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»  Canada Adopts!   » Transracial Adoption   » Native children also have the right to parents

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Nicole73
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posted 12-12-2010 07:48 PM     Profile for Nicole73   Email Nicole73     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Native children also have the right to parents
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Opinion

Native children are languishing in state care in unthinkable numbers, far higher than ever lived in residential schools at any one time. Canada remains so traumatized by the “sixties scoop,” the widespread adoption of native children into white homes, that it allows the native children of today to grow up without a permanent home of their own.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other MPs listen as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. - Phil Fontaine, then National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations speaks in the House of Commons when the Harper government made its formal apology for residential schools. | REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Globe editorial
Native children also have the right to parents
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
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Native children are languishing in state care in unthinkable numbers, far higher than ever lived in residential schools at any one time. Canada remains so traumatized by the “sixties scoop,” the widespread adoption of native children into white homes, that it allows the native children of today to grow up without a permanent home of their own.
More related to this story

* Mary SimonEqual health care for all Canadian children
* Guardians living on reserves subject to screening
* Aboriginal day school survivors sue federal government

One answer is to permit some native children to be adopted into non-native homes. The right to a loving, nurturing and permanent family should be deemed at least as important as cultural considerations.

It will be said Canada has been down that road before – the road of cultural genocide, as Manitoba’s associate chief justice, Edwin Kimelman, termed it in his 1985 report, No Quiet Place. But why assume adoptions would inevitably be done as they were during the scoop years? Alone among provinces, Manitoba routinely sent children out of the province, and even the country, to be adopted. These adopted children were rarely told they had treaty rights. Their adoptive families were usually given no support or information on cultural matters. Today, adoptions often allow for contact between a family of origin and the adoptive family. The importance of cultural identity is widely recognized.

Some native leaders argue that most Canadians know little about native life, and have no points of contact with native communities. They say the programs that might support links between adoptive families and those communities do not (with some exceptions) exist. All, sadly, true. But that is because we – native and non-native – have not conceived of a need for such programs.

Is the deprivation suffered by a generation of children growing up in foster homes an improvement on “cultural genocide”? After the sixties scoop, the obligatory orphans?

The harm that residential schools did to children and families has resonated through the generations. At the schools’ peak in 1953 they held 11,090 students. Today, though native children represent about six per cent of all children, they are an estimated 30 to 40 per cent of children in care, or up to 31,200 children in all. What will be the effects of condemning so many to a parentless childhood, 20 years from now?

Mr. Kimelman recommended that the adoption of native children by non-native parents be a last resort. Truly, the situation of last resort has arrived. In Manitoba, an astonishing 87 per cent of the 9,120 children in care are native. Just 14 native children were placed for adoption in the 2009-10 fiscal year. (In the much smaller non-native group, 23 children were adopted.) Many children in care languish, bounce from home to home. The case of a native 14-year-old, Tracia Owen of Manitoba, who was moved 64 times before she hanged herself in 2005, is an extreme example of the despair that instability brings.

The bulk of the answer for these children needs to come from native communities: more emphasis on “kinship care” (relatives supported by foster-care payments), for instance, and on traditional forms of informal adoption known as “custom care.” Incredibly, federal funding has supported the apprehension of children on reserves, but not preventive work with their families. This approach is only now being reformed in several provinces, including Manitoba.

It is a bitter irony that, even as much of Canada implicitly forbids non-native adoptions of native children, many native children in care are growing up in non-native foster homes. So to the extent that cultural loss or identity is a problem, it is being felt already, but without the chance for many of those children to enjoy a permanent home.

In Britain, similar race- or culture-based policies are under attack. Children’s Minister Tim Loughton says a “good, loving, stable permanent home” should be the first consideration, ahead of a racial match. In Canada, Peter Dudding, head of the Child Welfare League of Canada, sees the best interests of native children in a similar way. “To provide permanency that is respectful of their identity and culture would be a reasonable approach responding to the needs of that child.” Although it may surprise some, Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, agrees, on the condition that the federal government close what she says is a $109-million gap in funding for native-run child-welfare agencies. “I’m not an absolutist. I think sometimes that can be a good solution for children.”

Feelings about the “scoop” are still raw in Manitoba, the province with the most extreme form of the practice, and the last to end it, in the early 1980s. “It is still very much an indictment of formal mainstream adoption among aboriginal peoples,” Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh says. Only last year, premier Gary Doer apologized in the Legislature for the pain inflicted on native peoples. The “best interests” of native children are now defined to make it nearly impossible to be adopted by a non-native family. But it is hard to imagine how a child’s best interests can be protected outside a permanent home.

