This blog is a backup for American Indian Adoptees blog
There might be some duplicate posts prior to 2020. I am trying to delete them when I find them. Sorry!


ADOPTEES - we are doing a COUNT

If you need support

Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at . MY EMAIL:

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


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Saturday, July 15, 2023

War of Words: ICWA Faces Multiple Assaults From Adoption Industry

Suzette Brewer | 7/8/15 | INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY MEDIA

Yesterday the Phoenix, Arizona-based Goldwater Institute announced the filing of A.D. v. Washburn in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, a class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act based on their contention that the federal legislation “discriminates against Native children.” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn, and Gregory McKay, director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) have all been named as defendants in the case.

The suit is being filed on behalf of “all off-reservation Arizona-resident children with Indian ancestry in child custody proceedings and the foster, pre-adoptive or prospective adoptive parents of these children,” according to the organization’s press release. “This case will not impact current or future cases that involve children or parents living on a reservation where a tribal court has jurisdiction; it will change the law so that state courts and agencies cannot discriminate against Native American children.”

Washburn marks the third major legal challenge to the 38-year-old federal law since the Bureau of Indian Affairs published new ICWA guidelines in the Federal Registry in February of this year, followed by the agency’s declared intention to seek a federal rule, which would make the statute more enforceable on state courts and social service agencies.

“While we have not yet reviewed the filing, we understand that a lawsuit challenging ICWA was filed yesterday. In matters in litigation, we will speak primarily through our briefs in court, but I want to assure the public that we will defend the Indian Child Welfare Act,” said BIA assistant secretary Washburn in a written statement. “Nearly 40 years ago, Congress determined that Indian children were being treated unfairly in the context of foster care and adoption. Congress determined that ‘an alarmingly high percentage of [Indian] children’ were subjected to ‘unwarranted’ removal from their homes and that a federal law was needed to protect Indian children. This law has been an important feature of the legal landscape for many years now and we firmly believe that the protection of the best interests of Indian children continues to be important today.”

According to the suit, the plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against “certain provisions of ICWA and the accompanying BIA guidelines” on behalf of “A.D.,” a 10-month-old baby girl who is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community. Another child plaintiff is a 4-year-old boy who is a member or eligible for membership in the Navajo Nation. The birth parents of both children have had their parental rights terminated by the state and both children reside off-reservation in Arizona. The Navajo Nation, as outlined in the brief, has repeatedly attempted to find ICWA-compliant homes for the boy—all of which were rejected by the state as “inappropriate” placements. If not for the Indian Child Welfare Act, according to the brief, the boy would already be in a permanent home under “race-neutral” Arizona law.

“When an abused child is removed from his home and placed in foster care or made available for adoption, judges are required to make a decision about where he will live based on his best interest. Except for Native American children. Courts are bound by federal law to disregard a Native American child’s best interest and place him in a home with other Native Americans, even if it is not in his best interest,” said Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute in the organization’s press release. “We want federal and state laws to be changed to give abused, neglected or abandoned Native American children the same protections that are given to all other American children: the right to be placed in a safe home based on their best interests, not based on their race.”

But the original author of the Indian Child Welfare Act, retired South Dakota Senator James Abourezk, took the Goldwater Institute to task for their attempt to overturn one of his signature legislative achievements during his time in the United States Senate. Ironically, Abourezk’s late friend and colleague Senator Barry Goldwater actually voted in favor of ICWA when it was approved by the Senate in 1977.

“I knew Barry Goldwater—he was my friend and often came to me for advice on most tribal matters,” said Abourezk from his home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “I wish he were alive to see this travesty because he would never approve of it and you can quote me on that and make sure you emphasize the word ‘never.’”
Tribal leaders, their legal teams and ICWA advocates across the country seem universally opposed to the litigation. They view with skepticism adoption practices in the United States, and the economic factors and profits at play.

“The Native American Rights Fund is closely following the lawsuits filed in Virginia, Minnesota, and now Arizona,” said NARF staff attorney Matthew Newman. “What is abundantly clear is that these lawsuits are part of a coordinated, well-financed attack on the rights of tribal nations to protect their children. It is open season on the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

“At this point it is pretty clear that anti-ICWA advocates, who primarily represent adoption interests, have started a coordinated attack on ICWA,” said Kate Fort, Staff Attorney and Adjunct Professor for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. “They are looking for cases of opportunity in courts across the country by inserting themselves and trying to make the same constitutional arguments against ICWA. But this lawsuit will absolutely hurt vulnerable children and families in our state child welfare systems. Their claims that ICWA’s protections are substandard is simply not true. ICWA’s standards are considered the gold standard of child welfare practice. To say these lawsuits to dismantle ICWA are in the best interest of the child is really contrary to what is considered best practices by child welfare professionals.”
Stephen Pevar, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the whole point of enacting ICWA was to end decades of unnecessary removals of Indian children from their homes and communities.

