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Carrie Craft

Tribe Ruling Means Adoptive Parents Lose Custody of Adopted Child

By December 17, 2008

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Adoptive parents, Clint and Heather Larson of Utah, had to release custody of their 6-month-old baby boy, Talon, Sunday evening after a Federal law allowed for his birth mother to change her mind about the adoption. The biological mother is a member of the Leech Lake band of the Ojibwe American Indian tribe. However, according to the Indian Child Welfare Act(ICWA), if a child is eligible for membership into the tribe, that is enough for the tribal courts to intervene in the placement of a child, if the tribal courts find just cause.

What is baffling to me in this case is the fact that both the tribe and the state have deemed the biological parents as unfit, so baby Talon will be placed into a Native American foster home with two of his biological siblings. So, lets look at what we know, and I realize we only know what gets printed up in newspapers and shared on TV interviews, so we probably don't have the full story.

Talon was removed from the only parents he knows; the Larson's adopted him at birth and nursed him through drug withdrawals. (Do people still not understand how devastating reactive attachment disorder can be to a child? Really? People still don't get it?) The child was removed because birth mother changed her mind, but she can't have custody of him because she was found to be unfit by not only the state, but by the tribal court. So, the child was placed in foster care. OK - so what was gained here? I'm lost.

Yes, I understand the importance of ICWA, but there seems to be a missing piece to this law. How about a statute of limitation, a window where the tribal court can intervene, but after that the child remains as placed, if adoption procedures were followed correctly. (I've been hearing rumblings that the law was not followed correctly and that biological parents and the tribe may have a legal leg to stand on in this case.) I understand the point of keeping the Native American culture strong, but reports state the child is also of Mexican heritage. Why is the Ojibwe culture more important than the Mexican and European blood within his veins? Shouldn't every piece of this child's culture be honored and respected?

Thoughts on this very sad story?

SOURCES:
Federal Law Gives Tribe Ruling in Baby Talon's Fate - ABC News
Utah couple forced to give adopted baby back to tribe - ABC4.com

Comments
December 17, 2008 at 2:09 am
(1) snee says:

this is truly horrifying. how can anyone really think that putting talon into foster care is in his best interests? apparently, the law doesn’t actually consider talon’s adoptive parents to be his “really real” parents. that’s not good enough!

December 17, 2008 at 9:24 am
(2) Belleinblue says:

I think it needs to be made VERY clear that this is a disrupted placement and not an overturned adoption. Talon’s adopttion was NOT finalized by this couple.

They say in their personal blog that they KNEW when they took Talon home that the MOTHER, she isn’t a birthmother, she revoked her consent, was probably going to revoke her consent. They also say the KNEW that the tribe could and probably would step in. They chose to take those risks.

Also, sorry kids, but these people were “strangers” to Talon before he was born. How come it is SO ok for a child to moved from his family to birth to another family if it is by choice? I’m sick of the stranger thing, adoptive parents are strangers too.

December 17, 2008 at 9:47 am
(3) adoption says:

Belle,

These are new facts to me. The news reports make it sound like this was a finalized adoption! Can you email me the link to their blog?

Thanks!

December 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm
(4) Lisa says:

Hence, Internation Adoption is the way to go.

December 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm
(5) Karen says:

I take issue with someone saying adoptive parents are “strangers” too. That’s just wrong. I adopted my daughter at birth. I was actually there to cut her cord. Am I a “stranger” to her? NO WAY. I’m the ONLY mother she has ever known. And to the person who said international is the way to go… Yes, that is one option but domestic can and does work too. It saddens and sickens me to hear these stories in the media because it paints such a bad picture of adoption. My happy, joyful story is not in the news because it’s very normal.

December 17, 2008 at 2:33 pm
(6) Belleinblue says:

Karen,

Sorry, but you aren’t the ONLY mother your child has known. I’m pretty sure that the act of carrying a child and giving birth makes one a mother as well, the original mother, the mother the child was created in, and the only mother that child knew until it was placed with you, yes a stranger, until your child got used to you.

December 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm
(7) Whitney says:

Belleinblue,

Reproducing does not make one a mother. Flies, termites, and rats reproduce. My beef is that they took a multi racial child away because of tribal considerations – and not to his birth mother- but to foster care. That is wrong. Sure they understood the risks. There are serious risks with biological births also. The Larson’s problem was that they thought common sense would prevail over someone’s ego.

For quite a while, we thought that the baby we brought home from the hospital was the wrong baby (she isn’t, by the way). We talked about what to do. But this was my baby. I loved this baby. I nursed this baby. I was not going to just exchange “it” like a sweater from Sears. Talon is not a puppy. He is a human being. He needs to be with the people who have raised him and not in foster care or with his crack addicted mother.

December 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm
(8) Turtle says:

It is horrifying. I as well am Ojibwe from the Turtle Mountain Tribe. Like the Larson’s in Utah we are not able to have our own. Adopting Native children is almost impossible unless one of the parent’s are Native themself. That is just how it is. All Tribe’s give the birth parents and the birth parents relatives more decision making then “other types of adoptions” (non native) My husband and I were looking into adopting a native baby however when I found out this rule. We decided it wasn’t best for us. I was adopted as well. Back in the 70′s adopting a native child was completly different. It was more allowed to non native parents. Because of the rules as they are now. Tribes won’t let you adopt a native baby unless one parent is native and belongs to a registered tribe. I think the Larson’s would be great parents. I don’t think they should take the baby away. But the tribe wants that native baby to be taught about his past and how to be a strong native. They are trying to perserve themselves.

