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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 https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .

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Sunday, August 28, 2022

"The Trauma and Tragedy of Breaking Up Families via Adoption" #WhyICWAMatters


By Minnesota Adoptee

Being removed from biological family is trauma.  In my first family, it happened to every child at different ages.  It leaves a deep wound and a separation from our relatives who are like us.  They look like us, they have mannerisms like us, they have ancestors who are like us.  With our Indigenous heritage, we lost the connection to our culture as well, and are floating between two worlds not fitting into either one.

It took decades for me and my siblings to find each other again.  To start with, the adoption agency had some incorrect information about birth family.  And I was told I was removed from my mother’s care when I was a newborn, but it was not true, and she actually had taken me home for several months.  I became a ward of the state and I was also in foster care for some months until I was adopted.  It was clear I was not the top class of available adoptable children, not newborn and first mother with severe mental health problems.

For those reasons the agency may have let me go to a family that said they were only adopting to have help.  Help with a blind brother who was a natural child of theirs, help with adoptive mother’s diabetes, help with housework and yardwork.  My adoptive father later laughed about this being naïve when they went in looking for a child only for their own needs.  Then he told me they did not know they couldn’t bond to someone else’s child and did not love me.  They were told they had a one-year trial period and could give me back if it didn’t work out.  They seriously considered it.  They were very abrupt.  But then they were also abusive in so many ways.  I often wondered if I would have been better off with my first family.

My siblings had similar stories.  Next born was my brother.  Our mother signed relinquishment papers and he became a ward of the state when he was just under a month old.  He grew up in foster care and was not adopted.  Though there was one family he thought were his ‘real’ parents, and one morning when he was about 5 years old, his suitcase and shoes were by the door, and his ‘mother’ told him he would be going to another family home.  That was the most traumatic part of his childhood.  He lost a mother, father and brother (their own), he felt loved there and didn’t know what he had done wrong.  He had seizures however, and we guessed that they couldn’t handle that.  He died when he was 38 of a seizure.  I often think he would have lived longer if he had a permanent home.

Next my two sisters lived with our first family for a year and a half to two years. They were removed to foster care and, in the records, it says they were neglected. Our first parents did not visit them, then after about a year, our mother went to see them and they cowered behind the foster parent and appeared afraid of her.  They were placed together in an adoptive home.

Finally, our youngest sister was born in our family’s apartment, an ambulance was called, and she was apparently not taken home again.  Her history is the most obscure of any of us.

It took decades to find each other.  My brother and I found each other coincidentally by contacting the same search person.  Our last name was unusual, and so she thought he might be my brother.  His birth certificate was not altered, so when he got it, I could see we were siblings.  Our mother also signed so I could get my original birth certificate too, and everything matched up perfectly.  We were so happy to have a biological sibling.  For many years we had him join my husband, daughter and me for holidays. It was wonderful.

The others took longer, though I met our 3rd sibling for a few minutes when the state contacted me about her.  It’s really a blur, because it seemed so unreal that there were more siblings.  I learned that she had grown up with our 4th sibling, a sister.

Then when I was living in Europe after our daughter was grown, our 5th sister called me and said her son was being checked for a genetic condition and the state gave her my name and contact information because of the serious nature of the condition. She had grown up in Germany with her adoptive family and couldn’t believe I was now living there in the area she felt was home.

It was a strange and twisted story, but it meant that we all grew up in very different families, with different culture and values than our first family.  We missed out on connections to relatives and our tribe.  And for some of us even lacking the recognition that we all have Indigenous heritage from both sides of our birth family.

We were welcomed home in a wonderful ceremony and teachings from tribal members.  Though only two of five siblings had that opportunity.  It was one way to heal.

Being taken from our first family was a traumatic loss that we have spent most of our lives working to heal.  It’s been stressful and difficult to make connections with relatives, our tribe, and even with siblings at times.  Because we feel like outsiders to them and to ourselves.

This is why ICWA Indian Child Welfare Act is an important law even now.    

***

If you wish to contribute a story to Why ICWA Matters, please email tracelara@pm.me and we will publish it on this website.

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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.

no arrests?

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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.

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Did you know?
lakota.cc/16I9p4D

Did you know?

New York’s 40-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to ALL New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12. According to the 2020 Census, 3.6% of Colorado's population is American Indian or Alaska Native, at least in part, with the descendants of at least 200 tribal nations living in the Denver metro area.

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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.

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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