“Congress held years of hearings [before enacting ICWA] and many Indians who were victims of state foster care cases testified,” said Pevar. “Based on that testimony and other research, Congress found that it is in the best interests of Indian children to be raised in an Indian home except in extraordinary circumstances. Therefore, the Goldwater Institute is wrong in saying that Congress overlooked the ‘best interest’ standard. Instead, Congress accepted that standard and concluded that there’s a presumption that it’s in the best interest of Indian children to be raised in an Indian home. In addition, the Supreme Court has already rejected the notion that ICWA creates racial discrimination when it imposes minimum federal standards on state courts in their handling of Indian child custody cases.”

But ICWA has come under assault in courts all over the country in the last several months, say legal experts, in states unwilling to deviate from the “business-as-usual” approach, in which an average adoption can bring anywhere from $40,000 to copy00,000 in fees and costs for private adoptions, depending on various factors, including living expenses for the birth mother.

In May, for example, Washington, D.C.-based attorneys Lori McGill and her husband, Matthew McGill, filed suit in federal court in Virginia seeking to challenge the new BIA guidelines which they believe impose “federalism” on state courts regarding the adoption of Indian children. Mrs. McGill, who played a key role in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in 2013, told the National Law Journal in May that she gets emails on a weekly basis “from lawyers and adoptive parents telling me how ICWA is ripping their families apart.”

That same month, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals openly dismissed the new BIA guidelines in a case involving a 4-year-old Cherokee girl who had been placed in a non-Indian foster home during emergency proceedings in 2013. At the time, an ICWA-compliant home was not available, though a year later the tribe filed a motion to transfer the girl to a Cherokee family that the tribe had located. In ordering the girl to stay with her foster parents over the tribe’s objection, the court’s contempt for the new guidelines was palpable.

“The BIA guidelines’ intentional disregard of these factors results in a one-size-fits-all approach to the placement of children with any tribal affiliation,” the judges wrote. “That result may bear little resemblance to what is really in the child’s best interests, despite the self-serving pronouncements of the BIA guidelines.”

In June, adoption attorneys representing tribal parents in Minnesota filed another suit, Doe v. Jesson, in which they argued the Minnesota Indian Family Protection Act (MIFPA) violates constitutional due process in requiring notice of adoptions to the tribe. On Monday, however, the Minnesota District Court denied a preliminary injunction based on state law requiring notice to tribes. The Court ruled that the MIFPA posed no threat of irreparable harm to the two tribal plaintiffs in complying with notice requirements. The tribe in the case, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, have declined to intervene.
But today’s litigation, say observers, strikes at the heart of not only of the Indian Child Welfare Act, but also the keystone of tribal sovereignty as a whole: The right of Indian tribes to determine their own membership and raise their children in their home communities.

“Using tragic stories to try to destroy the constitutionality of ICWA is not appropriate. As we know from Morton v. Mancari, Native status is a political identity not racial or ethnic, so laws that give any type of Indian preference or preferential treatment are not in violation of the equal protection clause,” said Victoria Sweet, a program attorney for the Reno, Nevada-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. “It’s ironic that [the Goldwater Institute] would argue that Native children get less protections when they actually get more and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise when the reality is clearly the opposite. We are not yet at a point where the initial purpose of ICWA has disappeared. We still need this law. It still protects Native children.”

“It’s 38 years later and I still get mail from Indian people who tell me how important this legislation is,” said Abourezk. “The tribes need to mount a unified attack against this lawsuit because it’s good law and what they’re doing is wrong. It would be an enormous tragedy to see them overturn it.”

