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Monday, May 4, 2015

BUILT IN: Is culture how you think?

By Trace L Hentz (2015)

So much about adoption is complicated for the adoptee.  If you are like me, you may feel torn between who you think you are, who you are inside, versus how you were raised and who raised you.

I am an adoptee as readers know. What a great many adoptees have told me is they feel they lost culture when not raised in their tribe, losing parents, grandparents and the language. Even typing those words hurts. Loss is loss. Loss hurts.

This has bothered me. I think that the loss is true yet culture is not completely lost.

How? You still have the blood and that is built-in culture. (It's not erasable or removable.)

I think Native Adoptees have a different thought process that was not acknowledged or celebrated or honored when they were young. Non-Indian parents may not have appreciated how sensitive or funny or curious you were or if they did see it, they didn't say anything nice about it.

Girls who were strong tomboys like me were criticized and shy boys who were sensitive were bullied.

One thing to remember: non-Indians don't think Indian. You do. It's not their fault. We're very different in how we think.

Sit back and remember all the times as a child you made people laugh. Remember how much you loved animals. Remember what made you cry - like a sunset or sunrise. Remember how you gave thanks for life and all that is sacred, even if you were alone. Remember watching westerns on TV and rooting for the Indians?


We have a choice as an adoptee to return home and what I call "go full circle." It takes patience. It requires courage. It costs money. It demands you take time to learn and relearn and listen. This return to your culture may take years! (We still have the burden of closed adoption records in many states.)

Every culture will say it's people who carry the culture.

There is no culture better than another. That is true. But the culture of Indigenous People lives in your breath, bone and blood. If you exist, it exists.

Nothing, including adoption, can ever erase it.


Trace is the author of One Small Sacrifice, the book series Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects  and the creator of the blog American Indian Adoptees.

3 comments:

  1. It takes more Than just courage, it also takes great strength to withstand the rejection and exclusion that can come along with reconnecting. As the child of a white woman who was the victim of a crime and hen later adopted by her husband, my records are firmly sealed and I cannot prove my heritage despite establishing a connection with my grandparents. Coming back to my homeland required me to learn about the unique tribal history of my people as well as their modern political, spiritual, and social landscape. With this understanding I am able to have deep compassion for the still open wounds that cause me to be rejected rather than acknowledged and embraced. Through perseverance, empathy and strength I have sustained my spirit and now have the comfort of knowing that both my ancestors and my descendants are from this tribe. My first grandchild was born a member of his tribe, something that my daughter brought full circle through the choices made by both of us. It isn't always just about us, it is about the future generations.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, grandmother, yes. It requires a strength and comittment indeed.

    ReplyDelete

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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.

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

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ADOPTION TRUTH

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.