The Sixties Scoop thirty years later.
A RAPID INCREASE IN NATIVE ADOPTION BY WHITES FOLLOWED THE CLOSING OF residential schools for Native children, in 1951, the federal government amended the Indian Act, delegating responsibility for Aboriginal health and Welfare to the provinces. By the late 1970s, "as many as one in three status Indian or Metis children were removed -- at least temporarily -- from their homes. In some provinces, one in two spent a childhood as a permanent Ward of the government. Many were adopted into white homes" (Ottawa Citizen, April 18, 1998).
Native activists and others refer to this frenzy of custody and adoption as the "Sixties Scoop." Depending on one's point of view, it was a necessary response to alcoholism and child abuse on Native reserves; well-intentioned but a fiasco in its application; or the wrenching of children away from good families in a continuance of federal and provincial government policies of forced assimilation or genocide.
Statistics are hard to gather. There are Native adoptees who speak positively and gratefully of their experience with white adoptive parents, but there seem to be a great many more horror stories: of physical and sexual abuse by adoptive parents; of racism from schoolmates and from (adoptive) family relatives. Further, there seems to have been little awareness of the possible presence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effect, or, as one the round-table participants points out, of Reactive Attachment Disorder, said to result from children not bonding properly in their very early years.
A more general problem seems to have been the complete absence of preparation of prospective adoptive parents for the almost inevitable difficulties of raising a visibly different child in a heterogeneous milieu. People adopting children from Asia or Latin America, a phenomenon that has grown rapidly since the eighties, are now strongly advised to involve their children in their cultures of origin. This was, through ignorance or design, apparently not the case for Native adoptees.
By the mid-1980s, under pressure from Native organizations and following a number of provincial inquiries, white adoption of Native children had more or less ended. As a result, more Native children are now under state or short-term foster care; few would argue that either is an improvement on adoption.
This Inroads roundtable includes four people, participants in an organization called Advocacy for Native Adoptees. This roundtable differs from those in previous issues due to the sensitivity of the issues discussed. As a result, names have been changed, as have details that might identify a participant. Where necessary, such changes have been indicated by [square brackets].
The four participants are between 25 and 32 years of age and were originally from a variety of First Nations in different parts of the country. All were adopted by white families resident in Montreal. One of the participants is employed in computer design, one works in a native shelter, one is a student, one works in the area of Native culture and religion. Two are married and have children.
The following is an edited version of a discussion that took place, in Montreal, on January 24, 2001. I am extremely grateful to the participants for allowing me, briefly, into their lives.
INROADS: Tell me about Advocacy for Native Adoptees (ANA).
BOB: We started ANA because it was needed. We had a local program, here in Montreal, where we would share resources and try to come up with programming that would help us get back to our culture or community. We also wanted it to be a national group to advocate for Native adoptees, and to let Native people know what happened to us. A lot of our own people don't know about adoption and what happened and the scale that it happened. We started advocating politically to get some of our rights back. A lot of our rights have been lost. We tried to get the rights of adoptees known and help people acquire their status cards, and help people get back to their communities -- a repatriation service. Our vision was to help people go through the channels that were established and develop other channels that hadn't been established -- to try to bypass a lot of the government red tape that's out there when it comes to finding your parents.
ANNE MARIE: I was there at the inception of the group. It was basically a support group, but it became more and more political. There was a board of directors, and people wanted to be the president and vice-president. It became too much about position rather than action, so I left. At that point I was in the middle of looking for my parents. I had talked to other Native adoptees who were also looking for their parents. I wanted the group to be about what Bob was talking about -- cutting through red tape and finding Native people's families and helping them reconnect with their communities.
BARBARA: We all had ideas about what the group should do and some of us left because we couldn't cooperate.
BOB: There was a lot of conflict. People had agendas and some of us felt that issues weren't being addressed. I believe that adoption was part of the government's plan of cultural assimilation and genocide. It wasn't done in the best interests of the child. The social services say that the child's interests are always taken into account, but I don't see it in what happened. No criteria were ever formed. And it happened on such a large scale, but statistics are hard to get.
BARBARA: When I came to the group, I thought there were a lot of issues we should address. I felt it wasn't very productive to have presidents and people vying for positions. We tried to discuss different ideas but nothing seemed to materialize, so I lost patience with it. I was trying to push a lot of ideas about what we should do, but I think I just shouldn't have worried about it too much.
JACK: When we first sat down, we decided there wasn't going to be a president. We were all equal because that's what we believed was a traditional Native setting.
