We had an Adoption Ceremony and we did it publicly.
We held an Adoption Ceremony at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Our friend and relative David and Sherryl Blacksmith had been asked to conduct the Ceremony. Our friend Roger Greene came and sang for the Ceremony with his Drum.
There were a few reasons for doing a public ceremony. Of course one was because we are so proud and we were showing off our Grand-daughter. She is now three. The other not so subtle reasons are we want to make a show, make people aware. A show of what has been done for ever. Many many families - Grannies, Aunties and their families have raised their relatives kids. Traditional Adoption should again be recognized. Recognized more so by our own community. We need to realize we have a say in our community. We have a say in where our Children will go live.
Today the Child and Family Services industry is over worked with our children. Why? There are so many reasons. None of them are very good. We have been neglecting our families. We can change that with following what our Old People have done for ever. Take a hand in the lives of our relatives.
When we did a announcement for people to attend the Adoption Ceremony we wanted to hear from those raised and those who are raising relatives. We wanted them to come and share their experience. Relatives did come out. They spoke on how they were raising Grandkids and were raised by Grandparents. It made the day even more special. We wanted our daughter to know her sharing the baby with us was a good thing. That we were there to love her and it is fine. We wanted her to know it was something our families have done forever. We wanted her to know her girl is loved. A child can never have enough love. We shouldn't be there to take down people in their time of need but to be there when they need us most. Looking after a child and supporting the parents is one of those times.
We also wanted to feel secure in being recognized as our Grandbaby's parents-guardians. You see with the way the system is, just raising your family member is not enough. You have to pass the provincial laws of being a guardian. We get that. We get you can't just have anyone taking kids and raising them. It would wrong. Wouldn't it? If it was wrong how come so many Granny's and Aunties (along with their whole families) were successful? We seem to forget we were people who looked after each other. Now we rely on a bureaucracy to look after our children. We don't have the paper work required to be recognized by government agencies/bureaucracy. We do not have CFS agency involvement. Our daughter voluntarily allowed us to be the Care givers of Baby Aviree.
I admire people out there, good kind people. There are people working in the system to make sure our kids are safe. The first thing is to make sure the kids are protected. Protection from physical emotional and spiritual issues. At a Child Care agency gathering, this beautiful Maori woman spoke about their children in Care when she came to Winnipeg. She said taking Children away from their heritage, the family roots is placing them in Spiritual trauma. Placing them in foreign environments is the same as doing harm to them. So it is vital, it is critical that we keep them in our homes. Not only should we protect them from physical and emotional harm but we also must keep them from spiritual harm.
We are looking for the system to house and protect our children. Why the heck is that? Where are we? With this public announcement we were hoping to remind our community, we have it in our power to protect our own children.
It starts with recognizing we are extraordinary but really its not. We are just doing what many other communities have done and are doing. For my wife my kids are our grandkids its just carrying on what many have and have done with their families; just looking after them.
So we are hoping you take up the call to the community. We should not rely on the institutions to look after our children. We should be reminding ourselves we need to protect our children. If we are not going to protect them, who is going to?
The Question I ask is now what?
Is anyone going to recognize our Adoption? I mean besides our community of friends and relatives. Will courts recognize our rights to the child? Can we have her in our health plans/benefits? Can we make all decisions for her?
I think I will write to the provincial adoption body and ask. You know it is kind of disheartening when you get no notice from the Indigenous lobby bodies. They are always looking for media soundbites on issues.
Statistics from the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (now called Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development) reveal that over 11,000 Status Indian children were adopted between the years of 1960 and 1990. It is believed that the actual numbers are much higher than that. Of these children who were adopted, 70 per cent were adopted into non-Aboriginal homes. According to the department’s reports, a substantial portion of these adoptees face cultural and identity confusion issues as the result of having been socialized and acculturated into a Euro-Canadian middleclass society. As Dr. Raven Sinclair noted in her article, “Identity lost and found: Lessons from the sixties scoop” (2007), the identity issues of adoptees may be compounded by being reacquainted with one of the most marginalized and oppressed groups in North American society.