RELATED: War of Words: ICWA Hearings Reignite Ancient Clash Over Indian Children, Part 1


Friday, July 7, 2023

BAD OUTCOMES: Brackeen Case | New York Times and #ICWA

 reblog from 2019 & 2022

By Trace Hentz (blog editor)  
FIRST UP:  The New York Times headline June 5, 2019 
Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes  Here
I posted my comment which became a NYT Pick:

I am an adoptee and journalist who has documented the history and narratives of Native adoptees in three Lost Children anthologies. If the Brackeens had done any research prior, they would know the outcomes for Native adoptees are not good. Adoption gets pretty ugly when it doesn't work. Once kids are out of diapers, they start noticing and feel the isolation without kin. There are medical terms for our damage. The adoption industry will not advertise that most patients in psychiatric care are adoptees. They don’t warn adoptive parents their new child will suffer from “Severe Narcissistic Injury” or “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” This news would not be welcome. LINK

Of course some readers slam me for using the word "kin" ...or ask how do I know about the damage we suffer...  No shock... I get it: they don't get it and they don't know the history or the Native adoptees I  know personally... (There were 775 comments before they shut it off today and many are amazingly correct!)
An earlier comment from Ellen gets it:

This country has a long brutal history of removing Native children from their families with the intent of culture genocide. There is nothing different about this case. I am sure that the Brackeens are lovely (wealthy) people who care for Zachary, and the new baby they selfishly wrested from her family. Still, it does not undo the damage done to the Navajo nation, in losing 2 precious children, not to mention the damage done to the children in growing up apart from their culture...while being quite different in appearance from the rest of this family. But skin color is not the issue - the erasure of culture and sense of self is.

After reading the NYT story I am not surprised that the Navajo tribe and the Brackeens will share custody, as Judge Kim declared, but the Brackeens would have primary possession.  Taking Indian children off the rez and changing their identity to white and ending their sovereignty and treaty rights and a connection to tribal lands:  the old playbook is the new playbook.
It is always about possession.
We have covered this case on this blog (AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES) for the past few years. (please look at Goldwater Institute (34+ posts) for more insight on this case.)

Hundreds of tribal nations vehemently oppose the lawsuit Brackeen v. Bernhardt that splits Texas, Indiana, Louisiana and a coalition of conservative legal groups, including the Goldwater Institute, against the federal government, hundreds of tribal nations, 21 state attorneys general, Native American civil rights groups and child welfare organizations, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Children’s Defense Fund.
The NYT story reports:
So much remains suspended.
The decision about the act’s fate from the Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit is imminent.
The Navajo are appealing Judge Kim’s custody order. 


What about the BRACKEENS?

Potential Adoptive Parents (PAPS) Chad and Jennifer Brackeen might want to learn Navajo history during this lengthy court battle in Texas. (Try this one in 2011: Illegal aliens? Deported adoptees?)

The total population of the Navajo people residing in their land is approximately 180,462 having a median age of 24 years old.   Navajo Nation is situated over a 27,000 square miles of large land within the vicinity of the state of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. It is considered to be the largest land that is primarily covered by the jurisdiction of the Native American within the territory of the United States.

What most people don't know:  The Navajo are survivors of a barely-known Mormon assimilation program from 1947 to the mid-1990s. 
Year after year, missionaries of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints approached Navajo families and invited children into Mormon foster homes.  As part of the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program, children would live with Mormon families during the school year to “provide educational, spiritual, social, and cultural opportunities in non-Indian community life,” according to the Church.  
Typically, the Mormon foster families were white and financially stable.  Native American children who weren’t already Mormon were baptized.  Although the LDS Church reached out to dozens of Indian tribes, most participants’ families lived within the Navajo Nation.

Roughly 50,000 children participated in the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program, according to Matthew Garrett, a professor at Bakersfield College.

Rather than improving conditions on the Navajo reservation, the LDS Church asked that children assimilate to the way its white members lived. 
Some Church leaders interpreted the Book of Mormon literally and expected that Native American children’s skin would turn lighter as they grew closer to God.  

The Church now admits that not all Native Americans are descendants of the
Israelites, or Lamanites, as described in the Book of Mormon.   (Oh really, thanks)

In addition to the claims of damage done by sexual abuse, the lawsuits involving the Indian Student Placement Program assert that the culture of the Navajo Nation was “irreparably harmed” by the LDS Church’s “continuous and systematic assimilation efforts.” Although the last student in the Indian Student Placement Program graduated in 2000, plaintiffs are asking the Church to do all it can to enhance and restore Navajo culture and create a taskforce for that purpose. SOURCE:   Why Several Native Americans Are Suing the Mormon Church
Participants in the Mormon Church-sponsored Indian Student Placement Program have filed at least three sexual-abuse lawsuits. Lilly Fowler


Practices of adopting Native American children directly followed the residential/ boarding schools.  Such adoption practices, which came into fruition through forms such as the forced removal of Native American children during Canada’s 60s Scoop and its parallel in the United States, the Indian Adoption Projects, exemplify the adaption of adoption as a settler colonial tool for dispossession and disenfranchisement. 

