Trace DeMeyer: Indian identity was erased with my adoption

Trace DeMeyer, the author of One Small Sacrifice: A Memoir: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, reflects on her life as an Indian adoptee:
As I’ve watched the custody dispute unfold over the nearly four-year-old Cherokee girl known as Baby Veronica, I’ve felt as if this little girl was me. Just like Veronica, I was a baby taken from my Native American biological dad without him knowing and placed in an adoption. And just like her my Native identity was erased from my birth certificate. What’s different for Veronica is that her dad was able to fight from the moment he found out what was actually happening. Like in my own situation, I’ve wondered who is really responsible for Veronica’s adoption going so wrong.

I’m a “lost bird," one of thousands of Native children adopted-out of tribal communities from the late 1950s to late 1960s as part of a federal program called the Indian Adoption Project. The Project came after the decades long boarding school era when government and missionary schools aimed to “kill the Indian to save the child.”

Catholic Charities, the adoption branch of the church, did not contact my natural father Earl when I was born in 1956, nor did they need his permission to sign me away for adoption. When I finally found him 40 years later, he said he would have raised me, had he known I was being put up for adoption. But he didn’t know because my biological mother Helen wasn’t Native American, just like Veronica’s mom Christy, and she didn’t want me to be Native.

Get the Story:
Trace A. DeMeyer: The Baby Veronica Case: David vs. Goliath (Indian Country Today 8/12)

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