by Elizabeth Sharon Morris
â€œIt is extremely unfortunate and disheartening that the Russian Duma and President Putin would choose to deprive the children, the very children that they are entrusted to care for, the ability to find a safe and caring family that every child deservesâ€¦It is nothing more than a political playâ€¦that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family.â€
In addition, earlier this month, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Members sent a bi-partisan letter to President Putin urging him to veto the legislation, stating,
â€œWe fear that this overly broad law would have dire consequences for Russian children…Nothing is more important to the future of our world than doing our best to give as many children the chance to grow up in a family as we possibly can.â€
The vote in support of Russian children was unanimous by the Senate. The CCA, Senator Inhofe and many others are correctly speaking up for these children and families. Many in the CCA are also correctly concerned â€“ for the very same reasons – about children of native heritage here in the United States.
However, while ALL the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs members voted for this resolution preventing adoption of Russian children – several members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs continue to uphold similar ‘Putin-like’ legislation preventing adoption of American children.
Take the statements above and replace the word â€œRussianâ€ with the word â€œIndianâ€ and it fits our argument against the Indian Child Welfare Act exactly.
Further – speaking as the birth mother of several enrollable children – I need to stress that while the argument against ICWA is important for adoption, it is also important to many birth families who donâ€™t wish to have tribal jurisdiction and control over their own children.
Children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs, some with extremely minimal blood quantum – as well as some with maximum quantum – have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by social services.
Facts to note: 75% of U.S citizens with tribal heritage live OFF the reservation. This includes many of 100% heritage who choose not to be involved with the reservation system. Some have moved away purposely because many reservations are not safe places to raise children. Others have never lived on a reservation. MOST enrollable citizens have less than 50% tribal heritage and are connected to their non-native relatives, some not having been connected to the reservation system for a couple generations.
Although it has been felt that the Indian Child Welfare Act has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories affecting multi-racial families abound across America. Letters from tribal and non-tribal birth parents, extended family, foster parents and pre-adoptive families can be read at http://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/
In the words of Dr. William B. Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:
â€œ… We are talking about our brothers and our sisters. Weâ€™re talking about what happens to people who share with us an extremely important identity. And that identity is the identity of free citizens in a Republicâ€¦”
Consider calling your Senators, and while thanking them for voting for S. Res. 628, ask them to support the rights of children and families of Native American heritage as well.