December 17, 2008 at 3:41 pm
(9) Belleinblue says:

Whitney,

The child is going to be with biological siblings. There is NOTHING wrong with that.

Common sense? I’d say that the Larson’s are pretty egotiscial too to think that the law doesn’t apply to them. Whether one likes a law or not, they still have to follow it.

I’m not saying the child’s needs are best served by being with it’s mother, but the law is the law, you have to follow it.

BTW, Utah is notorious for underhanded and shady adoptive practices. They fly women there to have babies to the TPR can be done more quickly and can’t be revoked. Lovely, let’s push a woman who may still be under the influence of narcotics from a c section and is experiencing pain from birth to hurry up and sign those papers b/c these people waiting to adopt “deserve” a baby.

Laws are laws, they should have followed them and they knew the risks they were taking.

December 17, 2008 at 5:09 pm
(10) Linda Webber says:

It is a well known that utah and Florida have some shady things going on with adoption agencies.I think they just hope that nobody will know the laws and or will be too uninformed to question what is really going on.If the adoption is questioned than the public becomes outraged by saying “but what about what this will do to the child that has only known the adoptive family? It is n not uncommon for agencies to hide children in hopes that everything will blow over as the child becomes older.Agencies need to be held responsible for their actions.
Keep in mind it wasn’t all that long ago that the white men removed Native American children from their tribes for adoption to “civilize” the children.Also the white men were encouraged to rape Native women to “water down” the race. I noticed that the mexican race was also mentioned.In fact seldom do they adopt teir children out to strangers.They are of the mindset that family is everything and they all help to keep their babies in their family.Same thing with African Americans.It is mainly Whites that participate in infant adoption.And thank goodness we are seeing more true family values that are keeping their infants in their families.

December 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm
(11) Informed says:

Belleinblue,

Just so you know, I am very closing related to the situation, so close in fact that I have held Talon. Heather and Clint have been there from before the birth. The mother was using the adoption to get things. She was getting Heather to buy things for her, things that are not needed for a pregnancy. She was a vile person to all the nurses and doctors. The woman who gave birth to him is not his mother. She abandoned him. Yes he might be going to biological siblings, but that isn’t such a feat, she has eight other children. All of her children have been taken or adopted. She wasn’t drugged into giving up here baby. She has done it every time before OUTSIDE of the state of Utah. The reason this is such a hot topic and we are fighting it is because it states in the tribes own constitution that a person needs to be 4/16ths Native American. Talon is only 3/16ths. They are breaking their own constitution. Another factor is the separation anxiety that Talon will have for being taken away from Heather and Clint. Heather and Clint’s older son will also have issues because he has had the only sibling he has ever known taken from him. Can you really say that staying in a foster home with who knows how many other children is better that having a safe home where he will be provided for. Have you ever seen a foster home? Before you start spitting out accusations about egotism I would suggest reading up a little and being a little more informed. From the very beginning Heather asked the tribe if they could teach Talon about his heritage (which by the way he is also half Mexican), they were completely willing to teach and learn with him.

December 17, 2008 at 11:08 pm
(12) Belleinblue says:

A law is a law. Sorry, if you don’t like the law then work on getting it changed, and not retroactively.

They knew what was going to happen.

I’d like to point out that Talon has biological siblings as well. How do you think they would have felt growing up knowing that he was in a family in UT and that his tribe tried to get him back to be with them, but the other family said no. Wait, those siblings must not matter because they aren’t part of the adoptive family.

December 18, 2008 at 8:51 am
(13) Jake says:

“The reason this is such a hot topic and we are fighting it is because it states in the tribes own constitution that a person needs to be 4/16ths Native American. Talon is only 3/16ths. They are breaking their own constitution.”

The tribe is allowed to do that. They can enroll (or refuse to enroll) anyone they want to, irrespective of what their tribal constitution says. Federal courts have ruled over and over that they have no authority to tell a tribe who passes muster and who doesn’t.

This situation is unfortunate, but the would-be adoptive parents brought it on themselves. They should have given the child back when the tribe refused consent and the mother revoked hers.

December 18, 2008 at 10:10 am
(14) valerie says:

how very sad for all parties involved. as the newly adopted mother of a half caucasion, half mexican son who is two years old and has been in my home since birth with his bio parents until they abandoned him at 4 months, my heart breaks for the adoptive parents.he is my son in every way that matters! will he learn about his mexican heritage? yes, he will. of course when you are illegal with a wife and 4 kids in mexico and your child here is autistic it doesn’t seem like family was all that important to him.he only signed his legal rights away when he found out he was not what he considered normal.he is our family! blood means nothing to most abused or neglected children.

December 18, 2008 at 12:50 pm
(15) Toni says:

Apparently everyone in this situation knew the eventuality of the situation.. The PAP’s took the risk knowing in their heads that they would have to give Talon up at some point. And the tribe knew they would get the child back. Why were Heather and Clint allowed to take the child home to begin with? Ohhh I’m sure an adoption agency was on a wing and a prayer to get that almighty dollar. They fed Heather and Clint full of hope knowing all the while that it was going to be disrupted. And will they be held accountable? Nope.. they’ll get to walk out of this unscathed and leave everyone else to pick up the pieces.