Narragansett author John C Hopkins wrote about his Navajo mother in law on his blog:
Chilocco Indian School opened in 1884 with 123 students. Its first graduating class was comprised of six boys and nine girls. The school finally closed its doors in 1980. The name Chilooco comes from the Choctaw word “chiluki” and the Cherokee word “tsalagi,” which means “cave people” in both languages.
A long, hard-used tarred road turns off Route 166 and ends where the abandoned, ivy-covered stone buildings stand in disrepair haunted by the ghosts from memories past.
Bernice Austin-Begay, a Navajo, recalled the long ride down the road when she was a child returning to school after a rare family visit.
“I’d be sad because I knew it would be a long before I would see them again,” Austin-Begay, Class of 1965, said. “I’d be thinking about my family, thinking about my sheep.” Austin-Begay was 10 when she was first taken to Chilocco.
More than 50 years later she still recalls the day the government agents came to Black Mesa, Ariz. and took her away.
“I was captured,” she said.
Many Indian families resented how the government swooped in and took the children away from their families and did all they could to thwart the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Austin-Begay’s family was one of those. Whenever her mother saw a car coming up the road she would send Bernice running, to hide in the hills until the “biliganas” left. (Biligana is the Navajo word for white man)
But one day the car arrived unexpectedly and young Bernice never reached the woods.
“I was too slow,” Austin-Begay said.  

Starting in 1958, the Indian Adoption Project placed Native American children in non-Native homes, in what it said was an effort to assimilate them into mainstream culture and offer them better lives outside impoverished reservations.
The project was run by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal government agency, and the nonprofit Child Welfare League of America, in partnership with private agencies.

 There was a reason Indian leaders went to the Senate in the 1970s and demanded an inquiry into the staggering number of children disappearing in Indian Country. It was not just boarding schools creating this mass exodus of children. Adoption programs in 16 states removed 85% of Native children. Programs like the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), established by the Child Welfare League of America in 1967, funded in part by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, paid states to remove children and place them with non-Indian adoptive families and religious groups like the Mormon Church.  ARENA expanded to include all Canadian and United States adoption agencies and offered them financial assistance.
ICWA (the Indian Child Welfare Act) prioritizes placing Native children into Native homes or with kin or with families that are willing to keep them within a certain proximity to their cultures.
Associate Attorney General Tony West Delivers Remarks at the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s 32nd Annual
Protecting Our Children Conference ~ Monday, April 14, 2014

 "...There's more work to do because every time an Indian child is removed in violation of ICWA, it can mean a loss of all connection with family, with tribe, with culture.  And with that loss, studies show, comes an increased risk for mental health challenges, homelessness in later life, and, tragically, suicide."

Identity: One man’s search after adoption

Thomas with this adoptive parents (family photo)

An interview with Thomas H. Pierce (Menominee)
By Trace (blog editor)

Thanks to a growing community of adoptees on Facebook and the internet, I interviewed Thomas H. Pierce, now 58, a member of Menominee tribe of Keshena, Wisconsin.

Thomas explained that he is listed on their descendent roll (there is a 1/16 blood quantum requirement) though his tribal brother told him he has more. Like many adoptees learn, it’s a matter of proof and finding lost relatives after years of being lost and separated by a closed adoption.

The following testimony is graphic but very important as it’s related to the Indian Adoption Projects and their intended outcomes. Thomas is not the only adoptee I know from a Wisconsin reservation, including his Menominee rez, who was taken to Pennsylvania for a closed adoption.

Tell us a bit about your tribal affiliations…

Thomas: I am 3/16 Menominee and also 3/16 Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican. I believe my father was Native American but I can't find him, even though I know his name. I lack the 1/16 each tribe requires for minimum full tribal status.

Do you know why you are adopted?
Thomas: I was adopted when I was 5 days old. I found out my adoption was due mostly because my grandfather would not allow my birthmother to bring me home. My mother was a Navy Corpsman. (My birthfather may have been also.) I was born at the Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton on the Marine Corps military base in California.

 What was your childhood like?

