Adoption and Foster Care Linked to Assimilation of Native Children

Baby Veronica’s case, shows a little Native girl placed up for adoption by her mother, a Caucasian, after breaking off the engagement with Veronica’s father. A Cherokee nation native, her father had a right to be notified of the placement. Due to misinformation he was not notified until well into the process. The Indian Child Welfare Act was initiated in 1978. The act was passed to give Indian nations and tribes the right to decide with whom and the location of placement for Native children. This piece of legislation still has yet to be fully enforced.

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Angela Davis Reading

After reading, Angela Davis on “Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights,” I began thinking how I see my reproductive rights from a working-class, white woman with the hard earned opportunity to be educated at an elite school. My personal access to birth control or reproductive rights has only been questioned on one occasion, by an arrogant white male physician, who thought it unimportant to give dignity in caring for a poor, white, unmarried, pregnant girl. His poor medical practice caused me to lose a baby to miscarriage. I was stripped of my agency to decide for my own future with or without a baby.
Angela Davis, gives an account of the history of birth control. She highlights the facts that white middle/upper class women have always had different reasons for wanting birth control and abortion rights than black, native, immigrant and poor women. Black, native, immigrant and poor women have needed birth control and abortions as a necessity to limit the suffering of their socio-economic situation, to be able to decide for themselves what is appropriate. While white middle/upper class women have wanted the luxuries just to be able to chose as a fundamental right. Both reasons are essential to each class of women for the pursuit of happiness, but clearly the push for equality is set in different context. White women of the middle/upper class have been called to reproduce the next generation of heirs to this country of ours. While black, native, poor and immigrant women are described as “unfit” to produce and mother because they are still not fully recognized as humans; the ugly remnants of conquest and degradation are still being felt. Not treated humanely but called to “a moral obligation to restrict the size of their families” (210), to fix unemployment and economic failings. Access to abortion has been restricted to those who can afford it and sterilization forced as an only option to women of color and the poor. How can a race, class, or gender be called to a “moral obligation” when survival is being denied? How can it be asked of a race or class to submit help that has made them invisible through attempts at genocide? How can the abortion and reproductive rights issues be answered when a discussion is one sided and basic needs are rendered irrelevant?
My Blackness Goes Before Me: A Poem and Commentary on Racism and Reproductive Justice

by Cheryl Gittens-Jones

A steady anger burns within me
Welling up from deep
Deep inside
Three-fifths of a human being
The sacred constitution of the
Red, white and blue
Walking into a room
My blackness goes
My blackness goes
Goes before me
Those of the majority
Not all
Not few
But many
Still do not see
See me as
Not as mother
Of a beautiful almond eyed
Sepia skinned
Baby girl
Not as graduate
Ivy league
Not as wife
As I
As Me
Someone whose life is
Just as significant
Three-fifths of a human being
The sacred
Sacred constitution of the
The red, white
Red, white and blue
Not removed
Still written in
Indelible ink
To be read
When I walk in
Into a room in my blackness
Precedes me
You see not I
Not mother
Not woman
Not wife
Nothing has changed
So many things locked in
Passive aggressiveness
Intellectual sarcasm
Impoverished ignorance
Blatant Alienation
Little has changed
I am
Black and living next door
Behind the same white
Picket fence
Enduring bleached smiles
But not with
A steady anger
Burns within me
Welling up from deep
Deep inside
Three-fifths of a human being
The sacred constitution
Of the red, white, and blue
Blackness walking
Walking into
Into the room before me

Adoption and Foster Care of Native American Children

Considering the vast number of children in the foster care system in the United States, it is not surprising that it is an issue that has many variables and is often fraught with tension, anxiety and stress not only for the natural parents, foster/adoptive parents, but ultimately the children.  It is amazing to me that state and government officials can not only make uninformed decisions about family ties to remove a child from its home, assign temporary living arrangements, terminate parental rights, and place for adoption, but do so without consideration of race, ethnicity, and heritage.  While it is important to protect the innocent from neglect and abuse; it is equally important to understand the dynamics that placing children with parents who can not cope with racial discrimination that children of color may encounter as they develop.  Not to mention lost identity issues that arise from losing ones connection to a Native tribe.  Adopting two boys through the state system of child protective services after seven years of red tape and “chances.”  I know first hand how “protection” for the children works. Unlike many children, the boys I adopted were relatives and had been placed in multiple homes including mine before the adoption was finalized.  Race or ethnicity was not an issue, nor was class so these current cases along with statistics highlight the fact that while white children are placed it is often children of color who are removed more frequently and placed more permenately outside their family of origin.  These children are often seperated from siblings and extended family members.

Little Girl Veroncia, a Native American from South Carolina, is already being juggled by a system that both ignores her rights as an individual, but also a Native American who will grow to be a woman whom people who have no knowledge or understanding of how her identity will be affected through loss of cultural connection to her tribe.

Part of the problem is instigated by the foster care system in South Dakota, once placed in foster care they are often placed in an adoption situation.  Not only does the foster parents receive financial compensation but the state recieves federal fund to  remove children from their family homes. This is another way of exstinquishing a population of peoples of color, it may not be through open violence but is done through the exstermination of identity and cultural loss.  The macro institution of dominance and power is affecting the outcome of a Nation and its people on an individual level.

Native American Rights Fund is a non-profit law firm helping tribes with legal issues. This is where I found some information about Native laws and tribal rights.  Some of the definitions of the laws seem either contridictory or ambigious. I found more information than I was able to digest regarding many issues. The issues of the Indian Child Welfare Act has multiple pages that cover removal, placement, reassignment, termination of parental rights and tribal rights to Native children.  The cover of their brochure explaining the Indian Child Welfare Act is poignant.

I hope I have been informative and given insight to ponder. (Sorry about the web URL’s, I was unable to figure out how to use the link button)




Isabel’s Post: Andrea Smith

I’m not sure if I’m posting in the right place? Someone please help if so!

The video does address aboriginal women in the context of violence, and seems to focus on the domestic violence issue.  If this is where the violence is taking place, then I think it should focus on the aboriginal family and the issues that are causing this violence.  Although I do believe the issue of domestic violence in Native families is a product colonization and its dehumanizing impact.  The video does not appeal to me as being effective, while naming facts and figures and calls for action, it gives no resources or solutions. The video also defines violence, but it also seems lack a definition of some of those points. I also would like to know if the violence is taking place in the domestic space are the people affected by the women affected by the violence or their perpetrators seeing the video? Who is the audience?