Week 11

  • Were you previously familiar with the Indian Child Welfare Act?
  • (I am writing this first section before I read or watched the video). I was not previously familiar with the Indian Child Welfare Act. If I could take an educated guess, I am assuming is has to do with the jurisdiction of child welfare on the reservations and who gets to make decisions about the wellbeing of minors who live there.
  • What did you think of the different interviewee perspectives in the video?
  • I hate to say this, but I really resonated with Megan from the National Council for Adoption. I don’t think she was anti-ICWA but she had good points about needing to look at the full best interest of the child, including cultural ties. However, if a child has no cultural ties, keeping her with her bio dad shouldn’t be enough to let him win over the adoptive parents. I also agreed with points Mary Jo Hunter had too. The US government does have a responsibility to these tribes and tribes need to be able to continue to strengthen their ties through membership. She also had a great point about the court really misunderstanding the true meaning of this policy. I think John Nichols, the attorney, did nothing really for or against the argument.
  • What do you think about the Supreme Court’s decision on Baby Veronica?
  • The ICWA seems like a great policy. I think that something absolutely needs to be in place to protect membership of these tribes and enhance cultural ties. I also think that they totally missed the mark in this case. The problem isn’t with the ICWA, it’s the way it was interpreted in this case. There was a quote from Justice Samuel Alito in the video that said something along the lines of the ICWA being there to protect cultural identity, not put certain vulnerable children at a great risk just because they have Native American heritage. The ICWA was used as a “trump card” in this case. I have a two-year-old son who is almost the same age Veronica was when she was taken from her adoptive parents and placed back into her father’s care. I think ripping a child from the only family she knows could potentially be way more traumatic than her not knowing approximately 1% of her heritage.
  • How does colonization play into this case and eventual decision?
  • To start off, colonization plays into the whole reason we have the ICWA. The US government needs to pay reparations to Native American tribes and this is one way they are compensating for the generations of families they’ve ripped apart. After reading the article, it sounds like a lot of the language in the act still keeps a lot of Native American families out of this opportunity, as if the act was written by the colonizer and not the colonized. The way the licensing standards are created for foster homes and adoptive homes excludes many Native American families from participating based off of income levels or housing features. It was written in a way that inadvertently is targeting once race, Native Americans. I liken this to the 80s and the war on drugs. Possession of crack cocaine was more punishable by law than powder cocaine (although they’re both equally bad) as so it disproportionately targeted the lower socio-economic population. In short, the ways the laws were written, target more African Americans than it did Caucasians.

 

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3 thoughts on “Week 11

  1. Lauren- Thank you for your honesty relative to the laws that were written being biased towards those who wrote them. Until we see social workers coming from each of the populations that are served or social workers that attempt to assimilate the indigenous information it is likely that there will be a bias and a hierarchy based on judgments of superiority. How then are those outside of the system to operate within it. It is always so curious to myself as well that we judge populations like the native americans for not being able to handle the influxes of the western culture. Take alcohol or drugs for example. Whilst natives I’m sure had their means of producing mind altering substances they did not have the physiology to handle those introduced by the western cultures, thus their function within it seems to be inferior. And they are judged for it. Not being able to assimilate things that were not part of their original culture.

    Thank you for you comment my post and about how your family would have benign pain if the adopted child that came to you had not been allowed if the parent had gotten cold feet. For myself from the biased perspective that i come form it seems still that the biological parent would always still have a greater connection as it is physiological and an adoptive family could find another child to bring into the home. the physiological connection is not an option that can be changed, it is a fact. Adoption is an option. It a good option but one that can be changed at will if needed. it seems from our vantage points as humans we are all based towards what affects us the most…human nature. thank you for your post – Josh-

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  2. Hi Lauren,
    You bring up a great point. The legal requirements to adopt a child are very stringent and economics always play an important factor. This alone will preclude many “relatives” from Indian communities from qualifying to adopt an Indian child. That in itself appears to be a colonist method to discourage perpetuating the native community and encourage assimilation. Perhaps there is no longer “kidnapping” of native children but implementing so many barriers to adoption such as
    “material comfort as a prerequisite to adequate nurturing of children” (Barsh, 1996) definitely places some native families out of the running. Even if the ICWA were to amend the act to require that natives have first priority to adopt a native child, the requirements implemented by the dominant group would be prohibitive to most. It is simply another scheme to perpetuate colonization and the goal of assimilation. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I was looking forward to hearing your perspective on this Lauren and I thank you for your thoughts. ICWA has been used both for and against native people and as you point out, still has flaws. While necessary to prevent past injustices, it is still prohibitive and can perpetuate injustice through the barriers of the adoption process. Look forward to meeting you in person soon!

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