"The arrest of white missionaries trying to adopt allegedly orphaned Haitian children struck a chord with me. Similar media stories about well meaning white celebrities adopting pretty babies of color from poor third world countries have also rubbed me the wrong way. You see, American Indians have a long history of white folks trying to help us by taking away our children. It is estimated that between 1941 and 1978, white parents adopted 35 percent of American Indians in the U.S., often forcibly. Indians have learned that no amount of good intention can wipe away the painful loss of our culture.
Not long ago, I traveled to Minneapolis to report on the Lost Birds -- those Indian people who were adopted by non-Indian families prior to 1978. This story caught me by surprise; it touched the center of who I am as an Ojibwe woman and as a mother.
We adopted our son Danny from my tribe in 2005 when he was 7 months old. Danny came into our lives as though directed by an outside force. Both my husband and I felt that he was meant to be raised by us and that he was meant to know he is an Ojibwe man. That “knowing” has been a deep wordless tie between us and one to which I feel all people, non-Indian and otherwise, are entitled.
So, it was with some trepidation that I began a story about Rachel Kupcho, an Ojibwe woman and her adoptive white parents. Would I be able to keep my feelings about interracial adoption in perspective?"
Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: To Dry the Eyes of Indian Adoptees
(The Daily Yonder 3/16)