This is the tragedy of Canada. Striving to avoid the wrongs of the past, we have inflicted new wrongs, of temporariness and a lack of nurturing, on the most vulnerable children. Unless we insist on the right of these children to permanent parents, future premiers may find themselves apologizing again, for lives ruined by yet another public policy failure.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/native-children-also-have-the-right-to-parents/article1833657/


Posts: 1967 | From: Toronto, Ontario | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
StarryEyes
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posted 03-02-2011 08:17 PM     Profile for StarryEyes   Email StarryEyes     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I am about to attend as a guest speaker at an adoption seminar. I, an aboriginal mother, am a mother of 2 boys, both aborignal. and I'm waiting to add a 3rd aboriginal child. This article came at a great time, because I really connect with much of what is being said here. I am pained by the loss of culture experienced by my people during the 60s, but loss of culture was not even the worst of what happened to my people (which is a discussion left for another forum). More than the pain of the history of my people, is the pain that I feel now seeing all the children of aboriginal heritage STUCK in the system. There has to be a balance somewhere. I know that there can be a home for all these beautiful children regardless of race of the parents. How do parents of children adopted from China, Honduras, Russia, etc. provide their children with a connection to their identities?
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michiek
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posted 03-02-2011 11:54 PM     Profile for michiek   Email michiek     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
We were very lucky to adopt an aboriginal child into our non-aboriginal house. The only reason we were able to is due to bill c-31 which is about to be overturned by bill c-3. Please note, I agree that bill c-31 was extremely flawed and bill c-3 may not be the total answer to this. This would be a whole nother topic.

I respect his culture and heritage and want him to know as much about it as possible. He is very new to our home (4 months) and is very young still (just about 2 years old) but I have been in contact with the Indian Friendship Centre to help me in making sure his culture and heritage is part of OUR everyday life. As a family, I think we can all do from learning. I love him to pieces and he is the cutest little thing in the whole wide world. His mother was in foster care and never adopted and we are glad that we were able to break the circle. I know there is a lot of hatred and I have experienced some dirtly looks from aboriginal people at time when I go out with my DS. I wish I could tell everyone that I am not looking to take away his heritage but be a part of it!!


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EYV
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posted 03-04-2011 01:19 PM     Profile for EYV   Email EYV     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
It really is such a terrible shame that Aboriginal children are caught in "the system". I can absolutely understand the trepidation felt by many communities that prevents them from feeling comfortable allowing these children to be adopted to non-Aboriginal families, but you're so right this is just another type of injustice being done to Aboriginal children in Canada. It WOULD be nice to find a middle ground.
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StarryEyes
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posted 03-12-2011 04:16 PM     Profile for StarryEyes   Email StarryEyes     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I posted on this subject in another adoption website, so will simply cut and paste my thoughts as follows:

Post 1: I see so many of the angles involved in this subject. If I had to answer from deep in my heart, I would say put kids with parents and don't worry about race. Give them a good life. If the parents are worth their placement, they will find a way to give the children the connection with the aboriginal community they need while also giving them a balanced home life and parents and a home forever. Forever first. Give the kids a chance to thrive and be loved and know that they are valued.

Post 2: I am an aboriginal woman, but that does not mean that I LIVE aboriginal. I'm just as North American as the next person. I grew up on reserve, but don't live near my ancestral home or my aboriginal family. My parents focus in my early life was about making us hard workers, respectful, joyful, well balanced people. My mother wanted to create children that were strong and that were a testiment to her mothering by being able to leave home one day and be good people on their own. Those are the values that I want to instill in my children also. But I did have some of the cultural experiences that non-aboriginal families don't have access to because of where I lived. Now that I am a mother of two aboriginal boys I, like non-aboriginal parents, have to work to get the cultural component for my boys. And there are other parents just like me in my community. We do what we can in home, but then have to rely on community events and net work to give them more. I take my boys to another town every Friday night so that they can be around other aboriginal children at a youth group. They learn language and drumming and singing and prayer and art. There are parents who bring their kids who are also adoptive parents but are not aboriginal. Like them it's work for me too, but a pleasure to do.

In every transracial relationship I think it is important for everyone to help the children receive cultural affection. To see their people, to eat their food, to sing their songs.... all races.

Forever First. Forever Always. Give them a home no matter what. Give them a place. Give them love and with that love give them themselves by letting them know who they are and where they came from and where they are going.

Forever First.


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JazzyBC
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posted 03-13-2011 02:28 PM     Profile for JazzyBC   Email JazzyBC     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Three cheers for Starry!

We come to have children who are not culturally the same as us through biology as well, and still are able to provide a culturally sensitive home for them. I have a biological son who is Metis. His father is not in his life, but his culture is.


