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I'm skeptical of a claim made in an Indian Country Today article about adoptions of Indian kids from North Dakota

September 6, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Is the Indian Child Welfare Act being ignored in adoptions of American Indian children from North Dakota?

My curiosity was piqued when I saw a reference to North Dakota in a story that ran last week in Indian Country Today about an ongoing dispute over the attempted adoption of a Shawnee baby from Oklahoma. Her mother is Shawnee; her father, who is white, is citing the Indian Child Welfare Act in his fight to prevent the adoption of the baby by a South Carolina couple. Here is a link to the article: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/27/underbelly-us-adoption-industry-trafficking-native-children-151006

In the same article, the reporter claims that an unidentified lawyer made the claim that another South Carolina lawyer told him that he placed "upwards of 50 Native American children from North Dakota" last year alone. The lawyer also supposedly made the explosive claim that Indian children are easier to place, "because they're lighter-skinned." The article makes the claim that lawyers nationwide are making large amounts of money arranging the private adoptions of Indian children.

The article didn't go into further detail about these supposed adoptions and I haven't been able to locate contact information for the reporter, Suzette Brewer. Was the lawyer talking about the adoptions of older American Indian children from foster care, perhaps, or claiming that women from North Dakota have traveled out of state and he has arranged for the private adoption of their American Indian children by white families outside North Dakota? Are the children being referred to perhaps Indian by descent, but not necessarily enough Indian to qualify for tribal membership?

The federal Indian Child Welfare Act requires that the child's tribe be notified if an adoption is being considered or if the child has been placed in foster care. Efforts are supposed to be made to preserve an Indian family or, failing that, to place the child with relatives or other tribal members. There are cases when tribes consent to an Indian child's adoption by white foster parents or a white adoptive couple, but they are usually given jurisdiction to decide those matters.

I'm also skeptical of the claim made in the Indian Country Today article that as many as 50 American Indian kids from this state were adopted in the last year, simply because this is such a small state and that would be a huge percentage of the Indian kids who are born here in any given year. If a child is born to a member of a North Dakota tribe outside the state and placed for adoption, the tribe is supposed to be notified and given the opportunity to intervene in the case. Could that many Indian kids from here really be adopted nationwide without the tribes noticing? I kind of doubt it. Perhaps she is talking about South Dakota instead.

For the record, the North Dakota Department of Human Services said there were 206 total adoptions in North Dakota in 2012. Of those, 115 were of children with special needs, likely from the foster care system. Of those, 84 children were white, 25 were American Indian and six were black. There were 35 infant adoptions, of which 32 babies were white, two were American Indian and one was black. There were three international adoptions, all of children from Asian countries. The agency did not provide the race of the adoptive parents, but I imagine that a significant number of adoptive parents of American Indian children in the state are also American Indian. There were also 52 adoptions by stepparents. The agency doesn't keep track of the race of children adopted by a stepparent. I don't count 50 American Indian kids in those figures.

 
 

Article Comments

(9)

Desireeee

Oct-15-13 6:41 AM

I'm talking about Baby Veronica.

I do not know the truth about Baby Desaray.

Desireeee

Oct-15-13 6:40 AM

pardon my errors in my spelling below,

but please people. Stop being so deluded by the Cherokee allure and the family myth stories.

There is no minority/Native family being taken away here. Both families are WHITE.

The law protecting Indian children does NOT APPLY here, and thankgoodness the government/court system did NOT allow this to be Native vs White issue, and pointing out the low blood quantum..

Desireeee

Oct-15-13 6:36 AM

What do you people not get, he is NOT NATIVE. NO NATIVE WOULD EVER SEE HIM OR HIS DAUGHTER AS NATIVE!

1.2% ancestry or 3/256th is nonexistent and frankly not even there anymore for anyone to claim.

Please stop the ridicilus low percentage claims for exotcness or benefits, you are a JOKE, and an EMBARASSMENT to the Native comment, and to anyone who still does not get it,

CAN ANY OF YOU DO MATH? DO ANY OF YOU CONSIDER ANOTHER RACIAL GROUP IF THEY HAVE 3/256th OF ANYTHING ELSE BESIDE THEIR 99% BLOOD ? WHY NATIVE BLOOD? EDUCATE YOURSELVES PLEASE, AND STOP THE WANNABES.

DUSTEN BROWN WILL FOREVER BE A WHITEMAN!

Desireeee

Oct-15-13 6:32 AM

I think anyone should be skeptical in theses claims, espically since in Veronica's case, is 99% white. Not Native, not close to being Native, and never will be close to being Native.

He is only being called Cherokee being the Cherokee nation has such LOW standards of enrollment, that aslong as they show one ancester, even if they are 1/1000th, they will let anyone in, and that is why the chief, and everyone and their dog belonging to that tribe, and random Americans, all claim Cherokee heritage.

Anyone who finds anything racist with blood quantum, or the government tracking blood lines, are usually white or blacks with almost zero ancestry.

The Cherokee nation has become a joke.

Dusten brown nor his daughter would ever been seen as Native or minority group, if the Cherokee nation has not supported this goof, and shame on them for trying to cover there butts and to media outlets/commenters who keep believing he is Native or part Native.

Dempsey

Sep-22-13 12:59 AM

Time Magazine also ran a feature story in 1984 entitled “Newborn Fever—Flocking to an Adoption Mecca" ... sadly it seems as though sC has long been the state to run to for a quickie private adoption :(

Dempsey

Sep-22-13 12:59 AM

Time Magazine also ran a feature story in 1984 entitled “Newborn Fever—Flocking to an Adoption Mecca" ... sadly it seems as though sC has long been the state to run to for a quickie private adoption :(

Dempsey

Sep-22-13 12:39 AM

The comment was made in an article in 2008, I am trying to find the link. It was about the SC lawyer in the Baby Veronica case, who is also teh lawyer in the other SC contested adoption of Baby Desaray whose mother is Shawnee.

AndreaJohnson

Sep-08-13 5:21 PM

I suggest you read the article linked in the blog entry. This particular story was about a baby born in June whose mother is a member of the Shawnee tribe and whose father is white. It's a different case than the Baby Veronica case, which I wrote about earlier this summer.

cqtrmy3

Sep-08-13 10:30 AM

The case you are referring to is "The Baby Veronica Case." Your facts are wrong about the parents. The mother is not native. It is the father who is part Cherokee not Shawnee, two totally different tribes.

 
 

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