December 19, 2008 at 10:31 am
(16) Ron says:

I’d like to add just one comment. With the advent of birth control and the decreasing stigma of single motherhood, dramatically fewer children are available for adoption than there were fifty years ago. Approximately 51,000 children are placed for adoption every year in the United States. In contrast, over one million people say that they are interested in adopting children and 250,000 have taken concrete steps towards adopting.

The reality is that adoption isn’t all about charitable self-sacrifice on the part of adoptive parents. Many people cannot have children of their own and turn to adoption. I’m not saying that adoptive parents are bad people or that they’re selfish, but I think that with such an outsized demand for children, the situation is ripe for profit-motivated agencies to take advantage of the natural parenting instinct of their clients and use shady methods to satisfy unmet needs.

Underneath all of the cultural issues and rhetoric about love are economic forces creating incentive for people to break and disregard the law.

SOURCE: Terry, Turner, Falkner, Comparing the Efficacy of Domestic Versus International Child Adoption, 33 Southwestern Economic Review 95, 99 (2006).

December 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm
(17) Susan says:

If the Indian Child Welfare Act was properly followed IN THE FIRST PLACE, we wouldn’t even be having this problem. Why is no one blaming the private adoption agency that flagrantly ignored federal and state laws? Because its easier for ignorant White women like you to just blame the victim, in this case, someone who doesn’t look like you. He IS better off, inter-racial adoptions hurt Indian communities, and cutting family bonds in favor of racist perspectives will put Indian people back in the Colonial days. Which is why ICWA exists, to prevent horrible situations like this from happening.
Hurray for this Indian baby, who is getting a second chance to know his siblings, his community, and WHO HE IS. Not who you White people want him to be, because be honest…how many Indian people have you had over for dinner lately?

December 20, 2008 at 9:37 am
(18) Belleinblue says:

Susan,

I’m whiter than white but live in a community with many Natives. I have had them over for dinner, work with them, and respect them.

The “you white women” thing doesn’t fly. I think that baby should be back with the tribe and that the laws should have been followed. Reverse discrimination is just as harmful.

December 20, 2008 at 3:17 pm
(19) roxi says:

it seems to me that the native american people are not actually looking out for the children, it is only for their “tribe” to keep them alive. the attorney said that they only had 7000 people let in the tribe, to me that is saying who cares about the child we only want him because of his native blood. blood is only that, people get blood transfusions everyday, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans, if it was getting a blood transfusions would be very rare and not a day to day thing…

December 20, 2008 at 8:26 pm
(20) adoption says:

Dear Susan,

“…how many Indian people have you had over for dinner lately?”

Besides those I’m related too or best friends with???? Really – I need this question narrowed. ;)

December 20, 2008 at 10:31 pm
(21) birdie says:

i agree with roxi, it doesn’t take having the same blood to be family. i also agree about the blood transfusion, as a nurse, we give blood daily, it doesn’t matter what race, color, or nationality you are, what matters is the blood type. Blood doesn’t make you a better parent or the deserving parent. being there does, up nites, holding their hands, and praying for their future. crying when they cry. that is only a little bit that makes you a mom or dad. just giving birth doesn’t do it. i’m sorry.

December 21, 2008 at 10:34 am
(22) Belleinblue says:

Giving birth does make one a mother and if the laws aren’t followed properly then custody and parenthood cannot be transferred. This really isn’t a question of who is or isn’t fit, this is a question of the laws being followed properly.

December 21, 2008 at 12:42 pm
(23) birdie says:

dear belleinblue,
giving birth only means that you have a biological child, anyone that has reproductive organs that work can do that. being a parent is a wide spectrum. if your definition of a mother is having a drug addicted baby, not having her other bio. children due to drugs, child neglect and so on, i am sorry, you are on your own. i wouldn’t want you being my judge or jury if i were a child facing a drug addict mother with no direction or a family that loves and is willing to do anything for me and give me the stabilty that i need and deserve. having a baby is a priviledge and should be treated as such, a priviledge, nothing more nothing less. i know the law is the law, but that doesn’t make it right…..

December 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm
(24) Belleinblue says:

I’m not saying that she should have custody of the child until she is clean, but the law is the law. She is the mother until her rights are terminated, whether we like it or not.

I’m tired of people saying that women who place children aren’t mothers. Get over yourselves, we are too. Alot of us ARE clean, took care of ourselves and would have loved nothing more than to parent our children. I may not be my son’s mom, but I am his mother. I gave my heart away for him.

December 22, 2008 at 11:06 pm
(25) birdie says:

dear belleinblue
i am sorry if you thought that i was insulting birth mothers giving their child up for a better life, no,no, i think that any woman that does that should be commended and thanked. my issue with talon is i think that children don’t have any say where the courts are concerned. i don’t think it was considered that he would wake up and everything that he has ever known is gone. his mama gone, and him crying for her and not knowing why she is not there for him. it breaks my heart for him and her. the birth mother knew that she was going to give him up for adoption, the adopted parents didn’t have that option. he was torn from their lives and them his. i have never been in your shoes, so i don’t know the feeling of still being a mother and giving your child a better life, i know that you must still have the mother love. i am just looking at it from the adopted parents view. they wanted him the birth mother did not. he is not with his birth mother, he is not with his birth father, he is in a foster home. i just think that sometimes the courts are wrong. but please don’t think that i am disking birth mothers that give their children up for a better life,i am not. i just think that the bond between child and adoptive mother can be just as strong.