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EYV
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posted 03-13-2011 11:41 PM     Profile for EYV   Email EYV     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Wonderful posts Starry Eyes. I think you've hit the nail right on the head. Too bad you're not in charge, eh?
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dougsmom
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posted 05-31-2011 01:32 AM     Profile for dougsmom   Email dougsmom     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I stumbled on this page tonight and wanted to share our experience. We adopted a child 15 years ago; were told he was possibly Metis..and through a variety of situations connected with a birth relative and found out he qualified for Treaty Status...to make a long story short I met his birth mom who was thrilled to know he was fine but was very clear I was his mom (which impressed the heck out of me) and although she was dying she ensured she got her Treaty Status so he could get his....he had the opportunity of meeting her before she passed and learned about his family of Aunties, a grandfather and mostly his bio sister - who ironically had her first baby on his birthday....anyway my issue is that although he has Treaty Status the Band he should belong to has denied him membership --we've applied 4X so far...very frustrating when we are prepared and work hard to connect him to his culture but his culture is rejecting him....seems Bands should be open and welcoming to all their members.
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EYV
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posted 05-31-2011 11:49 PM     Profile for EYV   Email EYV     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I'm so sorry this is happening to your family dougsmom... best of luck in getting this resolved. Keep us posted!
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Hopefulmomto3
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posted 07-20-2011 01:56 AM       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Starry Eyes I hope you don't mind I am going to PM you.

Thanks


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StarryEyes
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posted 07-20-2011 04:30 PM     Profile for StarryEyes   Email StarryEyes     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I don't mind at all.

PS - July 22 - I did reply to you via pm, but for some reason this system never gives anyone notice of PM's. Have a look if you haven't already.


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StarryEyes
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posted 11-05-2011 11:56 AM     Profile for StarryEyes   Email StarryEyes     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I just reposted this article on my facebook as part of adoption awareness month. I am taking this month to see what I can do in my own community to bring awareness to aboriginal adoption. Maybe, just maybe, it will inspire one person to make a change in the life of one kid in BC through adoption. If not by adoption, maybe the voices of my people will help with the change as well.
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EYV
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posted 11-07-2011 09:25 AM     Profile for EYV   Email EYV     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Thanks for bringing this thread back to the fore Starry. Something that popped into my head while re-reading this article today was that there seems to be a discrepancy among provinces as to how they handle the adoption of Aboriginal children to non-Aboriginal homes. Does anyone have any thoughts or experiences they'd be willing to share, for the purposes of educating the masses, on this subject?
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Deborah
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posted 11-07-2011 04:35 PM     Profile for Deborah   Email Deborah     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I don't have any insight, but this is precisely one of the reasons why adoption practices/legislation needs more consistency, nationally. This not only applies to aboriginal adoptions but in ALL adoptions.One of the things in my role at the ACC will be to delve into this issue. It is one ( of many) that I am particularly passionate about. It frustrates me to no end that beurocracy keeps kids in the uncertainty of foster care while people that can make positive changes natter on...
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michiek
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posted 11-07-2011 05:49 PM     Profile for michiek   Email michiek     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Cheers to the people on the forum. If the world was as open minded and respectful of culture and religion as the people on this board, imagine the place we would live in. I love this board.

Forever first. Forever Always. I love this Starry and hope you don't mind if I use it. It is the perfect words. You words are amazing to me and I am so happy I get to read them on this board.


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Hopeful65
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posted 02-15-2012 11:08 AM     Profile for Hopeful65   Email Hopeful65     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Hi, I am new to this site, but have found this thread extremely interesting and helpful. I'm hoping that some of you might like to weigh in on my situation. I teach in Nunavik, Quebec. I am currently fostering a 2 year old Inuit girl. My partner and I have fallen in love with her and are heart broken by her situation of constantly being moved from one foster home to the next and seeing her parents for a couple of hours a day on the days they feel like seeing her. In addition to this, being teachers, we have seen what can become of these foster children as they grow up this way in their communities. Because of this, we are seriously considering adoption, but are terrified that it will not be allowed because we are non-native. I have tried to find information about it online, but find there is not a lot out there. Any opinions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm so glad to have found this thread!
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EYV
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posted 02-16-2012 09:53 AM     Profile for EYV   Email EYV     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Your best bet would be to speak with your worker about your thoughts regarding this little one's permanence situation, and see what s/he has to say about your little one's situation.

It may be easier than you think, if you're open to legal risk especially, to foster-to-adopt this child or come up with some other arrangement that will satisfy the ministry in your province and the band officials.

Once you have more specific information, from your worker, you'll have a better idea of where you stand.