BOB: It's been non-stop growing pains. The Aboriginal Workforce Association of Montreal sponsored us and gave us a free office. We had an employee - I don't know if she was a total twit or a genius at slacking, but she knew all her rights, all the labour laws, and we ended up without an employee. We didn't have the proper mechanisms to give it a proper direction. It divided us. My perception is that a lot of people in our group were still going though issues about adoption. People were going through different things: coming back to the Native community, fitting in, dealing with bad adoptions. Some of us had a good childhood but experienced other negative things. All these issues kept coming to the table and cluttering things.
INROADS: What was most important about the group?
BOB: For me it was finding out that adoption was such an issue. I thought it was just an issue for me.
JACK: For me it was knowing that there were other Native adoptees out there with similar experiences. And socializing with them probably made me a better person. I'm not being prejudiced, but being around white people or French people or any other person is a different experience. When I meet another Native person, I'll walk up to them and say, "Hi, where are you from?" With any other nationality, it's like being in the metro where you don't smile or anything.
INROADS: Did you know Native people before you joined the group?
JACK: A few. But I didn't even know what a Native was until 1 was 13 or 14.
ANNE MARIE: I didn't meet a Native person until 1 was 18 -- or if I had I didn't know it. People ask me if I would have rather grown up in the Native community and I want to say yes, but I can't, because you can't live dual lives and compare them, you can't say that one is better than another. But it was rough. The whole time I was in elementary school they called me "contaminated" -- that was my name for five years. I knew it was negative, but I didn't make the connection with racism until high school. But until I went to the Native friendship centre, I had never been with another Native or Inuit woman or man.
INROADS: When did you find out you were Native?
ANNE MARIE: Growing up, I always knew. My parents told me. But I had a Jewish name so I had this dual -- I didn't fit into anywhere, really.
BOB: When I was a teenager, 90 per cent of my best friends were adopted.
INROADS: Native adoptees?
BOB: No, just adopted.
BARBARA: It compounds the issue when you're Native because so much of our history has been silenced. What happened to Native people is pretty much like genocide. When you're Native and adopted you have a double history. You're caught in a double cultural bind. On top of that, if you get adopted into a family where the circumstances aren't very good -- that was my case. I'm realizing now how bad it was for me. When you're a child you don't realize until after. But coming into white society from the reserve, never seeing other Native people, not having anyone to bond with and to say, "This is who you are" and "Be proud of your culture and your heritage" -- its very hard. My family didn't understand that so they couldn't support me. I feel like I was made into a vulnerable person because of that. I'm trying to get stronger now. But it's not easy
INROADS: How many of you would say that you came from families that were...
ANNE MARIE: Dysfunctional families?
JACK: I went through physical and sexual abuse in my adoptive family It messed me up for a long, long time. I didn't know how to deal with it. I got angry like that [snap]. Trying to socialize or interact was difficult because 1 was so withdrawn. I was tight and unbalanced, almost. It was a great injustice that was done. I wanted to tell the world what happened - "Listen to me because I have something to say and I want to say it" - but when I was younger I couldn't say those things. My adoption was a bad adoption. I was only in my family for about six years, from five to eleven. I was thrown into the system. I wasn't a bad kid. I just acted differently after the abuse - I started withdrawing. I got thrown into the youth protection system. And watching the leaders of that system, all the older guys, all the cool guys - eventually going from a kid that never did anything to a kid that's stealing cars and stealing from stores. It was so wrong. Sure, I'll take some of the blame, but I wanted some kind of action. I thought the advocacy was there for that specific reason. I wanted us to get lawyers, I wanted some sort of payback, but it didn't work out. I'm almost over that. I've dealt with authority figures, I've dealt with child molesters, I've dealt with all sorts of things. I don't fully understand it, but I've learned to live with it.
ANNE MARIE: I've never met one Native adoptee who has the perfect life. Never. I've never met anybody who escaped from abuse. There are seven of us in my biological family. We were all taken away, and all of us were abused by our adopted families. All of us. My oldest brother was beaten as a child every day of his life. My older sisters were also abused - atrocious stuff that people don't believe. I suffered sexual abuse for nine years of my life, until I was 16. It just messes up who you are, how you are in relationships, how you are with people. I've learned to talk about it in a very intellectual way. It's the only way I know how to handle it right now - besides drinking.