December 23, 2008 at 9:38 am
(26) Lisa says:

Please, my comment isn’t racist. I have all the documentation for everything my husband and I have been trying to tell people for the last 14 years.

As the birth Mother of five enrolled members of the Leech Lake Tribe, and the legal custodian of four additional members, I stand behind the Larsons 100%. I know life on the Leech Lake Reservation very well. My husband was a member of the tribe. He passed away foour years ago, but just three weeks before he died, so week from his cancer that he needed a wheel chair, he again went to DC and told Senators that ICWA was a bad law. He also spoke at the National Press Club about it. Then he came home, spent ten days in the hospital, and was discharged to our home to die. His last strength was used fighting ICWA.

This case in Utah is NOT ISOLATED and many children and families have suffered from ICWA. Someone needs to stand up and say it is wrong! Please see more ICWA family stories at http://www.caicw.org/familystories.html

Those that think this ICWA law has any validity are insane. The only reason this law exists is because the tribal governments have been doling out millions of dollars to federal and state campaign coffers for the last 30 years. Surprise! The tribes aren’t as broke as they lead you to believe. Only trouble is, it’s YOUR money that they are buying Senators with, and it’s not being used for it’s intended purposes.

Yes, there are many constitutional attorneys and professors that say that much of Indian law is unconstitutional. Please contact me and I can refer you to some.

Importantly, look at the last US census and ask yourself why so many enrolled members have moved off the reservation.

Now, ask yourself two questions:
#1) WHY have so many enrollable members moved off the reservation? As for our family and many of our relatives, the answer is that The Reservation Is No Place to Safely Raise Your Children.
People without brains will try figure out some way to blame it on the “white man.” Only trouble is, MOST Enrollable members are more white than Indian. It’s easy math. Most tribes require only 1/4 blood quantum to be enrollable. SOME TRIBES have much LESS. And the Cherokee Tribe has NO required blood quantum. We have a case where a tribe has been interfering with an adoption of a child with less than 2% blood quantum. (http://www.caicw.org/familystories.html)
#2) If the Tribes have so much money to pay Congressmen with, as well as attorneys to chase children down with, why aren’t they instead spending that same money on infrastructure and job growth on the reservation? What are the true priorities? Why not just develop resources and make an honest effort to move away from the federal dole? If the reservations were cleaned up, wouldn’t more people want to stay there and live? How can a government call itself Sovereign when it is constantly running to the US Congress and demanding more money? Sounds like a bunch of teenagers!
So, let me wrap this little lesson up. I will use my family as an example in order to get the point across.
The Tribe Does NOT Own My Family – and in Particular, MY Children.
My Children are 50% Minnesota Chippewa, but they are also 1/4 German, Jewish, and a spattering pf Irish Catholic. They have OTHER relatives than just those on the reservation. MOST enrollable children have relatives of other heritage.
In fact, we have German Jewish relatives that died at Auschwitz.
So tell me why my children’s Native American heritage is more important than their Jewish, Irish, or Scottish heritage. Tell me why in the world the state of Minnesota has passed a law last year that says that suggests tribal heritage is more important, and that the Minnesota tribes have jurisdiction over any enrollable child, even if the child and his family don’t want to be involved with the tribe and has never had any contact or relationship with the tribe.
That law affects not only my children but my grandchildren, who will all be at least 1/4 Minnesota Chippewa.
For everyone screaming about tribal sovereignty…why don’t they move their families to Cass Lake, Minnesota. Enroll their kids in school there and encourage them to go play at the housing tracts.
If they are not willing to raise their own children under the conditions of the Leech Lake Reservation, they shouldn’t be demanding that our children be raised there.
A commenter had the nerve in a post to suggest the Larson’s had “kidnapped” this baby. Excuse me? Who the heck are the ones doing the kidnapping, but the tribes themselves that push federal and state legislators to give them all the rights to Our Children!
If anyone can connect me with the Larson’s, we have lots to talk about and much work to do.

December 23, 2008 at 11:32 am
(27) Belleinblue says:

Well, don’t thank me and don’t commend me. I made the hardest choice I could have ever made. I did so because of almost solely financial reasons. I could have given him the same kind of life they are. He would have been well loved by my family and his paternal family, even if his first dad was a putz.

You are insulting. I have YET to meet a woman that places her child for adoption that doesn’t want that child. How do you know this mother didn’t want that child? Have you talked to her personally? No, I highly doubt that.

Try stepping out of your shoes and thinking about a few things. A) It isn’t easy being adopted (I’m adopted as well, I can speak to this) no matter how great your adoptive parents are. I can’t imagine losing my entire culture as well. B) Placing a child is a hard choice, don’t be condescending by commending people. I don’t need that, I need people to not be insulting and not assume what they don’t know.

Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. For most women that voluntarily place it is finances. Most women that place are from middle to upper middle class families, in their twenties and thirties, and are well educated. I have a GOOD job, it is a career actually and I own a home. I’m just as equipped to parent my son as his adoptive parents and I would kept him if the agency would have given me the help I asked for. It would have taken awhile to get situated, but I would have been fine and so would have he. I didn’t live in the street, I didn’t use drugs, I didn’t even drink that often, not at all while I was pregnant. I’m not a crackhead who doesn’t know who she was sleeping with. I thought I was in a committed relationship with someone that loved me, turned out HE wasn’t what he said he was.

Educate yourself about women that place their children. Look at things from different viewpoints.

December 24, 2008 at 4:39 am
(28) birdie says:

i don’t think that i was insulting. you see, i also am adopted, i was adopted into a world full of love, understanding, and uncondtional wonderful, always there parents. and also, i am unable to have children, so all my three children are adopted. you are right it is hard for me to look at things from different view points, i was in foster care and had to go visit my “birth parents”, i am sorry parents are the last thing that i would call them. i was raped, and raped and raped again, then i had to do things that would make a dog hollor, don’t INSULT me. i have lived the life on both sides. the courts knew that i was being abused but a parents rights being terminated is as hard as getting the electric chair. the courts are the ones that put me back into that situation,the courts wanted to give my birth parents every chance to straighten up and get their lives together and raise us kids right. they did not remove me for good until my rectum was turned inside out and i had to have surgery to have it repaired. my “birth mother” loved me too, to this day, she still tells people she loves me,but the torture that we went through because of her and my birth fathers love is sickening. she would always cry and tell me how much she loved me my “birth dad” too. you are insulting to me and every child that has been ripped out of a loving home. you made this issue personal, by looking at it from how you felt. well look at how those adopted parents felt. law is law that is why i to this day when i have a bowel movement i bleed like i am on my period for hours. i have to wear a pad backwards in order to keep blood off the seat of my pants. that is why i will always have to take stool softners. the very reason is the courts thinking kids are better off with their birth parents, sometimes they may be, but there was a reason in the first place they were removed, it wasn’t because the courts cared, i am living proof that they are not. i will not write again, this is all, i just want to leave you with this thought, i am a middle child, imagine laying in bed at nite and wondering who it was going to be that nite or if it was going to be all of us. the bad thing is you didn’t want it to be you but the screams and crying that you had to hear until you finally went to sleep were just as bad.

Educate yourself on child abuse, child rape, my birth parents didn’t want to give me up, they loved me, they repeatedly said they were my parents and wanted me with them. trust me that didn’t make them parents of the year. you look at things from different viewpoints. i could tell you that i knew how to please a man and a woman by the time i was 5 years old in every way imaginable. every way. please don’t think you can insult and hurt my feelings, that was done long ago. i have 3 wonderful children whom all are adopted because i can’t have any birth children of my own. so i do commend women that give women the chance to be a mom that would otherwise not have the chance. i wasn’t just thanking you, i was thinking of the wonderful women that gave me my children. if not for them, i would always be reminded of my childhood, and why i could not have a birth child of my own. i owe them ladies my life because my children are my life, i am giving them all the right kind of love that i was cheated out of when i was younger until i did get a family that loved me truly. i know the courts, been there done that, good bye belleinblue

December 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm
(29) roxi says:

WOW!!!!, birdie you said it all. you have the courage and the determination. i am sorry the system failed you. you said earlier that you are a nurse, that is good, i hope that you are in the nursing field that is able to help women that have gone through what you have. i also commend you….

December 24, 2008 at 10:02 pm
(30) Belleinblue says:

Birdie,

Voluntary relinqueshment and removal are two VERY separate things. I don’t belong in the same category as the woman that gave birth to you.

BTW, I don’t need to educate myself on any of those things. I work with kids in a treatment facility that have gone through horrors all their own. My heart breaks when we send them back to parents that shouldn’t be.

I AM NOT THE SAME as someone that abuses their child, I wouldn’t dream of doing that, so don’t insult me.

December 26, 2008 at 7:46 am
(31) Lisa says:

Well, Belleinblue, I don’t think anyone was insulting you. I don’t think the Larson’s story has anything to do with you. I think the Larson’s story has a lot more to do with Birdie’s story, and I think that because, as I said, I know Leech Lake. Talon was not given back to his birth mother because even the tribe recognized she was unfit. If the tribe doesn’t return the child to a birth mom, the situation really IS bad. Unfortunately, the tribe frequently returns children to parents that are bad, but not as bad, comparatively, as others on the reservation where things can get really, really bad, and incest is only the beginning.

I chased a man off of a ten-year-old Leech Lake girl once. It was her uncle. I reported it to her father and the police. Nothing came of my police report. I was never called to testify, even though I was an eye-witness. The next year, it was discovered that her father was abusing her as well. Incest is very, very common at Leech Lake.

So your story doesn’t even connect with the Larson story. I do grieve that Talon was forced back there to live, just as I grieve for many, many of the children I know in Leech Lake.

The very first time I went to Leech Lake with my husband to be, was for the funeral of his two-year-old niece, who was beaten to death by her mother. Little did I know at the time that this wasn’t a totally unusual thing to happen there.