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Be Yourself
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posted 03-23-2012 06:33 PM     Profile for Be Yourself   Email Be Yourself     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
After relocating to Manitoba from Ontario last summer (my husband is military), we have had the number of children we may be a match for drastically reduced.

"In Manitoba, an astonishing 87 per cent of the 9,120 children in care are native. Just 14 native children were placed for adoption in the 2009-10 fiscal year. (In the much smaller non-native group, 23 children were adopted.)"

Two weeks ago our social worker advised there were only three children in the whole province fitting our age range (10+) due to our inability to adopt native children. After further discussion, none would be a match. I wouldn't mind this so much if there just weren't children available but to know many are available but only to others is really upsetting.

I have inquired about a particular child in Ontario but due to the age range we are looking for, there is much hesitation to even consider moving him away from his community. Same for one boy in Alberta. Our only possible option are those listed on Canada's Waiting Children website, however, none seem to be a match. Our social worker is also concerned that due to being new to the area we don't have the support network we would need to adopt an older child.

We are still in shock of all the new developments and very close to loosing the dream of adoption simply because we are in Manitoba.


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Deborah
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posted 03-23-2012 07:31 PM     Profile for Deborah   Email Deborah     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
this just should not happen...there are about 30,000 children and youth available for adoption across our country...I do not know the percentage of this number who are native. The Adoption Council of Canada is working to try to solve this unacceptable state of affairs...it is appalling...I am so sorry to hear about your situation... :e
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NS_parent
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posted 03-23-2012 07:49 PM     Profile for NS_parent   Email NS_parent     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
<<It is a bitter irony that, even as much of Canada implicitly forbids non-native adoptions of native children, many native children in care are growing up in non-native foster homes. So to the extent that cultural loss or identity is a problem, it is being felt already, but without the chance for many of those children to enjoy a permanent home.>>

There is something so sad and wrong about this. We would adopt a non-caucasian child in an instant, but got the impression during pride training that about the only way to become culturally competent was to be reborn in a diferent race. Without living the experience of racism we couldn't help a child through life. The pendulum has swung too far the other way.


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StarryEyes
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posted 03-24-2012 12:29 PM     Profile for StarryEyes   Email StarryEyes     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I am starting to get the impression that despite the great numbers of first nation children in the system there are not actually that many available for adoption. And the reason I see this being is that the children are so tied up with the politics of their Bands. Even if the "Ministies" in charge of the children's care want to find forever homes for the kids - First nation homes or not - the Bands of those children will not release them.

If it had not been for my Big Boy's amazing Social Worker he would not have been matched with us. I am a first nation woman. And even with that kind of match for him, she had to push his Band to understand what an amazing chance he had for a future with a forever family. I hold her in such high regard. She believed in us and in him. We need more workers like her, but we also need the Bands to see that the kids need forever.

This little brown girl can dream.


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gandeluv
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posted 03-24-2012 08:23 PM     Profile for gandeluv   Email gandeluv     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Well, just a warning: I am about to have a pity party here for myself! Sorry! From my side, things aren't much better(meaning quicker or easier) even though we have aboriginal heritage. My husband is Metis, and we have been homestudy approved for close to a year. We have VERY few restrictions on our acceptance range. Apparently, there is not a single Metis or aboriginal child in our entire province that matches us! I find this hard to believe. It's all so frustrating! There, end rant!
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k8swirl
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posted 03-24-2012 09:45 PM     Profile for k8swirl   Email k8swirl     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
My partner has a theory that the only way things will change is if those kids who grow up in care (while there are plenty of approved adoptive families) need to get together when they age out, and start class action suits against the provincial gov'ts who let red tape and politics (and let's face it, power tripping) win out over kid's right to grow up in a forever family.
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gandeluv
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posted 03-24-2012 11:08 PM     Profile for gandeluv   Email gandeluv     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Love that idea k8swirl! I've never thought about the fact that these children may not even know that there are families out there that would love to give them a forever family. They may think that there are no families, or that there are no families that want them. When in reality, we desperately want them, but politics stops it from happening. These children deserve to know that they were wanted, and either their band or government prevented them from having families. When these children grow up, they should be able to hold someone accountable!
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Deborah
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posted 03-25-2012 08:49 AM     Profile for Deborah   Email Deborah     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
The ACC is working on finding these children a voice...We've started " Youth SpeakOut" trainings and networks in Ontario, and are in plans to do the same in other provinces. The youth in care themselves, have the power to change idealogy and legislation. Check out our new website and initiatives including Youth SpeakOut at www.adoption.ca. Help support our work by becoming a member of the Adoption Council of Canada today...I can promise you that we are working hard to try to make progress in this area...Deborah.
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