BOB: I have no complaints about my family. I love my parents and I know they love me. And I had a good childhood. I had everything I needed. There was no kind of abuse. But as far as I can remember, I've always been in trouble and it just got bigger and bigger. I always felt I was different. I got along with a lot of people but in high school I just lost it. I had social workers up my ass. I had bench warrants - I had to be in a program every day after school for two years or else I'd be picked up. It all started in school with just not agreeing with what the teachers said, just not agreeing with the system. Now I reflect on it, I think it was that I was never given any choice. I believe now that choice is your ultimate power, it's your gift from the Creator, and I never had any choice in any matter. When someone told me to do something, I did the exact opposite just so that I had a choice. That got me into more and more trouble. I was threatened with: "You're going to go into juvenile detention or a group ho me." So I'd take off. I'd be gone for a week or a month, I left for a summer. I started selling dope and drinking when I was in grade 8 - I took grade 8 twice - and, by the time I was in grade 9, 1 was getting stoned every day, drinking every day I'd walk into school with a bottle, I wouldn't care. I can honestly say that, between me and my friends, we stole over 100 cars. I never got caught, I was careful. I've broken into over 50 houses with the old screwdriver and hammer. The group of friends I was with weren't a good influence, that's for sure. My mom -- now I know -- was sympathetic to my situation. They wanted to suspend me from school and she pleaded with them: "Don't suspend him because that's not going to do him any good. He'll just be even further gone." So they came up with what they called in-school suspension. For half the year I sat in a room all alone and different teachers had to come in and watch me. I was only in grade 8. And then all those teachers that were watching me, when I was in their class in grade 9, 10 and 11, they already had preconceptions about me. But when I was in grade 8, one day this guy comes up to me and says, "Why don't you sell dope for me?" So there I am, a dope dealer. I did all these things because I felt like I was never given a choice. My adoption, I had no choice. All through school I had no choice. Social workers, I had no choice. So I created my own choices and I suffered the consequences. When I was in grade 8, I got taken out of playing soccer -- I was playing at a high level -- and I was supposed to go back. My father expected that I would just go back. But I never went back and the drinking started. I didn't speak to my parents for six years. A month after I turned 18, they kicked me out, and the first month I got caught and I went to jail for six months. I lived on the streets for three years, from almost the day after I turned 18.
INROADS: The popular conception -- mine at least -- is that people who adopt are nice, generous people who want to do good things in the world. Yet for three of you -- and for Anne Marie's brothers and sisters -- the experience seems to have been appalling. What do you think is going on?
BARBARA: For me, it's not that parents treat an adoptee badly because they're Native. But people who adopt have set ideas about what's best. They already have the idea that they're progressive, so, from their point of view, of course they're not going to make any mistakes. They don't ask if what they're doing is right or wrong. So, if the child feels scared or angry; or feels disoriented - "How come I was around Native people before and now I'm around all these white people?" - the parents don't understand it. They're thinking, "This kid should be happy. We're giving this kid good food, shelter, clothing, housing." You're not allowed to express feelings of disorientation, or anger or pain or fear.
INROADS: But why does it seem like so many adoptive parents were physically and sexually abusive?
JACK: Maybe they were abused or sexually abused when they were young. That's their problem - it's not my fucking problem. The other thing is that most of the adoptees I've met were adopted to Jewish people: Westmount, rich families who you wouldn't expect to be child molesters - people who have the wealth and respect of the community, and yet they're taking in a little kid and doing all sorts of shit to them. Where's the justice there? It's almost like I wish I could go out and adopt a Jewish child and kick the fucking shit out of it. I'm full of this anger. I've gone through my own therapy, my own way of dealing with it. I'll swear and I'll be angry but I won't show any - I was taught by the system and by a Jewish family: "Smile. Be polite." You can't show it when you're sad. You can't say "I'm fucking angry" because that's wrong. But in my idea of a Native family, a Native circle, it's all emotion, pure emotion that comes out. When you cry there's a release, there's tears. In the white society, you can't do that, you have to think with your brain, suppress those feelings. Maybe that's where all the sickness is coming from, the cancer, I don't know. I'm just saying that by suppressing your feelings you're defin itely going to end up sick or have some sort of mental breakdown. But to go back to why these people were allowed to adopt Native kids: I don't think it was the responsibility of the families. It was the responsibility of the agencies that took these kids and put them into these families. Where was the screening? Where were the background checks? Where were the people who would check on the child and ask, "Are you doing okay, is everything fine? Is your family treating you well?" Where was the after care? It wasn't there. Instead it was like getting a dog. If I don't like the dog, take it back to the SPCA and get it killed. When you're adopting this human life, a baby, a child - then you realize that the child has a mind of its own and all of a sudden you're scared and you say, "Get out of here."