December 26, 2008 at 5:15 pm
(32) meaghane says:

after reading all the comments, i think that belleinblue is taking all this personal. just because she gave her child up for adoption has nothing to do with talon, and the courts giving him back. i also gave a child up for adoption for a better life, even though i think i could have given her all the love she needed i was young and i wanted her to have everything life had to offer, and i wasn’t able to give her. not a day goes by that i don’t think of her, i am not offended when people talk about mothers giving their children up for adoption, i don’t understand why belleinblue would be either. i was not on drugs or alochol or anything either, i just wanted my baby to have more. she got pretty rough with birdie but nothing applies to bell. and the child she gave up for adoption. birdie has been on both sides, she has lived it. belleinblue may work in a place where children have been abused but that is not the same as living it… belleniblue sounds so bitter, she is the one that gave her child up, to this day, on my child’s birthday, i light a candle for her, it is my way, for me, saying that i will always love you.. but i am not her mama, i am only her birth mother, i know where she is, i know what she looks like, and her mama has even sent me pictures of her, but i am not her mother, she has one, i gave her life and a chance at a future, one at the time i was unable to give her.. one day when she knows who i am, and wants to know why and how, i will tell her why and the love that was behind it all. bell wrote in one of her comments that she has not met a woman that didn’t want her child, she is probably right, also on one of her comments she wrote that talon’s birth mother wasn’t a stranger, the first thing that came to my mind was “Oh please” you have got to be kidding me. she was and is a stranger, the adoptive parents are not, they were the ones in the hospital with him and for 6 months were there with him. for example, the child i gave up, i am a stranger, was from day one, i gave her up, she went into her mother’s arms and that is where she belonged… it broke my heart and made me cry and still makes me cry, but i don’t blame her she is giving the child i gave her everything in this world that i could not…. Thank goodness for people wanting to give children homes and love. Thank God for them.. the adoptive parents of talon needs a medal for going into this knowing that it as going to be a rocky road and it being worth the risk..

December 27, 2008 at 8:34 pm
(33) Lisa says:

Well said, Meaghane.
One additional comment after reading the last note – I hadn’t noticed that belleinblue had said she hadn’t met a mother that didn’t want her child. I have. I have met way too many parents, both men and women, that deep down, really don’t want the responsibility of caring for a dependent little person. While they talk about loving their kids, what they are really describing is a superficial desire to have someone who can serve them in one way or another. Once you get to know them well, you are able to see that. If the object of their so-called love is unwilling or unable to fulfil the desire, then suddenly the so-called love disappears. You read all the time about severly neglectful and abusive parents in the paper. Sure, some of them “wanted” their kids – for their own selfish purposes. Unfortunately, the reality is that there really are people out there who only want children for the welfare money or simply to have someone to abuse.

January 12, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(34) May says:

I am not American Indian but I support efforts to keep Indian families and tribes intact. I understand the child is now with his two other siblings. That is very good and I would think the Larsons would support that. How sad to be adopted away from your own siblings. He also is with people of his own culture and heritage. That’s good too. He won’t have unanswered questions when he grows up. He’ll know where he’s from and what people are his. The child will easily adjust to the changes, and benefit greatly from living in an environment where he feels he belongs and is part of a larger community. Life is hard for Indians raised away from their people. The the law was implemented because so many children were being taken away from their Indian mothers and were lost to the tribe adn to their own culture and language (and religion). I am glad to see in this case, the law worked.

March 8, 2009 at 2:48 am
(35) brith mother of ''DESTINO'' says:

lets get one thing out the larsons did not buy me any thing. 4 1 thing i have all my kids and u were not @ the hospitol sooooo u dont know what went on therte the nures and doc all knew what was going on when i got there but what u 4 got 2 say is that i was only 35 and half weeks along when i was indue and what about my kids that got take away by mpd becouse of there lies i was clean when i had destino and all that came out and thats why i got my kids @ home so why cant people leave us alone just stop talking about me and mine there r over 1000 other women and childern out there so why dont all of you go help them and let me live my life with my kid

March 8, 2009 at 3:49 am
(36) birth mother of ''DESTINO'' says:

my baby never went back too leech lake he came home. one more thing my grandma is from red lake my dad is from white earth my mom and grandpa are from leeth lake and my husband is mexican now can some one please tell me were the f#$% did all the white blood came from? i toid hart and soul all of this. and as soon as baby starts walking he will be a grass dancer just like his bothers that is some thing i have been making him sicn he came home in dec. so to all in the mpls niberhood c-ya at the pow-wows that is some thing that the larsons can never give him

March 8, 2009 at 9:50 am
(37) Belleinblue says:

Well, I’m terribly glad that everyone can decide that I was taking something too personally and knows me so well to judge me.

I maintain that until a child has been with adoptive parents for awhile, they are strangers. Adoptive mothers DO NOT carry their adopted children or give birth. They are strangers until they have time to bond with a child.

I also maintain that whether we like laws or not, they need to be followed.

I also maintain that not all first parents (I’m not a birthmom, I did tons more than just give birth and don’t tell me otherwise) are addicts like the news and Lifetime television would like to portray.

I am also adopted and I have met one of my first siblings. I know darn well that I grew up better than he did and he grew up in my family of origin, I don’t think adoptive families are bad, but I think just like everyone else they need to follow the law.

We truly only heard one side of this story until the last few comments made here. I feel for the Larsons but they should have looked elsewhere when the mother revoked her consent.

This is all about crappy laws and crappier agencies. It all plays on the desperation of people to build families and women and men that find themselves in bad situations and lacking support.

