with Los Angeles County, but Javier cites a lack of cultural awareness among officials as part of the problem. She gave the example of the county sending a non-native woman to an American Indian church sing to speak on the shortage of foster parents.
“This is like sending an African-American to recruit for a Chinese home,” she said.
But more Native adoptees are coming together to talk about the issue. Morrill has started a blog and a Facebook page where he shares his story and circulates others’.  He said his efforts are “normalizing the craziness of what it’s like to be an adoptee,” and helping disconnected Natives repatriate to their tribes. Though Morrill and Varenchik cannot control the past, they are combining their influence and education to improve the future for other American Indians.
“I’m the opposite of the people on the reservation, but I’m fighting for their rights and their children’s rights,” Morrill said.

Reach Staff Reporter Anne Artley here

Leland, Diane Tells His Name and I will be speaking at the Tribal Star ICWA conference at the PALA RESORT in CA on May 22 about what needs to happen for our Native children today....Trace

Monday, May 12, 2014

Adoption Illusions and Stockholm Syndrome

By Trace A. DeMeyer
"...I’ve been thinking about this concept for a long time. Adopters, when it comes right down to it, count on Stockholm Syndrome. Children who don’t succumb are labelled RAD.
Whenever I encounter an infertile woman so desperate to be a mother that she’ll bring home a stranger’s baby and force it to live in her fantasy, I always secretly wonder what she would do if she were single and desperate to be married.
Would she drag some strange man home and force him to watch the Notebook and cuddle? And if she did, would society think it was beautiful and precious?  Or would they think she was delusional and dangerous?  Rhetorical question, of course.  But why? Why is what is clearly a crime between adults viewed in such an overwhelmingly positive way when one of the parties is a child?..."  - Renee Musgrove 
This comment by Renee has been in my head for over a year and I finally did research on Stockholm Syndrome!
What was legally thrust upon us as adoptees is an illusion/fantasy, right?  From babyhood, we are supposed to pretend these are our only parents -- years pass and if they raised us, they ARE our parents. They are the only people we know that intimately so we call them mom and dad. We don't know anything else. Of course, years pass...
Then one day you wake up and think, "What about my ancestry, what about my medical history?" and you start to feel despondent since you can't ask your "parents" since you found out they get upset when you ask about your identity (We chose you, you're ours...) -- and even if you do ask, too often they know absolutely nothing. Why is that?
Eventually you realize that you are really not "their" child. You're not related in any physical sense or biology.  Then the adoptee realizes and finds out quickly enough that lawmakers (and your adoptive parents) are on the side of secrecy - that they don't want you to know who you are and they DEMAND privacy for the mother who created you.  REALLY?

On my other blog, I wrote about the ADOPTION EXPERIMENT and then my friend Cully Ray did a guest post about Stockholm Syndrome: which is when you are abducted and start to identify with your captors.
Cully wrote:
As do Stockholm Syndrome victims, these Adoptees have great difficulty identifying and expressing their feelings, tragically some are unable to go on with their lives.
Some of the effects that are seen in adoptees and foster children who are objectified by their adoptive parents, foster care givers, and/or communities and peers are:

* Denial of actions by the adoptive parents or foster caregivers that make the child feel inadequate or physically hurt.
* Co-dependency
* Substance abuse
* Minimizing their feelings – self-sacrifice
* Disassociation with the idea of natural family or parent-child relationships
* Failure to make realistic relationships in both personal and professional life
* Internalizing – blame and guilt for things they have/had no control over
* Over achieving – fear of not being “good enough”
* Anger/Rage/Overwhelming depression often triggered by birthdays or celebrations
* Suicide

No matter how much I write and think about this - we come back to the lawmakers still demanding sealed adoptions and secrecy again and again. What about you? Do you think they are delusional?