ANNE MARIE: I realize now that one of my problems is that I can't express anger. I'm incapable. I can say that I'm angry that [two family relatives] sexually abused me. I can say that I'm angry that the government took me away I can say these things, but I've been taught for so long by my family to be intellectual about this. Sitting here and talking about this stuff - I'm boiling inside. I'm boiling. How dare you ask us to know why is it that these things are happening. Why would anybody know the answer? "If people were nice enough to adopt..." - we shouldn't have been adopted in the first place. Forget "why?" We shouldn't have been taken away We shouldn't have been assimilated. But the intellectual side of me says, "Well okay, relax, it happened. I can't change the past; I can change the future." I have to rationalize it, because that's what I've been taught. My [parents are both professionals]. I grew up with the expectation that I would get a bachelor's degree and I did. But you're asking me these questio ns as if it's all normal except for things like molestation. But a Native baby's spirit is broken when the connection with its family is severed. I've met my father, I can look into his eyes and see his pain, but that connection is lost forever. It's different for me and my brothers and sisters -- we're staying together and there's nothing in the world that's going to take that away And when I look at my parents who brought me up -- the politically correct thing is to say, "They're my parents and I still love them." But there's a break inside. These are the parents who brought me up to be the person I am, but these are also the parents that didn't protect me from my abuser. These are the people that let this happen to me, that didn't do anything when I told them. These are people that didn't make sure I had normal people around me to connect with. Oh, they're a nice Jewish couple that did this for this poor little Indian girl. And a lot of good things happened, I was able to travel a lot, but my identity as a person was alienated. I'm the one who's constructed who I am based on the stories and based on my family background, but it's only since I was 18. From zero to 18, it's gone.
BARBARA: I just read a book called Stolen Life I -- The Journey of a Cree Woman, by Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson, Knopf Canada, 1998]. This woman's account of the things that happened on the reserve, all the rapes and all the violence -- it's incredibly severe. Reading it made it seem like I had this pain for a reason, that it didn't come from nowhere, that I didn't have this false pride to be so full of pain. Maybe I had been exposed to some abuse before I was adopted -- I think my mother was an alcoholic, and I have scars on my body They call it intergenerational trauma, when you carry the wounds of what happened to previous generations. Parents don't want to abuse their children, but the poverty and alcoholism was brought into their communities by the foreigners. I feel it's basically racism. The decomposition of our culture is basically because some people came here and said, "Let's take their land because we need a lot of food over there." We shared with them, but now they're not sharing with us. We're still suffering. So I feel that I'm caught up in a system that was made by other people. I'm trying to live by another society's rules that aren't my internal rules. There's not a lot of recognition of that. So I think it's really great that you came here to talk to us. And I think it's really great to be sober now, and to be able to say "I'm Native," and to have good things like an education. I'm supposed to have a PhD and I'm supposed to be married and have children because in my family that's what you do. But it's not happening. There was some hole I fell into because it's a different culture. I want to give something back to people. There are Aboriginal people all over the world that suffer interracial difficulty. I hope this discussion helps people. One way would be to make ties with other Native people in other parts of the world so that more people's voices are heard and we can try to work together to claim our fights.
INROADS: How did you first connect with a Native community?
JACK: My first experience with a Native person was with a girl at [high school]. I didn't know she was Native. I just bonded with her and her brother -- don't ask me why. All my experiences with Native people have been like that. It's not like somebody told me, "That's a Native and you should meet them." I don't know if it's a look in our eyes or an instinctive drive, but I've seen it millions of times. I've walked onto buses, I see a Native person, I sit down: "Hey, how's it going. Let us go have coffee." All of a sudden it's like we're brothers or sisters. All the friends that I trust the most are Native. It's not a racist thing. It's just -- maybe I'm trying to collect a family, trying to form some sort of base where I can know who I am.
BOB: I started going to the friendship centre when I was 16. I'd pop in and look around. I started going more when 1 was 18 and then, after the Oka crisis, I was there full time. But basically my introduction to Native people was through alcohol. That's the side I saw. Everybody used to party I'd party with a lot of Indians. I was aware of the spirituality, but I really didn't know much about it. I knew you couldn't mix alcohol and drugs with spirituality, so I stayed away from that side until I quit drinking.