March 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm
(38) brith mother of ''DESTINO'' says:

i am the mother of talon (destino) is his name i just want people to leave us alone i got my life together a long time ago i have my kids with me my oldset is back in school and things are fine there alot of things that the news did not say it only talk about the larsons side they can say all they want but i have him back and thats that

April 13, 2009 at 10:03 am
(39) Sarah says:

To the birthmother of Destino, please ignore these people who would love to rip your children from you and hand them over to rich white folks, who are frothing at the mouth in an effort to find your so-called flaws that justify their actions. We are all human, and you are doing just fine, and I hope you continue to find peace and a good life for you and your children. You have many supporters out here who find the Larsons well-meaning but elitist and think they should just get on with their lives.

April 28, 2009 at 8:27 pm
(40) Megan Corcoran says:

I am acutally witnessing the same situation. I was friends with the Native mother. Who drank through out her whole preganancy. Well breaking down in tears at 7 months along in the bar to me she was preganant but could not abort the baby. I knew of a good christian family with 5 kids, unable to have more, looking for a baby to adopt. So I introduced them July 4, 2007. From that point on Adopted mother attended all appointments with biological mother. Adopted mother, I and the Adopted aunt, were all present at the birth. The Adopted mother was recognized at the hospital and everything. Well due to the Heritage of the baby. The adoption was an issue. So with nothing more than power of attorney they raised the baby from birth to Two years old. Today, I received a phone call stating that the Native mother entered the house, took the baby undressed, and left. She hasn’t seen the baby for over 4 months. No assistance in raising the baby at all. And the law and everyone is stating that she has NO RIGHTS!~ Please if anyone knows of any way to help the Adopted family let me know!!!!!!!!!!
SINCERLY

March 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm
(41) laura says:

I am a social worker with experience as a consultant to a number of tribal mental health programs. I have many years experience with ICWA and with native families, enrolled and not.

Most importantly I’ll add that beyond my professional credentials I am also an adoptive mother. I am white and my son is 3/16 Winnebago Inidan. He came to us as a 5 year old, separated from his original parents because of extreme abuse and neglect by our county’s child welfare system and with a Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis as a result. His biological mother is Winnebago but did not disclose her history at the time of his placement. It was only years later, after my son turned 18, that he became aware of his ancestry. He is now eager to learn more and hopes to some day enroll with the tribe.

I agree with May. After centuries of genocide and oppression, tribes have the right to retain their identity and culture. ICWA works, for the most part. Either way, it’s the best tool they have.

To suggest that placement with a white family would be more appropriate than being immersed in his own traditions, and the values and norms of his natural community, not to mention his own biological siblings, reflects, IMO, a lack of cultural awareness.

April 6, 2010 at 9:49 pm
(42) Eugenia Cooper says:

I too just went through the same thing, It is horrible, I only had my baby for 1 month, but because of ICWA they removed Kyler from me yesterday, I just can’t understand how they can just take our babies. I feel as if my child died, as I will never see him again. The birth mother of my son also did drugs and lost custody, so the child was placed with an indian family member, that was the ICWA preference, even though I too am also native american, the preference is to go to a family member, I was adopting Kyler, then the birth mother changed her mind and wanted to give him to a family member. I so sympathize with this family, I know exactly how they feel, and Im sooo sorry for your loss. I know first hand the pain you are going through!

May 8, 2010 at 1:24 am
(43) over here says:

my GoD you guys AR GREAT

October 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm
(44) Evelyn says:

The whole reason for ICWA was to stop further cultural genicide which translates to spiritual genecide. After trying to kill an entire people, the U.S. government weighed the cost of killing an Indian v forcibly taking children and killing their spirits in boarding schools. We were never defeated militarily. We signed treaties in good faith, however the U.S. government never meant to honor them. There are so few of us left. If you are Native American, you will feel the call to come home. In Lakota tribes you must have 1/4 or more blood quantum to be enrolled in a tribe. I was taken from my mother when I was 4, adopted out 900 miles away during the period of the American Indian Adoption Project that ran from 1958 to 1969. I was so horribly abused in many ways. Just because the parents decide an adopted child is part of the family does not mean the extended family feels the same way. I came back home, because as a Lakota, I am connected to the land, my people, my ancestors, and traditions. Anyone who is not Native cannot understand what it is to be Native. That’s why congress recognozes, thru ICWA, the importance of keeping Native children with Native people. Please do not be ethnocentric about this. Taking a Native child to a powwow is not enough. We have to be connected to our people or we are not whole.

October 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm
(45) Realmom says:

I am so sad for the Larsons. My heart hurts for them because I know their grief first hand. We only had our baby for 2 days before we had to give him back – 2 days- and we were already so bonded – so attached. The birthfather was abusive (had punched his hand through a wall while trying to hit b.mother). The birthfather refused to give his consent & allow the birthmother to place the baby for adoption. This was the reason why we lost our baby. Legally, technically, he was never “ours”, but I grieved for him for 9 months, just as if I had given birth to him. Overturning adoptions and refusing to allow birthmothers to place their children for adoption – subjecting them to the whim of an abusive or irresponsible birthfather is wrong. How many parents’ hearts must be broken before adoption laws will allow birthmothers to have the final say in placing their child for adoption? I know that these circumstances that the Larsons face are very different from mine, but I disagree 100% with adopted children being taken from parents & adoptions being overturned for any reason. I will pray for the Larsons – Mommy & Dady to Talon & for his big brother – that their hearts will heal. This is a type of death for them, but without a funeral. How can the law do this to us, time and time again? We need to change adoption law. Adoptions should not be overturned, period, as long as the birthmother (NOT THE BIRTHFATHER) gave her consent. It should be a woman’s right, a woman’s CHOICE to place her baby – not the right of the man (who did not carry the baby for nine months and often did not support the baby or the mom). Sadly, a woman can abort a child for any reason at all, without anyone’s permission, but a woman can not place that same child for adoption without obtaining the consent of the man (or a tribe). Why should a tribe prevent a child from having a loving mommy and daddy and big brother?