I will be back and posting more in June... Trace

Sunday, May 11, 2014

UN report on Canada’s treatment of aboriginal people in spotlight UPDATE

UPDATE: If you want a copy download it here

Canada saw and commented on a ‘preliminary’ version of the UN report

UN special rapporteur James Anaya says confirms he will publish on Monday his findings on the conditions facing aboriginals in Canada following a nine-day cross-country visit last fall.
UN special rapporteur James Anaya says confirms he will publish on Monday his findings on the conditions facing aboriginals in Canada following a nine-day cross-country visit last fall. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
By Susana Mas, CBC News May 11, 2014

The United Nations special envoy on the rights of indigenous people confirms he will publish on Monday his findings on the conditions in Canada's aboriginal communities, following a nine-day cross-country visit last fall.
“The report will be made public on Monday,” James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, told CBC News in an email on Saturday.
Anaya’s initial assessment of the conditions facing aboriginals in Canada was grim.
“From all I have learned, I can only conclude that Canada faces a crisis when it comes to the situation of indigenous peoples of the country," the UN fact-finder said last October.
Monday’s UN report comes at a fragile time for relations between the federal government and First Nations.
The government put “on hold” its prized but controversial First Nations education bill following the sudden resignation of Shawn Atleo as national chief for the Assembly of First Nations.
Bill C-33 will stay on hold until the AFN “clarifies” its position on the bill which it is expected to do during a special assembly of national chiefs in Ottawa on May 27.

‘Preliminary’ report

The UN report will not come entirely as a surprise to the federal government which had an opportunity to see an earlier copy of it.
Anaya told CBC News that as per the rules and procedures set out by the UN Human Rights Council, the federal government was given a chance to see and comment on an earlier version of the report.
“Canada was given the opportunity to see a confidential, preliminary version of the report, and it did submit to me comments, which I took into account in finalizing the report,” Anaya said in an email to CBC News on Saturday.
Otherwise, the report “remains confidential until finalized and made public,” Anaya said.
Last fall, the UN envoy also urged the federal government to:
  • not "rush" forward with the tabling of a First Nations education bill
  • “re-initiate discussions” with aboriginal leaders to develop a process and ultimately come up with an education bill “that addresses aboriginal concerns and incorporates aboriginal view points”
  • launch a "comprehensive and nationwide" inquiry into the case of missing and murdered aboriginal women
  • extend the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The federal government introduced Bill C-33 one month ago following what it said was extensive consultations with First Nations which began in December 2012.
But as recently as two weeks ago, half a dozen chiefs came to Ottawa vowing to scrap the bill after complaining the government never consulted them. The two sides appear to differ on what constitutes a duty to consult.
While the government has refused to launch a national inquiry into the case of missing and murdered aboriginal women, the RCMP said this month there are about 1,186 recorded incidents by police of aboriginal homicides and unresolved missing women investigations. That report is expected to be released soon.
The federal government extended the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by a year, until June 2015, so that it can complete its work. An Ontario court ordered the government in 2013 to turn over all residential school documents.
Anaya’s term as special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples comes to a close at the end of the month.
The UN Human Rights Council confirmed on May 8 that Vicky Tauli-Corpuz will replace Anaya beginning June 1.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bring The Lakota Children Home: Lakota Law and Chase Iron Eyes Need Your Help Before Time Runs Out

South Dakota State facilities are the new Indian Boarding Schools

Lakota leaders agree on the total solution: tribal foster care programs, run by Lakota, for Lakota.  However, we need your help to start the process before time runs out!  If we do not seize this opportunity, we may have to start from scratch with new federal and state appointees.  
    Lakota children are ten times more likely than their White counterparts to be forced into state foster care, and 90% of them are illegally placed with White families.  
    With your help, these children will no longer endure the state's culturally biased foster care system.  New programs set up within the tribes will be funded through a direct federal relationship, allowing Lakota families to heal and thrive, and creating decent paying jobs in the very poorest communities in the United States.  CONTINUE READING

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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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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