ANNE MARIE: I first met a Native person -- I hunted one down at the Native friendship centre of Montreal. Just kidding. Actually I went to [a bar] and this white woman told me, "There are a bunch of Indians at the friendship centre." I thought: "You mean there's Indians in one building all at one time?" So I went and I met all these people. The first time I met [a Native woman from the same nation], I cried. She thought I was nuts. I'm sitting there thinking, oh my God, oh my God. And I felt white. I felt like they could tell I grew up in a white world. And you can, just from the way people are. I would look people in the eye -- we don't usually do that; it depends on the nation or community This woman -- she's a really close friend now -- looked at me and said, "You grew up in the south." I said, "Yeah, I grew up with white people," and she said, "It shows." It was weird because I thought that for once I was going to be accepted into a community I started feeling that I didn't belong in the white world becau se I'm not white and I don't belong in the Native world because I grew up white. All of a sudden I was nowhere. But the friendship centre really helped me. I was sent to a youth conference a month after I walked in. So since that first day at the centre, I've been building up my identity as an Indian woman. I went through the phase of being ashamed to be Indian: "It's true, they're all alcoholics." Then I went through the denial phase: "I did not grow up with white people, I'm Native and I don't care what anybody says. I don't like white people." I went through a phase of thinking all white people are assholes. Meeting my biological family softened me a lot. It softened me towards my adoptive parents. Now I just see them as two unfortunate people.
INROADS: What led to your finding your biological family?
ANNE MARIE: When I was 16, I really wanted to meet my mother. My parents didn't let me. They said, "No, you have to be 18." That was the year my mother died. I'll never forgive them for that. Never.
JACK: The same thing happened to me. I went to meet my parents and my mom had just died. She was murdered.
ANNE MARIE: I can intellectualize and say it wasn't meant to happen. But it was my parents' decision. They didn't let me. I'll never ever forgive them. They don't understand the anger I have towards them. Like Barbara was saying, they think they're doing this good thing, so how can they be doing anything wrong? My mother used to hit me almost every day -- until I got bigger than her. Meeting Native people was an uphill battle. Now I have Native friends. For a long time everything I wore was Indian. I thought I didn't look Indian enough. Now I don't wear anything Indian and people still know I'm Native. But inside I feel white. I feel very awkward when I'm in a Native ceremony I feel like everyone knows more than me about being Native, that I don't deserve to be there because I'm not really Native -- even though I'm sometimes more Native than the people doing the ceremony I have friends who are half white and they go through shit because they don't look Native at all, but they speak [their nation's language]. Meanwhile I'm [from the same nation] but I don't speak the language. There's always these measuring sticks people in the Native community use, people in the media, people in your own biological family My mom's clan is a little different. But your adoptive family, they put the measuring stick up: "Let's see how smart this Indian girl can be, let's see if she can actually make it through university."
BARBARA: It took seven years for me to meet my mother and my father. I had wanted to for a long time, but my adoptive parents were worried about what I might find out. I could see that they were a little hurt: "Why do you need to go to another family Why do you have to go and seek out your roots? How come you're not happy?" But I did it. I had to do it. I met a social worker who informed me I had to get permission from my biological parents. It took seven years. I was patient, but when it happened I was happy A lot of things I'd had intuition about made sense afterwards. When I was a kid, I always wanted to kill myself. I used to pretend I would run away I was always wanting to live somewhere on my own, away from my family, and be my own person, but something was preventing me and I didn't know what. But when I met my family, they said they used to pray for me and they used to say my name. According to the Native belief, when you do that it protects that person and gives them strength. When they told me that, it made sense, because then I was emotionally distraught. They were helping me. I felt they helped me during those times even though I was away from them.
INROADS: Who is your community? Who are your closest friends?
ANNE MARIE: I would say that I'm part of the global Aboriginal community When I'm walking down the street, if I see a Cree woman or Akewasasne or she looks like she's from out west -- we can recognize that -- we say hello to each other or just nod. We acknowledge that we know the other is Native. I don't do that with a white person. I consider that my community: all Native people.
INROADS: And your closest friends?
ANNE MARIE: I have one white friend. But he's token. Just kidding. [everyone laughs] He's my only non-Native friend besides my husband's friends - my husband is white. I struggled with that - having a baby with a white person.
INROADS: How did you meet him? [much teasing and laughter] Do you have any friends from the environment in which you grew up?
BOB: Only from after I was 14.