November 8, 2011 at 1:32 am
(46) Jessica says:

“Realmom”– To me, your final question is exactly the point. “Why should a tribe prevent a child from having a loving mommy and daddy and big brother?” That is exactly what the tribe ensured! That he would be with his bio siblings and preserve those relationships, and have a loving mommy and/or daddy. Even if his mother was not currently a safe parent for him, it doesn’t mean she loved him any less. Addiction is cruel. Unfortunately, the US government has a long history of a policy towards Native Americans of “die or disappear”, drugging up their leaders to have them sign treaties, kidnapping their children and putting them into boarding schools, intentionally raising up generations outside the context of family, with physical abuse, and then magically expecting they’ll know how to create nurturing homes that they were denied. (No wonder so many turn to drugs to self-medicate their hurt.) That’s exactly why ICWA was implemented, to add protections so that the all-knowing, good, Christian, White people would stop decimating their tribes in the name of the “best interests of the child”. ICWA defines what the best interest is, maintaining connections to their tribe, people, religion, and relatives. Talk with a Native American child that was adopted pre-ICWA, many will tell you that they always felt a major loss that they just couldn’t understand, even if they had great adoptive parents. So with this decision, the tribe followed the law, exercised their rights, and kept “Talon” with his family. Even if he remained in foster care and was adopted by some other loving parents, he was with his siblings and the tribe ensured that he had loving parents and siblings. He is a lucky little boy.
I feel for the emotional heartache of the prospective adoptive family. The agency sounds questionable, and I think they should be investigated and held responsible, as they created this situation by flagrantly disobeying the law and playing with their customers’ hearts. Shame on them.

November 8, 2011 at 1:47 am
(47) Jessica says:

A bit tongue-and-cheek, but good points beneath it all: http://mooseantenna.blogspot.com/2008/12/trying-to-adopt-whats-not-available-for.html

January 6, 2012 at 3:20 am
(48) Dana says:

I will explain why it is important if a child who is tribal enrolled is to remain with foster parents within the tribe.. Because.. If you were like me… My Mother was enrolled with the Cherokee.. I was adopted to non-natives.. And my adoption is sealed. I am cut off from any chances of enrolling with my tribe, and what is worse the United States does not even want to accept my Native American heritage without tribal enrollment. Although I am Cherokee, Lakota, Irish and PN Dutch.. along with four other Native Heritages lost to history… I approached Cherokee hoping to be enrolled and connecting with my heritage but that is not possible.. No one else has to go to court to prove their Heritage, and to be accepted back into their heritage groups.. But, We do if we are adopted.. it does not matter if the child is full blood, or meets the blood quantum once we are ripped from Tribal enrollment it is very difficult for us to fight our way back in. And No one should have to fight and prove what is in there blood. I also understand that yes, reactive attachment is bad, and ripping them out of other caring arms and putting them into a new home is just as bad. I was adopted at age 6, I grew up in a foster home, that became a Group Home.. and I still volunteer to help my parents. I have lived through seen and experienced, and support many on these issues. We do not want to lose our heritage, but we also want a loving caring family to raise us.

June 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm
(49) native Queen says:

Wow…@Lisa who is a LLBO member..you are a prime example of historical trauma…I feel bad for you…I was born on the LLBO reservation. I choose to live in the city due to job availability. But I do go HOME often. I’m rich in my family values and how dare you talk about your own people. Get some counseling and address your own historical trauma because you are pitiful. And for all you women who have a problem with our law then stop trying to adopt a brown baby. Stay with a white baby and you won’t have that issue when it comes to our federal law. And Lisa, your really disgusting when your so proud to degrade LLBO. Bet when we get our holiday funds and more so the last one…You proudly cashed that check or did you not cash it? Interesting you talk so bad about your own people…Opps maybe not your own people…the way you speak…get a real life and keep LLBO out of your mouth since it leaves such a bad taste in your mouth…and maybe donate your holiday check to the adoption agency that likes to steal our children to give to the people like the Larson…Poor poor Larson booooo!!!…and blame that shady adoption agency…

December 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm
(50) Cheryl Peters says:

Lisa is not Native, she was married to a Native man, she is a founding member of Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare. Don’t let the name fool you, she is not interested in Indian child welfare, her group is hell bent on dismantling ICWA and Native Sovereignty. Lisa Morris and her cohorts aided in the unethical, forced adoption of Veronica Brown and many other Native babies/children. Lisa would like us all to believe that reservation life is a death sentence, that all children are raped, beaten and tortured on reservations. Statistically speaking, more crimes against children happen off the reservation and of those that do occur, the majority of crimes against women and children on the res are perpetrated by NON NATIVES.

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