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Friday, November 3, 2023

Orphan Trauma: I didn't know

By Trace L Hentz (blog editor and adoptee)

Part 2: Adoption Awareness Month: Orphan Trauma I didn't know

or·phan    (ôr f n)

Deprived of parents. Intended for orphans: an orphan home. Lacking support, supervision, or care. Affecting so few people that the development of treatment is neglected or abandoned for being unprofitable: an orphan disease. ETYMOLOGY:
Middle English, from Late Latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos, orphaned

trau·ma    (trô m , trou -)

A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident. An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis. An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption. ETYMOLOGY: Greek

My problem is secrecy. I believe that perpetually secret adoptions assure un-accountability and lack of transparency. And secret adoptions are only the tip of the iceberg. The secrecy permeates the process: secret identities, secret parents, secret records, secret foster care providers, secret social workers, secret judges and lawyers (all their identities are sealed, typically), secret physicians, secret statistics and, in the case of some adoption-oriented organizations, secret budgets and secret boards of directors. In any social practice, when people in positions of power hide behind masks, one can be pretty sure that they have something to hide.”

Albert S. Wei, Special Advisor to the Bastard Nation Executive Committee

The Indian survived our open intention of wiping them out. And since the tide turned they have even weathered our good intentions toward them, which can be more deadly.”
- John Steinbeck,
America and Americans

I didn't have a clue about any of this growing up.

When I get older: I ask myself, where is the missing piece …where is the voice of the adopted… what happens to the adoptee?  Honestly, there are very few orphans.  Most children have a relative, or a mom or dad.  Yes, after war, there are some orphans but your community (and country) is still your family, your kin.

I didn’t know the trauma of my being adopted was a problem, the real culprit.  In real life, adoptees who have been to a counselor for behavioral/emotional problems: 41% adopted as infants; 45% adopted from another country; 54% adopted from foster care. (Source: Illinois State University: A Comparative Study of Child Welfare Adoptions and Other Types of Adopted Children and Birth Children (2004)

In the last 50 years, adoption globally is widely publicized, with November as Awareness Month, and is still touted as noble, saving kids and particularly saintly of those men and women who adopt, who give so generously to orphans, all over the world.  That’s about all we hear: how great it is to adopt. 

That is how propaganda works: also why it's a billion dollar adoption industry! 

In 2004 I decided to write about my experience (as an adoption survivor and journalist) and include other American Indians who experienced being adopted. I found much more going on with the business of adoption, so I included it in my memoir ONE SMALL SACRIFICE.  Certainly this was a controversial book on adoption since I was often in a state of shock and utter disbelief during my years of research.

Indian child removals by adoption set out to accomplish the break-up of Indian families and culture.  Once adopted, you’re erased, an outsider, a stranger to your own nation, lands and people. I prefer to think of my younger self as brainwashed. There was fear and emotional illness, which I explain.

What is known about the Indian Adoption Projects and the aftermath, few books actually acknowledge it happened here. (Erasing this is also part of propaganda.)

There is persistent rampant poverty in Indian Country even now. Poverty is a tool, and so is assimilation/adoption. I found out Indian people were white-washed through strenuous puritanical forces using assimilation via adoption and boarding schools. Torture? Yes.

Adoptees with Indian blood find out soon enough their reservations are closed to strangers. Without proof, you’re suspect.  You can’t always get the proof since laws prevent it. 

You need that OBC: Original birth certificate. Most states have them locked up.

Associate Attorney General Tony West Delivers Remarks at the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s 32nd Annual Protecting Our Children Conference ~ Monday, April 14, 2014

 "...There's more work to do because every time an Indian child is removed in violation of ICWA, it can mean a loss of all connection with family, with tribe, with culture.  And with that loss, studies show, comes an increased risk for mental health challenges, homelessness in later life, and, tragically, suicide."

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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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