ANNE MARIE: I have one friend, but she wasn't from school. We were in the orchestra together. That was really cool, because it was a group where my being Native wasn't a factor. When I walked into that room, it had nothing to do with being Native and everything to do with music; it was about whether I practised and how well I played. But my closest friends are my Native friends because we go through shit together. We can joke around like we did just now. That's a different thing - how we tease each other. I was out with my husband and a bunch of non-Native people and I was joking around and they were embarrassed. I realize I've learned how to be white with white people and how to be Native with Native people. As adoptees, I find we're able to blend in - we look around and we act as inconspicuously as possible. Sometimes with Native people I have say to myself, "I'm Native. I don't have to act Native." But sometimes in the presence of elders, it freaks me out. They're going to know I was brought up by white pe ople and it embarrasses me.
INROADS: Elders make everyone feel guilty, I think - whatever kind they are. [laughter]
ANNE MARIE: When I say elders, I don't mean old people. Elders are people who are highly respected in the community because they have the ceremonies and the language. They have the traditions and they pass down the culture to young people. Their role is to make us feel better, because they're aware of what we've been through - because they've been through the same shit. But they're connected with the culture and they know the ceremonies - they're the ones that are healing us.
BARBARA: They know how to heal the younger generation. For example, in Stolen Life, the woman's grandmother performs a ceremony with her - a traditional Native ceremony that involves sweetgrass and the language. It's a very beautiful ceremony, a real bonding ceremony where she really looks into her grandmother's eyes and she knows that she's of her. To me, that ceremony keeps the culture alive. You recognize who you are in seeing somebody doing certain things that haven't changed for a very long time. It helps you remember who you are. It helps you be who you are.
INROADS: Tell me about your connection with Native spirituality.
BOB: I'm a believer. I quit drinking seven years ago and did my first vision quest. About six years ago, I regained all my faith. It was a life-changing experience. I fasted for four days out in the woods, and what needed to happen to me happened. I got my faith back. Now I'm a fire keeper: I build sacred fires for ceremonies. I go to Native American Church ceremonies. It's filled a void in my life. And I've started feeling a spirituality. I just see the whole other side of how it is to be a Native. At one time I thought I walked in the white world. Then I thought I walked in the Indian world. Then I realized I walked in my world. That's the spirituality. I don't know how to say it. It's just one of the most important things in my life. It's something I believe in very much. That's the path that I choose to walk down now.
ANNE MARIE: All my life I've been fed different religions, and they've always been exclusive. When I started talking to elders -- I was a bit apprehensive. I still don't feel a hundred per cent good in my skin. I still haven't got my identity where I want it to be. I know that drinking doesn't go with things like ceremonies. When I met my brother - he was a full-fledged alcoholic - I promised him I wouldn't drink, and I didn't drink for about six months. Then I decided to drink, so I made the choice to leave spirituality out of my life for a while. Part of it scares me. I've done ceremonies and some of the stuff that's happened to me doesn't make sense. I acknowledge that the spirits are there, but...
JACK: I went to Oka during the crisis and I stayed there for four or five years. I started learning about their dances and how the community worked. It wasn't a ceremony. It was more like meetings. Then I got into my first ceremony about two years ago.
BOB: Spirituality is like a path you're walking - a medicine path - and you're given what you need along that path. Certain things come your way. That's what I needed to do. I released all my angers. I was told to give them to the earth, to Mother Earth, and she'll take them away from me. I released everything I had seen in my life, in my adoption, that was negative. I started seeing the positive side of my adoption and my life experiences. It made me realize how important family values are. A family is a spiritual thing and those values are in our teachings: the father, the Creator, the sun; our grandmother moon; our mother earth providing. Everything is in relation to the family. And since I've had my son, it's dawned on me just how important the family is. There's this thing called Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is what happens when children don't bond properly, and it affects a lot of us. And it's inter-generational. A lot of adoptees' birth mothers were in residential schools. My mother was taken aw ay as a child. I think the lack of parenting skill comes from that. Our people were conquered and divided. They divided nations, they divided communities and they divided the family. It's had a devastating effect on us. This generation lacks a lot of parenting skills. Now I'm a father, and I've done one of my circles of life, and what I went through is coming out. It's something I have to address. I want to make sure that it doesn't get passed on to my son. I think Native people are acknowledging the family more these days, but I don't think there's enough emphasis on the family as being the solution to most of our problems. The simple and obvious thing is that we're all born into a family. I believe family values are the true values. That's the Creator's way.
INROADS: Thank You.
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|Title Annotation:||cases of adoptions of native children|
|Publication:||Inroads: A Journal of Opinion|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2001|
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