I was adopted by a career Marine, Lt. Col. Herbert E. Pierce, a soft spoken “hero” in every respect. My adoptive dad was Cherokee, 1/4 blood, but his family denied it because of racism in Oklahoma. He was a WWII and Korean veteran and highly decorated.

Then there is my adoptive mother, an alcoholic, pill popper, ETOH abuser. (ETOH Abuse: When it is said that an individual is suffering from ETOH abuse what it means is that they are abusing alcohol. Most people have not heard of alcoholism being referred to as ETOH abuse and this is because this phrase is predominantly used in the medical and rehabilitation sector. The word ETOH is short for ethanol, which is the primary ingredient in alcohol.)

My mother, I believe, just hated kids. She treated us shabbily but she held a special hate for me. When she was angry, she sailed on about me being a bastard.

My father wasn't around much due to his postings so I was raised by my older sister who was eleven years older than me. When I was about 8 years old, she went off to school.

Because of my mother’s ETOH abuse, she slept in everyday until 10 a.m., so I never had anyone to rely on for getting breakfast, getting dressed or ready for school. As a result, I was a wild child, feral in some ways.

I do remember my adoptive parents were going to adopt a Navajo boy but he was violent - he grew up on the street eating from garbage cans, taking care of his younger brother, so they sent him back. I took that to heart and realized my tenure with my family was tenuous at best.

They always seemed to be sending me off somewhere, every summer vacation. I went to camps or to relatives and finally to a children's home where corporal punishment was practiced liberally.

I even made many trips to psychologists, until they told me my mother was to blame for my problems. I don't blame my Dad though he enabled her and then he was dying, very sick, and passed away at age 54. At that time, I lost my only defender. Then my relationship with my mother turned for the worse, if that was even possible.

She sent me for a summer to an acquaintance where I was sexually abused and where my own alcohol abuse started. She would do things out of spite, like setting me up with a friend for a weekend, telling this friend of hers I was gay, which I am not; but at least by this time I was old enough to fight off my attacker.

Then later, she phoned child authorities telling them I was abusing my own son, all proven untrue.

I was written out of the family will and received no inheritance or money. She gave away land which we had bought but by then I didn't care. Our relationship was irretrievable. I just wanted the few possessions my father bequeathed to me, the only things that would have mattered; and she ignored my sons with their inheritance.

But believe it or not, I mourned at her passing, mostly for the lost opportunity of a decent relationship she threw away.

 Did you have any Indian friends growing up?

I had no Indian friends growing up; there are not many Indians in the snooty environs of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, known for its wealth and society types. In fact, Wyomissing was a great place to learn how to fight. I was teased relentlessly. I learned to fight three or four guys at a time, just to survive as my tormentors waited for me with a beating and racial slurs.

But I was proud to be an Indian and I knew I was adopted from my first recollections. Despite the denials of being Indian from my father’s side of the family, they told me to be mum because they were still hanging Native Americans in Oklahoma and Missouri.

 What did you learn about your adoption and your adoptive parents?

Thomas:  I was adopted nine years after the end of World War II and my adoptive parents had been trying to have other children. My father wanted a boy. Since he was part Cherokee, a Native child seemed natural. One of my two sisters (their biological children) looked particularly Native American. After I was adopted, many of my father’s friends remarked, in their words, “You certainly can't deny him, Herb.”

We looked remarkably alike, even when I was in my 40s. I wished I was his but alas I am not.

I was told by my mother that due to father’s military service (malaria/jungle fevers) my dad was lacking enough sperm. I believe it was her who had medical problems and she had a hysterectomy in 1956-57. With her alcohol and drug abuse, as well as deep-seated psychological problems, perhaps she felt inadequate.

I was psychoanalyzed three times. The psychologists keep saying my problems were a result of her. She had a vicious temper and would assault me many times over the years, like a woman possessed, often when she visibly intoxicated.

My father and I had a good relationship, he was a mellow thoughtful man whom I could confide anything.

After my father died no one could modify her behavior. She kept an article on a blackboard about a theory that some children are “Bad Seeds.” This was pointed out to me constantly. She even blamed me for my father’s death.

She also had a way of pitting sibling against sibling to achieve her aims.

In early 1977, when she accused me of child abuse, I got so angry I threatened to kill her if she ever stuck her nose in my business again. I was written out of her will and had no contact with any family until the early 90s.

It was established there was no abuse of my children. I have raised six and never raised a hand in anger to any of them. I became my adoptive father.

There was not religious or financial reasons for them adopting me. When they sent that Navajo boy packing, that did affect me. I knew I could also be sent away. I acted out in my older years. I felt my mother just did not want me around.

 What’s your life like now and what type of work are you in?

Thomas: I have been married three times. It took me three to get it right.

I have been clean and sober for 18 years now.  I served in the military, Marines and Navy, as a corpsman. I boxed as an amateur. I love fast cars and motorcycles. I was Pre-Med in college but ran out of money. I’m studying for my Masters in Labor management, converting credits from my B.S. degree in nursing.

I have worked at everything: carpenter, boilermaker, sheet metal journeyman, and have lived all over this country. I’ve visited 49 of 50 states, lived in 15 states, and visited 25 different countries, as military, or working in the trades, or just for fun. One can never get enough travel, knowledge or evolve and involve oneself politically.

All the lessons I learned from the Colonel, early life with him, was a great civics lesson. He was a born teacher. He taught at Yale and had his PhD in History and also taught ROTC. He taught high school after he retired.

When did you decide to open your adoption or did your adoptive parents have info for you?

Thomas: I always knew my first mother’s maiden name and was curious in 1995. I felt I wasn’t disrespecting my adoptive parents. When I finally found her, my mother and I corresponded, wrote letters. She never told anyone about me so I never met her in person while she was alive, so as not to embarrass her.

Can you tell us a little about your tribal family reunion?

Thomas: About four years ago I reached out to my family in Keshena. Our reunion was grand. I come from such a proud and large family. I am still getting to know them and regret not doing it sooner.

Dr. Verna Fowler is a nun and she started the tribal college. I greatly respect my aunt and admire how she helped Native colleges everywhere. She’s truly a beautiful strong woman.

Also, my Aunt Shirley was instrumental in regaining our Nationhood back. (The Menominee were terminated but it was restored.) *see history below

I learned my own mother took in and adopted many children, as well as raising my two other half-brothers.

Unfortunately, due to many health issues and funds, I haven’t been able to travel back to my rez often. Mostly it’s my health. I almost died a year ago which awakened me to my own mortality, realizing I may have waited too long. It took many attempts to unseal my records and finally be recognized by my tribe.

One of my aunts thought I might be after something. She was right: I wanted my identity. My only regret is not starting this process sooner. I am fortunate to have such a wonderful family.

 Any advice for other adoptees…

Thomas: My advice to adoptees is “be persistent.” The laws are there but it’s just getting the system to work for you and it is slow. Yes, you might not be as fortunate as I was. My Aunt Verna gathered up as many relatives as she could and gave me a wonderful homecoming, catered at the College of the Menominee. I was and still am humbled by her kindness and warmth. I am still awaiting my naming ceremony, mostly due to health reasons, but I have no regrets.


The Menominee Indian Tribe’s rich culture, history, and residency in the area now known as the State of Wisconsin, and parts of the States of Michigan and Illinois, dates back 10,000 years. At the start of the Treaty Era in the early 1800’s, the Menominee occupied a land base estimated at 10 million acres; however, through a series of seven treaties entered into with the United States Government during the 1800’s, the Tribe witnessed its land base erode to little more than 235,000 acres today. The Tribe experienced further setbacks in the 1950’s with the U.S. Congress’ passage of the Menominee Termination Act, which removed federal recognition over the Tribe and threatened to deprive Menominee people of their cultural identity. Fortunately, the Tribe won back its federal recognition in 1973 through a long and difficult grassroots movement that culminated with the passage of the Menominee Restoration Act, Public Law 93-197, on December 22, 1973.

Read more here:

Sudden Fury: Infamous murder in Maryland involves adoptees!

2023 Editor NOTE: This is one of our most popular posts so we are reblogging it. (SEE COMMENTS)

If you do know where Michael Schwartz is, please leave a comment on this blog. Read this post to the end, as to his life in prison conviction.

(2011) You know everything happens for a reason. I just received the book “Sudden Fury” about an adoptee who killed his adoptive parents in Maryland. I opened to page 378 and saw this …"Early in 1989, Michael began searching for the natural parents and siblings he left behind when he was four. ‘I’d like to know where I’m from. All I know is I’m an Indian from somewhere.’” This book was published in 1989.

Michael’s adopted brother Larry confessed to murdering their parents alone and did not indict his adoptive brother Michael.

This is the news I found…

Cape St. Claire killer Larry Swartz dies at age 37

By ERIC HARTLEY, Staff Writer (2005)

Annapolis, Maryland - A man whose brutal slaying of his adoptive parents nearly 21 years ago became one of the county's most infamous murders, inspiring a book and a made-for-TV movie, died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack, his former attorney said.

Larry Swartz, released in 1993 after serving nine years in prison, had moved to Florida, was married and had an 8-year-old child, said his longtime lawyer, Ronald A. Baradel. He was 37.

"It was like losing a son," Baradel said. "He and I had developed pretty much of a fondness. We'd been out of contact for a couple of years, but re-established contact a couple of weeks ago."
To protect the family's privacy, Baradel declined to say where in Florida Mr. Swartz was living.

On the night of Jan. 16, 1984, 17-year-old Larry Schwarz fatally stabbed his father Robert, a computer technician, in a downstairs clubroom. Kay Swartz, a teacher at Broadneck High School, was stabbed and bludgeoned with a splitting maul after being chased through the community. Her nude body was found next to the family's swimming pool.

County police arrested Larry, the oldest of the Swartzes' three adopted children, a week later after determining that his footprints were in the snow near his mother's body and a bloody handprint was his.

The police investigation found that Mr. Swartz suffered from a personality disorder and had suppressed his anger against his parents for years.

Robert and Kay Swartz were devout Catholics, and their household was described as one of strict discipline. Kay Swartz was unable to have children of her own, and her husband, an anti-abortion activist who picketed Planned Parenthood offices, was eager to adopt unwanted children.

Larry's sister Anne was at home during the murders, but his brother Michael had drug and behavior problems that had landed him Crownsville Hospital Center.

In 1990, Michael Swartz helped to murder a man for a jar of quarters. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. (note: this is the adoptee who is Native American or perhaps not)

Larry Swartz finally snapped one night after drinking in his bedroom. He first stabbed his mother, then attacked his father, who tried to stop him. After pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released Jan. 23, 1993.

The case inspired a book, "Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder" by reporter Leslie Walker. It became a New York Times best-seller. A 1993 television movie based on the murders, "A Family Torn Apart," starred Neil Patrick Harris of "Doogie Howser, M.D." as Larry Swartz.

Mr. Swartz died without any warning, Baradel said. An autopsy was planned and funeral arrangements weren't available. Baradel said he was always confident that Mr. Swartz could have a normal life if given the chance. He never thought the murders reflected Mr. Swartz's true character.

"It's not the kind of person he was," Baradel said.


photos from book

thanks to a reader we have Michael's info
UPDATE to this post dated 1991:

AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES: Where is Michael Swartz?


Murder In The Family: Robert and Kathryn Swartz murder 1/16/1984 Cape St. Claire, MD *Adopted son Lawrence “Larry” Swartz convicted, sentenced to 20 years in prison*

Lawrence “Larry” Swartz spent about 9 years in prison and was released in 1993. He got married and they had a child. He was doing really well. In December 2004, he had a heart attacked and passed away. From what I have read, the Swartz’ were very strict and sometimes abusive to their adopted children. I believe that for Larry, it got too much and he snapped. I do wish he had resolved it in a better way, but sometimes teenagers do not think before acting, especially when drugs or alcohol is involved (Larry was drinking a lot). I do not blame the victims. Larry made a choice, the wrong choice. But I do believe he snapped and he regretted it afterwards.
Find-A-Grave: Robert Lee Swartz
Find-A-Grave: Kathryn Ann Sullivan Swartz

Lawrence J. Swartz, 38, convicted in killing of parents
Second Swartz Murder Trial Opens
The second life of Larry Swartz: Florida friends remember murderer
Find-A-Grave: Lawrence “Larry” Swartz
Robert Austin Bell murder 7/9/1990 Crownsville, MD *Michael David Swartz and Ronald Lamar Scoates convicted, sentenced to LWOP* (Larry’s brother is Michael Swartz)
Larry Swartz – How it all Began

Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder (very good book)

A Family Torn Apart
Killer Kids: Redemption
Last Name: SWARTZ
First Name: MICHAEL
Middle Name: DAVID
Date of Birth: 03/05/1966
DOC ID: 219743
Roxbury Correctional Institution

Address: 18701 Roxbury Rd., Hagerstown, MD 21746
Phone: 800-464-0764



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To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.


BOOK 5: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects