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Adoption in the Seabird Island Band Nordlund, Elizabeth Anne 1993

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ADOPTION  IN THE SEABIRD  ISLAND BAND  by  ELIZABETH ANNE NORDLUND B.A.,  The University of British Columbia,  A THESIS SUBMITTED  IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Anthropology  We accept this to the  1988.  thesis as conforming  required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December,  1993  Elizabeth Anne Nordlund,  1993  In presenting this thesis in  partial  fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department of I  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  / ‘H 3  ii  Abstract In the past, the Ministry of Social Services and Housing has placed many native children from the Seabird Island Band, a Salish band in the Sta’lo Nation, in permanent placement or adoption off the reserve.  Government agencies imposed a system  of child welfare that superseded Seabird Island adoption practices.  The Seabird Island Band members would prefer to see  these children placed within the band through ‘custom’ In apprehension and placement court cases,  adoption.  the band social worker  has needed documented information defining ‘custom’ adoption, and data regarding the benefits of this Seabird Island process.  This  thesis investigates and documents the process and results of adoption on the Seabird Island Indian Reserve.  This thesis begins with a brief history of Canadian adoption policy as it applies to First Nations people.  The thesis is  based on detailed taped interviews with Seabird Island Band members who had experienced foster care and/or adoption.  This  fieldwork was the result of negotiation with the Seabird Island Band to discover the type of research that they needed.  The  thesis documents four kinds of adoption experience of the Seabird Island members:  foster care, closed legal adoption,  adoption, and ‘custom’ adoption. adoption experiences, ethnic identity,  open  In my analysis of these  three main themes occur:  (1) issues of  (2) power and the child welfare system, and (3)  the definition and functions of  ‘custom’ adoption.  iii The thesis concludes that the imposed system of child welfare based on Euro-western ideas of appropriate child care may have destroyed or seriously damaged some Seabird Island Band members’ sense of ethnic identity.  As well, it may be a factor in the  break-up of the extended family.  ‘Custom’  adoption, as defined by  Seabird Island Band members, offers an alternate model for keeping apprehended Seabird Island children within the band. Open adoption, as defined by the pilot project documented, is an alternative for those children who cannot be returned to the band.  I have made several recommendations in the conclusion for  the Seabird Island Band’s consideration.  ‘-Ti ttti  c3-  ‘I  O— OOH li0)CDtfl  ‘-CCD CD  H 0) 4  H-0 ‘C) 00’-’  CD  ‘I’  1. 0  .  ‘ILi H-  0CDXHO  I--.  -  •  t1)01X (1)0-H  CD  .  .  .  .  H H H H H H H H H 0) 010) N) N) N) H H N) H 0 - 01010 LD —)  r1H  0-  .  .  .  .  “  ‘  ‘  p.  ‘  CDCD 5UI  ri-C)  •  Di’  ‘I’  CD  H-  HCD 01(1)’—’ frhTj I-’  OCD  -çt  S-  —4C)  (D(D  CDCD(D ‘I r1)5 ri(1)HCD CD •5.UI1:L  •  En  0-’  •  .  .  .  0’  ‘1  0’  Hi  DiCD UI.  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Hrr  rtU)  0) bi  (r.ICJ)C) It’ El”—’ rI-cO CD M15  H HH (fl.01 P3 HO  --‘H  •  0-  i H--  I-h H-.  •-JH-  CD. çt mi)c-t-.  ci  1:10’  HHHHHHI—’H  0’  H  rI’  P.. 0-  CD  I—.  or’ 0 1:10)  H- CD  .  < H N 0)0) CD F-iI--Cfl P._0 C) rICD ,‘o mo 1:1 CDI-h 0) C) ‘-O I-h bc-I .0) ‘: CDO 0) Ii U) c-ICD UC).P..•rI 0 O OP.. CD 0)0)’ W- CD OrP SI--. 0) I-h1 Ow I-.rI-p0- . CD 0) 0) P..CD P.. P.. S C-.) 0 p-si It’. -•0 0) 0) CDP-.  H-.  C)  1:,-  H- 1 0) P.. H- Irtt’ H-IQ..I--’ I—’ ti H- c-I- ‘1 10 rI.. CD 0 H-Q..J 0) H- I c-I-H O  ‘1 I—a CD C$)Ci)U)CD I-li  3I’m 0 0 D’I  Cl)  —) H  0lp-p)  ti.  H-tirP  •0’•  -  H-U)  0’ <0 0) H1  I-Tj  I-’  )  p-i-I H- 0)  1”0)  1:30 (DO) CD5  Exi  —1---3 —-‘---3--) —---1 . 01k) 0).—’  CD03(DI  1:,  ‘p...  •  •  •  U)0H0 1:  rtr  H-tflo O) H0)tiCD Ii O  rtP..  b  0) cnp.. op.. 0 H I-h -hQ CD0)CDr’ HIi rt 0 H<HOCDti 0:-U 0)0 CD I-’  OCD  5 i—10CD  030  H-CD C) b 0) 0  O0)CD .ti 01 P3H 0) 0 NCI)  0)  C-)  <  vi List of Tables  Table I.  Band Population,  Table II.  ADOPTION EXPERIENCES RECOUNTED BY INFORMANTS  Table III.  Table IV.  Table V.  57 .  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1961,1962) NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1963,1964)  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1965,1966)  Table VI.  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1967,1968)  Table VII.  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1969,1970)  Table VIII.  Table IX.  Table X.  Selected Years  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1972,1973)  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NON— INDIANS (1974,1975) NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NONINDIANS (1976,1977)  Table XI.  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NON INDIANS (1978,1979)  Table XII.  Table XIII.  Table XIV.  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NON INDIANS (1980,1981) NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NON INDIANS (1982,1983) NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY INDIANS AND NON INDIANS (1984,1985)  .  70  195  196  197  198  199  200  201  202  203  204  205  206  4  xJ 1  ‘1  CD Lxi  (fi)  CD  O  I:  CD  ‘—  0)  I-’  CD ‘1  Lx)  H  Lx)  N)  .-  •  Lxi  H -0 0)  H I  01 N)  •  •  •  0  H  •  i_0 I—’  •  0)  0  HCI-  •  •  •  •  •  CD ‘1  H-  CD  i_a  r  ‘1 0)  CD  •  Hi  0  0 HrI-  H-  til rI-  b  rICD  0  CD  I-c  ‘—‘  C)  P H0) i  I—!  H-  0) i  H-  II CT)  )  i  0  Lx)  •  01  o:i  H ‘.0  H I  o-  i_a  H  P3  H-  5  ‘—‘  0  C)  H(I)  rt-  H-  I-c  W  H-  Ct-  CD  I  P3  ‘t  < CD  Hi  0  rt  H< CD  p_) J CD  0 H-  II  Cl)  I-h  0  HrI-  H0  c  ct  tXI  rICD 1  0  CD  1  ‘-  H-  C)  01  H-  S Q.  I-’  H-i  0  r  CD  S  2  2  r1  i 0  N)  ‘1 CD  H-  ITJ  C,)  CD  H•  H-  •  I—’ i—.  Ci)  I—I  P3  CD ‘1  i-i  Ixj  I-C  E CD  o  CD  Ct-  Hi  0  tfi  Q.  txJ P3  ‘  H-  i)  H-  P3  -  s1 b  r CD  i-I  CD  Q 1-  rt J Hi.Q  HQ  Tj  H-  .Ij  N)  -  •  -  •  i_a 0) 01  H  i  H ‘-0 cY H  0)  0)  0)  C)  H-  Ct  CD S  I-  0)  ,TJ  < CD  çt H  0  P-.  I1J  0 Hi  C) HrI  H-  rI CD  0  CD  II  ‘-  H  C)  p3  H-  Q..  1  14  Hi  0  i  CD  b’  S  2  H  CD  H  CD  H  1XJ  Hi  0  r1  H  HH-  viii  Acknowl edgment  This thesis is dedicated to the members of the Seabird Island Band.  They gave me unconditional support in this research.  In  particular I would like to extend my appreciation to Cindy McNeil, who encouraged this work and gave me her full support. Her social work with the band has led to a renewed sense of band identity.  I also would like to express my appreciation to the faculty members on my M.A.  committee: Dr. Nancy Waxler-Morrison, Dr. Bill  McKellin, and especially to my supervisor, Dr. Michael Kew. Thank you for your guidance and valued suggestions during the preparation and writing of this thesis. appreciation to Dr. D.  In addition,  J. MacDougall, Faculty of Law,  advice regarding adoption law in Australia.  I express for his  1 Chapter 1 Introduction “Adoption” refers to the incorporation of a person into an existing family unit by a process other than procreation and birth.  There are several kinds of adoption practices.  adoptions take place between relatives;  Most  in North America, step  parent adoption (adoption by a spouse of a partner’s child or children of a previous marriage or relationship) is the current most common form of relative adoption.  Sociologists and social  workers use the term “blended family” to describe the family formed as a result of step-parent adoption.  New reproductive  technologies have created the possibility of fetal adoption and surrogate parenthood that have added new dimensions to adoption processes and polices.  When we think of adoption, we often first think of stranger or orphan adoption.  In this form of adoption, the child has no  genealogical connection to the adoptive parent(s);  the family  incorporates the child, a stranger, within the family unit.  In  North America, cross-cultural or trans-racial adoptions by nonaboriginal families have become more frequent due to their low fertility rates and over 90 percent of their out-of-wedlock children remaining with the birth mother (Eichler, 1988:260). Adoption of natives by non-natives causes grief for Indian people in Canada to-day.  Government agencies have removed Indian  children from their homes and reserves and placed them in non native homes.  This practice has created a sense of powerlessness  among Indian people and resulted in the adopted Indian child’s  2 loss of Indian identity and its connectedness to the band.  In 1983,  in Ontario, 37 percent of the children adopted were of  native origin;  they were taken from a provincial  population of 2 percent. percent  Similarly, in 1981,  Indian  in Manitoba,  48.7  of the children adopted were of native descent.  Government agencies placed the majority of these adopted children in non-native homes. in 1979,  Furthermore,  over a ten year period ending  in Ontario, 78 percent of the status Indian children  were placed in non-native adoption families (Eichler, 1988:263). British Columbia social services statistics for March,  1992,  indicate that there were 6084 children in foster care; thirty-two percent (1948 children) were of aboriginal decent (Thomson, 1992). The Indians view this as genocide.  Welfare agencies place so few Indian children with Indian families because the agencies use non-native middle-class standards to select both temporary and permanent placements. These agencies do not consider Indian standards for a safe, healthy, happy,  loving placement appropriate.  The Indians  recognize that past and current adoption and apprehension polices have meant that generations of children have been lost.  Non—  native parents have not made efforts to incorporate the children’s heritage, but instead, have imposed their culture on the children.  This means that not only does the band lose status  members, but the children lose their Indian heritage as well. Thus,  rights and obligations such as names, dances, masks, and  property rights cannot be passed down to the rightful owner.  3  Literature Review In my review of relevant anthropological  literature, adoption,  foster care, and kin-fosterage have not been singled out for indepth research.  The following ethnographies and research papers  provide some data about adoption, foster care, and kin-fosterage: Hill-Tout, 1986:439;  1978a:43; 1978b:42,71,101—103; Hudson and Wilson, Jorgensen, 1969:80; Teit,  281,374-376;  Ray, 1939:5,9.  1906:262;  1973:150—172,261—  Some mention of adoption in kinship  studies based on the Inuit and South Pacific cultures is avail able (eg. Morrow, Pacific:  Inuit: Burch,  1975:52-59,123-130; Guemple,  1979:11—102;  1984:245—251; Balikci, 1970:108,122,123,150; South Scheffler, 1965:88,96—102; Weiner, 1988:37; Firth,  1936:204,205,588—595; Sommerlad,  1977:167—177).  However, most  research relegates the adoption of family members or the incorporation of strangers to a few paragraphs (eg. Barnett, 1955:134-137,181; Duff,  1952; Leacock,  Suttles, 1987:17; Goody,  1949; Smith,  1945,1949;  1982:38-54,180-181,250-255).  With  regards to Salish Indian adoption, there is no anthropological research that focuses directly on the issues of adoption or foster care.  However,  there is a vast amount of literature on adoption/foster  care in the social work discipline, also in psychology.  In these  disciplines, there is active debate on the merits of open adoption (a legal adoption where the identification of the birth parents is given,  contact between the birth parents and adoptive  family may be maintained,  and where full family histories are  4 shared) versus closed legal adoption (a legal adoption where the identity of the birth parents is withheld, no contact between the birth family and adoptive family is made and where little or no family history is provided).  The subject of North American  trans-racial adoption has been covered thoroughly for Black and Asian children and less so for Indian children (eg. Day, Silverman and Feigelman,  1979;  1984:181-191; Gill and Jackson, 1983;  Johnson et al, 1987:45-55; Allen,  1957).  The American experience  with American solutions is the basis of most of this literature (eg.  Schapiro, 1956; Kirk,  Fanshel, 1972; Anderson,  1981, 1988;  Small, 1987:33—41;  1971; McRoy et al,  1988).  There are  also a number of research papers written from a Canadian point of view (eg.  Sachdev, 1984; Kimelman, 1985; Ward,  1984;  Johnston,  1983; Eichler, 1988:237-373; Hudson and Mackenzie, 1981:63-88; Hepworth,  1980; Kendrick,  1990).  Methodology The Seabird Island Band reserve, where this research took place, is located on the lower Fraser River, Columbia.  east of Agassiz, British  In 1879 government representatives created a reserve  on Seabird Island for seven bands located between Yale and Popkum on the Fraser River.  In 1992,  there were about 330 status  members of the Seabird Island Band.  The band is part of the  Sta’lo nation and is considered by anthropologists to be part of the language group called Halkomelem.  The band is composed of  both Halkomelem and Nlkapamuxw descent members.  I was determined that my thesis be useful to the people and my  5 choice of the Coast Salish was based on my particular interest in their culture.  I initiated this research as a result of my  negotiations with the Chief and band social worker.  In 1989,  I  contacted the Chief and asked if the band required any research to be done, perhaps in the area of child welfare.  The Seabird Island Band required the documentation of adoption experiences and the definition of “custom” adoption. Services had removed many of their children  over the years  without regard for native practices of child care. members wished to return to  “custom”  Social  The band  adoption but said that  neither the Social Services Ministry nor the courts understood what Seabird Island people meant by this term. band members’  Documentation of  experiences would give the Band Council the data  they need to argue for the return of “custom” adoption.  After a lengthy discussion with the band social worker, an Indian woman employed by the band,  I defined a thesis project that would  allow me to complete the research needed by the Band Council. The band did not require a contract or a formal written agreement.  We have a verbal understanding that I will give them  a copy of my thesis, which will document these adoption experiences and define ‘custom’ adoption.  It is a research  document that may be used by the band in court in adoption cases.  I received permission to carry on this research project after completing the “Request for Ethical Review” form, which included a letter of permission from the Seabird Island Band Chief to  6 conduct the research and to conduct in-depth interviews with band members (See 4, Appendices).  The band agreed to give me the use of an office for private interviews.  It had a comfortable seating arrangement for inter  views and a table where I could place a tape recorder and micro phone.  I could use the electricity so did not have to depend on  batteries.  The band social worker made the historical primary  documents of the band available to me,  also photocopies of the  original field notes of Marian Smith and Eleanor Leacock.  They  had done field work on the Seabird Island Reserve in 1945.  An  office clerk prepared photocopies of maps at no cost to me.  The  office staff made me very welcome and between interviews or at coffee time,  I spoke informally with them and other band members  who wandered in.  I travelled anywhere on the reserve that I  wished to and had permission to take photographs of anything. After my field work, the Chief took me on a tour of the reserve to show me the various historical and current points of interest; this tour put into context many bits and pieces of historical data that I had collected.  In my initial discussion with the band social worker,  I asked her  to list everyone on the reserve who either had experienced adoption or had knowledge of it.  As the interviews progressed,  informants named others who had experienced adoption;  I then  added those names to the list.  I started with a list of  seventeen possible candidates.  I suggested that I would want to  interview everyone on the list.  I asked her if she would  7 introduce me to the first few people so that I could arrange interview times.  The band social worker was extremely co  operative and helpful.  Her workload was extremely heavy, yet she  was always available to me.  She set up the appointments with the  informants and introduced them to me when they arrived at the band office. and December,  Periodically, over the seven week period (November 1989) that I spent on the reserve,  I would meet  with the band social worker to discuss various questions that had come up and add prospective informant names to the list. interview had to be done in a private home, introduced me and then left.  When an  she took me there,  She shared some publications that  she thought pertained to the research.  I interviewed informants to obtain narratives of foster care/adoption experiences.  These interviews varied from thirty  minutes to two hours, depending on the informant.  Some Elders  could only talk for a short period due to ill health.  The interviews began with a brief discussion of the research and its application to the band and to my work.  I then asked  informants to sign an “Informed Consent Form” (See 6, Appendices) and gave them a copy.  I discussed anonymity with my informants  and assured them that I would use pseudonyms in the thesis. Informants were free to refuse to answer any questions with which they were uncomfortable.  I explained that the tapes and notes  from the interviews would remain in my possession and I would use them for research purposes;  I told the informants that should  they require a copy of their interview, that I would give them a  8  copy.  I also indicated that the Band Council would receive a  copy of any papers or publications based on the research and that the thesis would be available to the public at the University of B.C.  library.  I taped and transcribed the interviews;  all direct or indirect  quotations in Chapter 5 come from these transcriptions.  The  reference gives the tape identification number and the date of the interview (eg.  Z1O, Nov.4/89).  Though it is true that the  choice and use of quotations may suggest my bias,  I have made a  concerted effort to maintain the Seabird Island person’s point of view.  To provide context and maintain the authority and  integrity of the informants’  accounts,  I have edited the  interview data for clarity and extraneous data only. information [eg,  ( )]  is paraphrased.  history of a person’s experience  -  Bracketed  Each account is an oral  a reconstruction of the past.  Informants came from a cross-section of the band:  elders, middle-  aged, and young adults, male and female. The interviews were twenty accounts of adoption experiences:  custom adoption,  legal  closed adoption, open adoption, and foster care experiences.  All  informants gave their permission to have their interviews taped.  Field observations, slides, remain in my possession.  and files pertaining to my field work  I maintained telephone contact with key  contact people so that queries about data collected could be confirmed.  Over the years,  Indian bands have dealt with self-determination  9 issues such as health, education,  justice, and social welfare.  Anthropologists should not take a parochial colonial approach to fieldwork.  The needs of First Nation people must be considered  first in our research.  We must ask what kinds of work the bands  require and negotiate with respect for their values.  Negotiation  means that the time frame for organizing field work may be more protracted,  but it will help ensure that our work is more  responsive to the people we study.  Indian nations have current  cultural problems that require research.  By negotiating to do  research, anthropologists may receive the co—operation of those involved.  The researcher has access to the band members and to  the primary documentation required. working with and for them.  The anthropologist is  the Indian band, not doing anthropology to  Negotiated research is a pragmatic and practical solution  for both the Indian band and the anthropologist.  Types of Adoption Experience Adoption experiences of Seabird Island people are more extensive than those of North Americans, generally.  Kirk suggests that one  in five persons in North America has had personal experience with adoption (Kirk,  1981:4).  In the Seabird Island Band,  almost  everyone has had some experience with adoption or apprehension.  These experiences fall into four general categories:  foster care,  closed legal adoption, open adoption, and “custom” adoption.  1. Foster Care Foster care is generally considered in the literature of social  10 welfare and sociology, to be a separate welfare issue from adoption.  To be placed into temporary or permanent foster care  means that social workers or government agents remove the child from the family and reserve.  They then place the child in a  private home, where surrogate parents, acting for the provincial government,  care for it.  These parents cannot make any major decisions regarding the child’s medical,  educational,  or psychological needs;  a social  worker, acting on the government’s behalf, makes all decisions. The government gives parents a monthly allowance to cover the child’s expenses.  In an ideal world, an Indian child would stay  with a native family until s/he reached adulthood.  S/he would be  aware of her/his heritage and encouraged to maintain her/his identity.  The home would be a safe, happy and loving place,  where a child apprehended abruptly from its own family, find security.  could  The reality is that Indian children in foster  care may be passed through a series of social workers and nonnative foster care placements.  Over the years,  the child may never feel secure and happy.  Foster parents do not encourage the child to develop an Indian identity and the child enters a no-man’s land, neither native nor non-native.  S/he is left to wander eventually to the streets of  large urban areas where kinship ties are forever severed. Because social workers are assigned case loads and are subject to transfers, they do not maintain the same files. the foster parents,  This means that  Indian children and Indian band must deal  11 with a succession of social workers who must constantly up—date themselves on the children who are their responsibility. lack of security and stability,  Beside  Indian children are aware that  welfare agencies pay their surrogate parents to look after them. The children see fostering as just another job with no investment in ties that would bind them into a family.  Another aspect of fostering,  is the use of group homes for older  Indian children who have already gone through a series of private homes.  In group homes,  the children are under the care of either  a team of non-native adults or group home parents.  The children  view the group home as a dumping ground for runaways and children with substance, physical,  or sexual abuse experience.  Both  private homes and group homes are places from which to escape. The Indian child does not consider it a safe, secure home.  loving, stable,  and  Private and group homes usually are not geographi  cally close to the reserve.  The Indians classify apprehension for either temporary or permanent placement as adoption.  From their point of view  apprehension means the child is lost, gone forever.  Seabird  Island people often use the word “apprehension” where non-natives would use the word “adoption.”  2.  Closed Legal Adoption  Closed legal adoption takes place after social workers apprehend a child from the band and place the child in a temporary foster home.  The children are the wards of the provincial government.  12 There is no requirement that native children must be placed in native homes.  Recent changes in British Columbia policy now  state that the social worker will try to find a suitable home on the reserve first.  Failing that, the regular adoption placement  proceedings will place the child in a non-native home.  The  regulations do not require adoptive parents to raise the child with the knowledge of its heritage.  However, social workers must  now consult the band prior to placement.  In the past, social workers did not give the band any information about the child.  Because social workers use middle-class stan  dards for placement, reserve.  they seldom place the children on the  After one year,  adoptive family.  the child is legally a member of the  The welfare agency does not release the  identity and location of the birth parents and extended family to the child or the adoptive parents.  They do not tell the adoptive  family which band the child is from, so it is difficult to give the child its Indian heritage.  A status Indian maintains his/her  status, but adoptive parents unconcerned with status rights or uneducated in the child’s rights may prevent the child from exercising those rights.  3. Open Adoption Open adoption is not yet available to Indian children, as a general policy.  The Seabird Island Band is participating in a  pilot project under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Services and Housing.  In this project,  an Indian child for whom  return to the reserve would be unsafe, has been legally adopted  13 by a non-native family.  He is aware of his Indian heritage and  his adoptive parents encourage him to learn as much as they can teach him about the customs of the Seabird Island Band.  Though  he may not have contact with his birth mother, he has had visits in his adoptive home by his sister.  As well, he has visited the  reserve to talk with an older sister. father’s recent death. to be his “aunt.”  He knows about his birth  The Band Council has appointed an elder  She maintains contact with the adoptive  parents so that both parties can be informed about the child’s development,  the birth family’s situation, and changes at the  band level.  By using open adoption as described,  the child is  secure and happy in a loving caring family and aware of his heritage.  When this child matures, it is less likely that there  will be a no-man’s land for him to wander in.  He will be  encouraged to rejoin the band as an adult member, with his rights and obligations intact.  4.  “Custom” Adoption  I suggest that this method of open adoption is necessary for those children who cannot find safe homes within the band due to substance, physical or sexual abuse. adoptive homes for other reasons.  However, many children need  The Seabird Island Band wishes  to return to what the elders call “custom” adoption.  This  adoption process involves either a close relative such as a grandparent, uncle or aunt, to adopt the child.  or a close family friend, who agrees  Band members do not exchange money or gifts,  nor do they make formal contracts or court visits. of the child is by verbal agreement.  The transfer  The child becomes a full  14 and equal member of the adoptive family, assuming the new family’s name.  This child may receive names, masks, dances, and  property from the adoptive family.  The adoptive family use  family kinship terms as if the child had been born into the family.  Still, the child also will know who its birth family is  and may freely visit them as it gets older.  There is no  interference in the child’s up-bringing by the birth parents. Once the families make an agreement, the community recognizes the adoptive parents as the parents of the child. is socially and symbolically constructed.  The parents’  role  The openness of custom  adoption is important because it is important to know the geneal ogy of band members.  Secrecy would not allow members to know the  relationships of band members.  “Custom” adoption would allow the  children to retain their heritage, kin ties, and to be knowl edgeable about their rights and obligations; it also would allow the extended family to assume its role of care-giving.  Of the above adoptive experiences,  “custom” adoption is the  process that band members wish to return to.  Open adoption is an  alternative for children who cannot return to the reserve.  Both  methods allow the children to maintain ties to their birth family and to their heritage.  They allow the extended family unit to  work together for the benefit of the child and the band.  Neither  method may be construed as genocide because the children are not lost to the band. The power and strength of the band is maintained.  15 Some notes regarding this research: I use the ethnographic present in this work to discuss current practices and past tense to indicate past practices either prior to contact or since contact with other societies.  Seabird Island Band members use the term “custom” adoption, already mentioned in this introduction, to define the child welfare actions taken by the band members for the protection of their children.  This specific usage will be placed in quotation  marks throughout this thesis.  In the chapter detailing the  adoption experiences of band members, adoption,  the terms “apprehension,  fostering,” and “foster care” are used interchangeably  by some informants.  Because the informants did not differentiate  between processes, it is difficult at times, informants’  use of the terminology.  to make sense of the  The categorization of the  experiences should help define what kind of experience is being discussed.  As well, informants used several different expressions to refer to the federal and provincial government agencies with which they have had contact.  In the province of British Columbia,  the  Ministry of Social Services handles child welfare matters. Seabird Island people refer to this ministry variously as: “Social Services,  the Ministry of Human Resources (M.H.R.), Human  Resources (H.R.), the Ministry, the Welfare, ment,  the Welfare Depart  the Social Department, the Welfare system,” and “Social  Welfare.”  The Indian and Northern Affairs Canada ministry in  Ottawa, handles Indian concerns.  Seabird Island people refer to  16 it variously as:  “the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern  Development (D. I.A.N.D.), Department of Indian Affairs (D.I,A.), the Department,” and “Indian Affairs.”  I have used pseudonyms to ensure confidentiality for informants. Within the Seabird Island community, many adoption experiences detailed here are local knowledge.  For the larger community,  that is the people outside the reserve and the readers of this work,  it serves no useful purpose to identify informants by their  real name.  The Plan of the Thesis: Finally, an overview of the contents of this thesis seems in order.  Following this introductory chapter, Chapter Two provides  a brief overview of Canadian adoption history, particularly as it pertains to First Nations people and some statistical information on First Nations adoption.  Chapter Three puts the Seabird Island  Band in perspective by providing a geographical, historical, and current context.  Chapter Four provides the data that resulted  from interviews.  It begins with definitions of the adoption  terminology used throughout the thesis,  followed by a selection  of some experiences related by band members and a summation of answers to interview questions about adoption. Six, and Seven contain the analysis. issues of identity,  Chapters Five,  Chapter Five deals with  loss of self-esteem and the feeling of  belonging, and the effect of the loss of contact. discusses power and the child welfare system.  Chapter Six  It is in this  chapter that the effects of the current child welfare system are  17 presented. homes,  The loss of power and respect,  separation of siblings,  foster care, group  serial care, subsidization, and  status of First Nations children are the main areas of analysis. Chapter Seven provides a definition of “custom” adoption on Seabird Island and analyses the issues of legalization of custom adoption, validation of custom adoption, and cross-cultural custom adoption.  Chapter Eight summarizes the results of the  field work on Seabird Island, discusses the ethnographic findings of the thesis.  It also looks to the future by presenting issues  that the Band Council is still working on such as lack of adoptive parents,  rejection, and the use of open adoption as an  alternative to closed legal adoption or “custom” adoption. closes with recommendations for action. data are placed in the Appendices.  It  The remainder of the  The Appendices offer examples  of the forms used for this research and a list of the interview questions.  CD  0  U)  .  0 H  c-I  C)  r1 CD i—i- CD  I-.’ (flU)  U) 0 çt H P3k  0  H•  CD  H0<  P3U)  0Hg  Mi CD  H  -_o 0 co  H  •0  ODIt  ‘DCD 0  •  5’  -  it  P3  Cl  CD U)  H-  CD S C)  i,0  P3  ‘—‘  C) 0 i Hi 0 Ci 1  U)  H-  P3  H  —  C) CI) U) CL) U)  F-h P3 H CD  ‘—‘  CD  Cl  ‘-  H-  C)  it 0  C) 3  H-  Cl)  c-I  0 i  H-  CU C) it  < CD ‘1  Y  -  P3  Hi  H-  dl-  Ci  ty’  CD i  Cl  ‘—‘  i  0  U)  Cl  Hi P3  ‘—‘  Cl  3  H-  C)  (P  3  c-I-  H,  0  U)  it  CD II CD U)  c-I-  H-  c-I-  3 CD U)  CI)  ‘—  H-  C)  it Y’ CD  h(  0  Mi  1,0  H-  0 H  HU)  5  Ct CD  U)  3’  U) I<  l-(  0  ‘  Hi  0  t) P3 U) CD Cl  0 i U)  H-  CD C) F-’U)  çt  0 Ii  H-  0 ‘Zi Ct  Cl  P3  CD  :-  i-I-  c-t-  ‘ti Ci)  CD  ci-  it CD  ‘1 CD Cl  P3  <  H-  C  Hi  ,0  H-  P3 C)  P3 U)  CD  1—’  C) H‘t  H H-  ‘--  1 H< CD ‘1 U) ci)  HU)  rt  rt  ci)  C) CD -.  çt  CD P3 i  S  H-  ‘ti H P3 C)  çt  (1)  LI.  0  H-  )  (-I-  I-(  Hi P3  I--s  Cl) CD < CD ‘1 P3  CD  H  0 ‘tI  c-I-  Cl  U)  U) 0 C)  Mi  0  i CD CD l U)  CD  ‘-3  -  U) CD  f Ct  CI) ‘t  CI)  1,0  :3  Zj  HU) Ct HC)  S  CD i J 3’ CD  0 H  I  I—’ I—i  CD  CD U)  H  0  S  Ct CD  H-  CI)  H-  0  dl-  1Y ci) < CI)  Ct  U)  U)  i C) HCL)  CD  ci) )  tY’ CD U)  Cl  1’  Ct -l  HU) Ct HC)  -‘  H-  C)  CD  çt Y’  CD  çt  P3  P3  tY CL)  0  r1  I—’  H-  ‘tj  U)  5  U) 0 C) HP3  CD U)  U) CD Cl)  it  ‘Z CI) H CD i  s—’  p)  HC)  i-C)  0  ‘--‘  ‘Z U) -< C) Y 0  (P  Y’  Ct  Hi  0  0  c-IH-  gi. 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Changes to social agency policy and practices such  as criteria for adoptive homes,  criteria for placement of  children, and suitability for placement have put pressure on the social agencies to make decisions that have not always been in the best interests of the child.  Some adoptive and birth parents  want adoptive files sealed forever, putting their interests before those of their child. history,  In this brief overview of adoption  it is important to discover just whose best interests  have been served.  Early in child welfare matters, control over the child; fit;  common law gave the father  the child was his to care for as he saw  the state lacked absolute control.  to provide for the equality of genders, of the child,  As laws were rewritten either parent had control  thus maintaining the parent/child relationship.  The state became increasingly involved in the creation and enforcement of child welfare laws.  These statutory laws,  concerned with legitimization and the care of children both outside and inside the family, were in direct opposition to common law (Schapiro,  1956:90).  The family, once thought to be a  private domain, has become a very public matter.  The child  welfare policies of Canada now give the ultimate responsibility for the children to the state,  In North America,  adoption,  rather than to the parent/s.  formalized as a legal process, has  not had a long history (See Schapiro, 1956:14-21).  Private deeds  were used in the United States prior to the ratification of adop  20 tion laws by states, beginning with the state of Massachusetts in 1851.  The Massachusetts statute • .provided for a judicial decree of adoption based on a joint petition of the adoptive parents, accompanied by the written consent of the child’s natural parents” (MacDonald, 1984:45). “By 1952, thirty-four states provided for manda tory investigation by the State Department of Public Welfare” (Schapiro, 1956:91).  In Canada, adoption legislation dates from 1873 in New Brunswick, to 1896 in Nova Scotia, 1920 in British Columbia, 1921 in Ontario, 1922 in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, in Alberta,  1930 in Prince Edward Island,  foundland (MacDonald,  1984:45).  Canada’s first adoption law,  1924 in Quebec, 1927  and 1940 in New  In the New Brunswick statute,  a single adult or a married couple  could petition the court for adoption. “Written consents were required from the child, if over 12 years, and his parents, or if the parents were deceased, his guardian. The judge had to be both satisfied that the petitioners could ‘bring up and educate the child properly’ and convinced of the ‘fitness and propriety’ of the proposed adoption... (There was no reference to).. .secrecy of adoption records, an adoption probation period, or the requirement of a report to the court from a public official on the suitability of the petitioners as adoptive parents” (MacDonald, 1984:45).  In 1901, British Columbia passed the Infants Act, which provided for a Provincial Superintendent of Neglected Children. after,  Shortly  three Children’s Aid Societies were incorporated:  Children’s Aid Society of Vancouver (a Protestant organization), Catholic Children’s Aid Society, Society (non-sectarian)  and the Victoria Children’s Aid  (New Families For Young Canadians, 1967).  The British Columbia Adoption Act, passed in 1920, was .similar to the much earlier New Brunswick legislation. It contained no provisions for secrecy of adoption records. No report to the court was required on the fitness of the adoptive parents, although notice of application for adop— “..  21 tion was required to be served on the Superintendent of Neglected Children” (MacDonald, 1984:45). After the Second World War, government agencies took on a greater role within what had been the private domain of the family.  The  position of social workers became more prominent and credible. People were willing to let ‘the experts’ make decisions that they thought would solve the problems of the community.  When the  provincial government extended social services to Indian reserves,  there was little concern that such an extension would  adversely affect Indian people (Johnston,  In 1950,  1983:3).  the government established the Provincial Advisory  Committee on Indian Affairs.  The Department of Indian Affairs  provided all health and welfare services. “The Provincial Welfare Branch did not extend its services to the Reservations except for the protection of children and for the investigations for the ‘Family Allowance Act” (Elmore, Clark and Dick, 1974:3). In 1952,  the province and the Department of Indian Affairs  jointly extended services to the Indians of B.C.  for delinquent  children, adoption cases, and unmarried mothers (Ibid., 1974:3). The provincial government set a new policy in 1955 for the apprehension of Indian children;  prior to that time, the  provincial government apprehended Indian children if the Department of Indian Affairs requested their help (Ibid., 1974:4).  These changes set in motion a continual argument  between the federal and provincial governments regarding responsibility and payment for Indian child welfare services. This jurisdictional dispute had a bearing on the policies set by  22 provincial governments (Johnston,  1983:4).  In the 1950’s, based on the social work philosophy of that time, government administrators decided that an adopted child should sever all connections with her birth family and become like and equal to a natural child.  The new British Columbia Adoption Act  of 1957 specified that upon adoption, a child ‘for all purposes’ became the child of his adoptive parents and ‘for all purposes’ ceased to be the child of his natural parents” (MacDonald, 1984:47). This act was to cause irreparable psychological damage to generations of adoptees, who, according to the Act, must look like and act like the other members of their adoptive family with no recognition of the importance of maintaining their identity (Kirk,  1981).  At this time, social workers began to match the  physical attributes of adoptees to those of the adoptive farn ilies.  The act of adoption was a big secret; the child’s  parentage was often not revealed to the adoptee. differences were not recognized.  Cultural  Adoptive parents incorporated  the child into their family, based on the similarities of appearance and the similarities of the sketchy family history presented by social workers.  Adoptive parents and social workers  gave no consideration to the adoptees’ need to know their connec tions with the past or their family of origin.  This adoption  model excluded the adoptee from his/her birth right and the birth family from their child (Bagley,  1986:233).  This model also  excluded adoptive parents who did not have the appropriate values,  level of education,  and economic status.  The exclusion  23 model also excluded any opportunity for other models of adoption such as aboriginal custom adoption to guide practice.  In Canada,  recruitment of homes for visible minorities began in  the 1960’s.  These programs attracted white adoptive parents and  the number of inter-racial adoptions increased dramatically. “This is especially true in the western provinces where native children constitute approximately 50 per cent of the children admitted to the care of child welfare authorities. Thus, of 137 status Indian children adopted in Canada in 1965, 44 were adopted by Indians and 93 by non-Indians. By 1977 the total number adopted had risen to 581, with 135 adopted by Indians and 446 by non-Indians” (MacDonald, 1984:55). Social Work literature refers to the adoption pattern of the 1960’s as the “Sixties Scoop.”  Great numbers of Indian children  went into care under the auspices of the B.C. Ministry of Social Services.  At that time there was a large migration of native  people from the reserves to the urban areas.  This caused the  loss of adults of child-rearing age from the bands.  It also  meant that those who moved to the urban areas lacked community support.  Many of their children went into care instead of being  cared for by the extended family on the reserve. reserves, those children who needed care,  On the  could not be placed  because there were too few adults available to provide that care. As well, the government closed residential schools for Indians and the young adults who had been in the residential school system had reduced parenting skills. “In 1955 there were 3,433 children in the care of B.C.’s child welfare branch. Of that number it was estimated that 29 children, or less than 1 percent of the total, were of Indian ancestry. By 1964, however, 1,446 children in care in B.C. were of Indian extraction. That number represented  24 34.2 percent of all children in care. Within ten years, in other words, the representation of Native children in B.C.’s child welfare system had jumped from almost nil to a third. It was a pattern being repeated in other parts of Canada as well. One longtime employee of the Ministry of Human Resources in B.C. .admitted that provincial social workers would, quite literally, scoop children from reserves on the slightest pretext. She also made it clear, however, that she and her colleagues sincerely believed that what they were doing was in the best interests of the children. They felt that the apprehension of Indian children from reserves would save them from the effects of crushing poverty, unsanitary health conditions, poor housing and malnutrition, which were facts of life on many reserves. Unfortunately, the long-term effect of apprehension on the individual child was not considered. More likely, it could not have been imagined. Nor were the effects of apprehension on Indian families and communities taken into account and some reserves lost almost a generation of their children as a result” (Johnston, 1983:23). .  .  During the period between 1963 and 1969,  there was a concerted  effort by the Adoption Placement Section of the B.C. Ministry of Social Services to find more Indian homes.  They advertised  information about particular children, presented articles in native print media and used the media for promotions and public relations.  They also participated in a research project with the  University of British Columbia School of Social Work, held meetings with native agencies to stimulate interest, and participated in the Open Door Society program directed towards Indian adoption. number of factors.  These efforts met with little success due to a There was a high ratio of children to adults  resulting from the migration off the reserves of adults in the child-rearing age of 20 problems,  -  39.  There was an increase in social  resulting in many children needing temporary or  permanent foster care.  The economy of the reserves was  restricted and the size of Indian families precluded them from  25 accepting more children.  As well,  there was a lack of a central  source of information on Indian homes available. and Dick,  In 1971,  (Elmore, Clark  1974:21).  “.  .  .a movement in the United States began to promote the  placement of native children with native families” (Lipman, 1984:35).  By the late 1970’s, First Nations leaders in British  Columbia,  expressed concern about the loss of their children to  non-native adoptive families who did not place a priority on maintaining the native child’s ethnicity and identity.  Thousands  of native adoptees grew up without any knowledge of their cul tural heritage or their rights and obligations as status Indians.  In 1975,  the report by the British Columbia Royal Commission on  Family and Children’s Law was presented.  The Commission made the  following key recommendations: “1. The highest priority should be given to recruiting native Indian adoption homes for native children. To reduce the financial impediments to adoption among native families, the commission recommended a program of short- and long-term financial subsidies. It also recommended outreach to native communities by child welfare agencies, as well as genuine efforts to recruit and train native personnel for employment in the child welfare field. 2. Although not prepared to recommend the exclusive adoption of native children by native Indian adoptive parents, the commission urged that an ‘ethnic release’ by natural parents be a precondition to adoption by non-Indian parents. This would be similar to the ‘religious release’ required in some jurisdictions when the child is to be placed with adoptive parents of a religion different from that of the natural parent. 3. The commission was aware of cultural traditions among some Indian bands that sanctioned custom adoptions. Since such practices were frequently at variance with conventional adoption with respect to inheritance rights and on-going contact between the adoptee and his natural parents, the  26 commission recommended that Indian custom adoptions be explicitly recognized in provincial statute law, as had earlier been done in the federal Indian Act and the Child Welfare Ordinance of the Northwest Territories. 4. To ensure that native children raised in non-Indian adoptive homes would be aware of their Indian status and culture, the commission recommended that non-Indian adoptive parents be required, prior to placement, to take part in an orientation course in native Indian culture, designed in conjunction with Indian people. Such parents would also be required at the time of placement to sign an agreement to familiarize the child with her Indian heritage. 5. To ensure that status Indian children placed for adoption would at a later time be able to share in the activities and benefits of Indian band membership, the commission recommended that the Provincial Superintendent of Child Welfare be required to notify the Registrar of Indian Affairs in Ottawa of the child’s adoption, and the adoptive parents of his registered Indian status and band membership” (MacDonald, 1984:56). Eighteen years later,  the provincial government has implemented  few of these recommendations.  Native personnel have been trained  for employment in social work, but the training does not give them the level of credentials (Master of Social Work) to be social workers for the Ministry of Social Services, so they the power and position to be effective agents of change.  lack  Social  workers recruit native homes for foster care and adoption, but white middle-class standards for selection continue to be used. Social workers consult Band Councils placement take place.  before apprehension and  Band Councils now have access to  information regarding the whereabouts of their recently appre hended native children.  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UI  H-’  CT) U)  1-lCD CD  (D’  çI-  c-I  0 CDH-  (T)C)  113I-  0)  Cl10  Dill  1111 CD(D  j_f_  00  I01  Di0)  0)iCD  CD () 0)111—h  •  c-ICD CD U)  Di Cl  0 Hi  <  H U)  tI (I)  Di  U (D U)  0  H-  Cl 0 ‘t  I—’  Di  c-, I-’0  j Di  CD  c-I-  :3  H-  (-I-  CD  Cl)  0  Di  --  ,  Mi 0 r-ç  Di Hrt Hl ‘.0  Ci  0  ‘-<  rt  Hi 0 11 H-  5  CT) U) c-I-  11  Di  I—-’  CD  c-I-  CD Cl  F-.  Mi 0  CD  Cl  I-  H  0  HU)  CD  Di i Cl  i Di c-IH < CD  -.  ‘—‘  CD  CD  t—  —  Mi Cl) Cl CD II Di  (U  rt  Di c-I-  o  0)  H  H-  c-I  Di  c-I  c-fU)  0  CD  5 Di  H  C)  bi  H-  c-IH 0 3  Di Cl 0  Mi 0 II  Cl)  Di 13’  I—•  Di  Di  28 in Ontario,  the Fort Alexander Child and Family Service in  Manitoba,  the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians in She-shat-shit,  Labrador,  the off-reserve Metis and Cree of Sandy Bay,  Saskatchewan (Johnston, Northern Manitoba (Damm,  1983:112-118), 1992:53).  and the Awasis Agency in  The return of band respon  sibility for the children is just one of the aspects that bands are now dealing with in their move towards self-government.  The rates of adoption for status Indians in Canada for the years 1961 to 1985 suggest that there is still an inordinately high percentage of Indian children being adopted by non-Indians (See Figure 1.  next page).  In British Columbia (Figure 2.),  adoption by non-Indians remains high as well. (Figure 3.),  where recent changes have allowed Indian bands to  move towards custom adoption, number of  In Manitoba  statistics indicate an increasing  Indian adoptive parents.  The following graphs indicate  the number of Indian adoptions over a twenty-four year period (data for 1971-72 are not available).  I chose British Columbia  for this comparison because this province has no instituted custom adoption.  Manitoba has made some policy changes that  incorporate Indian values,  but custom adoption is not yet legal  across the province.  (See 2, Appendices for tables showing adoption rates for Indian and Non-Indian parents,  1961  -  1985).  i-  OF  Ii—o PTE).  N  300  350  5oo  £  OiRI  (i0PTWf  OP T  tnE:  ii  m  (  T L  f)j  J 1  fl)) i  .  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Di  C) CD  CD  CD  H CD  C)  H-  I-.  0  0  H  Cr  LI 0  H  CD  Cr  LI  DI  Cr  HC)  I—.  Hi  0  C)  H 0  CD  Li  Hi  C) 0  I’)  i-i  C))  33 child despite the child’s right to know who their parents are. “Legal practice ordinarily observes the doctrine that anything contrary to, or in derogation of, the common law must be strictly interpreted. Inmost states, therefore unless they have a statute expressly providing for liberal interpretation in light of stated principles a very strict interpretation is given the adoption statute, letterby-letter, so that common law philosophy favoring absolute right of natural parents may prevail, in many cases to the detriment of the child’s best interests” (Schapiro, 1956:91). --  In addition, the offer of the adoptive parents to take the child in,  creates another set of pressures on the judiciary to consider  their needs beyond the right of the child to have the name of their birth parents. “As a principle and in the abstract, people agree that adopted children should be afforded every protection, but at the same time the notion still prevails that the offer to adopt a child is something intrinsically fine, stemming from unquestionably charitable, altruistic impulses, and that such an offer should not be subjected to too close inquiry” (Miller, 1951:46). Closed legal adoption maintains for the adult adoptee, the mechanisms that the courts put in place to ‘protect’ By keeping files closed, adoptee,  the child.  the government is saying to the adult  “You do not have the right to the most fundamental and  personal information about yourself. ity to deal with this knowledge.”  You do not have the capac  An adult person who cannot  legally obtain basic documents relating to her/his life, does not have the same rights and obligations as other adults within the society.  It is particularly important to adolescents to discover identif ying information about their birth family.  At this age they  34 begin to establish their sense of who they are and how they fit into their society. “In 1975, Sorosky, Baron and Pandor reviewed the literature on genealogical concerns and identity-crisis development in adopted individuals. They found a consensus in these studies that adoptees are more vulnerable than nonadoptees to identity problems developing in adolescence and young adulthood” (McRoy et al, 1988:4). Open adoption for band members who cannot stay on the reserve and “custom” adoption for those who can, would help to alleviate any concerns for these children about who they are and where they came from.  In another study,  an adoptee felt that without any  knowledge about her biological  family, she could have no sense of  personal significance and identity (Ibid,  1988:5).  “People who experience unresolved emotional cut-offs from significant others are at a greater risk emotionally and psychologically than those who have resolved such cut-offs. Therefore, all adopted children should not only have good parenting, but access to information about, and perhaps eventually contact with, their biological families” (McRoy et al, 1988:5). Having information about one’s birth family gives children a more complete picture of themselves. like? Who do I act like?  Questions like,  Do I have siblings?  “Who do I look  Are my parents  still alive?”, can be answered more readily by adoptive parents in open adoption.  Besides the previous questions that are likely  to be universal despite the culture of the child, children have questions like,  First Nations  “Which band do I belong to? What  are the characteristics of that band? and What is my status in that band?  Currently, unless children are adopted through an  open adoption or “custom” adoption process, they will  it is unlikely that  receive enough identifying information to establish  their sense of identity within the non-native society.  (3i  I— 9)  H  j  C-I  cC)  Ci)  -•  i  9)  II  U) IT’ (C)  0  (TI  0 ‘Ti (V  <  0  C-I) i C-). 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I-I  çt  (I)  0 I—  5  ,.—.  <  i—  H  S  Mi CC)  ID CC) ‘1  i Ci C)  H-  5  CC)  CD U)  0  (I)  H-  CD CC) C)  Fl  çt  i C) CI)  ‘0  Hi  3 0 C U)  CD  H-  CD  ‘—a  H  5  CC)  Mi  Cl CD Cl  rt  0  —  U)  Cl  CC) Fl  1  CC) 0  Cl  i  CD  Hfr-  Cl Fl  ‘-  0  CD Cl  CD  CD CC)  ‘-<  ‘—i  Fl 0 b CC) b  U)  H-  Cl) i  Z  H-  H-  ct i—  Cl C)  çt  0 :i  Y CD  CJ)  H-  H-  ‘t 0 U) çt  CD i  CD CC)  0  ct  CC)  Ii  H-  ‘-<  CD  CC)  ‘0 ‘1 CC)  5  C)  rF  H-  Cl  CD i  U)  Mi  Fl  CC)  CI)  tC)  H-  U)  H-  HC) CD  çt  CC) C)  I  J  CD 0  5  CC) I Cl  CD  ‘—  ‘ti CD 0 ‘t  0  I—i  CC)  (I) çt  5  ‘—‘  Mi  çt  CC)  l 0  CD  3’  ç1 Mi  Mi  U)  çt  5 0 ‘1  i  H-  ‘0  0  CC) ‘1 CD  r-  O < •  CC) ‘-<  ‘0 Fl CC) i Cl  (I)  CC) 5  U)  H-  ‘—s  ‘1:1  (l (/)  rt  CC)  r-  U) CD ‘U CC)  C)  ri  Fl CD  CD  -.  i CD  H-  CC)  U) C) Htj  CC) 11 CD  F  L) H-  o  ‘0  H-  (I)  $  o  y  U)  H-  CC)  Fl  0  Mi  çt  H-  Ci  H U)  CD  0  5  CD  rt  ct  CD U)  CD ,C) C:: H  t  0  H  rt  11 CC)  o  Q 0  I C)  H-  0 C U)  CC) i Cl  a)  01  57  Table I.  Band Population,  Selected Years.  1879 a  1909 b  1915 c  1951 d  1963 e  1989f  Pcpkurn  18  12  11  6  8  7  Squatits  45  46  39  36  Ohamil  65  54  46  33  46  85  --  __  Skawalook  48  16  14  27  27  54  Hope  25  82  93  96  116  208  69  58  75  24  (Chawathil) Union Bar  96  r ‘  Yale  267  I Seabird Island Total a) Dutt,  192:42  (b)  1909  Bray,  (c) Duff,  1952:42  (d)  Duff,  1952:42  (e) Duff,  1969:28  c)  }  78  *  *  564  288 (t)  121 I  468  1  49  }  102  I 94  212  243  **380  492  542  877  Indian and. Nortb.ern itEairs,  J39  * reserve belonged jointly to above bands **  includes 165 children under the age of seventeen and 25 elders  Education  In 1978,  the Seabird Island Education Committee negotiated to  open its own school school  on the reserve.  and grades one to six.  This school  offered pre  The Committee did not limit  58 attendance to Seabird Island residents as a bussing program brought students from neighbouring reserves.  Seabird Island Band  members had their choice about which school their children would attend  --  the public school or the reserve school.  Senior  students took the bus to public schools off the reserve. most recent report on school attendance (1984-85),  The  indicates that  eighty students were registered in the Pre-school to Grade six program on the reserve and that thirteen band members attended public schools;  thirty-five reserve students attended grades  seven to twelve in Agassiz and three students attended a private Christian school in Agassiz.  In 1986,  the school on the reserve  had eleven full-time and four half-time teachers. fifteen teachers were native.  Nine of the  The school taught to the B.C.  provincial school curriculum standards with the addition of language training in Halkomelem and an active native arts pro gram.  Band parents supported the school because of the cultural  content of the curriculum,  the proximity of the school to homes,  and the small class size.  In 1985,  the band began a five year capital plan to build a new  school that would include kindergarten to Grade twelve.  The band  has placed a high priority on education (Seabird Education Report, 1991.  1986).  A new school,  of unique design,  opened June 4,  Approximately eighty-five students from kindergarten to  Grade eight moved into this new structure, built by band members with sub-trade skills.  There are six teachers, two Halkomelern  language instructors and three teacher aids.  In September, 1991,  Grade nine began; each subsequent year the next grade level will  59 be added until Grade twelve is reached.  The school will  accommodate 220 pupils and fifteen staff members (Godley, 1990:A7)  Adult band members may receive high school up-grading courses at the Fraser Valley College, where the band administration pur chases seats directly from the College. who have registered at the College,  For those band members  there has been an approximate  completion rate of 75 percent.  d) Language Seabird Island has retained influences from both the Thompson and Stalo cultures.  The Sta’lo ties are more prevalent because of  the geographical proximity of the Sta’lo Tribal Council member bands.  Some elders retain knowledge of the Thompson language;  two Sta’lo elders are fluent in Halkomelem, the Salishan language of the Sta’lo;  one of these elders teaches Halkomelem in the  school.  e) Social and Health Concerns In recent years,  the band has declared the reserve to be a dry  reserve so that the band can control alcohol-related health and social problems.  Until recently, sexual abuse has been a hidden  problem on the reserve; some band members thought it was only a white problem. school;  An educational program has been in place in the  counsellors encourage adults who have been the victims  of sexual abuse or who have been abusers to get appropriate help. In April, 1991,  the Sta’lo Tribal Council negotiated with the  60 federal government,  to have the control of health care turned  over to the Tribal Council.  The Council felt that through their  control, a more consistent level of care could be provided (The Vancouver Sun,  1991:B4).  f) Employment Band members have cleared part of the island for farming.  Those  areas that are cleared, are leased to non-Indian farmers for silage crops and a sheep farm.  In the past,  the band members ran  a dairy farm, which was closed because of poor sanitary conditions. logging,  In the 1950’s, the main sources of employment were  fishing, agriculture, and railroad work (Duff,  Currently,  1952:12).  there is a small amount of logging on the island, but  it is not a major industry.  Band members work at seasonal industries (eg.  fishing,  jobs in the lumber and fishing  tree reforestation, and a fish  hatchery); several band members work in construction sub-trades both on and off the reserve. administration,  As well, band members work in  education, and social work jobs.  The Band  Council employs a number of band members at the band-owned restaurant, store,  card-lock gas outlet, and cattle ranch.  Band  members own three private businesses (plumbing contractor, electrical contractor,  and a gravel truck company.)  Employment  on the reserve has moved from resource-based occupations to service-oriented work.  2-.  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Di  13  Dl  ‘—3 13’ CD  5  CD  13  ci-  ci0  (Cl  CD Dl Ii  S  CD  HCT) 13 C)  1-C  d CD  CD  i—c  H  ci 1:3’ CD  13Di ci-  En  (I)  CD N ‘Ti r CD  CD -<  1:3-’  ci-  Di 13 0-.  5  CD  1:3•’  ci-  ci0  ‘TI 0 11 ciDi 13 ci-  5  H-  CD  ‘1  Di  ci1:3 Di ci-  H 0 13  ci-  Dl 0-. 0 ‘Ti  Hi  0  CD En  C  H El) Ci)  U) U)  C  HEn C)  0-.  CD ‘1 En  5  CD  S  C)-.  IT Di 13  C) CD  13  HCD  i-  CD N ‘Ti CD  0 Hi  CD En  Di Ci H  Ii  Ii Di I-C  r (D En CD  ci  H  H-  H< CD En  CI-  1 ‘1 Di  i  CD H‘1  ci-  Di ‘1 CD  CD  En  ‘-3  C) CD En  (D N t CD ‘1 HCD  CD H1  çt  CD  CD En C) ‘1 H-  O  En  Ci-  Di i  5  0 ‘1  Hi  H-  CD  Ci-  Hi  o  0 HC) Cl) En  CD  Ci-  En CD  C  ‘—4  -.  CD  ‘--i  b  ‘t 0 En En H-  Dl En  C)  5 C  En  En  CD  H-  CD II <  çt  Hi  CD  ci-  0 Hi  (I)  ci-  ‘--s  L  Di  -.  l)) 1 0 ‘ti ciH0 i  CD :i  j  0  -.  ciH0  0  C  P(1)  Di  ‘—i  CD LC i  :-  CD  0  ‘-—  C)  CD  l  C)  CD  çt  Hi 0 En  3  o  u i 0 ‘t$ ct H-  ‘1 CD  f CD  ci-  ‘-<  CD  0  E  ‘--  Hi 0  -  C) i  çt H-  Di 1 0  En r) 0  C)  Hi  0  CD Ci)  <  ci  I  C  Hi 0  CD  ci  0 Hi  0  H-  ci-  H  ‘-c  CD (Cl C)  c-  Ci-  0 1  (Cl  Di  (t :3  H  En  H  YJ’ CT)  CD ‘i  Dl  0  ‘-3 ::3• H En  En  C  CD En  H CD  ‘1  Ci-  Di  En  I-I  H  Cl) CD  Ci-  r 1 H-  0  I--c  C) 1:3’ Di ‘TI ciCD  (-h)  64 short term basis (temporary care) or on a long term basis (permanent care).  In British Columbia,  foster parents work for  the Ministry of Social Services and receive a monthly allowance for the care of the child.  The amount is supposed to represent  the amount needed to house,  feed,  and clothe the child.  Extra  funds are provided for sports and educational costs, dental costs,  or other costs beyond the basic allowance provided.  Foster parents who care for special needs children,  receive  higher allowances to compensate them for the additional care costs.  A child in foster care may use her/his own name.  S/he  does not have inheritance rights within the foster family.  The  child is included in the family, but the child and the foster family understand that the child may be moved at any time. foster care,  In  the child does not have to be like the other members  of the family; differences in appearance and behaviour are accepted.  Although a child in foster care may have contact with  her/his birth family, generally,  foster children do not have  contact with their natal family if they have been apprehended for protection.  Foster care may also be given in group homes.  The children who  are placed in these homes are generally the older children or sibling groups for whom no appropriate home can be found.  Many  of these children have been the victims of physical, mental, sexual,  or substance abuse.  They may act out their frustration  and psychological pain from these abuses and it is difficult to find foster homes for them.  A number of the children have  experienced serial foster home placements, often moving every six  Di IL  H°  ‘-<  Ti) c-ICT)  0  c-i P3 Hi H-  CD  ‘-—.  0 En CD IL  Dl  •  CD J  Q  H-  0  Mi hi  IL  I—.  0  o  hi  C).  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CD  Y  i  cn  ci-  i—a  Di ci. i  CD  5  0  o  hi  iC)  i  I:  Cr) CD ‘1 < H0 CD En  ‘—  -  TJ) 0 0 H P3 0  Mi  0  5  c-i CD P3  Di  0 hi  CD  ‘—  0 1  0  0 i CD  I  CD  c-i  CD H-  En CD IL  H-  <  II  ‘d CD  En  CD  Dl ‘1  CD Ti)  5  j  o  C)  5  •  UI  c-I-  CT)  5  Dl 0 CD  ‘-—  ‘t5  CD  0  c-ICl)  Ti)  o  Mi  b—  H.  0 0 CD En En  i  Mi 0 h  c—I-  0  cn  CD  i  Di U) c-i  CD  c—h  0 En c-i  5  Di  HEn  CD  S  0  ‘I 0 ç ‘ti  CD  ‘—3  En  hi  Dl  CD  <  Mi  0  IL  0  Cl) ‘1 H  Dl  0 < CD ‘1  En  c-I  0 i  5  (71  0-I  66 relations with her/his birth family.  The child is incorporated  into the adoptive family as if s/he had been born into it. courts give the child the adoptive family name.  The  The closed legal  adoption process extinguishes all parental obligations, liabilities, and rights of the birth parent.  All inheritance  rights from the birth family are relinquished and the child now inherits from the adoptive family. with regard to ‘unnatural’  Because the inheritance laws  children are often read quite strictly  by the courts, adoptive parents must protect the right of adopted children to inherit from the adoptive family by specifically including them in their wills.  The adopted child has no contact  with its birth family and has only a brief outline of a family history to connect it to the past.  This history usually provides  a minimal amount of medical information about the birth family, the education level and religion of the birth parents, and a list of the interests of the birth parents.  The social agency  provides no identifying information about the birth family to the adopted child.  Open adoption has been defined in various ways as Western society has moved to greater disclosure of birth records.  It is a return  to adoption practices that pre-date the Second World War.  Open  adoption can take a number of forms, depending on the social agencies and communities that determine adoption policy.  The  most candid of open adoptions generally means that the adopted child has personal contact with the birth family and is able to gain both family history and cultural knowledge from that family. Variations on this practice involve written contact between the  67 adoptive family and the birth family, written contact between the two families through a third party, and/or more detailed family histories that provide the names of the birth parents. adoption,  In open  the adoptee takes on the adoptive family name.  The  laws of inheritance for legal closed adoption apply to open adoption as well.  Private adoptions, that is adoptions that have  been arranged through a third party (usually a lawyer or private adoption agency) rather than through a social agency such as the Ministry of Social Services, tend to be more open than social agency adoptions, as both sets of parents have more control over the procedure.  In this study, the term ‘open adoption?  will be used to refer to  a pilot project begun by the Ministry of Social Services.  In an  effort to maintain a Seabird Island child’s ethnicity under difficult circumstances,  the Ministry has found an adoptive  family that has made a commitment to the maintenance of the s cultural identity. t adoptee  The adoptive family teaches the  child as much information about his culture as they are able. The child maintains his status as an Indian and his right to property on the reserve.  He has contact with birth family  members, yet he also has a caring family off the reserve.  The  child may not return to the reserve for adoption because he would be at risk.  Social Services have arranged for a member of the  band to act as a liaison between the adoptive family and the band.  Adoption, so arranged, allows those children who can not  return to the reserve for safety reasons, to keep their Indian identity.  68 Social agencies, such as the Ministry of Social Services, under— stand custom adoption, as practised by aboriginal people in North America.  The term ‘custom adoption’  is used in the social work  literature with reference to Indian and Inuit practices.  Custom  adoption is legal in Canada for the Inuit people and some Indians.  Though the term is used in the literature, it is not a  recognized legal form of adoption for most Indian people. Adopted native children must go through the closed legal adoption process. practised.  Open adoption for native children has not been widely Custom adoption as defined by the Inuit, uses  criteria similar to open adoption.  The child has personal  contact with her/his birth family and all cultural and familial knowledge is shared.  In addition,  relative, usually a grandparent,  the child is adopted by a  or a close family friend, rather  than by a stranger.  It is the incongruity and inadequacy of the administration of child welfare programmes that create problems for the families from the reserves.  Seabird Island peoples’  experiences with the  child welfare actions of the Ministry of Social Services are incongruent with their own cultural understanding of child welfare.  These two systems of child care are further complicated  at the national level by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada policies.  In the following accounts of adoption experience, it  is evident that immediate change is required. not suffer these contradictions any longer.  Children should  CD ‘C) 0  CD l Cl HC) CD Zn  0  ft Dl  (t  CD Cl) C)  Hi () ci  CD  CD  <  H-  C) (I) Cl  ci Di Mi H-  Di  ‘tZ  1—  CD  P3 ci CD  o  i  t  Dl  U) CD  o  C) 3  P3 < CD  i  CT)  ci HC)  P3  CD U)  H-  ‘tI ci 0  HU)  ‘-3  C) CD U)  H-  ci H-  1Q  0  ‘—‘  ci 0 < HCl CD Cl  ‘tj  U)  ct  Di i  0 ci  Hi  ‘-<  Cl)  Cl  CD P3 b Hci  cn  0  Y’ P3 U) CD Cl  U) ç C)  P3 U)  H 0  It, ci-  Dl CL 0  ‘-  Di  CD  C) Ci U) ft 0  ‘—a  -  0 U) CD l  i—  C)  ci CD  l  a  ‘1  ‘—  ci-  CD C)  LI-  C)  ‘ti  çt  0  ‘--  ‘t H-  CD  ft CD  CD Cl  UI  H-i 0  0 ‘1  Hi  0 i U)  Hft H-  HN ct :3  l3 ‘-<  i Cl) Cl  H-  Cl CD Hi  l tO  H-  Hi  Cl CD  CT’ i C) <  P3  C) HDi  0  U)  ci  tL) 0  xl  çt  C) Di  CD  ci  CD  CD Dl i  •  0  Hct H-  C) CD U)  CD  i  0  H-  Di Cl 0 ‘t  CD i  0  Cl  Ii  3  çt H-  CD i-c  CD >  0 i  CT)  0 1  Mi H-  c—c  Cl Di  ‘—a  Di  0  H-  Mi  H  CL  Cl  Cl  0 ‘t  C)  ::5-  i  H-  H-  Cl) Hi  H-  ci  Cl  (1)  o  (n  -  CD  ‘—a  itJ  ‘d CD 0  H-  ft  Cl 0  ti Di i l  p3  i—c  H 0  t  Hi  CD tO  Cl pi  Hi  H-  P3 ‘1 ci Di ft  i-h  o  Cl ‘-<  o  it  0  CL  Dl  0 Hi  ci  It,  C) P1  In  CD  ct  cC)  Ci U) H-  H N CD Cl  Ii  0  L.Q  CD  C) P3  CD  ‘-c  Cl)  Dl çt pl  CD  it  0  H  P3  t-  $ Hi 0  H-  r CD  rt  0 H,  i In CD  CT)  CD  P3  5  ft 0  0 ci Cl CD ci  HIi  —  0 ci (1)  Mi  CD ‘1 Cl)  Y  ‘—3  .  1<  ‘—‘  P3 i ‘-0 CD P3 1Y’  CD ci C)  ci-  HJ  Ct) i U) H0 i  U) CD Cl  P3 i Cl  —  0 U) Mi CD ci Hi c-C)  I—h  -‘  ci CD  p1  C)  Hi 0 U) ft CD ‘1  -‘  Di Cl 0 ‘t ft H0  U)  5  ft CD ‘1  CD  çt J  I  5  c  Hi Hi 0  CD  S  U) 0  -  U)  HCD  <  CD ci  ci-  H-  ft Y’ CD  0 Ci ft  c-Cl  ci 0 Ci  Y  ‘-3  0 ci  ci-  Hi P3 C)  i 0 ft  CL 0 CD U)  c-C) CD  -  0 P3 ‘—I CD  CD ‘1  Mi  Hi 0 U)  ft  b 0 Ci  Cli  Dl ‘<  Il)  Mi 0  iC)  (I) ft Y’ H-  Il) 0  CL  Di  CD  Di  i:5-  i ft  pi  ‘1  0  Hi  i  H-  TY’  ft 0  ci  CI)  It CD  Dl  Dl  Ci  U)  i-I-  Di  ci  : Di ‘ti ‘tI  ‘-<  Cl) < CD ci  ‘-<  ci  Dl  CD  ‘—  r-J  i Cl  Dl  0  it H-  Di Cl 0 ‘ti  CD ‘-0 Di  ‘—s  CD l  (1)  0  ‘—  C)  Y <  CL  CI)  P3 ft  Cl  H-  i—a  Di  CD ci CD  E  ft H0 i U)  ‘t,  P3 0-’ 0  5  C) Ci U) ft 0  ‘-<  i  Dl  5  ft  ii  :-  ft  —  I—’  -  •‘  Hft HCD Cl)  i-c  Il  ‘—  ‘1 CD cC)  0  ft  Cl HC) Di ft CD  H-  c—i  i--i  CD  ‘--  ‘-3 Dl b  Hi  Cl Di ciDi  ‘-3 Y’ CD  •  ‘—  CD  ‘Cl P3 cC)  i CD T’l ft  ‘—I —  I—I  CD  ‘—‘  ‘-3 Di  Tn CD CD  —S  C) CD  CD >) ‘t3 CD ci HCD  0 Hi  Cl  H-  0 i CD  Dl i  Mi  0 i-C CD  5  ft CD Cl  ci  ci CD C) 0  Dl Ii ft U)  5  i Hi 0 ‘1  H-  CD  Dl Ii Cl  Cul i  5  U) HX  tT  Cl) X ‘Cl CD ci HCD i C) CD U)  0 J  H’  Di Cl 0 ‘Cl ci-  i-h  In  CD ‘1 < HCD  c-i-  Hi  CD ti ft 1:3-j  CL  Hl I  ft <  Cl)  ‘—3  •  CD U)  HU) U)  CD  i-  i  0  0  Mi  Hi Dl  H-  ‘—  CD  E  CL  ‘—i  I—’-  C)  0 Hi  U)  0  H-  tn  U)  Ci  C)  I—h  CD C) ft  (1)  U)  If)  0  i-c  C)  Di  CD  H-  ‘ti ii 0  0  0 U) ft  5  ‘  CD S  0  CD Cl)  t  i-c  Ci  0  Mi  I  CL HU)  ft Y’ CD Hci  Hi  CD  i--  ‘Cl CD 0 ‘ti  P3 i C)-.  i--  U)  i—i  ci Cl  H  Cl) CD Di tY’  ‘-<  tY’  Cl  CD  Ci U)  CD ‘1  it  Di  0  l  Di  U) CD  HIf)  ‘-<  CD c-C) 0 ci  c-i-  C) Dl  Dl U) ft  CD  y  ‘-3  •  Di ‘-C) CD t5 C) HCD (11  ‘—  U) C) C) H’ P3  CD i ft  5  i  i-C  CD  c  ‘C) 0  ‘-<  TY  ft  U) CD  HC) HCD U)  0  111  Di i Cl  HN Di ft H0 i U)  i  0 ci c-C) Di  Hi Dl ci CD  ‘—s  CD  CL  ‘—a  H-  C)  i-<  tY’  U) CD Cl  Ci  <  0  c-C)  ‘—‘  0  i  H-  CI) ci  çt  Y’ CD  ci-  0  Cl) CD Cl  ci CD  cu  C) Cl) ft CD c-C) 0 ci HCD Cl)  Cl) CD  I—s  ft  H‘-C Cr) ft  Hi  -3 Y’ CD  •  ft H0  ‘ti  Di Cl 0  Q  S  rt-  C) i U)  i J Cl  -  0  ciH-  Di Cl 0 ‘CS  0 ‘Cl CD  —  0 i  H-  Dl Cl 0 ‘15 it  Cl) iC) Di  ‘—  0 U) CD Cl  C)  -  CD  Ii  C) Di  ci  0 U) it CD  Hi  U)  Cl)  H  Ii  0  iC)  C) Dl ft CD  ci  Ci  Q  Hi  H i ft 0  Hi Di  Cl  bi Di  Cli Ii Cl  U)  ‘—4  Cl  i-c  Cl) Cl) Di b H  CD  ft  0 Hi  CT) ci HCD i C) CD U)  CD >  0 i  rt H-  It,  0  Cl  Di  CD  i-  Cl  P3  U)  I—’  Cl  Hci  C’) CD Di  0 1:1  C) CD (I)  CD ci H CD  L:rJ  H 0  ci-  0  Cl  70 Table II. ADOPTION EXPERIENCES RECOUNTED BY INFORMANTS INFORMANTS PSEUDONYM  1 Randy Smith (m) 2 Mildred Roberts (f)  ADOPTION OF:  APPROX AGE NOW OF INFOR— MANT  self  FOSTER CARE  I  CLOSED LEGAL ADOPTION  65  OPEN ADOP TION  I CUSTOM ADOP TION  X  girl  X  2nd cousin, male  60  X I  2nd cousin, f ema 1 e  X  boy  X  girl  X  nephew  X  girl  X  1  4 E. Ames_(f)  girl  70  X  5 L.Howard (m)  cousin  55  X  6 S.Jenkins (f)  cousin  35  X  7 Frances John (f)  niece  40  X  X  X  X  8 F.Masters (m)  self  68  X  9 Walters (f)  grandson  40  X  10 Walters (m)  grandson  40  11 Gladys Little (f)  self  45  nephew  grandson (f)  female  (m)  X X X  male  X  •11 Table II.  ADOPTION EXPERIENCES RECOUNTED BY INFORMANTS cont’d  INFORMANT’S PSEUDONYM  ADOPTION OF:  12 L.Duncan  self  APPROX AGE NOW OF INFORMANT 16  X  brother 2  X  self  70  14 J.White (m)  father  34  15 Hardy(f)  cousin  35  16 I.Duncan  self  48  17 Y.Duncan (f)  18 N.Tom  (  son2  X  daughter 2  X  X  niece 2  X  brother 1  X  sister  X  brother 2  X  nephew 1  X  nephew 2  X  X  sister 3  X  brother  X  son  X 35  20 S.Parker  son  29  (f) remaie  m)  =  maie  X  X  sister 2  father  X  X  niece 1  19 S.White (f)  =  X  X  48  X  X  son 1  sister 1  CUSTOM ADOP TION  X  X  X  29  OPEN ADOP TION  X  daughter 1  self  CLOSED LEGAL ADOPTION  X  brother 1  13 R.Smiley (m)  (  FOSTER CARE  X  X X  72  a) Foster Care The Seabird Island Band is concerned about the number of children who have been taken from the reserve and placed in non-native foster homes.  In the twenty in-depth interviews completed for  this project, seven informants described such foster care experi ence.  These ranged from personal foster care to foster care  experiences of their children, nieces.  siblings, husband, nephews, and  The ages of these informants ranged from late teens to  the late sixties.  Informant 12.  All seven informants were women.  (Z6, Nov.  14/89)  Linda Duncan’s experience with foster care is typical for its pattern of serial foster care.  She went into care at the age of  eight and is still in care at the age of sixteen. in six foster homes in eight years.  She has been  She now lives on the reserve  with her older sister, who is acting as her foster mother.  Her  mother lives on Seabird Island reserve; her father died in Harrison Lake. “(Social Services took me from my home when I was about They took me out of my home on.. I don’t know.. eight.) they took Steve, (my older brother) with me and Scott, (my younger brother). It was kind of scary. Like I never.. like I haven’t been out of the house.. like I wasn’t allowed out of the house.. it’s kind of scary living into a new house, having strangers showering you.. like I mean, you don’t know these people they are bathing you, scrubbing you down.. not even to know them yet. Well., I was eight, but they still did it. I don’t know why. Coming out.. getting these clothes on.. and they’re not even mine.. Where am I going? Am I going home? Would I ever see my mom and dad Questions popping into my mind. again? (My older brother) was there for awhile, but he took off. That’s why he’s at home now. He lives down (the road) and I live up here. (I don’t see him.) I’m just starting to get to know my family again. I just came back (five months ago.) I’ve been gone ever since I was eight about four or five years. I know they’re my brothers and my mom.. but then.. then I don’t --  ..  73 know if I want to know them or they nice and what are their favourite things and what do they do.. Questions like that. I lived with (one family on the reserve and then another.) After six or seven months I got shipped off to Agassiz to another home. It was a white home (I felt) kind of like more confused. Like.. why are they moving me around? How come I don’t have nobody around me? It was kinda okay though.. Quiet at first, staying in my room, just going downstairs to eat, going back up.. looking out the window and thinking to myself, crying at night, wondering every thing. (My little brother wasn’t with me. The reason I moved to the second house was to get away from him.) Cause I was starting to hate myself.. because I was hitting him. So that’s why I wanted to move away. It hurts him but it hurts.. I’m not just hurting me, I’m hurting both.. I had to get out of there for awhile. (It was better for awhile.) He ended up getting shipped off to where I was. Stayed there for awhile. We used to live on the farm, there.. I showed him all the things.. all the names of the cows.. and the dogs and.. tried to show how to milk while I’m learning. It was okay.. had fun. I was allowed out more often.. I never felt part of their family. I just didn’t feel so right. Like arguing with a lot of kids.. and not talking to anybody.. all this.. I talked to the parents.. but then we’re always out and in, gone, working and something like that. You could say I was sort of part of (the family) but then just inside of me it didn’t feel right. They tried to make me part of the family nice. That’s when (my brother and I) got moved again. (We went) to Chilliwack. Got moved all the way up to Chilliwack. By that time, I was getting used to moving cause I knew. mostly every five or six months when I get to know somebody then I’m gone again.. Then I said to myself, what’s the use of starting to know somebody when you’re only going to get moved again. So.. when this home in Chilliwack, I didn’t bother talking to them. I just took off.. went wherever and came back. But then.. It was kind of getting harder on me cause.. don’t even know these guys for a week or two now and then I said, well.. I was thinking to myself.. Well, it’s kind of good to know people like around you. Probably meet a lot more friends than just making enemies or just people. What happens if I stay here? And not having a good start with them.. Now I might have to stay there permanently. I made it bad in the beginning but then at the end time I was good. It was okay. I was the spoiled one. They make me feel like a part of home.. They had two other kids. We used to fight a lot though, but that’s called sisters. After a few months, I went to Hope. (It was) different because there’s kids at my age and a lot older. I was the youngest, though. But there’s kids.. teenagers like my age. mostly boys. It was okay. (I stayed there) two years. just about two years. I went on Canada Day, July first. I made it hard, eh.. That was in my bad years.. like you know, stealing, staying up late, lying. In those years. that’s when I started doing all that stuff. So, I made it kind of hard for me. I get ..  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  74 along with them good, now. There was a lot of people, there’s ten of us, about there. It was just a group home for teenagers, but then some kids spent nights or stayed there just to get a job or stay somewhere. Just the two of us girls and the rest were boys. On. June 16, Wednesday night, I think it was on the Wednesday. It was.. when I took off. was at lunch time. Then I came back after school.. picked up whatever I had in my locker., and I told (the other girl), “Tell them at night time I’ll be gone.” She wanted to come with me.. so I said I don’t think so. I just didn’t want to be there no more. I wanted to be home. So (she) said I’m coming with her. I didn’t drag her or anything. She wanted to come and I couldn’t stop her. So we went off, grabbed everything, whatever was in our locker and our teacher starts coming down the hallway. (The other girl) went off this way and I took off this way and I said I’ll meet you at our place.. our private place.. and we went running and took off. Next thing.. about an hour after we’ve went.. cops, we heard them going this way, going down this street. Oh no, cause we thought we could make it before dark. So we’re sitting here. watching these cop cars going slowly by. There goes one! Watching them. We went wandering around town. Nobody noticed. It was about dark time, I guess you would say about an hour after dark. The trains go by every hour and on the hour most likely. An hour after dark because the train went by. Well, I guess it’s about an hour bye. So we took off across the bridge and once we hit the road, we went down lower to the tracks and we took off down the tracks. We walked all the way down here from Hope. We got here on Thursday at eight o’clock. I wasn’t (hungry). I was too cold to be hungry. (Now I am) with my sister, my oldest sister. She has no kids. (She has two of my other sister’s kids.) She has me for perma nently. She’s an approved foster home for me.. for them to know that I’m going to be safe. (I feel okay about it.) It’s just me and her having a hard time to knowing each other still because I’m having a hard time.. thinking., does she love me or is she just taking me.. I have been used just for my money like some foster moms or parents have just taken me. because they wanted the money that they get for me. Cause they get eight hundred and some dollars for me. Just mostly for things like. for my clothes, my allowance, the water I waste, the electricity that I use, all this stuff and the things that broke or anything. (It’s import ant to me, knowing that she loves me.) If she don’t love you, then what’s the use of knowing her or living with her or anything like that, cause it’s kind of hard to know who loves you or.. if they hate you or not.. can you trust this person? Just most of.. some of (my foster parents) used me for money. I was heart. like a lot of people are saying if your mom don’t want you, then nobody else would want you. It hurts. I don’t know if I want to love my mom because she gave me up when I was eight. She didn’t love me no more. (I know that) because the government., my social worker (told me that.) She’s the one who put me up for adoption .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  75 and (my younger brother) up for adoption. Just me, because she wanted (my younger brother) back and I didn’t let her. The way I didn’t let was because when she came up to visit us she never gave me.. she just pushes me away and goes see (my brother).. and she wanted him back and I didn’t.. I didn’t let her because when she came up, I make sure he was gone or hiding. Because I didn’t want her to know him no more. I didn’t want her to touch him, see him or talk to him. Because the only reason.. she did that with all my other sisters, too. Because she said we’re just too much pain in the rear end. because. when we get older they get pregnant... and then give it to your mom for responsibil ities. I haven’t got that way yet and I don’t want one because if I get one when I’m not impaired (sic) for a baby, they take me away and my baby away from me and have it up for adoption. I would feel hurt. So that’s why I don’t want anything right now. (I don’t know Indian ways of adop tion.) I’m just learning how to be a Indian and what are Indians like. When I as eight years old, I didn’t know about adoption. (I would have liked it if people had asked) how I’m doing there, if I’m happy, if I liked to live here, would I like to stay here, how would I feel if I had to move again? (The social worker) just took me there, saying.. like I don’t even say nothing. it’s just a. temporary home. Well, they say how do I like it, but then they just tell me that I’m going because.,. it’s only supposed to be only six.. six months. I’m supposed to stay in a foster home until they find me a permanently foster home. My permanently foster home was in Hope. That’s why I stayed so long there two years, just about two years. The first and only reason me (and my brothers) got taken away was because of mom and dad’s drinking problem. Cause they never., never bought no booze.. I mean like they bought a lot of booze and less groceries and they went out and out and out and they just never fed us and we had to cook for ourselves. So mostly I went to my auntie’s. That’s the only reason that they took me out. I have another reason that is personal. There’s certain ways.. cause some parents don’t want kids, some parents drink, some.. kids have been verbally abused, sexually abused.. you know, urn.. there’s another one. ignored too. There’s different ways to settle them. Before I couldn’t concentrate.. on school.. I used to get D’s, no farther than a C—, C+. Because I heard so many things about Seabird, like the rumour about Seabird that.. kind of hard on me cause my dad’s dead. My dad’s gone.. well, you know, died on December 28, 1987.. shocked me cause I had a dream two days before he died. Coming back here still hurts because going to Harrison for swimming.. thinking that my dad’s beside me. Going to his funeral was kind of easier cause I.. last time when I was a little kid.. I didn’t go to (my older brothers’ and younger sister’s) funeral, because I was a little too young. I still feel sort of guilty to myself. It’s just carrying the guilt for so long. I got to see pictures of the funeral and felt like I was just there. I pray for them every now and .  .  .  .  --  .  .  76  then. I’m scared because who would I turn to after (my older sister.) I know she loves me. She wouldn’t go through all this if she didn’t. She told me she wouldn’t care.. if she didn’t get the money, but then she needs the money, cause she’s hardly surviving right now. She hugs me. She tells me every morning that she loves me. She cares a lot because.. (foster parents) don’t say be good, take care or.. they don’t talk to you, they don’t. like, you know, give responsibilities., they just let you do whatever. My dad was first. I only has three lights in my life., that was (my younger brother, my dad and the older sister who looks after me now.)” (See 3, Appendices for additional data) .  b) Closed Legal Adoption No band members interviewed had been adopted using closed legal adoption.  Of the twenty informants,  eight persons had  experienced closed legal adoption of a relative,  for example,  children, siblings, uncles, grandchildren, and nieces. informants (L. Howard,  J. White, and S. White)  closed legal adoption of the same person.  referred to the  The informants’ ages  ranged from the mid-twenties to the seventies. eight informants were women.  Three  Five out of the  The Band Council’s concern about  closed legal adoption is that the band members so adopted usually have been adopted to non-native families and off the reserve. The children then lose their ties to the band and their cultural identity.  Informant 7. Frances John,  (Z8, Nov.  21/89)  an adoptive parent,  closed legal adoption. from separate families;  She and her husband adopted two children the first adoption began as a “custom”  adoption, but after three years, girl.  relates her experience with  they legally adopted the little  Frances John is in her middle years.  77 “I was very young when I was in the hospital, eh. I had T.B. I had T.B. of the womb, so I could never have children of my own. So. I was married, this (is) my second marriage now. My first husband was very upset cause I couldn’t have children. I didn’t tell him about it but I just assumed that he knew so when I got with my second man.. I made sure I told him when he asked me to marry him, that I couldn’t have children. He said it was okay, he already knew that. So we were together for three years and then his sister.. she’s deceased now. But she had five children of her own and she lost one and then she was having this last one and she said to me, ‘If I have a girl you can take her.. and raise her as your own, but if it’s a boy, I want to keep it. ‘ She lost a boy so she wanted another one. As it turned out it was a girl and the father came and told me that I can pick up the baby when it was ready. So.. and then the mother had changed her mind in the meantime but.. I stuck with it and I said to my husband, ‘What do you think?’ And he said, ‘Well, she did promise you.’ So we went and talked to her again and she wouldn’t answer. So when it was time for the baby to come home, I went and talked to the doctor and he said okay. He thought it was safe enough for me to take the baby because mom was an alcoholic, eh. And, so I took the baby and she was underweight when she was born. She was born ahead of time so she was premature. She was four pounds seven ounces and when I got her home she was five pounds seven ounces. So my husband went and talked to the mother and they agreed that I could raise the child. So I kept her for. three years before we could finally get papers done up to have her adopted. Cause we weren’t sure how we could do it without getting into trouble, eh. My mom and dad had a lawyer that they used to go to all the time, so they suggested him so we went to him and.. I told him the story and he said we had to get the mother’s permission which we did. We went and talked to her and (my husband) did all the talking.. cause he’s the brother so he convinced her more or less to sign the paper, eh. She signed the papers and we legally adapted her that way. We didn’t even have to appear in court. The lawyer did all the work for us. He got the birth certificates done up and picked them up from there and then we just paid him for his duty, eh. And so that’s how we got (our daughter). And we moved next door to where her real Mom was. And.. she came over.. pretty near every day to visit with (our daughter). We never stopped her from seeing her, eh. (It was hard on us, a bit) cause (our daughter) would call her ‘auntie’ and I thought kind of funny cause I knew it was her natural mother. (Our daughter) never found out till she was six teen. And she was really upset when she found out that I wasn’t her natural mother. But I had to explain it to her that we loved her as if she was our own and, otherwise we wouldn’t have taken her. I convinced her that we were good for her, eh. And then when she sat down and thought about it she realized we must have loved her to raise her like that. She was allowed to see (her mother) whenever she .  .  78 wanted. But, (my husband stressed to her that she wasn’t to tell me how to raise her, then the mom would come over and spend time with her and hug her and hold her. And (my daughter) would always call her (‘Auntie’), eh and then, (my sister-in-law), before she passed away, she came and thanked me for raising daughter the way I did. She said I did a beautiful job with her. So she said she probably would have died if she had taken her. I thought that was great.” Frances John’s second experience with adoption involved the care and adoption of her sister’s baby boy.  In this experience,  Frances had to move faster than the social workers to legally adopt the baby. “The second one was from my sister, the youngest one. She committed.. well, she committed suicide. I think what happened there was when she was carrying (the baby), she was six months pregnant with him, and the father went to Prince George to look for a job.. cause that’s where his mom is from and his other two kids are from there, too. He was planning on moving (my sister) up and him and his brother got into an argument over a hockey game. And, his brother stood behind the door and when (my brother-in-law) came in, (his brother) put the knife and slit (my brother-in-law’s) stomach open and killed him instantly so (my sister) had no father for her boy. and then so she raised him by herself, like, you know, with no mate and when she wanted relief from the child, then she would come phone us and ask us to go and babysit for her. So we take him and keep him all weekend. We just loved him, eh, and we spoiled him rotten, not think ing we were going to keep him. Right from infant we used to keep him, you know and she trusted us with him. It didn’t matter low long she left him with us. We could look after him. But we both worked, too. So. when (the baby) reached fourteen months old, then she phoned me one day and she says. Oh, in between the home visits with us, she started asking me questions like, ‘If anything happens to me, I would like you to take my child and raise him as your own.” The first three times I wouldn’t answer her, cause she always asked me when I was by myself and it was a hard question because she was much younger than me. Finally, the other sister was there one time and (my youngest sister) asked again in front of my sister and I said, ‘You know I will.’ I said, ‘We love (your baby), nothing will happen to you.’ And about two months later, (the baby) was fourteen months old, then and.. then she was drinking with some friends and they were hitch-hiking home and she jumped out in front of a car well they said she did. I have my doubts about it, eh. That’s why I have a hard time saying that she committed suicide, cause I think there’s something else there. Anyways, Human Resources was going to put up a .  .  --  .  79 little bit of a fuss with us taking the child and cause he was already awarded to them because of she was on social assistance. Anyway, we had the child in our home already. When they phoned me and told me that she was gone, well, I thought we have to fulfil her wishes somehow. So then I didn’t wait very long after, we just barely got her resting, and I went into lawyers. I went to different lawyers in Mission and they worked on the case. And they had quite a time with Human Resources and the Department of Indian Affairs. Cause they didn’t think that I.. It seemed like they didn’t think I was suitable for the child because he was a different.. he had a little bit different nationality in him and he didn’t match with us cause his complexion is very fair and he’s got cat eyes, you know, they change colour with his clothes. I think they had different plans for him, cause there were other people waiting and then I just came in there and took him, eh, and said okay, I’m going to take over. I was a little bit disturbed by (their interference). I was scared I was going to lose him and I did promise her I was going to look after him. So it. it really did put a gap in my heart, like, you know, cause I had to fight for him, more or less. But, (it’s a good thing I didn’t wait) cause they could’ve just came and taken him away from me. See, they were waiting for the funeral ser vices to be over and Christmas, cause we buried her on the twenty-fourth of December. They had to kind of wait until the holidays were over. But I went ahead in between the holidays and started the paper work and it took us about six months to get it all legal. But Human Resources had to come out and interview us to make sure we were fit parents, eh. I didn’t like it. I was really defensive. cause my husband and I both drank and it was.. my husband had just quit. And then when Human Resources came in they were asking us all these questions. I was really afraid they’d find out I was still drinking. The questions they asked were mostly on (our daughter) and when she found out how.. that she was adopted and all this and when I planned on telling (my baby boy) what came about. There were so many questions that were kind of hard for me to answer but I had to think of good answers so they wouldn’t.. And when I got through that, I was glad, because it took about three months before we really knew whether we were going to get him or not. I put a lot of work into that boy, because he missed his mom. He was just old enough to know that she was all of a sudden disappeared. So I had to be very careful when I said ‘mom and dad’, mostly, ‘mom’ If I ever mentioned ‘mom’, He would start looking so. cause once I tried to see if he would call me ‘mom’ and then when he started looking, I thought, oh no, I’m going to be up all night again. So I quit that and I just waited for him to automatically call me ‘mom’. By the sixth month he was calling my ‘mom’. When the legal papers came through, we were really happy. We finally had it all legalized. But the lawyers went through a lot of red tape trying to get those papers done up proper ly because they went. That we were natural blood to this .  .  . .  .  80 boy so there shouldn’t be any problem. So, now he’s 10 years old. Oh, at the age of four was when he asked if I was his real mom or not and I couldn’t answer. I had a hard time with it so he says, when he noticed I had a hard time, then he says, ‘Oh, Mom, really, I don’t really want to know yet, anyway.’ So I figured some kids told him and he’s asked a couple of times after and he’s noticed the colouring in us. That my husband and I are both dark and he’s real fair and he’s kind of wondering why, I think. See, we believe in the traditional spirits and things so I had another man come over and look at (my dead sister’s) picture and he can talk to her and she told him to tell me not to tell (the boy) for another month. and then it was stopped again because.. my nephew committed suicide. So I figured, so (the spirits) worked that way to stop me again, so I don’t know when I’m going to tell him. It’ll be soon, I guess. (I’m kind of worried about that day) but I’m pre pared for it, you know. I’ve been.. I’ve been trying to prepare myself. I’ve put an album together to show him who his natural parents are and we have clippings from their deaths in there and I think he has seen, cause he can read now.” (see 3, Appendices for additional data) .  c) Open Adoption There is just one instance of open adoption at Seabird Island Band to date.  The data presented represent the experience of the  adoptive mother.  The data from the interviews of the birth  mother and the two older sisters of the adoptee are located in the Appendices:3. old.  The adoptee is now approximately seven years  The adoptee is the youngest of a family of nine children,  three of whom are now deceased.  Informant 20  (Z20, Dec.  18/89)  Sandy Parker is twenty-nine years old. giving of herself for her children.  She is a caring person,  She is knowledgable in  recognizing the needs of children and talented in providing them with an holistic education seldom given in public schools. and her husband understand the native sense of community and respect for the land.  The Parkers are non-natives who have  She  81 accepted the challenge of raising Scott in a white home while teaching him native values and helping him to maintain his cultural identity.  They have two daughters, Kim and Nadia.  “I was a single parentwith Kim. I was eighteen when I had her. Dan and I met when Kim was two and a half. We were married when she was just over three. We’d been married a year and a half I guess, when Nadia was born. And Nadia seemed perfectly normal at first, we had no idea there was anything wrong. When she was about a year old, she wasn’t developing properly, she wasn’t gaining weight and growing. We realized that there was something wrong. It took until she was almost two to get a diagnosis. And Nadia has a terminal disease which is caused by a recessive gene. So at that point, we decided we weren’t going to have any more children between us. Then she was about three when we decided we wanted to adopt another child and there was no way I wanted another baby. because. she’s so much like a baby in her needs. like basic needs of toiletry and feeding and it takes hours a day just to meet those needs. So I said okay, how about an older child. So we sort of set a minimum age of four, independent enough to get themselves.. dress, be able to bath. and you know. without a lot of one to one help, and a maximum age of eight because we figured after that, the child is getting so old, they might not bond to you. The social worker said that finding a child in that age bracket and alone, without siblings, would be a long search, because that’s a very popular age bracket, a lot of people want kids that age. A lot of people.. want only one and not a sibling group and. to find one without severely physical or even moderate physical disability or mental handicap or severe behaviour problems.. It would be diffi cult to find that child. Well, we applied in December, three years ago and we got through the whole home study and then once we were approved, you know, it was just sort of waiting. She would give us bulletins and Scott was always in it, but he was in it with Linda. We knew we didn’t want to have a child older than Kim and really didn’t want to take on two, so I never considered him. And then I got a phone call one day from his foster care social worker, who said, would we like to come in and learn about him, find out what she could tell us and then possibly meet him. So that’s what we did. I went in one afternoon and got all the information on him, came home, talked to (my husband) about it and we phoned her back and said we’d like to meet him. He knew.. why we were meeting with him, but he wasn’t told. He said to his teachers at school. He said, “1 think I’m moving again.” And his teachers said why? He said, “ Cause I met somebody.” And there was absolutely nothing that we did or said that would’ve indicated that to him but he knew because he’d been through it before. He’d actually been going through an adoption placement visits and then the people had decided no and he had been told that that’s what .  .  .  .  .  .  .  82 they had been doing. And then he was told that they had decided not.. I didn’t find that out until later. We met him at Cultus Lake, just on the beach and played baseball and watched him swim and things and decided, yes, that we did want to go through more visits. I guess it was the second time that he came over, his foster parents brought him to where we were living, just after dinner. We talked to his foster parents and it was after that, that he figured it out. So then, we told him, he came for a weekend visit and it was Sunday morning and he wasn’t going to change into his clothes. He hadn’t been told exactly what we were doing, you know. We were just saying to him that we wanted him to come and visit. Sunday morning he wasn’t going to get dressed. There was no way on earth he was going to get dressed. It was because he didn’t want to leave. He figured if he didn’t get dressed, he didn’t have to leave. So finally, after struggling with him for an hour we sat down and we said, you know, we explained it to him that the reason we wanted him to come and visit was because we thought we wanted him to come and live with us. As soon as we explained to him, he got up and got dressed. That was it. Went home that night, I mean he was upset to go home, back to his foster parents but he was happy to come back the next weekend. And it did help for him to know, to have it all explained to him. That was one thing that didn’t seem to be. a lot of explanations given to him.. I don’t think his other moves he had any explanations. So we were really really lucky. Not only did we find him, but he lives so close, that we could do a lot of visiting prior to him moving in with us. It was good but it was hard on him. He was in a foster home. When he moved in with us, we were his eighth home in six years. He was. he was six and three quarters years old. The first two homes were with his natural family for a year and a half. I’m not even sure it was a year and a half. Several papers I have are all different. Linda says he was only six months old but some of the papers I have say he was eighteen months old. Anyways, he was in a foster home quite a long time, almost two years, so then he made many successive moves before us. Some were four months long and some were. the longest I think, was nine months. He was moved out of the first foster home with Linda, they were there together. He was moved because. I think, the foster parents just didn’t want to provide foster care for anybody any more. So he was moved into another native home, near the reserve. And he stayed there for only about six months. Then they became permanent wards and they wanted them out of the native home. I don’t know exactly why but they moved them to a white home then and they stayed there for exactly six months and then.. They both enjoyed it there. They really liked it there. And at that point it was decided that Scott would go into.. adoption.. searching for an adoptive home. Linda refused to be adopted by anybody. So they were separated at that point so Scott could be prepared for adoption and Linda could just carry on with foster care. So that’s why they both moved .  .  .  .  83 out of there. They didn’t want to leave one and move the other. So Scott moved to (another) home (in the area for four months.) Then he was moved in with a single woman for nine months and then she was working, she got transferred but he still lived here. And she was on the road so much that she didn’t have time for him. So she asked to have him moved and he was moved at that point to another home. It was only half a mile away with a native father on a reserve, a native father and a white woman. They were just told that he would be there for a short time. And she was just pregnant and having morning sickness. He ended up being there for seven months and he enjoyed it there. I think he had a reasonably good time but they really didn’t want him there. She was really tired and she was still working full time and she was pregnant. They wanted him moved and he knew it. The difficult time was. we met him at the end of August and we decided, yes, we wanted to go ahead with adopting him. So we were going through weekend visits where he would come to us Friday night and stay till Sunday night. Well, he was so mixed up he wanted to stay with us and he’d get taken back to them and then she started having trouble with her pregnancy so she got put in hospital, so he got shipped to her parents in Chilliwack so he could continue going to school. And so he didn’t know if he was coming or going, the poor little guy. It was his fist year in real public school and he was just so messed up. He was a horror at school. So he would be with her parents all week and with us on the weekend. With his foster father hopping in all the time, in and out and that went on for over two weeks. And then she had the baby and she came home with the baby and he lived there.. another month, with visiting us on weekends. The social worker really wanted him to stay there and not think that because the baby came, he had to move. She just wanted him to know a way ahead of time that this It was coming up. He’d have lots of time to figure it out. took two months of visits. What I wanted to do was get a child that had problems that could be resolved. I mean, we don’t know for sure that we can. If we work really, really hard, will we be able to help this child get over those problems that are caused by his past so that he will have a better future? Because I call it potential to be typical. he’s not typical now, he’s two years behind developmentally, academically, socially, every way, even his growth. He was really small. So that’s basically what I was looking at. If I really worked hard with this child and gave him lots and lots attention, will he really benefit from it or am I going to be knocking my head against the wall. I mean, because if you take a really mentally handicapped child, you really can’t change their life that much. You can make it interesting and comfortable, but they will never be typical. The same with the really physically disabled child. I already have a physically disabled child and I didn’t want another one. And so, yeah, I really, really looked at him in that way, can we help this guy? We figured for sure we could. And I mean, there’ve been times since then that I •  84 just think I’m not sure but then most days I’m quite posi tive that he’s making leaps and bounds. It’s just hard to see sometimes. Some days, I’m saying to myself, would a typical child do something so stupid? And, it’s a good thing that I have friends that have little boys and one friend of mine says, “It’s just cause he’s a boy, it’s not because he’s Scott.” And I have to believe her. Because my oldest daughter. she got a lot of attention when she was young and she. has always sort of been at the top of her class. I taught her at home for four years. She has always been above average and always had a good sense of what will happen if I do this? Consequences, you know? He doesn’t have a sense of consequences. One of the wonderful things about Scott, is he’s very affectionate. We had no doubt that he would bond to us. Some kids you get past the age of six and they’ve been moved and moved and moved and moved. They’ve made the decision in their head that they’re not going to bond to anybody any more because they’ll know they’ll get moved. And he bonded to us quickly. I mean he didn’t consciously make a decision that we’re okay or anything. but. he felt good with us right away. and he’s always been very affectionate. Actually, he was too affec tionate. He was very insecure and so. I swear in the first week, I had a million kisses when he came. He hung on me. He came for a hug and a kiss at least every two minutes. Some days, it was like getting his batteries charged? Sit down on my knee and have a cuddle. And at school, the same thing, I mean to extreme at school, good and bad. I mean affectionate and the opposite. But at home, it was pretty constant affection. It was really a nice thing because it’s a lot easier to take than trying to convince somebody or. trying to get that feeling from somebody resisting you totally.. hands off! We had a good feeling bringing him in. and seeing him with Nadia. They just love each other. They did right from the start, I think they have this common feeling that they’ve both.. need a little extra. And he’ll play with her, like in the morning if she wakes up, he’ll go up in her bedroom and he’ll play with her. I mean, just basically, he’s playing by himself and she’s just watching but he’s talking to her and they’ve gone on for two hours some mornings, which is just what she needs because other kids don’t play with her. And he’s always been one to be there and play with Nadia and be affectionate with her, which is. really, really neat to see. One of the reasons I wanted to teach him at home is so I can spend a lot of time on his speech and on his past. We actually study his past and he’s doing a scrap book and I have his life book and I have a photo album. And what we’re doing is we started with now, talking about our home and then we went back to his last home, and talked about what it was like to live there. What he liked, what he didn’t like, why does he think he had to move. And then he actually went and had a visit there overnight. Just to remember it all, and when he came back, you know, we talked about the difference between foster care and adoption. I want it to be really clear in .  .  .  .  .  .  85 his head, the difference? We’ve done a lot of talking about that and I think he has a really good idea now on what the difference is. Because, now his foster parents that he had last, have another set of boys living there. They’ve actually had another set since he moved in with us, they have had one boy move in and move out. Now they have another set. So its becoming very clear to him that kids only stay there for a little while and then they move. We’ve always just said you are here forever, you know. When you are adopted that means that you stay with that set of parents forever. We’ll always be your parents. You won’t have any more new brothers and sisters, you know. It was neat because I take Scott to swim lessons and my older daughter too. And when he’s waiting for Kim to swim, he kept playing with these two little native kids at the pool. I’d keep looking at them thinking, now where have I seen these kids before. They are in a picture in his Life Book that one of his old foster parents sent. After he moved in with us, I had the social worker contact all his old families and ask for pictures because there was very little in his Life Book, for me to refer to. One of them sent this picture. There’s Linda and Scott and this other little boy and girl. And they all lived in the same foster home when he was about tour. They remembered each other, but they couldn’t remem ber their names. But they’d been foster brother and sister for three or four months. It was a bit of a shock to him to meet Yvonne. We didn’t prepare him for it. I didn’t know that we were going to be meeting her. So he’s only ever known Linda and he knows that there’s a mother somewhere out there. And he knows that his father died. When he was in one of his foster homes, he was playing out in the yard and somebody arrived and handed him the funeral write-up and said, “Your Dad died” and left him standing there. So, he took this to his foster mom and said, “My dad died.” We’re working back through his families, and we’re only (as far as the family he lived with when he was four.) I’m going right back, I’m going to go through his natural family. I figure it will be another three or four months till we get there. And then I was going to explain to him that he has all these siblings and where they are and why he can’t see them. I mean not give him specific details or anything but just give him an idea that they are out there and that maybe some day, he’ll meet them. But we don’t want him to know them and them to know him because they have too many problems. They have problems that we don’t want him to deal with. So, we haven’t got to that point, so he really only knew about Linda, so when we dropped Linda off that day and he met Yvonne, well, that was a total surprise to him. He really had no idea, you know. Not only that, but she’s the same age as me. That’s his sister? Like, he thinks I’m really old. I felt good about him meeting her. Like she was so excited to see him, but I’d like him to see her some more. Just to know that they’re there because when he does come of age, he’s a status native and he’s got rights on that reserve. That’s why we want to keep him in contact with the  86 band. When we were out (to the reserve) for a meeting one time, I got the feeling that (they) did really understand that we were adopting him and not just foster care because of something (a band member) said. He said to the social worker, ‘You take these children and you put them in foster care, and you bring them up white.’ He says, ‘Then they are eighteen and you drop them back onto the reserve and they know nothing about reserve life. They’re not white, they’re not Indian, they have no identity.’ He said, ‘They end up on skid row, cause they can’t handle it. They don’t have either.’ So that.. you know, we had already decided for ourselves that we wanted him to know he’s native Indian and we wanted him to know what that means and we wanted him to be comfortable being a native Indian. But we are not native. So how do we do that? So we knew that he had to have some contact with this band, so between the social worker and ourselves we worked out that what we wanted was basically, continuing contact. Not daily, not weekly, or anything, but just to know where it is, some of the things that go on there. What I was hoping for was something like a Big Brother. some person we could find out there that we could trust to take him and just do things that you do on the reserve. Or to be able to go to some festivals, or a burial or to play soccer with, something that is native, you know, and only native so that he has this on—going memory that he has always been connected to this reserve. to know about it just to have the knowledge, so that when he does turn eighteen, if he decides he wants to go there, he’s not like a fish out of water, he’s got the knowledge to back him up, so he can be comfortable there. Cause if you’re not comfortable there, he’s not going to stay. And I don’t necessarily care if he goes there and stays or not. That’s going to be his choice. But, if that’s what he chooses, then I want it to work for him. I don’t want him to end up with no identity.. feeling like he’s not white and he’s not Indian. Because growing up in a white home, he’s going to be a lot of white. He is. Which, I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not. I mean.. I don’t think what we’re teach— ing him is bad. Actually, some of the social workers have said, the way we live. our values and what we appreciate.. they said we are more native than a lot of natives in that we care about the environment and we have a big interest in nature. We’re not hunters and fishermen, but a lot of the stuff we do teaches respect for the land. What we’re trying to do, is what’s best for him. It’s not easy. I mean, it’s a lot of work. I have to write these progress reports every three months to the band, specifically to the chief, he requested it. A band member has been elected to be Scott’s friend. She will be his connection and should be able to take him there. Just setting up the meetings and getting him there.. it is a fair amount of work. It’s only once a month but everything else has to shut down in order to do that. It was ourselves and the social worker that went out and said to them this is what we propose and they said yes it sounds like a good idea. Let’s try it. They were, I .  .  .  .  87 think, quite interested in it. They don’t want to lose him. You know, he is a band member. I think it really hurts them to lose their membership but they know they can’t raise him. He can’t live there where his mother is right on reserve. So this is the best alternative, to have him raised here and keep in contact. I’ve thought about (what would happen if he decides to leave our family when he is eighteen.) Quite often if I’m angry with Scott, or disciplining him, that’s when I think, is he going to hold this against me some day? Like, is this building up in him, something that he isn’t showing me right now? Because quite often, you know, if it’s right before bed or something, and he gets in trouble for something and then, you know, we’re tucking him in and we always. always make sure things are resolved before he goes to bed. And we give him his hugs and his kisses. But sometimes he is not as affectionate back, like he’s still hurting from being disciplined. And I’m think ing, is he laying in bed there, building up his thoughts that are going to build up over the years and then some day, he’s just going to go forget it, you know. You’re not my real mom. You don’t love me and you used to swat me. Yeah, I definitely have thoughts and wonder what his decision will be when he’s older. I think (the open adoption) might work better for us, because he’s already going to know about them, and why he isn’t with them. And he’ll know what their problems are and I mean, he can see that what he’s got here, is better than that. I can give him specifics about (his parents and the reasons he couldn’t live with them.) I’m working on some little felt dolls that he can change, like clothing and things. And we’re going actually to role-model them as we go along and some of them are a darker brown and some of them are Caucasian. And I want it to be very clear to him, who he is. And why he’s here and why he’s not there. The reason I am doing it is because I think it will tell him. give him a good idea of who he is. it’s going to give him that identity.. that I am native and these people are white and that even though I’m in their house, I’m not white, I’m still native. But they’re a good family and I have this other family over here and I have my whole band and they’re native and I’m connected to them. I mean there’s nothing wrong with being connected in both places.. And I want him to know that. But I don’t want him to feel connected in neither. I think it’s working so far. Knowing your parents and knowing who they were (is important.) Open adoption can be a real struggle, too, in that you’ve got the emotions constantly. Your child isn’t mature when they get all this presented to them (as to) what this person is like. Basically, it went very smooth for us. Scott was first put into our family under foster care because the process was taking so long. We wanted him here and his other family had just had the baby and wanted him to move because they were tired. (It took six months before approval came.) I’m starting to think more and more that special needs adoption should have more coverage, continuing coverage for things like dental care. Like it’s not my fault that he has .  .  .  88 horrendous teeth, but it’s going to cost us thousands and thousands of dollars to fix that problem. We’ll definitely pay it and get it done, you know. We’ll never deny him because nobody else is going to pay it. But I think it would make it a lot easier for people to adopt kids if those kinds of things were covered.”  d) “Custom” Adoption One of the problems I encountered in dealing with terminology, is that the meaning of the word “adoption” has been imposed on the Seabird Island culture.  There is no appropriate English word to  describe “custom” practices. fostering, and stewardship”  The words “adoption, guardianship, all have meanings that are  entrenched in the English language, but do not adequately describe the child welfare actions of the band.  On Seabird Island, some people refer to “custom” adoption when they talk about their adoption experiences. exclusive to one kind of process;  This term is not  it is used to cover a number  of child protection actions taken by the band members when a child’s parents can not care for them for a period of time. These actions include short term and long term care by one or more extended family members, followed by a return to the birth parents or permanent care by an extended family member.  The band  experiences of “custom” adoption therefore are varied, but the welfare of the child remains the basic concern.  I could find no  evidence of an appropriate kinship term in either the Halkomelem or Nlkapamuxw languages for “custom” adoption.  From the  interviews that were conducted for this thesis, it is evident that Indian adoption practices did not end when the child welfare  89 policies of the government were imposed on Indian people.  Of the twenty in-depth interviews conducted, ten informants had experienced what they termed “custom” adoption. experiences ranged from the informants’  These  own “custom” adoption to  the “custom” adoption of extended family members, such as father, siblings,  children, husband, grandchildren, and cousins.  These  experiences were equally divided between male and female band members.  The ages of these members varied from elders to band  members in their early thirties.  Informants with other adoption  experiences, also recounted their knowledge of “custom” adoption.  Informant 1.  (Zi, Nov.2/89)  Randy Smith experienced his own “custom” adoption by close family friends.  At age sixteen, he discovered he was adopted.  At age  sixty-five, he discovered that his adoptive name was not recog nized by the government. “(Adoption in the old times) was just sort of a verbal agreement like, you know, between two parents like, eh. Like in my case, well, I was adopted here, too. In my case, my Dad had.. a. tuberculosis and he knew he wasn’t long, eh,. and there was. a baby and I was just walking and.. there was four of us. so Brian Smith had. his pick of.. which ever one. Brian Smith was just a foster parent and they were just good friends between the Smith’s and the Davidson’s. I’m from Chilliwack. He adopted me. (I took on) his last name. (He was) just like an ordinary father. Well, he did what fathers are supposed to do, eh. Cloth you, feed you, and, see that you get an education. Indian education plus.. going to school. All that.. like he taught us how to trap. A matter of fact he picked up about five children. He didn’t have any children of his own. Like I said they were good friends, those two families and. I guess there were two religions between them. Like my mother was Methodist and my real Dad was Catholic. He wanted me brought up Catholic and Lucy and Brian Smith were real strong Catholics. Religion has some play in it. My Dad had more say in it than my Mother. Then I went to Catholic .  .  •  .  .  .  .  90 school. Didn’t do me no good! You know, there was.. no papers drawn up between.. like Indian Affairs or anything. There was just a.. like. they’d come around. once a year or whatever to add to the band list. There’s new people here. they came and registered them and that’s how I became a Seabird. There is one paper just between Brian Smith and John Davidson. it’s just a slip of paper like that. I got it. It just. .authorizing Brian Smith to take one of his children and it was. witnessed by Sam Jones. at Seabird here. That’s all it was, just a. few lines. (There was no ceremony to bring me into the band.) Just everybody gathered here. if there were any members to be signed in. It was simple in those days. I was around eighteen months old. I don’t really remember. We never (had a name-giving ceremony here). People went elsewhere to do it and we don’t have a longhouse here. Some wanted to build a longhouse and others said no. If the parents find (a name) or hear of one from their original family that nobody uses any more they transfer it over. They have a big dinner. and call all the elders. They have to witness.. this name was given to him so nobody else can use it till he’s gone or till he hands it down to somebody else. It’s never been done much in this place around Seabird. Like I say, we have two cultures. I didn’t have my name legally changed till I got my old age pension. I didn’t even know it. I went into the army and they didn’t catch it there. Then when I applied for my old age pension, there was no such name in their registry. I was registered at Seabird as Randy Smith. For my pension I was under Davidson from Chilliwack. There is a big family of them in Chilliwack. I didn’t even know my own relatives, you know, up to that time. I knew (about my adoption). I found out when I turned sixteen, you know. My mother. married a Davidson. We were making our family tree, eh. And it finally came out. I didn’t even know my own relatives. Well, I guess they knew all the time, but nobody told me nothing, you know. In them days I guess everything was secret, you know, I couldn’t tell you why. guess they wanted a. child for themselves and that was it. I didn’t really have contact with the Davidson family). Oh it was round about twenty—two or twenty-three. I met my uncle. He said he knew all about it. He started talking and telling me about my Dad. Right to-day, you know they don’t seem to be my.. family, you know. (They feel) like strangers to me. I’ve got some half-brothers and sisters. And their children, they all call me uncle and I.. don’t even know them. One is a teacher here. I just got to know her when she became a teacher. It’s hard. Try to get back in the track again, you can’t. It’s impossible. A long time. (That was) Wellington Band. Same traditions. All I lost was property but I gained it here. (From the Smith’s, I inherited) land and their home. They didn’t have any money to speak of. (The Smith’s were first comers and the Davidson’s were of the same class so I didn’t change status). Well, I had to change my name to Smith, that’s about all I had to do. (How do I feel about It?) Well, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  91 it’s so old now, it don’t bother me any more but I think I learned something from it, you know, because, I don’t like to see a person lose what they got here. There’s 5,000 acres of land here that belongs to the community and a portion of that belongs to the child or the children to come and, they own it.. and if they are adopted out, they auto matically lose it. I think it’s changed now, really but.. I know they used to take you off the band list and.. put you on a different list. Then you got to start from scratch, there. I think it’s wrong.. but to prove it is another thing. You can’t, you know. (Adoption is) not a secret today. I wouldn’t allow it, you know. I don’t agree.. I don’t believe in adoption really anyway.. any kind.. I’d like the child to agree upon it themselves, you know, have something to say.. in the adoption part of it.. because they are going to lose their identifying name, for one thing, and. then they have a share in the property here that’s theirs.. and if you adopt them away they change their name, you know. There’s no checking. I don’t know what I lost.. well I gained, you know. What if I went to. a white home.. I would’ve lost everything. “(I am satisfied with my life.) Yeah, I mean I can’t change it now. I got a nice place to stay, I had a good bringing up. My father never went to school a day in his life but he made sure.. that we all did, eh. Some of them are teachers. (One of the things that I would like to say is that) I found out during my life span here the grandparents play a big role in bringing up the children., and I think that’s a good thing but in your case, in a white society, it’s very different I guess. I’ve got some white friends say, ‘What are you doing with all these children? Why do you look after them?’ Well it’s our job. It’s what we’re put on earth for. They tell me, ‘No, no, no, it’s not. You’re supposed to be having leisure time now that you are old age.’ The house is too quiet, you know. But it’s been handed down all the way down the line. Grand parents bring up the children. They do the teaching role, you know. They teach the parents plus they teach the grandchildren. Both. If they get mad, they correct both, you know. They think it’s the right thing. Brings the family together. Children.. That’s the only resource we have, you know, that’s concerning Indian people. .We got to keep it going. Our love for children is a big part of it. Like that gentleman there (Brian Smith), a lot of them there. they’d have fell by the wayside somewhere. He cared, A big heart I guess that’s what it really is. I’d like to see the population grow.. strong and healthy.” .  .  .  .  (See 3, Appendices for additional data)  The following information is a summary of interview results on the questions relating to genealogy, kinship terminology,  rights,  92 obligations, inheritance,  status,  and name-giving.  The majority  of informants were in agreement in their answers to the ques tions.  Exceptions are noted.  4.3 Genealogical Data Informants were asked to provide genealogical data at the begin ning of each interview.  Some band members could provide a very  detailed description of their family tree, while others struggled to remember immediate family data.  One elderly informant indi  cated that grandparents choose the grandchild that appears to have the best head for remembering;  this chosen child is then  taught the family genealogical knowledge.  Informants who had  been given this knowledge were able to recite a family tree that went back to the beginnings of the reserve. covered seven generations.  This recitation  This information is significant  because band members have to know the genealogy of the adoptive childs family.  Without this knowledge, adoption can not take  place because, based on their marriage rules, they would not know who the child could marry.  Informants were asked to provide the kinship terminology in their discussion of their family history.  The majority of informants  used kinship terms such as father, mother, sister, brother, cousin, aunt, members.  or uncle to discuss their relationship with adopted  They usually then qualified their statement by indi  cating that this was an adopted brother, Later,  adopted sister,  etc.  in the interviews about their experience, they did not  refer to these relatives using the adjective “adopted”.  Older  93 band members were more likely to refer to these family members as “my adopted sister”, my adopted brother, etc.”  Seabird Island  people indicated the birth order relationship of their siblings by referring to “my younger brother” or “my older sister”, rather than saying “my sister” or “my brother”.  With one exception, all  band members with an adoption experience,  referred to their  adoptive parents as “mom” and “dad” or “mother” and “father”. The one exception called all adults by their first name,  regard  less of the relationship.  The genealogical information confirmed the wide prohibition of cousin marriage.  Marriage to cousins closer that fourth cousin  is still prohibited.  Band members prefer that marriages take  place between people who are unrelated.  Many informants  reiterated their need of the genealogical knowledge of family members;  they have to know from where they come.  4.4 Rights, Obligations,  Inheritance, and Status  Adopted children have the same rights and obligations as naturalborn children, according to informants.  Many examples were given  to support this assertion.  The issue of heredity was more important to band members whose families placed importance on the ownership of land.  With one  exception, no one mentioned the inheritance of cultural objects, songs,  or dances.  The one exception was an informant who said  that she had received her song from her grandmother; not a material inheritance, but a spiritual  one.  this was  Without excep  94 tion,  band members said that the land was passed down from father  to son, grandfather to grandson,  or grandmother to grandson.  Informants indicated that women were expected to “marry out” (eg. marry someone from another band); inherit band land.  for this reason,  they would not  Adopted Sons and grandsons received equal  inheritances with natural—born family members.  Informants also  indicated that children from other bands who were adopted on Seabird Island reserve,  could inherit property from their  original band.  Without exception,  informants stated that adopted children  maintained the same status after adoption that they had had prior to adoption.  As well, all informants said that adopted children  received the same treatment as other children in the adoptive family.  The majority of informants said that adoption was  forever, meaning that the child maintained lifelong relations with the adoptive family.  Other band members who still held out  hope that particular children would some day return to the band from non—native adoptive families, maintained that the adoption was only for the time period that the child needed care and that the child would return to the band upon reaching adulthood.  The majority of informants stated that in “custom” adoption,  the  children knew who their birth parents where and the children had contact with them.  Those informants who were the exception, had  experienced “custom” adoption processes that were atypical  (e.g.  the child was not told they were adopted until they reached the age of sixteen).  As well,  the majority of informants indicated  95 that the band knew of the “custom” adoption of band members,  it  was not secretive.  Without exception, informants indicated that grandparents were the educators of the children.  In “custom” adoption,  it is the  grandparents who are first asked to care for the children.  In  the last few years, because some grandparents have not wished to care for the children, aunts, and uncles have become the primary “custom” adoption care-givers.  4.5 Name-giving Band members have the right to receive Indian names belonging to their family;  this includes anyone adopted into the family.  Informants stated that name-giving ceremonies had not been practised on the reserve for some time.  They indicated that the  fact that the reserve is the home to both Sto’lo and Thompson may be partly responsible for this.  Nora Tom indicated that, “It’s a great big potluck. Everybody’s invited. Have a great big time and this child is the special child, you know, even if it’s an adopted child or foster child. It’s their day. .but they can’t carry a sxwayxwey name unless it’s in their background.” .  Randy Smith described how the name is transferred.  He said,  “If the parents find (a name) or hear of one from their original family that nobody uses any more they transfer it over. They have a big dinner., and call all the elders. They have to witness.. this name was given to him so nobody else can use it till he’s gone or till he hands it down to somebody else.” Mildred Roberts thought that the Thompson name-giving was  96 different from that of the Sto’lo.  She said,  “(When it comes to naming ceremonies,) the Thompson Indians are different than down here again. Up there, they try to give you a person had passed away, a member of you fam— ily. They don’t want to lose that name, so they give it to the child. Like my mother gave Bob White a name. They’re related but very distant. This name was just laying there, like you say, waiting for someone to pick it up. So, rather than lose that name she gave it to him. As long as nobody had it and the person is dead.. Somebody wants to give their name, then they ask them if they want that name.” .  ,  A comparison of Smith’s and Robert’s description yields a simi larity rather than a difference.  Summary In summary, this chapter began with a discussion of the terminology of adoption used by social agencies.  The words  “apprehension” and “placement” describe the action taken by social workers to put children in care (under the supervision of the government).  The terms “foster care,  closed legal adoption,”  and “open adoption” refer to three ways social workers may place children with families.  The terms of the open adoption pilot  project that involves Seabird Island band members are described briefly.  The interview data, which forms the main text for this chapter, presents the adoption experiences of Seabird Island band members. The data are organized following the social agency classifications of foster care, closed legal adoption, and open adoption and the Seabird Island classification “custom” adoption. Four adoption narratives are presented in this chapter. Linda Duncan’s narrative about her foster care because it  I chose  97 provides the most detailed account of foster care experience. Francis John’s account of the closed legal adoptions of her children provides data on a number of issues of adoption.  I  chose Sandy Parker’s narrative about her experience as an adoptive parent in the open adoption pilot project and Randy Smith’s account of his “custom” adoption because they provide the greatest depth of information.  Based on the data presented, assumptions cannot be made about the rates of adoption in comparison with other First Nations people. Based on the literature I reviewed and my own knowledge, the incidence arid type of adoption experienced by Seabird Island people is about average compared with other bands in Canada; it is not atypical.  Adoption is not a simple subject to deal with.  There are no  universal adoption laws or policies in Canada.  Adoption is not  simply the incorporation of a person into a family. the process of incorporation, rights,  As well as  other issues such as kinship rules,  obligations, and inheritance must be considered.  this reason,  For  interview data on these issues are presented.  The purpose of this research is to discover what these adoption experiences mean to the people of Seabird Island.  The data raise  a number of questions regarding the adoption practices currently in use.  Regardless of the adoption method,  the issue of ethnic  identity of First Nations children is of paramount concern.  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CD  .-  0CD H(fl CDW0o  H-  :-  H-  H.H-Q  H-H-H-CD  )H-iSCD CD5CDo  H-WCDCD0 0Q  H-  0 WCDCDWCD CD0o5 0 0 HH- r 0H-  :  H-H-oCDCD  CD  HH-  0QH-  <  0 H-  o •  0  0  0  CDCDrI-  CD HCDCDw5 CDoCDH-  -  CDH-5H-  W0  moo-  HCD0CDrH H0  OCDCDCD  CD  :-  0  CD  0  --  CD CD  H:  rIH-  CD  H-  0  H-  •  0  CD  p  CD  CD : 0  CD  H-  CD  H  0 0 0  5  :  0  H-  ((1  0 0  CD  j  0  CD  HrI-  CD  H  0  CD  CD  0  Cfl  H:  0  CD  E  rI-  -  CD  0 H-H  CD  I—”.  CD  0  0  CD 0 H 0  WCD  H-  H  o  H-CD 00CD  H- 0  CD  OH-H ••< H-  H-  I-H-CDCD CD -  H-  HH-  0)(DO  CD  H-  CD  CD  5  çt  H-  --4  H  •  (31  CD  CD  0 0  H-  H-  5  H  CD  N  N  0 0  101 “For the child, adoption always means a loss of relationship with emotionally significant objects and a symbolic loss of roots, a sense of genetic identity, and a sense of connecte dness. Becoming disconnected from one’s ancestry is perhaps the loneliest experience known. It is like floating in time and space without an anchor. It means no belonging in a way that all others belong. A pervasive sense of anxiety accom panies this experience of disconnectedness” (Small, 1987:36) When the very basis of identity becomes problematic for a child, the other stages of claiming one’s identity become very diffi cult.  It is the loss of the ethnic identity of children in adoptive and foster homes that concerns Seabird Island Band members.  When a  social worker apprehends and places a native child in a nonnative home, .the cultural stripping is complete. The child is iso lated from the environment of his people, where there was some support and encouragement to insulate him/herself from the opinions and judgements of white people and institu tions. It is difficult for any child to build a new identi ty, when taken into care, but when that child is native, and placement means physical uprooting and either implicitly or explicitly expressed cultural devaluation, the struggle for an identity is compounded” (Hudson and McKenzie, 1981:87).  ifl  Manitoba, a child’s right to ethnicity is affirmed by the  Manitoba Child and Family Services Act, 1985 that ensures that: “Where a child has a different ethnic or cultural background than the family in which it has been placed, that the child has a right to knowledge of its own genetic roots. Adoptive families, foster families, group homes, and institutions have a responsibility to provide the child with information and experiences which will foster personal pride. More than the above, every child entering the child welfare system has a right to expect that its ethnic and cultural background will be given full consideration in the plans made for care. The child has the right to expect the agency will make every effort to place it in an ethnically/culturally appropriate environment. The child has the right to expect that the ethnic/cultural community into which it was born  102 will assume responsibility to make the necessary resources available” (Kimelman, 1985:31).  Although this provincial government may recognize that the right to ethnic identity is important, it is critical that adoptive and foster parents ensure that there is a transfer of cultural knowledge.  A recent Canadian study showed that adoptive parents  did not make an effort to make themselves aware of Indian cul ture.  Twenty-five percent of the adoptive parents did not  discuss their native adoptee’s background with the child.  At  least twenty-five percent of these parents received no counselling after the adoption placement (Kimelman,  1985:157).  For those children who must be placed off the reserve, care must be taken to allow them to formulate the very basis of identity, to acquire an emotional rootedness;  this will then allow them to  develop an ethnic identity as they mature.  The band can play an  active role in the maintenance of an ethnic identity by remaining in contact with the child and its foster or adoptive family.  The  children .critically need to have role models who are also Indians and can accurately interpret and teach their mutual tribal heritage. Placing them in the same community context can help minimize culture shock and facilitate return home” (Ward, 1984:48).  A problem with the high number of native children in care,  is  that “. . . there is evidence to indicate that once native children have been admitted into care, they are less likely than non native children to return to their parents. As a result, many native children grow up being so dislocated in terms of  103 their culture, their race and their family, that they have no clear sense of their identity and no home to which they can return; the circle has been broken. The community has been deprived of its right to regenerate itself” (Carasco, 1986:114). A further problem exists with the cultural understandings of how identity is defined.  The Euro-Canadian culture concentrates on  the rights of the individual.  Thus, when a judge makes a  decision about the welfare of a child, s/he is basing her/his decision on what is best for the individual;  a judge perceives  identity as something learned in the foster or adoptive home. the other hand,  On  Seabird Island people express concern about the  rights of the band and the child’s identity within the group. Because judges don’t think about identity this way,  they place  less importance on maintaining an Indian identity.  Because the  child needs the band around her/him to find her/his identity, maintaining an Indian identity is almost impossible in a nonnative home.  One way that we define who we are and where we fit within the community is to use family memorabilia to remind us of the past. Foster children lose all sense of to whom they belong.  Because  they are young and perhaps traumatized, they do not always remember when social workers moved them and who they stayed with. For example, Linda suffered six moves in eight years.  She has no  visual record of those years, the way other children do. has saved photographs,  No one  report cards, swimming certificates, or  other historical records to remind her of those years.  She  doesn’t know the names and addresses of her foster parents and foster siblings.  It is as if she lives in an ahistorical world.  104 The ‘Life Book,  ‘  a book used to record the names of families that  the child has lived with and meaningful events, mentioned by Sandy Parker,  is only useful if the foster child and/or social  worker is conscientious about filling it out.  There is no narra—  tive record to remind a child of important milestones during those years.  Foster children have fleeting mental snapshots of  time spent with people whose names they no longer remember. There is no one for them to ask about these images.  Being in  foster care may mean a child experiences several placements; s/he may have no record of this. belong,  With no history, no place to  and no one person who is constant throughout their life,  foster children feel rejected and abandoned.  Adoptive children not only lose their history, but they lose their name.  Their birth name is the only link they have with  their birth family and the band.  Children who have been adopted  as infants generally are given the name of the adoptive family. That name becomes their name and as they mature, the name is synonymous with their identity.  Mature adoptees often choose to  search for their birth parent. When a child does not know their birth name,  it is impossible to trace the location of their band  and their birth parents.  The status number that Indian Affairs  issues to their birth parent has a family base number that is part of their personal status card number.  Adopted children do  not have access to this card until they are of the age of majority.  Indian Affairs changes the base number when adoptees  apply for a status card to protect the identity of the birth parent.  On the other side of this issue, is the ability of the  105 band registrars to search for children who have been adopted off the reserve.  There is no way of finding these children when  their adoptive parents change their birth name to the adoptive name.  As children mature and enter the teenage years, their identity.  they search for  Sachdev notes that  “it is crucial in normal personality development that ado lescents derive a sense of identity from the linkage or identification with their past, and any interference with this process is likely to result in identity confusion” (Sachdev, 1984:142). Those teens who suffer serial foster care or adoption, greater difficulties.  experience  The movement from one home to another  severely effects the adolescent’s sense of identity and selfesteem. “Abused by their own families, separated repeatedly from homes throughout their sojourn with the social agency, they feel they don’t belong anywhere, to anyone” (Kendrick, 1990:22).  Informants recounted their experiences of family members trying to return to the band.  It is because they have lost their ethnic  identity that their return is difficult.  They no longer feel  they belong in the band because they experience culture shock upon their return.  Band members who have returned to the band  after a non-native adoption or foster care experience, have to get to know family members again and learn how to be Indians. This is an uncomfortable experience for they realize that they do not know how to learn.  Informants offered this information with  hesitancy, almost unwilling to speak aloud about their feelings  106 of no longer belonging.  Informant Linda Duncan commented that  she didn’t know where she was from and who her relatives were. Ida Duncan lamented not knowing certain relatives before they had died.  Repeatedly, band members who had been placed off-reserve,  suggested that they were just learning to be Indians.  Sarah  White said that knowing how to be Indian could be re-awakened and remembered.  Band members expressed a number of concerns about maintaining their adopted children’s ethnic identity.  It is important for  Ida Duncan that her youngest child knows his heritage.  Ida wants him to know  not want him to lose his Indian identity. both realities in his adoptive family.  She does  Leo Howard noted that  adopted First Nations children face a clash of Indian and white values that create alienation and conflict.  He thinks that  maintaining a native identity would help alleviate this conflict. Mildred Roberts thinks that knowing a relative is well-respected by band members creates pride.  Informants said that if native  children knew who their families were they would have pride in their heritage.  Acquiring an identity depends on having relationships with people,  on having somebody to question.  On Seabird Island, a  child learns its identity from the hands that shape the child. If only for this reason,  “custom” adoption must be legalized.  (See Sachdev, 1988:142-145 for a comprehensive review of litera ture on loss of identity in adoption).  107 5.2 Loss of Self-Esteem and the Feeling of Belonging Because the foster care process is less permanent, band members experiencing this process said that they did not belong in the faster family.  Most of their experiences were as temporary  foster care placements, which meant that social workers moved them every six months, or more often.  Frequently, the children  did not know or remember why the social workers moved them so repeatedly.  Social workers put some band members into permanent  care, but they ended up moving often, even as permanent wards. This serial placement is extremely hard on the children. and Scott Duncan experienced this kind of placement.  Linda  For the  temporary placement, social workers told them that they would be there only for a little while,  However, both foster parents and  the social workers indicated that permanent placement was forever.  The Seabird Island experience was that forever could be  just a year or two.  Children in foster care become hardened to the incorporation process.  Sandy Parker suggested that this is why she and her  husband would not adopt an older child. experience exemplifies this;  Linda Duncan’s  she said that there was no use  trying to get to know her new “family” because she would just get moved again.  Later Linda recognized that she needed to try  harder to get along in this new family.  She found that she could  be happier, but just as before, after a few months, worker moved her again.  the social  The children play a waiting game.  Foster homes are just a place to stay until you are old enough to go back home to the reserve or move to the city.  It is possible  •  o  rI  I-h  P.-) ‘1 3 (I) Cl  0  CD  H-  a  CD II CD  Hi  I CD  Tn Ct CD CD  —•  Y  P.)  CD  0  CD  a  0 P.) Li  Tn CD  CD ‘-<  Li  DI H  CD c-I-  i-  l-<  Hi  CT)  Ct  0  P.)  c-I-  Tn CD  ‘—•  i-C  CD  y CD 0 P.)  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CD CD  HTi)  ‘-3  •  CD  <  CD Tn CD ‘I  l-  CD  c-I-  I-ti  Hi  c-I-  j  CD  C> CD  -)  :-  ‘Cl  i-  0  0 3 >0  DI  0  CI  CD  c-’  1-1  0  Mi  I—c  0 i-C CL CD  Li  H-  CD 3  II  Cl  ‘—  H-  a  Hi 0 II  CD CD  a  H-  (I)  P.)  c-I-  0 Tn  CD Cl  0  CT)  -ç  Tn  ‘  CD  ‘—C  0  ‘—i  DI  H-  a  Tn 0  0  Cl)  ‘—  Cl) 0 ‘V  ‘V  P.) Li  -  Tn  --i  Cl  II  Cl) CD P.) T3 H-  Hi  0  CT)  a  CD I ‘ti CD ‘1 HCD >  CD  c-I  13 CD CD 3  ct  0  Li  DI Tn  c-I-  P.)  Li  Ct  -.  CD < CD ‘1  0  ‘<  H-  Hi P.)  I-  Hi 0 Ti) c-ICD  CD  Y  c-I  ci-  P.)  Li  Ct  CD CD  Hi  DI Li Cl  c-P  Li  CD  CD  pi a  ‘—  ‘V  c-I  Cl) :i  Li  P.)  ‘T  CT)  ‘V  P.)  H-  b CD  0  c-I  Li  tr CD  Q ‘1 CD  H  0  Hi 0 ‘1  c-i-  3  0 > )  I—a  )Y CD  0  109 Gladys Little said she didn’t belong in her foster family. did not take the place of her birth family.  It  Having a sense of  belonging comes easier when social workers place children in a home of the same ethnicity as that of the natural parents. First Nations people,  For  placement needs to be with the same band.  Adults who have returned to the band after experiencing foster care or adoption off the reserve, have a very difficult time fitting into the band’s social system.  They have not been  brought up with the knowledge of who they are and where they belong.  They become frustrated and angry because they have no  memory of a family history and no memory of family members, especially grandparents or great-grandparents.  They have no  patience with family members who repeat stories of long ago because they have no part in these.  Nora Tom relates how her  sisters and brother hate the other members of the family because they can share the family history and the fostered siblings cannot.  Tom says that her sisters and brother were robbed of  their heritage and their sense of belonging. returned to the band,  These adults, now  are having trouble relating to their kin.  They cannot express the trust and love that would allow them to belong.  Patrick Johnston notes the effects of apprehension on self esteem. “The effects of apprehension are often as painful for the parents as they are for the child. This may be particularly true for Native families, who, if anything, are more child centred than many non-Native families. Often, difficulties they may have been experiencing are further aggravated.  110 Problems of alcoholism and emotional stress can be exacer bated when a child is removed, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of other children being apprehended. For many Native parents who already have low self-esteem, the removal of a child is but another confirmation of their feeling of worthlessness” (.Johnston, 1983:60).  When the judges decide that a parent is not fit to look after a child,  the parents lose their self-respect and the respect of  others on the reserve.  However, when a judge refuses a person  the right to foster or adopt their siblings, the person suffers both loss of self-esteem and a feeling of powerlessness.  Yvonne  Duncan, a foster parent to her sister, is frustrated that her family has disintegrated and she is powerless to prevent it. has little confidence in her ability to parent.  She  This is based on  her experiences with the social system.  Sandy Parker is trying to make Scott feel that he belongs on Seabird Island.  She knows that when he becomes eighteen, he has  the choice of returning to the band.  She is determined that if  he makes that choice, that he will feel comfortable there and he will not lose his identity.  Scott’s mother wants him to  understand that he belongs on the reserve with his people and he belongs in his adoptive family.  She wants him to feel connected  in both places.  5.3 The Effect of Contact on Identity In all the adoption experiences,  it is loss of contact that  appears to be the most important aspect for the informants. Without contact,  they do not know what has happened to family  111 members and they do not know where these family members are. This need relates to their need to know the genealogy of the family.  Because of adoption and foster care off the reserve,  many families have missing genealogical data.  Of course, it also  concerns them because they care about family members and they do not want them to lose their ethnicity.  Loss of contact by the birth parents in foster care and adoption cases is also a concern on the reserve.  For parents who have  lost their children, no contact is likely with any of the children apprehended and placed off the reserve.  Some of these  parents have indicated that they have not even seen a recent picture of these children.  When the social workers apprehend and  place the children on the reserve,  contact can be maintained.  The parent knows that the child is well and they can see the child growing and developing.  For children at risk, the birth  parent has rio contact, however, it should be possible for foster parents to send information and pictures to birth parents via a social worker.  The birth parent is entitled to know how their  child is and what they look like.  Several informants, whose  relatives had been placed off the reserve, wished that they could see pictures of these children.  Because of family separation, many informants did not know their family; they said that they were just learning who was in their family. had died.  They expressed regret at not knowing family members who Randy Smith said that he has had a hard time getting  to know his birth family.  112 Loss of contact also means that important family information is not always given to a foster child or adoptee.  For Seabird  Island Band members, it is important to know what has happened to family members, especially when a death has occurred.  Scott’s  birth mother has expressed her concern that he does not know of his father’s death, yet his adoptive mother recounts how he was informed of his father’s death while he was a foster child. Scott’s sister still feels guilt because she was not on the reserve when her father died; about his death.  she refers to hearing rumours  “Custom” adoptees would know about this type of  family information immediately.  Maintaining contact takes a concerted effort by adoptive and foster care parents.  The first battle is to deal with the  psychological feelings of the parents.  Maintaining contact  forces them to share the child with the birth parents. non-native community,  In the  this is difficult because the parents have  been socialized into thinking that no contact should be made. For native communities, maintaining contact is part of their definition of the adoption and foster care process.  For them  the cessation of contact goes against Indian values.  Maintaining contact with grandchildren who have been fostered or adopted off-reserve is a concern of band members,  Gladys Little  thought she had lost her grandson because the Ministry of Social Services apprehended him. could adopt the baby.  She was fortunate that her daughter  This closed legal adoption enabled this  family to maintain their ties.  The child will be brought up with  113 his native heritage intact.  Open adoption allows the children involved to feel that they may have contact at any time.  This is important because it is this  contact that will keep them together as a sibling unit as they mature into adulthood.  Linda Duncan is happy knowing that she  may speak with her brother and visit him.  5.4 Genealogy Remembering the genealogy of the band members related to the first-corners is particularly important to Seabird Island people. The recitation of the genealogies of the first-corners helps to provide a sense of the past.  The ability to trace your  connection back to the first people who settled on the island gives you high status in the social system on the reserve.  Nora  Tom described her role in her family as the “dictionary.”  It is  her responsibility to remember her family’s genealogy.  Suttles  notes that “families with proper traditions gave their children, often individually and secretly, sniw ‘advice’ consisting of their geneology and family history, gossip about other families, and rules of proper behavior” (Suttles, 1958:501; 1990:465).  Band members recite their genealogies with pride because they can remember and because they know who their relatives are. children often do not have that information.  Adopted  Many informants  indicated their frustration at not knowing who their relatives were.  They were embarrassed because they could not recite the  knowledge that they knew was important to remember.  This is part  114 of the birth-right of every person, from.  to know where they have come  In “custom” adoption and open adoption, band members have  access to this knowledge because Seabird Island people acknowledge its value.  Another reason that genealogies are important to Seabird Island people,  is that the marriage rules define who you can and cannot  marry based on who your relatives are.  Leo Howard noted that  children were reminded often of who their relatives were so they wouldn’t go around with unacceptable people.  Not knowing who a child’s family is, the child.  is grounds for not adopting  Mildred Roberts had the opportunity to adopt but  because the social worker could not release the child’s family history  to her and her husband,  they decided not to adopt him.  She didn’t know where he was from or who his dad was.  She was  unable to help the child without this information.  On Seabird Island, everyone who can be remembered in a recitation of a genealogy is a relative.  Seabird Island people may refer to  those far-removed from the extended family as friends; thus a friend’ who may “custom” adopt instead of an extended family member is likely to be,  for example, a sixth or eighth cousin.  The informants know that the ‘friend’  is related, but either  cannot be bothered to work out the exact relationship because it is too far removed or they are not sure exactly how the person is related but they know there is a blood relationship at some level.  115 Knowing one’s genealogy provides an oral history that places a band member within a particular class. an aristocrat or noble,  To make a claim of being  a band member must prove that claim  through his/her genealogy.  To have no knowledge of one’s  genealogy is to ‘know nothing’  .  Persons who know nothing do not  have a high ranking place within the band.  5.5 Role of Elders in Acquiring Identity Seabird Island people respect and value their Elders.  These  grandparents play an important role in the Seabird Island community.  It is their job to bring the children up.  One  informant related how his white friends teased him about having to look after his grandchildren.  He said that it was his job.  Another informant described how the role of the care-giver to children is repeated generation by generation.  A concern of informants was that the Elders get depressed because they do not feel useful in the band.  Informants said that the  Elders should get more involved with the children and become more active in the role of care-giver and teacher.  One Elder who  actively participates in the care of her grandchildren said that her grandchildren made her feel important.  The above issues of loss of identity,  loss of self-esteem and a  sense of belonging, and loss of contact may be ameliorated by genealogical knowledge passed down by oral tradition.  It is here  that the Elders can play a very important role in the well-being of the children of the band.  Social agencies require a new model  116 so that apprehended children are no longer cut off from their identity.  117  Chapter 6  Analysis of the Adoption Experiences: Power and the Child Welfare System  This second chapter of analysis deals with the effects of the current child welfare system on band members.  It provides an  analysis of the data dealing with foster care, group homes, separation of siblings, serial care, subsidization, and the status of adopted Indian children.  The current adoption policies are imposed by the dominant EuroCanadian population.  Until governments legalize “custom”  adoption across Canada,  this imposition will continue.  The  adoption policies are part of the colonialism that has taken place in North America.  Hudson and McKenzie argue that the  problems of child welfare on reserves follow “a conflict model of society” (Hudson and McKenzie,  1981:65).  “The lack of commonly shared values, and the historical subjugation of native people by a white, European based economic and social system can be fully understood only in this context. Here attention is given to the struggle between an intruding society with its own culture, and an indigenous society with markedly different values and objec tives” (Ibid., 1981:65).  The Indian Act expressed and facilitated a process that created dependency of Indians on the federal government.  This act, an  118 example of structural colonialism,  controls the power and  decision-making of indigenous people.  It is the people of the  dominant group who benefit by this control, as native people have been unable to decide for themselves how they will use their land and resources (Ibid.,  1981:65).  “The missionaries, the educational system and the health system were all oriented to objectives associated with cultural colo nialism” (Ibid., 1981:65).  This included separating children  from their bands and forcing them to recant their Indian culture. On Seabird Island, the informants who had experienced residential school or long stays in tuberculosis wards suffered such alienation.  A modern day method of devaluing the culture of  First Nations children has been to apprehend the children and place them in  non-native foster or adoptive homes.  Not only has  this process devalued the culture of the Indian people,  it has  made the Indian people feel unqualified and inferior as parents. Informants experiencing apprehension often mentioned that they felt that they were not good enough to be parents.  Often these  apprehensions took place because the Seabird Island homes did not meet the white middle-class criteria set by the child welfare agency.  The power in the child welfare system has resided with the dominant group, not the native people.  Until recently,  governments have not asked First Nations people to participate in child welfare decisions about their children.  Seabird Island  people said that though they have the opportunity to make  119 suggestions about the child welfare plans for band children, their suggestions go unheeded. and  They consider this process a sham  said that the Ministry holds discussions to prove to the  public that the Ministry is listening, yet the Seabird Island people do not have the power to make the changes they want.  For  over twenty years, First Nations people have been telling the government that “custom” adoption must be legalized.  Government  studies have made the same recommendation yet the change has not been made.  As First Nations people have empowered themselves to gain some control over their lives, the colonial relationship is breaking down.  Professional people in education, health and law recognize  Native methods of education, healing, government as valid.  child care,  law and  To complete the decolonization process,  First Nations people will move to self-government.  Before that  happens, government agencies must take care of the needs of the children.  If Seabird Island Band takes responsibility for their  child welfare matters, one part of the complex process by which their culture has been devalued will be reduced.  6.1 Demography of an Imposed System The effects of an imposed system of child welfare are well documented in the social work literature,  and in the accounts  informants for this research provided about their experience with a system that has failed not only the Indian children of Canada, but the non-Indian children as well.  The following British  Columbia statistics show the tremendous increase in the numbers  120 of Indian children taken into care. “In 1955 there were 3,433 children in the care of B.C.’s child welfare branch. Of that number it was estimated that 29 children, or less than 1 percent of the total, were of Indian ancestry. By 1964, however, 1,446 children in care in B.C. were of Indian extraction. That number represented 34.2 percent of all children in care. Within ten years, in other words, the representation of native children in B.C.’s child welfare system had jumped from almost nil to a third” (Johnston, 1983:23). With the 1975 B.C. Royal Commission Report on Child Welfare and extensive amounts of research completed on the subject of foster and adoptive care,  it could be expected that the percentage of  Indian children in care would have dropped significantly. However,  this is not so.  The statistics for British Columbia  indicate that there has been very little change, at least not enough to suggest that current child welfare policy is successfully working for the children of this province. March,  1992,  In  there were 6084 children in care in the province of  British Columbia.  Of this group of children,  were racially classified as aboriginal; racially aboriginal,  1948 children (32%)  to be classified as  these children have to have either a mother  or father of native origin (Thomson, 1992). eight years since 1964,  Thus,  in the twenty-  the proportion of Indian children in care  has declined by only 2.2 percent.  6.2 Loss of Power in a Colonial System Band members with experience in adoption express a loss of control in their lives.  They say that outside agencies make  child welfare decisions without any concern for Indian values. The women who have had babies taken away feel robbed and violated.  They suffer a great deal still, even after more than  121 twenty years after these apprehensions.  Even now, with the band  having an opportunity to make recommendations in child welfare cases, band members, male and female, express a sense of loss of control and power.  Young women know what too often happens to  babies born out of wedlock.  Linda Duncan said,  “I don’t want one (a baby) because if I get one when I’m not impaired (sic) for a baby, they take me away and my baby away from me and have it up for adoption. I would feel hurt. So that’s why I don’t want anything right now.”  Seabird Island informants tell of their lack of control in the processes they are involved in with the Ministry of Social Services.  The Ministry has taken a paternalistic stance,  believing that they know what is right for the children involved, without accountability to the band.  When band members have gone  to the Ministry offices to enquire about Seabird Island children in care,  the Ministry has shown a lack of concern for the family  from which the children were apprehended. takes place,  When an apprehension  there are at least two parties involved;  both  parties, usually the parent/s and the child/ren, need help from social services.  The child’s needs come first, especially if the  child needs protection, but it appears that the Ministry shows little respect for the rights of family members.  This goes back  to the problem that government agencies now have control of the child as opposed to the family having control.  It appears that some decisions have been high-handed.  When one  informant went to the local office of the Ministry of Social Services to discover what had happened to her son,  the Ministry  122 representatives gave her the runaround.  They gave both the child  and the birth parents inaccurate information to convince them that both parties were geographically separated by great dis tances, so they would be discouraged from searching for each other.  At this time the child was eighteen,  one year younger  than the age when they could reach each other through the active registry in Victoria. the child.  The social agency does not exist just for  With some compassion for the birth family,  the social  agency could have explained the new passive and active registry and helped the birth parents to locate their son. runaround to people is not an ethical stance.  Giving the  Part of the frus  tration in this case, is the position of power that the Ministry takes versus the lack of power of the child or birth parents.  When Seabird Island Band members have taken control, the results have been positive.  For example,  the Bob White adoption was  difficult because he had a white father and a native mother. Band members considered him white.  When his grandfather adopted  him, he could not foresee that when thechild matured he would be asked to leave the reserve by the other band members.  Because  the grandfather had power on the reserve, he could legalize the adoption and have his grandson made an Indian.  Frances John had to take control when her sister died and left an infant to be cared for.  Because Frances moved quickly enough,  she thwarted the Ministry of Social Services in its attempt to apprehend the child. apprehend a  The Ministry claims that before they  child, they ask all relatives if they will take the  123 child.  Frances John’s account tells a different story.  6.3 Loss of Respect Having respect for others and oneself is an important value of the Seabird Island people.  One way that band members maintain  their existence is through their relationships with others. Losing respect is a key factor in the breakdown of relationships. The extended family bring children up to have respect. children face apprehension followed by placement,  When the  it has been  their experience that they are not treated with respect by the social agencies or foster parents.  In Linda Duncan’s experience, her foster parents lacked respect for her as a person.  Here is a child, used to living on the  reserve, suddenly taken from her home.  She tells of being  stripped, showered, and scrubbed by strangers, and then given clothing to wear that was not hers.  Her foster parents did not  afford her the privacy that a child might expect.  How much extra  effort would it have taken to be aware of a child’s feelings and be sensitive to the trauma that was taking place?  For some Seabird Island children, their experiences with social workers indicated a lack of respect by workers for the children’s ability to understand what was happening to them and the children’s need to know what other actions the social agency would take.  Children placed into care have questions that need  to be answered.  Linda Duncan was scared; she lacked answers to  help her with her feelings.  After apprehension, she didn’t know  124 where she was going and why she was moved. she would ever see her parents again.  She didn’t know if  Sandy Parker found out  that Scott knew he was going to be moved again because he mentioned it to his teachers.  After a family turned him down for  adoption once, he was much more aware of what was happening to him than his social worker realized.  It is hard to know just how  much to tell a child because the worker does not know if the placement is going to work out as planned. been involved in several placements, them know what is going on.  For a child who has  it seems important to let  The child has had enough experience  to expect no permanency and to realize that change is about to happen.  Not to tell the child,  is to leave the child’s  imagination open to worry that something is going to happen that is worse.  Sandy Parker’s recounting of Scott’s failed serial  foster placements makes it plain that Scott needed to know what was going to happen to him next.  After the adoption move, he was  insecure because he didn’t know when the next move was going to happen.  Robert Smiley noted his concern for the children who have experienced failed foster care and rebelled.  He stated that they  have no respect for themselves because of the way they have been treated in care. These children lose their ethnicity and they can find no place to belong in either the Indian or white society.  Social agencies do not appear to make a connection between the number of Indian people in prisons and the number of Indian children placed in non—native care.  125 “The John Howard Society reports that at least 75 percent of the inmates in Canada’s institutions were known to child welfare authorities and that over 80 percent of this population were both abused during childhood and became wards of the state during their childhood or adolescence. Among this population, gross underachievement and low educational attainment are the norm” (Kendrick, 1990:68). Robert Smiley believes that there is a direct connection because he visits the native inmates, many of whom he says, have experi enced failed foster and adoptive care as children.  As a matter of survival, the land.  the Seabird Island people also respect  The land is their resource for food,  ter, warmth,  and as leased land,  clothing,  shel  it provides income for the band.  The Seabird Island people see the land as a legacy that will be handed down to the children.  Some band members used “custom”  adoption to ensure that a parent could control who inherited the land.  This is especially true for those adoptive parents who  lacked biological children of their own.  6.4 Foster Care Nearly every informant had knowledge or experience of foster care.  Often they experienced not only the apprehension of a  child and the initial placement with a foster parent, but they also experienced adoption or serial foster care of the same child or another family member.  As informants recounted their experiences,  one startling thing  that came out was that many of them did not know why the Ministry had taken away their children.  Upon further investigation, it  appears that the Ministry gave them reasons, but those reasons  126  did not make any sense to them.  They lived in a child-centred  culture where seeing to the needs of the child was paramount to the survival of the band.  For example, Nora Tom was living at  home with her grandparents.  Several extended family members plus  her husband also shared this home.  The Ministry took this young  mother’s baby before she could even return home from the hospital because there were too many people living in the house.  Nora Tom also noted that the criteria used had no bearing on Indian values or way of life.  The reserve nurse did not consider  her qualified to look after the baby because the nurse thought that she was a dependent under the care of her grandparents. Nora defined good parenting as giving love, having patience, providing security and safety in the home, clothing, shelter,  etc.  and providing food,  Each informant questioned the criteria  used by child care agencies to apprehend a child; in particular, they questioned the criterion that defined neglect.  Few of the informants had their children returned to them; the Ministry fostered many of these children off the reserve. Consequently, this has resulted in the loss of children who are band members of Seabird Island.  As well, when the Ministry  apprehended children from the family, the band members had little or no counselling to help them deal with the problems that had necessitated the apprehension in the first place.  For example,  Ida Duncan and her husband needed alcohol abuse counselling when they were in their twenties, their last child.  long before the Ministry apprehended  Without their children,  the Duncan’s appeared  127 to move towards a greater dependence on alcohol resulting in a deterioration of their health and eventually Mr. Duncan’s death.  6.5 Foster Parenting Some informants have made a point of providing foster care on the reserve because the Ministry had apprehended them as children off the reserve.  These informants are determined to stop the geno  cide of band members.  Mildred Roberts,  long past the Ministry of  Social Services’ maximum age requirement, still tries to help the children.  She wants them to know their relatives.  Depending on the informants’  experiences, many band members  expressed concern over the criteria for choosing foster and adoptive parents.  There was apprehension about participating in  the home study process.  Many members said that the home study  would find that they were not good enough to be parents.  Nora  Tom said that it was degrading to have her home checked.  Because  the band is a small community, there is local knowledge about social problems and attempts to right them.  Band members said  that they would lose respect if they failed a home study. Because they value respect by others, some band members would not allow themselves to be put in the position of being turned down for foster or adoptive parenting.  There was also the concern that only perfect homes would be chosen.  The band members know that the Ministry does a thorough  inspection of prospective homes.  Band members expressed anxiety  that the Ministry might find out something in their background  128 that would prevent the Ministry from finding them acceptable. Some members even worried that something might be found that they didn’t even know about.  One informant indicated that when a  relative requires care the Ministry should not be involved. Informants also suggested that they were afraid that during the home study,  they would not have the ‘right’ answers to the  Ministry’s questions. of good answers,  Frances John said that if she didn’t think  the Ministry would take her baby away.  members are aware of the Ministry of Social Services’  Band  criteria.  Randy Smith noted that he had to have a bank account and a good credit rating to be an acceptable foster or adoptive parent.  The  Ministry did not accept many band members who were good choices to be foster or adoptive parents because these band members did not have money saved in the bank or they had a low income.  The  Ministry felt that they could not afford to have a child in their home.  This is a major problem with all minorities, not just Indians. In North America,  it has been difficult for minorities to adopt  or foster children because of their low economic position in the larger population.  The social agencies assume that low income  means inability to parent.  Because a middle-class income  standard is used to determine the acceptability of foster or adoptive parents,  low income minorities are not chosen for  foster/adoptive care placements (Kirk, B.C.  1988c:59;).  The Union of  Indian Chiefs has also noted that this is the case for  native people.  Its report states,  “The format of Adoption Application, Background Study and  129 investigation process is intimidating and/or perceived as unnecessarily discriminating toward Indians of lower socioeconomic status either in the forms themselves or the approach of the worker involved” (Elmore, Clark and Dick, 1974:23). Informants stated that they did feel intimidated by the social agency home study and investigation.  They were concerned that  they would not be able to answer questions correctly.  They said  that there were ‘right’ answers that would make them acceptable. One reason that Seabird Island people prefer “custom” adoption is that there is no investigation by the Ministry of Social Services to determine if they are fit parents.  Lack of parental experience is also a factor that causes frustra tion on the reserve.  A key problem for Yvonne Duncan is that she  tried to assume custody of several family members and was unable to because the courts did not recognize her parenting experience. Yvonne was the oldest of nine children.  Because her alcoholic  parents could not or would not care for their family, Yvonne had to assume the responsibilities of a parent and look after her younger siblings.  It is extremely frustrating to see members of  your family disappear off the reserve when you feel you can prevent it.  In “custom” adoption, the children would have  remained on the reserve, perhaps with Yvonne.  Linda Duncan also  played the role of “mom” to Scott, her younger brother.  It is  that very strong bond that now helps to make the open adoption work for both families.  Scott will always have Linda as his  connection to the band and his family. out for Scott,  though he is off-reserve.  Linda will always look  130 Age is another factor considered by the Ministry.  This criterion  makes little sense in a culture where many care-givers are in their fifties and sixties.  One informant said,  “The Ministry’s standards have to be young enough to care for the children and financially able to care for the child. So that takes the grandparents out of the picture and probably about seventy-five percent of the extended family out of the picture.” Besides  the need for participation from the grandparents,  grandparents need to be needed.  When the Ministry tells the  grandparents that they are too old to care for a child, insult not easily forgotten.  the  it is an  Sarah White pointed out that the  grandparents live at a slower pace that allows the child to develop at their rate.  Seabird Island people are concerned that criteria for adoptive and foster homes are based on material values, such as those values of the Euro-Canadian society.  The Ministry’s physical  requirement of houses and the financial criterion are examples of these concerns.  Many informants indicated that the values that  were important to them concerned love, compassion, safety, and a caring attitude.  6.6 Off-reserve Foster Homes Seabird Island Band members have a legacy of fostering experience that is not easily dealt with.  The Ministry sent some of their  band members to off-reserve foster homes where the foster parents criminally mistreated the children.  Nora Tom recounts the  experience of her sisters and brother, who the Ministry  sent to  a home where they were horse-whipped, sexually assaulted, and  131 given rotten food to eat. those children faced.  It is hard to imagine the horrors that  Not only did these children lose their  Indian identity as mentioned by Tom, but they lost trust in other human beings,  they lost a sense of belonging, and they lost their  self-esteem;  they also lost their family.  It has become very  apparent that this is not an isolated experience for foster children, especially native children (see Kendrick,  1990).  No  words can make this case better for the children involved, but the Ministry of Social Services can be made to be accountable for these atrocities.  These are strong words, but very firm measures  must be taken to protect the children.  Had the Ministry given  the grandparents extra funding or extra help to deal with the large family that needed care, perhaps then,  these children would  never have suffered from the Ministry’s ineptness.  Was this  doing the best for the child?  6.7 Group Homes Some group homes do not afford the child a caring, environment in which to develop.  loving  Kendrick notes that  at this point, there is less attempt at socialization, the emphasis is on control, punishment, containment not improvement of the child but protection of society” (Kendrick, 1990:54). --  Group homes for native children are not usually geographically close to reserves.  This makes it difficult for family members to  maintain connections to the children from the reserve.  The loss  of kin connections may exacerbate the loss of identity and ethnicity.  A group home on the reserve could mean no physical  132 move off the reserve.  If the group home was on the reserve,  children probably would have a sense of permanence.  the  They would  more likely have a family to return to instead of going to urban areas.  They would likely know their family, being able to visit  them at any time.  Possibly,  they would retain their Indian  identity and they would not be exposed to other children who had greater problems to deal with,  such as drug abuse.  Yvonne Duncan  in recounting her experience in the residential school, describes how she became involved with the use of glue, marijuana and alcohol.  Sibling groups might not be separated and the children  would not likely have to suffer serial foster placements.  Older  children could stay in their peer groups, as they could attend school with their friends on the reserve.  A group home on the  reserve could possibly give the Band Council the opportunity to train and hire band members as house parents.  6.8 Criteria for Group Homes Many band members said that the Ministry of Social Services uses too strict criteria for house parents. of the Ministry using  This is another example  white middle-class standards when those  standards are not important to the culture involved.  The Band  Council began the process of creating a group home on the reserve;  it followed all the guidelines from the Ministry, but  the project had to be given up when the Band Council could not find house parents that met the Ministry’s criteria. said,  “All their rules were not important to us.”  Council had qualified  Randy Smith  The Band  house parents, but because these parents  had not gone through a Ministry course,  the Ministry would not  133 accept them,  He expressed concern over the fact that because no  one on the reserve fit the Ministry’s criteria, the band would have to go off the reserve to find house parents.  This didn’t  make any sense to him because he thought that the children “should have house parents that they know. situation,  .  .“  In this  the band’s criterion places what is best for the child  ahead of what is best for social welfare administrators.  Randy  Smith also expresses his frustration with the rules of the Minis try of Social Services.  It is an insult to band members to be  told how to look after their children.  The root of the problem  is that the power and responsibility for child welfare need to be given back to the First Nations people and they need to be given the resources to manage it.  The Seabird Island people have lived for centuries on the food that they have hunted,  fished, and gathered.  Yet, when the  Ministry of Social Services came onto the reserve, they indicated that this diet that had sustained the band from the beginning, was no longer acceptable to serve to children in a group home. This is another example of the ethnocentrism of the social agency.  The Ministry gave the band menus that used foods that  the band did not regularly eat and which band members considered junk food.  Respect is an important value of the band.  The  Ministry showed great disrespect for Indian values by insisting that something so basic as diet had to be changed.  With a  consideration for Indian values, the Ministry could have suggested a typical meal plan for house parents to prepare that incorporated all the foods that band members use.  134 6.9 Seabird Island Criteria for Foster and Adoptive Homes Seabird Island members know what criteria they would use if they were in control of foster care and adoption. on the person’s ability to parent,  They would base it  the example s/he set,  the  stability of her/his relationships and her/his ability to discipline,  love,  trust, and understand.  Band members know the  families on the reserve better than the Ministry.  All members  interviewed said that the band chief and council were qualified to choose appropriate foster and adoptive parents for band children.  Informants expressed concern that even when the  Ministry has consulted the band, that band recommendations have been over-ridden by the Ministry;  the band sees the Ministry as  holding the power in all child welfare decisions.  All informants  said that Indian criteria for good homes should be used because Ministry of Social Services’  criteria are ethnocentric and do not  consider the cultural differences of minority populations.  Randy  Smith suggests that the Ministry should make it part of their responsibility to inform the child in care where s/he comes from.  6.10 Impact of Separation Of Siblings Because it is difficult to place groups of children in adoption or foster care homes,  sibling groups have been broken-up by the  Ministry of Social Services.  This has resulted in the total  of contact between family members.  loss  When families are distressed  to the point of having the children apprehended, there are often strong bonds between the children who support each other through the trauma they face.  The act of apprehension and separation  often tears apart that bond and causes psychological problems.  135 By not keeping sibling groups together,  the Ministry  denies the  child the memory of her/his family and takes away from that child the concept of what a natural  family is.  destroyed many Seabird Island families.  This process has Many informants  indicated that in their adoption experience, from  siblings.  members;  they were separated  Some informants have never found these family  others, having found them,  face distant angry brothers  and sisters who were too young at the time of apprehension to remember why this process happened.  Some informants acknowledge  that they know where their siblings are, but they do not wish to be in touch with them. families;  The apprehension process destroys  it is in direct opposition to the values Seabird Island  people have about respect for others and the importance of the most basic unit of kinship,  that of the mother and child.  Mildred Roberts, willing to adopt sibling groups,  expressed  frustration at the Ministry of Social Services who refused to allow such an adoption.  In this case, it was the mother of the  family in need who asked Mildred to take all the children. Mildred Roberts has never understood why the Ministry refused her.  She saw several families torn apart because the Ministry  separated siblings.  It is likely that Mildred and other informants suffering the same experience, did not meet the criteria set down by the Ministry of Social Services.  Economic status,  age or the number of rooms in  their houses could have been factors in the refusals. criteria are not based on Indian values.  Such  It’s tragic that white  136 middle—class values for protection of children have destroyed the very lives they were trying to save.  The social costs that occur because of family separation, such as psychological and justice costs, seem to be more than the extra assistance needed initially to maintain the family.  For  instance, Terry Hardy describes the separation of five siblings under the care of their grandmother.  With extra help in the home  and appropriate subsidization, perhaps the children could have stayed in the grandmother’s home so that as they grew up,  the  children could give each other support and love.  Social workers separated sibling groups when the Ministry sent the children to residential schools.  Ida Duncan recounts how  social workers split up her family after her father died (an older brother went to Sechelt and a sister and brother went to Kuper Island). together?  How can this woman ever put her family history  This kind of separation is a violation of the child—  centred values of the Seabird Island people.  6.11 Effects of Serial Care It seems strange to use the expression “in care” when the typical foster care placement has resulted in the child feeling that no one cares for it.  Apprehension and placement, much like divorce,  do not form a single childhood trauma that will be healed by time (Wallerstein, perspective,  1991:233).  Instead,  from the informants’  it is an on-going situation that will affect their  life from childhood through to adulthood.  Serial placement  137 exacerbates the trauma.  Informants who recounted their feelings  about the serial placements, about their loneliness,  often mentioned that no one cared  their fears,  their hurt.  They also  indicated that though their life was difficult within their family, a move away from the reserve was worse for them than if they had stayed within the extended family.  The children recog—  nize that by staying in the extended family, they would know the rules and they didn’t have to fear that they would be thrown out. They would have a place that they could call their own.  An off-  reserve placement does not provide them with a sense of security.  The feeling of rejection and loneliness that foster children experience is partially related to the way the Ministry sets up the foster care system.  Both foster parents and foster children  know that foster care is not necessarily a permanent situation. “Bonding the emotional attachment of a child to a trusted adult, usually the mother considered the most significant psychological element of a child’s development, is actively discouraged in the majority of foster parent child relationships. The children are only guests in their own home. The state, that vast web of agencies, departments, offices, and sub-departments, is the actual long-term parent” (Kendrick, 1990:11). --  --  --  Linda Duncan’s experience leads her to define foster parents as people who don’t care about their foster children. Ministry places a child in a temporary home, setting that child up for failure;  Each time the  the social agency is  if the social agency deems  the birth home no longer a good place to live, the child has a right to expect that the alternative will be both safe and permanent and that the agency will act promptly to ensure this.  138 The Kimelman report on child welfare for the province of Manitoba stated that children had the right to a healthy, safe environ— ment, a right to family, a right to express themselves, and a right to have “expeditious procedures” (Kimelman, 1985:28). Seabird Island Band members expressed frustration about the discontinuity of lawyers and the lack of promptness in child welfare cases.  Often,  the courts have held up a custody or  adoption case for months while band members went over the case with yet another new lawyer.  Band members indicated concern  about the time the courts took to set court dates and complete custody and adoption hearings. ponderous fashion,  While the courts move in slow and  the children involved in these cases remain in  limbo.  6.12 Permanency Planning Until Seabird Island children who require foster care or adoption can remain on the reserve, some changes need to be made to the policies that determine what happens to them in care.  What I  have termed serial foster care or serial adoption has been termed ‘drift’  in some of the social work literature.  Concern has been  expressed that with little stability or continuity in the care process,  the children suffer psychologically.  The accounts of  adoption experience of the Seabird Island people document this damage.  These children needed a sense of permanency with their  foster parent; this has not been their experience.  Recently,  in  the United States, the term ‘permanency planning’ has been used to describe a process by which the child is assured of remaining with one family for the duration of their care period, or assured  139 of remaining with their birth family in their homes (Fein and Maluccio,  1984:205).  birth family,  Preplacement preventive services for the  subsidized adoption, and periodic case reviews are  used to implement this kind of plan.  There is a concerted effort  to reunite children with their birth families. planning,  In permanency  the child has a legal status within the family that  creates a sense of belonging and creates the psychological child— parent bond that leads to self-esteem and identity.  As well, the  child is no longer considered a ‘second class’ person with no real status within the family or community.  Fein and Maluccio  suggest that permanency planning may lead to what they term ‘half—way adoption’  (Fein and Maluccio, 1984:211).  “Those youngsters who cannot live with their biological parents.. may be ‘adopted’ by a family who will care for them. they may still visit and feel connected to their families of origin, but will have their center of stability and permanence in the ‘adoptive’ home.,. The more open and flexible approach to adoption is responsive to the universal need of parents and children to continuity, identity, and human connectedness” (Fein and Maluccio, 1984: 211). -  This ‘half-way’ adoption is little different from subsidized open adoption or subsidized custom adoption.  6.13 Council of Elders Seabird Island people believe that if the Ministry allowed the community to take back their responsibility for child welfare, the children and the band would be better off.  Rather than  asking the Ministry of Indian Affairs to make decisions for them, they would prefer to take problems to the community where discussion followed by consensus would provide the solution. Informants suggested the formation of a Council of Elders,  140 similar to one operating in Chilliwack, as a way to bring the community back into the decision making process.  Prior to  interference by the government agencies, the Chief and Elders solved problems; they talked to the families who were experiencing difficulties. problems.  Now,  The band worked together to deal with  following Indian Affairs policies,  the band has  divided up the responsibilities that the Chief and Elders had and hired band members to work in the band office to take care of education,  employment, health, and social work matters.  Sarah  White commented, “It’s not working because they are separating all the parts of the body.”  6.14 Subsidization Foster children know that their parents receive money for looking after them.  When a child experiences serial placements, aside  from the feeling of not belonging, s/he feels exploited.  The  child may believe that the foster parent is only fostering for the money and that the foster parent lacks interest in the welfare of the child.  Linda Duncan is not sure if she is with  her older sister because her sister loves her or because her sister needs the money.  This cynical attitude comes more from  s experience of serial foster care than her concern that 1 Linda someone receives money to help cover the cost of raising her.  If  the social agencies provided a subsidy for adoptive parents as well as foster parents and practised permanency placement, children like Linda would not have such negative experiences.  There is little doubt that more families on Seabird Island could  141 offer their homes for care, especially for sibling groups, if they could receive a subsidy.  This view is supported by Ward  (1984b:254)  The practice of the Ministry of Social Services has been that even if foster parent-foster child bonding has taken place, that relationship will be broken if an adoptive placement can be made. If  what is best for the child’  is not a myth, then permanency  planning should ensure that the child stays with a successful foster parent under a subsidy and that the foster parent is allowed to adopt the child so that the foster parent has the rights and obligations of a parent.  Subsidized adoption gives  parents the right to make decisions for their child and creates a greater sense of responsibility in raising the child as opposed to foster care where stewardship is practised.  Subsidization would offer the band an alternative to having strangers take their children into care. work to provide for their own family.  Foster parents have to  When a caring foster  parent is on a reserve and when they would be willing to foster more children if they had an additional subsidy,  it seems prudent  to use this opportunity to give care on the reserve, rather than having the child go off-reserve.  Terry Hardy tells of her  frustration at having to give up foster children because of the demands of her job.  She would have preferred to stay at home to  look after both her own children and her foster children.  When adoptive parents accept a child into their family,  they also  142 accept the medical and dental costs that that child will incur. If they were supporting their own biological child,  then they  would be responsible for the health of that child from conception on.  Adoptive parents have no control over how the birth parent  treated the child before the Ministry apprehended the child. Thus, many adoptive parents must pay extremely high medical and dental costs to look after the adoptive child.  That they are  willing to care for and love the child should be enough.  Sandy  Parker suggests that such costs should be subsidized to make it easier for prospective adoptive parents to accept children with special needs.  6.15 Status for Adopted Indian Children An Indian child who is adopted off the reserve may never know her/his status as an Indian.  The adoptive parents have the right  to inform a child of its status.  Though social agencies  recommend that the child should be told, check to ensure that this is done.  the Ministry does not  According to the Indian Act,  application for status must be made by the age of twenty-one. British Columbia, nineteen.  In  status registration must be completed by age  This is a concern of the Seabird Island people.  When  apprehended children are not registered with the appropriate status number,  the band loses members.  never told about their heritage,  Those children who are  rights, and obligations as band  members and as Indians, are the ‘lost children’ that informants speak about.  The status card is the method the Indian and Northern Affairs  143 Canada uses to identify Indian people who are entitled to receive services from the government and the band.  I.N.A.C. assign a  status number to the head of the household and the minor children of that household have a status number that uses the family head’s number as a base.  Upon reaching the age of majority, the  Indian child can then apply for its own number. A status child adopted by status parents retains their status.  A non-status  child adopted by status parents does not gain status.  However,  I.N.A.C. does not issue a status card for those minor  children who are adopted off the reserve to non-status parents. The concern is that if a card was to be issued,  the  confidentiality of the child’s adoption would become public knowledge. “Whenever a status number is assigned, the number and name appear on the Band list. The list is posted in a conspicuous location, as required by the Indian Act.. In a small Band, the birth identity of the newly registered member could already be known or easily traced” (McGillivray, 1985:439). .  The reason that Indian Affairs does not notify the children of their rights as status Indians is because Indian Affairs believes that the adoption by non-status parents meets the obligations of the Department.  The adopted Indian child does not give up all  her/his status rights or treaty benefits upon adoption. McGillivray argues that because Indian Affairs does not inform the child and parents of the child’s rights and status, Indian Affairs is in breach of its mandate.  that  She says,  “DIAND does not ensure that the adopted child’s treaty rights are protected or lawful obligations met. This mac-  144 tion may result in involuntary enfranchisement. The child who is unaware that he has status cannot apply for status recognition, and is effectively enfranchised without choice and without receiving the financial settlement made upon enfranchisement” (McGillivray, 1985:447). There is a way that non-status adoptive parents may get the information that they need to enable their child to be aware of its status and rights.  McGillivray says,  “Adoptive parents may apply to the Registrar on behalf of the child, giving all information they have about the adop tion, including birth name and date. The Registrar will write confirming the child’s Indian status and confirm the child’s Band membership. The letter accesses all financial benefits and some educational benefits, including postsecondary education assistance. The letter will not access medical benefits as only a status number accesses the Indian health card” (McGillivray, 1985:463). A booklet entitled Adoption and the Indian Child was produced in 1980 by Indian Affairs for the use of adoptive parents who are contemplating adopting an Indian child.  While it does present  some information on definitions of status and non-status Indians and the rights of status Indians, it contains a great many errors.  It does not provide enough information for adoptive  parents who have adopted an Indian child and who wish to provide that child with the information s/he needs to have some kind of understanding of her/his heritage.  The model of child welfare that is now in place is not working for the children.  The power to control the child welfare  decisions for Seabird Island Band should be returned to the people of Seabird Island.  “Custom” adoption, used by the Seabird  Island Band prior to the imposed child welfare model currently in practice offers an alternative.  The next chapter of this thesis  offers an analysis of “custom” adoption.  145  Chapter 7  Analysis of the Adoption Experiences:  “Custom” Adoption  This chapter presents an analysis of Seabird Island “custom” adoption.  The analysis begins with a definition of “custom”  adoption and its functions,  followed by a discussion of issues  relating to “custom” adoption, such as a child-centred community, validation of “custom” adoption,  the legalization of custom  adoption, and cross-cultural examples of custom adoption.  This  chapter ends with a discussion of the advantages of “custom” adoption.  7.1 Seabird Island Band’s Definition of “Custom” Adoption Seabird Island people define “custom” adoption as the process or action of caring for a child or children whose parents are unable to care for them. duration,  This care may be of short or long temporary  after which the child or children return to the parent.  It differs from child-minding or babysitting in that the parent aks the adoptive parent to take full responsibility for the child or children and make all parental decisions.  “Custom”  adoption is also the permanent care of a child or children when the parent can no longer care for them.  The grandparents are  usually the care givers of the grandchildren in “custom” adoption.  This care is not related to any child welfare  interference on the reserve by the Ministry of Social Services in British Columbia.  Because there are few grandparents who can  146 give this care now, uncles and aunts or close family friends also act as care givers in the “custom” adoption process. the experience of Seabird Island people,  It is also  that a child may move  from extended relative to extended relative for “custom” adoption care.  Band members complete “custom” adoption through verbal agreements.  There is no use of the judicial system and no paper  is used to record the exchange.  The one exception to this was  the “custom” adoption of Randy Smith whose father gave written authorization for his adoption.  This adoption occurred when  First Nations people became concerned about validating “custom” adoption so they would not get into trouble with the Indian Affairs Department;  Randy Smith’s birth father thought that the  paper he signed would be legal enough for the Department. is no exchange of money or gifts.  There  The child knows her/his birth  parents and often calls them by their first name. the adoption is public on the reserve.  Knowledge of  Adoption is not a secret  process with closed files and no access to genealogical information.  This openness is necessary because it allows the  band members to know the genealogy of each member.  Because of  marriage rules and incest taboos, adoption secrecy cannot be maintained. birth family.  “Custom” adopted children may freely visit their Children who have been “custom” adopted refer to  their adoptive parents as ‘mom’ ‘sister, brother, aunt, uncle,  and ‘dad’ and use the terms cousin’, and ‘grandparents’  refer to their adoptive extended family.  to  Band members substitute  the stronger relationships and kinship terminology of father and  147 mother for the extended relationships of grandparent, uncle, aunt, and cousins become siblings.  or  The birth parents do not  interfere with the upbringing of the child because the community recognizes the adoptive parents’  role.  In “custom” adoption, the  child takes on the family name of the adoptive parents and has full inheritance rights and obligations as their adopted child. The child may be given an Indian name at a name-giving ceremony; “custom” adoption does not preclude this honour.  As well,  “custom” adopted people may receive dances, masks, and property. Both children and adults may be “custom” adopted by band members. “Custom” adoptees retain their status within the band;  they  remain in the same class that they were in prior to the adoption. Retention of class status occurs because adoptive parents only adopt children within their class. adopted by non-family members, member would adopt them; eighth cousins.  Though children may be  it is more typical that a family  the term ‘family’ may refer to fifth to  Seabird Island people practised “custom”  adoption before contact and it is still practised to-day.  7.2 Function of “Custom” Adoption “Custom” adoption allows the children to learn from other family members.  “Custom” adoption creates alliances between these  family members and shares the responsibility of bringing the children up;  it also functions as a solution for dealing with  families in crisis.  “Custom” adoption provides the grandparents  with the companionship of a child and the child, when old enough, helps the grandparent with daily work. socializing role in the band.  The grandparents play a  The band members view the children  148 as a resource of the band and “custom” adoption is a way of sharing resources which strengthens kinship ties.  Seabird Island  “custom” adoption also allows band members to pass on inheritances.  Today,  “custom” adoption allows the children of  the band to remain on the reserve without the Ministry of Social Services intervening.  7.3 Who Are the ‘Real’ Parents? Seabird Island people place a high value on the parenting skills of band members.  In Euro-Canadian adoption,  have a ‘real’ parent and an adoptive parent; terms ‘natural parent’  or ‘real parent’  tive parent is unnatural.  the child is seen to the use of the  indicates that the adop  On Seabird Island, the people  recognize the adoptive parent as the parent, perceiving it to be equal to and not less than the natural parent of the child. Seabird Island people share the role of parent.  The  This means that  one person cannot be defined as a more ‘real’ parent than another.  7.4 A Child-Centred Band All informants indicated that the children of the band were of special importance.  One said that the children were the power  and strength of the band.  Seabird Island people see their future  connected to the well-being of the children now.  The issue of methods of child rearing is one criterion that social workers use to apprehend children from the reserve. Social workers have apprehended children because in the workers’  149 view, they were not being properly cared for.  Informants  suggested that social workers from the Ministry of Social Services did not understand that the Seabird Island people had a different approach to child rearing than the approach used by Euro-Canadians.  Patrick Johnston,  referring to First Nations  people in general, notes some of those differences. “A pacifistic approach to child rearing meant that Native families adopted other means of socializing and disciplining their children. It was believed that children learned by imitation, so the concept of the adult-as-role-model was fundamentally important. The development of positive and appropriate behaviour in children was fostered by public opinion and the use of community approval or disapproval. Humour and teasing were employed as a means of discipline in both Indian and Inuit society” (Johnston, 1983:68). Many informants stated that Seabird Island was a child-centred community.  By this they mean that it is a community where seeing  to the needs of the child are paramount to the survival of the band.  Seabird Island people place a much value on their  relationships with other people in the Seabird community.  Their  methods of child discipline are people oriented rather than related to objects such as money or careers.  Because Seabird Island is a child-centred community,  the band  members find the negative adoption and foster care experiences of band members incomprehensible.  One informant noted,  “(The participation of the Ministry in child welfare) changes a lot. Where it used to be child-centred, it is care-giver centred. The needs of the child used to be the focal point. Like the child needed you. Nowadays, its.. the care giver needs this child so she can get money to do this and this. It’s changed the whole focus of the way it was.” .  .  Informants do not recognize care decisions made for them as in the best interest of the child or band.  The band wishes to  150 return to “custom” adoption so that the community can make decisions for the children.  They see this process as preferable  to the present process where a social worker,  the courts, and the  parent decide what will happen.  7.5 Validation by Closed Legal Adoption Because governments have not legalized “custom” adoption, those band members who have used this adoption process usually formal ized the adoption by completing a closed legal adoption.  Of the  six cases of closed legal adoption documented, three cases were initially “custom” adoptions that band members validated by closed legal adoption.  These “custom” adoptions could not be  legalized any other way. adoption at the time,  Had the government legalized “custom”  the parents would not have gone through the  closed adoption process.  There are several reasons why parents choose closed legal adoption.  For the parents of young children,  “custom” adoption  at the present time may leave the children and family unpro tected, whereas the closed legal adoption does not.  Band members  suggested that they worried that the Ministry of Social Services could come in at any time and take away their children unless the parents legalized the process.  For older children or adults, band members followed “custom” adoption with closed legal adoption to protect the adopted child’s status within the band or to protect the child’s inheritance, usually property on the reserve.  The Bob White  151 closed legal adoption is an example of this strategy.  Another reason families have decided to go through closed legal adoption is that after having a child in their family for a few years through “custom” adoption,  they discover that this process  has not been legalized in Canada and they feel they have to legalize it.  Informants suggested that without the validation of  the “custom” adoption,  they might be cut off from assistance from  Indian affairs or other government agencies.  Leo Howard said,  “Now, for custom adoption, they usually sign papers, eh, Get custody, family allowance, transfers, and some of them are now adopting them legally.”  One “custom” adoption informant was upset to find that,  though he  had used his adoptive family name for sixty-five years, the federal government did not recognize it as his real name.  His  adoptive parents had not validated his “custom” adoption by a legal adoption, therefore as far as the government was concerned, he was not adopted.  This is one problem with “custom” adoption;  since the legal system refuses to accept “custom” adoption as a legal process,  the children and adoptive parents will be forced  to either validate the adoption by going through another adoption process or remain in an illegal relationship. people,  this is untenable.  For First Nations  It makes no sense to redo the  adoption when according to their practices,  the child is legally  adopted.  7.6 Legalized Custom Adoption The legality of “custom” adoption is a grey area in Canadian law.  152 Both Inuit and Indian matters fall under the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada jurisdiction, yet there is one custom adoption law for some Indians and all most Indians.  Inuit and no custom adoption law for  This situation could be called discrimination  because aboriginal people living in the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and parts of Manitoba may custom adopt legally, while aboriginal people in other parts of Canada may not.  In Canada,  most of the custom adoption cases that have reached the courts have not been successful for First Nations people (see Carasco, 1986:111-138,  for legal discussion of cases).  There are several  factors involved in these decisions.  To begin,  the court system in Canada is based on the Euro-Cana  dian notion of the importance of the individual.  In adoption  cases, the decision is based on what is in the best interests of the child as an individual.  Therefore,  the court does not  consider any legal argument with regards to the needs of a race, culture, or community.  When an Indian band claims that the child  must be kept within the band for the survival of the band, it is arguing against the primacy of the individual.  To win such an  adoption case, the band must prove that it is in the best interests of the child to remain on the reserve.  Another factor is the assumption in inter-racial adoption court cases,  that we are moving towards a pluralistic society through  inter-racial marriage and adoption.  This kind of assumption  implies that concerns over the ethnicity of children in inter racial adoptions is of inconsequential importance.  This is a  153 continuation of the idea of assimilation that Indians call attempted genocide.  A review of custom adoption cases heard in  Canada indicates that the court has not considered ethnicity a key factor in making decisions.  Because there are few studies of  adult adoptees who have experienced trans-racial adoption, there are few data to assess in order that one might determine the consequences that Indians have experienced and called genocide. The courts have decided that after a child has been with an adoptive parent for a period, it is the loving relationship that solidifies the union;  the courts have not seen loss of ethnicity  as a contributing factor to failed adoption or social problems once the child moves into the teenage years and beyond.  Indian  bands which have tried to have children custom adopted have seen the courts give the children to non-native foster homes or adoption homes because ethnicity was not an issue for the courts. Carasco notes that a report to a government minister indicated that the placement of Indian children in non-native homes did not improve the well-being of the child. were unhappy,  Instead,  Indian adoptees  rebellious, and exhibited anti-social behaviour.  Carasco notes, “It is ‘obvious that a major reason.. is that the native child is a product of an ancient, deeply-rooted North American culture, which is in almost every respect signifi cantly at variance with the present Euro-Canadian cultural patterning” (Carasco, 1986:115). .  I suggest that by not recognizing the consequences of trans racial adoption, the courts have contributed to the destruction of the Indian culture.  In the 1960’s, custom adoption was legalized in the Northwest  154 Territories for both Indian and Inuit people. Adoption Petition (1961),  In the Re Katie’s  the court recognized that the adoption  laws of the time were not working for the Inuit. judgement,  In the  the judge indicated that the Inuit should be allowed  to retain those practices that have worked for them until they are prepared to accept a change to Euro-Canadian practices.  The  Judge further stated, “In particular, although there may be some strange features in Eskimo adoption custom which the experts cannot understand or appreciate, it is good and has stood the test of many centuries and these people should not be forced to abandon it and it should be recognized by the court” (Justice Sissons in Morrow, 1984:246). Now,  an Inuit custom adoption is legal after a simple affidavit  is given to the Social Services Department (Johnston, 1983:96). The court does not approve or disapprove the custom adoption, but merely certifies that the adoption has taken place in accordance with Inuit practices. “The court order becomes a useful document for estate purposes, as well as for regularizing birth certificates and mothers’ allowances. Because it is declaratory only, of course, it can be given at any time after the event, even after a person reaches her majority” (Morrow, 1984:249). The province of Quebec also recognizes aboriginal custom adoption as legal.  Currently in Canada,  there have been precedent-setting  cases but custom adoption as a universal  legal practice has not  occurred.  in British Columbia, the courts have interpreted adoption laws strictly regarding the definition of  ‘parent’.  In the “Mitchell”  decision (1984), where an adoptive parent of a custom adopted child brought action under the Family Compensation Act, the court  155 rejected the case because VT  .in all cases dealing with customary adoptions, the adoptions had been validated. Without validation, the adoption did not confer legal rights or obligations on the adopted child or the adopting parents. The court held ‘reluctantly’ that a ‘parent’ of a child who is adopted by custom, but whose adoption has not been validated under a statute or ordinance, does not have the capacity to sue under the Family Compensation Act. The ‘Mitchell’ decision placed a different interpretation on the customary adoption cases from the one generally understood. According to that decision, adoption by custom is not in fact adoption as understood by the Adoption Act. The term is meaningless then because unless a custom adoption is validated, there is no adoption and no change of status” (Carasco, 1986:130). Yet,  the British Columbia Royal Commission on Family and  Children’s Law,  completed in 1975,  recommended that the  government legalize custom adoption in B.C.  Recently there has been some movement towards recognizing the need for native adoptees to have contact with the native commun ity, but governments have not translated this recognition into legalizing custom adoption across Canada.  The courts have  discussed the definition of custom adoption and the role of the band in custom adoption (see Carasco, vs.  Superintendent of Child Welfare,  1986:127 re Natural Parents 1975).  There appears to be  enough precedence across Canada to justify legalizing “custom” adoption.  In 1985, the province of Ontario passed the Child and Family Services Act, which recognizes that, “wherever possible, services to children and their families should be provided in a manner that respects cultural, religious and regional differences... (and) that Indian and native people should be entitled to provide, wherever poss ible, their own child and family services, that all services to Indian and native children and families should be pro—  156  vided in a manner that recognizes their culture, heritage and traditions and the concept of the extended family” (Carasco, 1986:133). The passage of this Act means that preserving the child’s cul tural identity is now an important part of the considerations that the court must make in deciding what is best for the child. However, there is still no provision in this new act to make custom adoption legal.  It is likely that the courts will need a  test case to make custom adoption legal in Ontario.  It appears  that to deny custom adoption in such a case would be an action counter to the intention of the Act.  1986:111-138).  (Carasco,  One informant from Seabird Island suggested that when an adoptive home is unavailable, that the band should make a tribal adoption so that the child can remain on the reserve.  This would be a  “custom” adoption where the child would stay with several band members over a period of time.  Other Indian bands attempted this  kind of custom adoption by going through the court system.  The  result was that the court did not recognize the band as a parent; the court was only willing to place the child with • .a couple who were willing and able to meet the society’s standard as to housing, maturity and parenting capacity” (Carasco, 1986:127). The court does not consider the Indian band a legal entity so the it could therefore not apply for guardianship.  7.7 Comparison to Other Cultures The kinship process of adoption is universal and though different in some ways,  other cultures use adoption processes that are very  similar to “custom” adoption as discussed here.  157 Though ethnographers of the various groups of Inuit people define slight individual differences of custom adoption, both Inuit and Indian custom adoption practices may be considered similar in purpose and practice (See Baliksi, 1970:108,122; Guemple, 1979:34,33,90; Burch,  1975:53,129).  In Australia, the Aboriginal communities have experienced similar child welfare problems to those of the First Nations people in Canada and,  as in Canada, governments have imposed the adoption  process on the Aboriginal people without consideration for Aboriginal child welfare processes (Picton, 1977:170).  1986:159; Sommerlad,  Serial foster care, where foster parents changed the  child’s name several times without adequate record keeping, meant that the child became ‘lost’ parent became impossible.  and return to the child’s birth  Aboriginal people have expressed their  concerns about the use of white standards for foster and adoptive parents,  loss of ethnic identity, and the paucity of Aboriginal  care givers (Picton,  1986:158,159;  Sommerlad,  1977:170).  As  well, social agencies eliminate many Aboriginal people from consideration as care givers because social agencies require parents to be legally married; Aboriginal practice has been to live in permanent de facto relationships that the courts do not sanction.  (Sommerlad,  1977:171).  As in the experience of First  Nations people, in Australia, a majority of the people needing legal aid have a history of institutionalization, repeated fosterings or adoption by white families” (Sommerlad, 1977:168). Sommerlad notes that “the concept.. .that children belong to a collective unit  158 rather than to their parents is.. .derived from traditional aboriginal social organization where the children were cared for by the combined efforts of a number of relatives, both male and female.. In their methods of child-rearing aborig ines emphasize undemanding security and the physical demon stration of affection rather than discipline, training and material comfort. In their view, if a child is well loved, it is well cared for, and parents cannot justly be criticised for their poverty, for they do not consciously deprive their offspring of a rightful due of material care” (Sommerlad, 1977:171,172). .  .  .  The Australia Aboriginals fear cultural genocide as well.  This  stems from their concern that their fight for survival as a distinct culture will  lose the support of children who have been  adopted by white families (Sommerlad,  1977:174).  In 1976, an  Australian adoption conference recommended that Aboriginal people set up their child welfare agencies.  Aboriginal child welfare  agencies have now been opened in the states of New South Wales and Victoria (Picton,  1986:161;  Sommerlad,  1977:175).  The  purpose of these agencies is to increase the number of placements of Aboriginal children in Aboriginal families.  The 1986  Australian Law Commission did not recommend the institutionalization of custom adoption, but did give support to the Aboriginal child welfare agencies (Chishoim, 1987:71; Commission Report,  1992:128).  In West Africa, Goody documents a kinship pattern that she refers to as kinship-fosterage that the Gonya practice. 1982:38).  (Goody,  Between the ages of five and eight a son leaves his  birth parents and lives with his foster parents until he marries. The foster parent is either the mother’s brother or the father’s father or elder brother.  A daughter may be taken by the father’s  sister; a second daughter is given to the wife’s mother.  In a  159 comparison of Gonya children, Goody found that many fostered children had come from homes where death or divorce had broken the parent’s marriage (Goody,  1982:42).  the purpose of providing training,  Kinship fosterage serves  companionship, and service to  foster families as well as maintaining kinship ties (Goody, 1982:46).  Murdock provides a brief description of Javanese adoption. Adoption there is confined to people who have no biological children of their own.  Adoptive parents complete no legal  process except for the registration of the child with the head man.  The child has the same rights  emotionally’  ‘legally, socially,  and  as a biological child and retains equal rights of  inheritance (Murdock,  1960:103).  Scheffler describes an adoption process in Choiseul  Island that  is also very much like the Seabird Island “custom” adoption. When parents die, children there are adopted;  they do not  usually change their descent group affiliation as other family members adopt them. “If someone other than his immediate kin adopts a child and effectively assumes the role of ‘parent’ then the child purportedly acquires secondary membership in the adoptor’s (sic) descent group. He does not thereby lose the right of membership in any other group to which he is related consanguineally” (Scheffler, 1965:102).  Firth describes adoption practices in Polynesia that are similar to “custom” adoption.  The children have full rights, accept new  names, are adopted by family members, have contact with their  160 birth family, and are considered to belong to the group rather than just to the nuclear family (Firth, 1936:204-205, 588—595). He defines the functions of these adoption practices as a means to ensure a male heir gets his inheritance, family, pay obligations to a spirit,  add members to the  ensure social unification,  acquire resources, retain property within the family, provide companionship (Ibid.). (Weiner,  As well,  and to  in the Trobriand Islands  1988:37) and in Borneo (Miller, 1928:60),  adoption  practice is based on similar criteria to those of Seabird Island “custom” adoption practices.  7.8 The Advantages of “Custom” Adoption “Custom” adoption allows the child to retain her/his cultural heritage.  The child is not removed from the family,  the values  and customs that the child understands are maintained, and no new system of understanding is imposed on the child.  Kinship ties  are preserved and the community supports the child as s/he matures.  As well, a child who is “custom” adopted retains the  rights of a status Indian on the reserve and can become knowledgable about those rights and the obligations of a band member.  Besides the benefits to the child,  “custom” adoption  allows the extended family to assume its role as care givers. This is particularly important to the grandparents.  Some inform  ants expressed their concern for the welfare of the grandparents; band members referred to them as ‘depressed’ because they had lost some of the respect reserved for Elders.  This may be due in  part to the fact that they have not played an active role in  161 teaching  the children and in providing care for grandchildren.  A return to more active use of the “custom” adoption process as opposed to the social agency adoption processes would return an important role to the  grand-parents.  “Custom” adoption also  provides the children with the contact with their birth family and it allows the band members “custom” adoption,  ‘to know their relatives’.  the birth parents, adoptive parents,  In  and the  adoptee do not have to suffer from the fears of the unknown, such as not knowing where they came from, why they were put up for adoption,  and how they are now.  The children and adults can get  on with the business of developing strong loving relationships because they do not have to fantasize about what ‘really’ happened. process.  They have their birthright and it is a continuous  162  Chapter 8  Conclusion  8.1 Summary of Results of Field Work This thesis answers the following questions: What are the adoption experiences of the people of Seabird Island?  What do  these experiences mean to them and how can they change adoption to suit their community?  I conducted this applied anthropology project using a negotiated research model.  The purpose of this model is to work with a  community to provide research that they require while satisfying the requirements of academic research.  Seabird Island Band  required the documentation of the adoption experiences of the band members and the definition of “custom” adoption.  The twenty  in—depth interviews provide a representative sample of band adoption experience.  I have documented the adoption experiences of informants who recounted four types of adoption experience: legal adoption,  foster care,  open adoption, and “custom” adoption.  four kinds of experiences,  closed  Of the  the open adoption process is atypical.  The open adoption is the result of a pilot project involving a non-native adoptive family and a Seabird Island child who is at risk.  In this adoption, the key concern is the ability of both  the band and the adoptive parents to maintain the child’s  163 identity and ethnicity.  Open adoption as defined for the pilot  project provides an alternate care process when a child is at risk on the reserve.  The analysis of these adoption experiences focuses on three areas of concern of the band members:  ethnic identity, power and the  child welfare system, and a definition and discussion of “custom” adoption.  The imposition of Euro-Canadian methods of child  welfare has challenged the Seabird Island band’s very survival. Band members with Indian values that give importance to family, a child-centred culture, the role of Elders and respect, struggle to survive against the pressure of the dominant society to conform to Euro-Canadian values.  I have documented the effects  of an imposed system of child welfare that has failed the children and their families.  Band members question the criteria  used to both apprehend and house the children. power,  Loss of identity,  and status are the results of this failed system.  I have documented and described Seabird Island “custom” adoption. Band members,  fortunate to be “custom” adopted,  Indian identity,  ethnicity, and status.  retain their  They suffer less  psychological trauma because they maintain contact with their birth family, adoption family, and the band.  “Custom” adoption  allows extended family members to retain their roles as care givers.  “Custom” adoption is not legal in British Columbia,  therefore, some band members have validated it with the closed legal adoption process.  The right to “custom” adopt means the  right to survive as Indian people.  164 8.2 Ethnographic Findings In this thesis I make several contributions to the understanding of adoption processes, kinship, and the Seabird Island people.  1. For the Seabird Island people, inclusive,  that is,  the term “custom” adoption is  the process incorporates several child care  responsibilities over both short and long periods of time.  This  care may be of short or long temporary duration, after which the child or children return to the parent or it may be permanent care.  It differs from child-minding or babysitting in that the  parent asks the adoptive parent to take full responsibility for the child or children and make all parental decisions. Euro-Canadian culture, the term sadoptioni  is exclusive,  In the that is,  it is confined to permanent care only.  2.  The Seabird Island people do not construct a lineal structure  to describe their kin relations and genealogies.  They refer to  their kin structure as a webbed circle that overlaps and inter connects with other webs of extended families. family (mother, aunts)  father,  The immediate  children, grandparents, uncles, and  is at the centre of the web rather than the individual  (ego).  3. The Seabird Island people refer to relatives far removed as ‘friends’  4.  In adoption research, there are few studies that document the  feelings and experience of the adult adoptee.  In this thesis,  I  165 have contributed to the knowledge about the inner world of the Seabird Island adult adoptees’  experiences and what those  experiences have meant to them.  5.  I suggest in this thesis that the acts of apprehension and  adoption do not form a single childhood trauma that may be healed by time.  Rather, these acts impinge on the ongoing life of the  native child and the results of the trauma may continue to erupt during its adult life.  6.  In the view of Seabird Island people,  the child belongs to the  band and s/he is the responsibility of band members; s/he is a band resource.  In custody cases, the court bases its decisions  on defining the psychological parent.  There are few longitudinal  adoption studies and no longitudinal adoption studies that involve minorities.  There is no research that provides proof  that one parent is better than more than one parent (Wallerstein, 1991:232).  For this reason alone,  the courts should be open to  accepting other notions of family not based on white middle-class criteria.  “Custom” adoption on Seabird Island provides a group  of parents who have the best interests of the child at heart. When a child belongs to the band, adopt it.  the band should be able to  The “custom” adoption model may be considered as  legitimate for custody court cases.  7.  In this thesis I have described “custom” adoption as it is  practised by the Seabird Island people.  166  8.3 Concerns for the Future a) Child Welfare Problems for the Band Yvonne Duncan notes that one problem she faced when she and her siblings went to her uncle’s home to live, was the large size of his family and the small size of his house. welcome there,  As much as they were  there just was not enough room for them to stay.  There are 165 children up to the age of seventeen on Seabird Island.  This is forty-three percent of the population.  With  large families and standard single family housing for nuclear families,  there is little room for extra children who need care.  This is one problem that needs to be planned for should the band take over child welfare responsibilities.  When a band works very hard to bring a child back to the reserve and arranges for foster care or adoption, it is not likely that they worry about what will happen if the parent leaves the reserve.  One such parent does worry about this scenario.  Terry  Hardy asks, “What happens if I decide to leave? her?”  Am I going to lose  This is a valid question and it needs to be addressed in the band policies regarding child welfare.  Is it in the best interests of  the child to take the child away from the parent if the parent is moving to another reserve?  Another issue that needs to be faced by prospective adoptive or foster care parents is that of the effect that adoptees or foster  167 children have on the family already at home.  Terry Hardy notes,  “It’s hard to foster. You’re exposing your own kids to hard kids and your kids don’t understand why these kids use bad language and know more than they should. You protect your kids from this and then they got exposed through foster kids.”  Should the band take over all the child welfare matters that are now the Ministry’s responsibility, the issue of the children at risk will be a problem.  A solution must be found that will  ensure the safety of the child.  This may mean that the child  will be adopted off the reserve, perhaps through open adoption. The problem is that the reserve is a small community where it may be difficult to find a home far enough away from the birth home to ensure that the child is in a risk-free home.  Yvonne Duncan’s  experience in trying to have custody of her siblings is proof of this problem.  Perhaps the solution will be to look for a  neighbouring reserve where the child has relatives.  The Seabird  Island people refer to their kinship connections as a webbed circle that overlaps and interconnects with the circles of other families over a large geographic area that extends far beyond the boundaries of the reserve. family (mother,  father,  In this structure the immediate  children, grandparents, uncles, aunts) is  at the centre of the circle, not the individual or ego (see Suttles,  1987b,  1987c,  for a discussion on communities and  kinship ties; see Miller, 1989,  for a discussion of networks).  The Ministry has often treated the bands as separate entities whereas the bands are connected to each other by a web of kinship ties.  168 Several informants expressed concern that the band could not easily take over their child welfare responsibilities because there is a paucity of acceptable homes. the opposite;  Other band members said  they indicated that there are lots of families that  would be willing to take in children who needed care.  It appears  that the kind of criteria used by the band to determine safe, loving homes is at the crux of this problem.  If the band used  the criteria used by the Ministry of Social Services, there would likely be a shortage.  This is because age and financial  restrictions eliminate many band members from caring for children.  However,  if the band uses their criteria based on  Seabird Island values, there are likely to be enough homes for the children in need of care.  Several informants suggested that  the number of homes available, would depend on the level of participation of the Ministry.  The band members do not wish to  go through a home study process.  b) Rejection, a Universal Concern Adoptive parents have a universal concern, well-documented in the social work literature.  They worry about what will happen when  their adopted child finds out they are adopted.  Even those  parents who have very liberal views of adoption express concern. Their prime concern is the rejection of the adoptive family by the adoptee.  Experience has shown that if parents are honest  with their adopted children from the beginning and if they give the children a loving upbringing, the children will remain part of their family forever.  This does not mean that the child will  not express interest in searching for her/his birth parents or  169 actively search for them. right,  The child is entitled to her/his birth  that is the information about the birth parents.  This  concern crosses cultural barriers.  On Seabird Island,  informants who had lost children to apprehen  sion off the reserve, child.  expressed concern about the return of a  They were afraid s/he would reject the Indian values and  Indian heritage.  Part of that rejection may entail a  misunderstanding of the circumstances of the apprehension.  On  the other hand, non-native mothers who had adopted or fostered Seabird Island children worried that the child would return to the band and reject their adoptive family.  Nora Tom in  discussing her son’s foster mother, notes, “She’s a very nice woman, but she’s stingy of him. She’s scared to lose him. That’s what she’s afraid of.. That’s the first thing she said to me when I met her. ‘Don’t take him away. Don’t take him away. He’s my son. He’s my son.’ I said, ‘He’s our son. .  Sandy Parker has thought about what will happen if Scott decides to leave his adoptive family and return to the reserve.  She  says, “Quite often if I’m angry with Scott, or disciplining him, that’s when I think, is he going to hold this against me some day?... (Is he) just going to go forget it, you know. You’re not my real mom. You don’t love me and you used to swat me. Yeah, I definitely have thoughts and wonder what his decision will be when he’s older.” It is universal for adoptive mothers to be worried about the rejection of an adopted child; their biological children.  this is also true for mothers and  170 c)  is Open Adoption a Solution?  One argument used by proponents of closed legal adoption is that by keeping the detail of the adoption secret, you do not have to burden the adopted child with potential conflict.  There is a  belief that the knowledge about having two mothers is too much to handle for the adopted child.  In open adoption,  the child has  this information from the very beginning.  Sandy is dealing with a child who has survived many failed foster home placements.  Sandy Parker has had much work to do to make  Scott understand that he is not going to move any more.  Scott is  a small child who can’t remember how many foster homes he’s been in because there were so many.  She is attempting to help Scott  deal with this history by having him make scrap books about his family.  She has requested that the social agency help her by  contacting former foster parents for pictures and remembrances of his time with them.  She had arranged for him to make short  visits to these foster homes so that he can remember who the people are.  Part of this work is to remind Scott that the family  he is with now, months.  is different;  he will not have to leave in six  Sandy has his Life Book as up to date as possible.  Sandy feels a responsibility for teaching Scott the ways of the Sto’lo people.  Therefore, she has made small dolls that she and  Scott can role model so that he can understand the different kinds of family he has.  With the help of the band and a social  worker, she has set up a contact person in the band, who will help to teach Scott about his culture.  If “custom” adoption for  171 children at risk had been an option, reserve with his younger sister. yet,  Scott would be on the  But since it is not an option,  this open adoption pilot project is the best alternative.  There are few parents who are willing to put in such an effort into working with one child when they have to take care of the demands of family.  Scott is fortunate to have found new parents  who have this energy and dedication.  Scott’s birth mother should  know that he is happy now.  8.4 Recommendations to the Seabird Island Band Council In applied anthropological research, where the researcher works for an agency or culture,  it is important to make recommendations  based on the research so that the agency or culture can use the research effectively.  With that in mind,  I make the following  recommendations to the Seabird Island Chief and Council.  I  recognize that some recommendations will require major changes in the child welfare services that now exist. nized this need for change;  The band has recog  I hope this research will assist them  in the tasks they undertake to improve their community.  As indicated in the history of adoption in Canada, several agencies have been formed to return child welfare services to Indian bands,  using a variety of models.  The Awasis Agency of  Northern Manitoba (Awasis) has developed a comprehensive child welfare service,  fully funded by both federal and provincial  governments (Damm,  1992:55).  Provincial  legislation provides for  this new approach to child welfare that is based on the beliefs, customs,  and values of the Elders in each northern Manitoba band.  172 Awasis does not include custom adoption as named in their frame of reference, but two defined adoption types, that is ‘spouse or grandparent adoption’  and ‘extended family adoption’  (Damm,  1992:59), are equivalent to the “custom” adoption model as practised by Seabird Island people. Columbia,  To date, in British  the Ministry of Social Services has entered into  agreements for the development of First Nations family and child services with four groups: Macleod Lake Band,  the Nuu—Chah-Nulth Tribal Council,  the  the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council, and the  Spallumcheen Band (Ministry of Social Services,  1991:7).  These  people have set a precedent in this province and Seabird Island band has several models from which to choose.  I recommend that  the Seabird Island Band strive for the application of one of these models.  I recommend that the Seabird Island people ask the Ministry of Social Services to work out a joint plan for transfer of child welfare responsibility to the Band Council.  To aid this process,  I propose the following subsidiary recommendations: 1. That until the Band Council assumes social welfare administration and operation,  that the chief and council  take a more active role with the Ministry in telling children from the reserve already under care where they come from,  that they have rights,  obligations, status, and  property, and that they are welcome to return to the reserve when they are released from the supervision of the Ministry of Social Services.  173 2. That the Band Council ensure that NO sibling group is separated upon apprehension unless it is a member of that group that is the cause of the apprehension order.  “Custom” adoption offers social workers the option of keeping the sibling group together.  “Custom” adoption  maintains the structure of the family.  The family is more  broadly defined, so there is greater support at the community level for the care of a group of children. children stay with family members,  The  on the reserve, so they  never have to break the bonds between siblings.  Should a  sibling group be divided among a number of families, they are still connected and in contact with each other.  3. That the Band Council ask the province of British Columbia to institute custom adoption by requiring the Band Council to present an affidavit confirming the “custom” adoption to the provincial court office (this being similar to the requirements of the Northwest Territories).  4. That the Band Council contact and request Schools of Social Work to include the First Nations “custom” adoption models in their curriculum, the hiring of aboriginal  that they encourage and support  faculty members, that social  workers in the field have training in aboriginal child welfare issues, and that the social workers begin to enable First Nations people to assume responsibility for their child welfare.  174 5.  that the Band Council encourage some band members to  complete Master of Social Work credentials so that when the band assumes child welfare responsibilities, the band social worker will have equality with other social workers working for the Ministry.  6.  that the Band Council provide appropriate training for  band members in child welfare matters prior to the band assuming child welfare responsibilities.  To make self—  determination viable, band members will need the skills necessary to deal with the dominant society and manage band interests.  7.  that the Band Council ask the Ministry of Social Services  to provide a subsidy for parents who wish to foster or adopt but who cannot because of costs.  Subsidization for adoptive parents would allow more parents to provide care.  It would open the recruitment of adoptive  parents to include those who are on a limited income; First Nations children,  for  it would create more homes on the  reserve and provide the special medical and dental care that some children need.  Kimelman notes that the cost of placing one child in a group home is greater than the same cost to have an experienced child care worker provide full time service to one family and to pay for the expertise of other professionals that the  175 family might need, such as psychiatrists, homemakers or nutritionalists (Kimelman, 1985:300).  He also suggests that  the cost of maintaining a child in foster care is thirtyseven percent more expensive than paying subsidization for adoption (Ibid.,  1985:249).  cultural, and economic sense,  If a solution makes human, it seems appropriate to  institute it.  8.  that the Band Council  lobby for the resources to manage  child welfare and that any agreement of transfer of funds cover quality care services.  8.5 Final Observations Whether the Ministry of Social Services or the Band Council is responsible for child welfare in the future, a list of criteria for Indian adoptive and foster homes is needed. new criteria will incorporate the social,  Hopefully, the  cultural, and spiritual  values of the band, rather than those of the dominant society. As well,  the financial criterion must be adjusted to represent  the material values of the band and the reality of band economics.  With any form of adoption process, social agencies involved should be more accountable and should be in continual contact over the period of the child’s time with the adoptive family. Because social agencies have had little contact with adoptive parents after finalization of the adoption,  social agencies know  very little about what happens in an adoption as the child  176 matures.  This  contact should not be in response to problems but  should be viewed as preventive work to ensure that failed care does not result.  When child welfare decisions are made for the members of Seabird Island Band,  it is important for social workers,  lawyers, and the  courts to remember that the Seabird Island community offers its own helping network and support for its members. network,  By using this  the professionals involved in child welfare matters may  be assisted to show sensitivity towards the Indian values and culture. model, this,  There is more than one way,  to take care of children.  that is the Euro-Canadian  When professionals recognize  less anxiety and anger will emanate from band members.  Rural communities pride themselves on their ability to survive without the special programs or resources available in urban areas.  A new approach to child welfare concerns using self-help  and community networks will ensure that what is best for the child actually happens.  Social workers need to show respect for children by finding out how they feel about a placement and discussing impending moves. Some older children have had more life experience than many adults.  Social agencies should give these children more control  over decisions social workers make for their care. concerns about placements, to be dealt with. for the child,  The child’s  supervision, and additional moves need  If the primary concern is to do what is best  then decisions that put a child in serial place  ments need to be reviewed.  Temporary homes should only be used  177 at the time of the initial apprehension.  More care needs to be  taken to find one home for an apprehended child.  Serial  placement in both foster care and adoption means a failed process.  It fails the child and it fails the community.  Through “custom” adoption, limited,  failed serial placements would be  if not eliminated.  The empowerment of the Seabird Island people can lead to selfgovernment.  The band will then have the means of ensuring that  the fundamental value of cultural identity can be maintained. The success of taking over child welfare services and supporting custom adoption will depend on how well Seabird Island people respond to the challenge of taking care of their children.  “It is a bitter irony that a system that is designed to protect children and support families has served to weaken Native family life inestimably. And, in so doing, because the family had traditionally been the primary social unit in Native communities, it has also damaged a distinct way of life” (Johnston, 1983:123). Adoption is an imperfect social invention that can be changed in response to the needs of the people. through the socialization of law,  Policies are changed  that is, changes brought about  in response to new social theory and social science research (Hegar,  1983:431).  “Because laws usually embody acceptable compromises reached by the majority, they may not always reflect the most enlightened thinking of the community on a given issue. And the more fundamental the issues involved, the more deeply steeped in tradition and mores, the slower will needed changes come” (Schapiro, 1956:12). The adoption processes that are in place in British Columbia to day have failed the children of this province.  The statistics  178 and qualitative data presented here and in many studies by others, completed over the past twenty years, provide the Minis try of Social Services with enough information to make immediate and progressive changes to the adoption and foster care policies. The changes must reflect what is best for the children, not the birth parents, the adoptive parents, government agencies or the politicians.  A solution to the child welfare problems facing First Nations children requires innovation and an open mind;  especially, the  problems call for an open mind that can consider solutions that do not come from the Euro-Canadian culture. “Western individualism and communism both oppose the rights of nations—within-nations. Individualists focus only on the interests of the individual. Communists believe an ethnic group’s rights should be subsumed in the larger class struggle. Canada.. .can work on a potentially exciting middle ground that blends individual and collective rights” (Terry Anderson in Todd, 1991:013). The implementation of the practice of open adoption and legalization of “custom” adoption at Seabird Island would be a good beginning.  0  0 Mi ‘1 (DW Enri  CD  0 O •  P.  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I-(a•  OHD’ —< ICDC  —  CD 4F—W  I-  11J  CD  ‘0  --  —1< lCD  OH  o- r -. 0  ‘--‘HCD0  Hi H-’-’  -  0 —1(’) ‘-.0 • (ra (3  CD 1—’  5-  U1  CD <b 0  -  0  l . OP3 • c-i-  “CD  Carl-  P3H-CD tic-i  Hi Hi  ‘CD  P3H•  f-’-r.-  I-  C  P3.oCt) a P3 P3  OH  1<  ‘1 P3  0  H-ti  c-i- P3  c-I  CD  Oti  ‘-3 H 00 ‘1 0  c-I  CDQ  -03-  c-f  P3tJ 03 03 —  0Jlct  0  P3  P3ti0  0P3.(a 00  CD(D (a  tDr1t-i- a  CD  b1 H  0  03  H  181 Cole,  Elizabeth S. 1984 “Societal Influences on Adoption Practice.” Adop tion Current Issues and Trends. (ed..) Paul Sachdev. Toronto: Butterworth and Co. (Canada) Ltd.  Constable, Robert 1984 “Phenomenological Foundations for the Understand ing of Family Interaction.” Social Service Review, v.58:117—132.  Cordell, Linda S. and Stephen 3. Beckerman, (eds.) 1980 The Versatility of Kinship. Toronto: Academic Press, Inc. Cotton, A.F. Unpublished letter dated October 31, 1887 Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 10, 46,607—1.  1887. Public volume 3795, file  Darn, Ursula 1992 “Awasis Agency and Adoption.” Northern Perspec tives Practice and Education in Social Work. (eds.) Margaret Tobin and Christopher Walmsley. Winnepeg: The Manitoba Association of Social Workers and The Univer sity of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work. Darnell, Regna 1986 “A Linguistic Classification of Canadian Native Peoples: Issues, Problems, and Theoretical Implica tions.” Native Peoples The Canadian Experience. (eds.) R. Bruce Morrison and C.Roderick Wilson. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd. Day,  Dawn 1979 The Adoption of Black Children. Books.  Toronto:  Lexington  Dewdney 1891 Unpublished letter dated June 4, 1891. Public Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 10, volume 3795, 46,607-1. Douglas, James 1859 Unpublished letter dated March 14, Island: Seabird Island Archives.  1859.  Seabird  file  CD)  c  ‘-3 H-  1:-I ci-  E H-  0-.  (I)  CD O ‘I ‘0 CD  Q  -.  O  p..  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CD ti tIE :‘— U)CDt-(D H-WPJ rrCD ‘ 0 COIl -CD tICDID  r’-D  H- 1 4  0 tr’i  COJ CDCD  0-  ‘-OID (Oct CD  0-  OCD Oct CDrtCDCD 1r H  I:-’ CD 0 0 cH0  4’-l-  •  (DI--U) U)O  <(OH-  H-COp-  05  C) oc•  •  IDID—C--1  ‘  ‘—ZIHCD  0  rt  CD  HH-  çt-  ‘-0’tl  5  ID  H-ti)  IDCDCD 0-U)  ClCD0 rtU) 0 I ‘lt)HCDIlO CD0 00U)  I—ct CD LCOH• 00 ‘—0  -  ‘-  OHO  PO  ID—1t1  S  0 Otxif-  ct  I:-’ CD  0  H0  0-.  0 0  rt-rl  (DO  lIZ  .  (DID  H I-h  ID  H-Il  U)5W  H-rI0H-Q ID<tI rI-CDCD HID ’jrI1 0  ‘—a  bOH  Z  COO H-Il  i  b:Jtxjrt  :cL. 0  CD 0) ‘io H-ID txi0 ID 0• -.  ‘<  GD 0t  187 McCaff ray 1914 Unpublished letter dated November 23, 1914. Public Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 10, volume 3795, file 46, 607-1. McGillivray, Ann 1985 “Transracial Adoption and the Status Indian Child.” Canadian Journal of Family Law, v.4, Novem ber,1985, no.4, pp.437-467. McKinnon, Commissioner 1958 Unpublished transcript of McKinnon Commission hear ings. Transcript 30-49-00. Victoria: B.C. Governemnt. McRoy, Ruth G.., Harold D. Grotevant, and Kerry L. White 1988 Openness in Adoption New Practices, New Issues. York: Praeger Publishers. McTiernan, P. 1888 Unpublished letter dated May 15, Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 46,607—1.  1888. Public 10, volume 3795,  1891 Unpublished letter dated March 6, 1891. Public Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 10, volume 3795, 46,607—1.  New  file  file  Miller, Bruce G. 1989 “Centrality and Measures of Regional Structure in Aboriginal Western Washington.” Ethnology, vol. XXVIII, No. 3, July. Miller, Charles H. 1951 “The Lawyer’s Place in Adoption.” Tennessee Law Review, February. Miller, Elmer S. 1979 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.  Englewood  Miller, Nathan 1928 The Child in Primitive Society. New York: Brentano’ s.  CO  ICD  •  Q’d<  H-J  N  •  H-, ci-  CUCD  -.  H-  CD  CD  H-  I—.  -.  01  ‘-0  —IC)  I—’  CD b  Mi H-  .  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(OH-  ci-  0 Hi  i-(0  D  •-  5  <  (D  HCflI— p3Q. OIl  i-c  CD  CD (0  i—  I  it  —  () —3 ‘0 C-fl  CT)  5  ,— Hi  0  < 0  H C) —  •  C)  •  (0  p3 HIl  H-,  Hi  ci‘-<0 H, 0  H-(0  E’CD  S  <0 CD  H(D  C  --p3  ‘-‘(0  ri-H-  Cl) (DC)) P)P) ci- ‘-  -p3  CDLQ  P30  0  (DIl  i-3ct  p3P-.  (D  (Oct-  H-H Sç-t-  5  ctO  IlO  CD  0  ‘—-  •  PP)  —-H (DO  -p3  i-co  C)-.  p3  (0 CD  CD ct-H  (D --0 ‘1  (0  H-H  iH -0  (Dct  10  CD  (0  0-  H  ‘I  -(O  .  Qp3  i-ci---  0 ‘1 ci-  0 IH  CL)  -H  •CDrt  (DH-Q  IP  O  i—  00  H  -Oct  (0i-’()  11  (Dci-  H Lct--h  H-CL)  I—’  Ct (0 cm C)  H- 1 00  F-JH-  -CD  (DO <  Cl) i  H-  I—iH-  H-  0  H  CDCD  (0Uii-  oi—t  —--  cmp3  p3  rt-  Cl)  .—.3  El)  CD  Hi  p3 C)  -  0  —a  :CD ç1’< (flc5CD  O(D  ct- i-c  P  Q—’’OD-  P3  0  CD  0<  H-  çt  00  H-ct-  I—’  IC)  HP)  -  C)—  -®  ,-H-  bP)  ji—’  t—  (Of)  (D  H-  t—nO  H-  i—  H  —H-  El)  CD  Ct-ct  ®(ftP)  ci-  (3) OCt  CDH-  -  (OH-  oE  ct--ct-  CD  ‘—----  p3  p3(0  li-.S  p3Q  C)(DH-  i  ‘-  CD p3 C) 0P-P. • 0  --0  l—’P)  (Dci-  CD (D—  I—’  (ftp3  O’l  rt-  Ct-  p3 •—  1  00  (O p3(Dç-i-  (.‘)  çt- 1_J  (1) (0  p3p3o(D  ECDH<  H-CD CD t-cCs)  H-  I-I -ø  (0 0 tl—i ct-(OH-  ct(D  (DCD(0  ct-Ill--I rt-ll(0  WQ(DQ  “O  ctH-(D 00Cl)  (ft  0 CX) C .- 0  ct-  0  r  occ)  --  Ct-  P3 -  ‘-<  0 p3  p3  Cs)  190 1980 American Kinship, of Chicago Press.  2nd ed.  Chicago:  The University  Schriver, Joanne and Eleanor B. Leacock 1949 “Harrison Indian Childhood.” Indians of the Urban Northwest. (ed.) Marion Wesley Smith. New York: Colum bia University Press. Seabird Island Archives. Unpublished historical notes on file at the Seabird Island Reserve office. Seabird Educational Report, Reserve.  unpublished,  Seabird Recreation Report, unpublished, Reserve.  1986.  Seabird Island  Seabird Island  1984.  Seymour-Smith, Charlotte 1986 Macmillan Dictionary of Anthropology. Macmillan Press Ltd.  London:  The  Shapiro, Deborah 1984 “Fostering and Adoption: Converging Roles for Substitute Parents.” Adoption Current Issues and Trends. (ed.) Paul Sachdev. Toronto: Butterworth and Co. (Canada) Ltd. Silverman, Arnold R. and William Feigelman 1984 “The Adjustment of Black Children Adopted by White Families.” Adoption Current Issues and Trends. (ed.) Paul Sachdev. Toronto: Butterworth and Co. (Canada) Ltd. 1984b “The Long-Term Effects of Trarisracial Adoption.” Social Service Review, v.58:588-602. Small, Joanne W. 1987 “Working With Adoptive Families.” Summer, pp.33-41.  Public Welfare,  Smith, Marion Wesley Unpublished field notes on Seabird Island Band, MS268 1945 Boxes 1-5: Notebooks 1-32, Marion W. Smith collection. London: Museum of Man, Royal Anthropological Institute.  C  C UI  ID Ct CD ID  1--.  13  Ii  •  ‘—I  IDH-  (D<<  ii c-Ic-I • 01  13  •  O  13  -  I-I i-i  •  ••  H-ID  I-C  UI c-f-  0 0  ctOQ iD’O c-IUI13 (D  000130 t1b’li 13  i—’  HH-OUI 13ID1-hID LQ$ ‘-—‘ID c-I-  13’’—’  ‘CD  UI13’  ID ‘—‘0 0 13 3Q b’ 0 0  ‘-3W  ‘-CD  CDH-  <c-I-  UI  O(D  Oh  EOCD IDHOh1-3  CD  < ID  •  •  ‘.0  13  0  UI  (DID  <p—’  0’--’ 0 CO  13)  Cl) 0 <0 IDH-  13  UI  UI UI ID)  ID  Hxjc-I  01W Y’—  H-t-’  ‘—‘  -ti--  t—hli t-t IDC  I (1)  13’  c-i-  —IQ  .O c013  ..  •  •Q. 0  c-I  UI “ID  H-  ID  130 ‘1  IDS  H-CD  13  13  i—Q-  ID -DI  IDO  iDH-  IUI I—’-. CD • 0 QH D)UI  —-la)  0iH-O 0<1-h  O0CD -  ,1c-t  Zitc  H-H*—0I-’1 CD  —  co UI’—’ 1tj0 (DO b1’—’  —.H-)  —‘  —]b  (D0Drf-  1-’  ID -—UI (3UI ‘—  0  CD t  f—’C,F--’c-t0 CX) l —i CD ‘-0 C) H‘—‘ 0 I—’  --.  0-’  o-Q  •  Cl) 0 <0 OH ‘—‘ID  c-I  ID H-iD UI  0  —‘.<  hID O*HOct  3’t-(  O c-I  cUI.Q  i*H(D 0P-  —  UI •  :a)  O  —  c-I  H CD H-< 01W I—’  Cl) ID ‘—JO  -.  Cl) c-I Ct  ()I—’G) 00 ‘-.0 DI —-. ID (51 -. (Il CO • c-  c-i-CD  IDa)  r’ICD UI 010  ct-  ‘—‘b’ H-UI (ilH’ UI  UIQ  CDt))  0*-  :o  H-a) UI  i—ç-I-  CD<  1-’-  PJC  •  UI  QUItj c-I ti  yo o  ‘-c-I H ‘--0 Co ‘— CD 0 -  OCD ID  — c-I  OHIDa) UIUI  01-3  l—  )  -‘CQ b’<(D  D1iD’—’ --l(DW0t-(51UI•iDOW  (3)c-t-. c-I-  i  CD--  :01 •c-I 4-CD(D’-3 CD .  < 0  ID  13  a)  H-  ç2.,  13  I—i  ‘—1I  E—IH-UIO ID. 01011-h ‘ti’< ‘W  —  (DPJ  i-i-.  I—’  O rI  Cl) h<  ‘Ho))c-I c-I-H(DO 013  CD  H0 ID  •  C)  CD UI c-ICD  CD  tZI  a)  ho  OH-  •  t-  0 IQ  1--’  0  CCDrtH-(D (Ci Q-0 c-I I-’-. -‘Cl)3’0 0’—” .t CD  UI—’c-I  c-I-  0  c-i-ti ‘CID UI UI00 t—UIOCflHc-I H IDIDUI  t—I----H-’—-UI(D •  UI-’-  iit-0  H-I-ti  t’  WL”  co :  01-’ 0 LC ID GD UI —1 ci-3  IDc-t-t--lc-t-0CD  -  CDCDF—’Cl)H Ct -l) W ‘—0 CD ‘.0 ‘— GD c-I- t I-( 0 H1Jc-t-HUI0 UI (DO : 0<IDC)• :‘-3 W(D HI—’-  Ii  c-I-  Eit  UI .c-t-  (DID E0 H-  •  UI c-I-  J CD (1 H IDO  ‘—‘ii H-HOb’ IDa) rI-UI H00  i—i0  0  c-I-UIfl)  III—’(DUI  (D(DX  I-(  : 1-‘-‘0 • c-I-  ‘t$  (51*—’ ø 1’.)  H-  0k—  -‘  MHCI) ‘l) 0  —  0CiCD  ‘—‘(D 0 *-‘  ‘—‘1  (D  “CD  t’ CD I—’-i-UI  kD C—i CD 0 3  c-I-  t (3)  Cl)H (1) ‘.D W —I  ‘-‘  Hc-I  CD  O rI  i—hi  013  ‘-‘  ‘10 130  1-’hb’ ct-IDO ( —11--I IH-H I—’IDQ —-.113H—1 i •C4ID 0 I—’  c-I I—’ )z:I.13’ —(D —IUI  O (iliDH-  LH-Q  tjO  Op—  -(D  H-(D  tfl  HT HOH k)CD’--’  •  ,—-‘(  •  OID’—  <i-J  ti3  H-ct-  UILQQCD  -  -  a)H-  -t1W  :xj HUI i UION  r  ‘—0  Cl)FI 0 c-I- O I—’ -< —1 i I-’-” —] ID -  Cl) 0  •  ID  H  C) 0  I-i  0  CD  c-I  (I) UI  c-I iD’  Ii  0  ID  I-i  (1)  c-I  tilt-h UI  (Do  II  c-I H  UI  r- i—i  CD  i—’- ,j. < cC)  j  I—’  192 Tennant, Paul 1990 Aboriginal Peoples and Politics: The Indian Land Question In British Columbia, 1849 Vancouver: 1989. University Of British Columbia Press. -  Thomson, Anne 1992 Personal letter re British Columbia native adop tion statistics. Victoria: Ministry of Social Services Corporate Services Division. Todd,  Douglas 1991 “Addressing cries for self-determination.” Vancouver Sun. March 16, 1991: D13.  The Vancouver Sun. April 17,  1991,  p.  B4.  Vowell, A. W. 1892 Unpublished letters dated May 20, 1892, Public Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 3795, file 46,607—1.  June 8, 1892. 10, volume  1893 Unpublished letter dated April 24,1893. Public Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 10, volume 3795, 46, 607-1.  file  1896 Unpublished letters dated June 1,1896, June 12,1896. Public Archives, Canada, Indian Affairs: R.C. 10, volume 3795, file 46,607-1. Ward, Margaret 1984 The Adoption of Native Indian Children. Highway Book Shop.  Cobalt,  Ont.:  1984b “Subsidized Adoptions: New Hope for Waiting Children.” Adoption Current Issues and Trends. (ed.) Paul Sachdev. Toronto: Butterworth and Co. (Canada) Ltd. Wallerstein, Judith S. 1991 “Long Term Effects of Divorce on Children: A Review,” American Journal of Family Law, vol. 5, no. 3, pp.211-237. Weiner, Annette 1988 The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.  O 0  o (K’ o  ‘ii  ‘1  o  ‘-<  CD  •  o o o  ‘1  ri-  0 •0 t-h  Di  ‘10 D)ct(D  ‘  ‘—O1  0  :•  H  ‘D ri- N) J <  C,  Dl  --  (K’  CD 0 ‘1 ri  C)  S I-.. Dl •  —o  ‘1 F--XJ  (D  ‘ii H-ni  CD  CD ‘1 <Dl f-’-r1r  S  CD  CD  0  Dl  CD  r1  (K’  0 ‘1 H-QQ  (flDl rt I—’  I—.  CDfrb  CD (1) <‘1  CD  I  Ui  CD  01 I—s  ODICDCD Dir1  -WrP  0 0 t.00 tHDb F-i-H-Ui  rt  (DCD  H-D)  -TCD (flOtiDi çui Q QC$)H-r1L H <CD CDtiH-txI  H-() Di  r1  0k-”  CD <Q0H’  rt  0)  H  194 Appendices 1. Definitions aboriginal people people who first lived in an area; eg. Canada: Inuit and Indians; Australia: Aborigines; New Zealand: Maoris. -  adoption the incorporation of a person into an existing family unit, creating a socially-constructed family. -  band a small group of people who lived together during the year in one locality and who followed migratory routes for hunting and gathering. Membership was based on kin relations. Ownership of resources was held at the band level for some cultures ( eg. Coast Salish). Names of bands came from the location of their winter residence or village. Currently, a band is a legal entity for the purposes of government administration. It may consist of several original bands which have been combined without regard for the rights and obligations of band members within their own bands. Membership is now determined by status, a term created by government officials to determine who is Indian and who is not. Non-status individuals may reside on the reserve, but they do not have the same rights as status band members. -  Certificate of Possession a certificate issued by the Minister of Indian Affairs stating that an Indian is in lawful possession of reserve land allotted by the Band Council and approved by the Minister of Indian Affairs. This certificate can be transferred to another band member with the permission of the Minister of Indian Affairs. -  Indian Inuit Metis native  anyone who is of Indian ancestry, status or non-status.  -  persons registered as having Inuit or Eskimo ancestry.  -  people of mixed Indian and non-native ancestry.  -  Indian or Metis  -  non-status a term used by governments to denote ineligibility for registration under the Indian Act. -  reserve land set aside by the government for the sole use of status Indians of a particular band or bands. This land may be leased from the Indians by non-Indians. Members of a band live on the reserve. The title to reserve land remains with the federal government. -  status a term used by governments to denote eligibility for registration under the Indian Act. -  195 2.  Statistics:  Indians Adopted by Indians and Non-Indians  Table IlL PROV  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY:  1961—62 I  NI  1962-63 %  TTL  I  NI  %  TTL  BC  3  17  15  83  18  6  25  18  75  24  ALTA  13  81  3  19  16  2  67  1  33  3  SASK  2  33  4  67  6  3  60  2  40  5  -  -  2  100  2  1  33  2  67  3  31  55  25  45  56  21  34  41  66  62  -  -  -  -  -  1  100  -  -  NB  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  NS  1  50  1  50  2  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  NWT  13  72  5  28  18  1  50  1  50  2  L  63  52  58  121  35  35  66  MAN ONT QUE  PEI  :  [  1:80  I Indian NI = Non-Indian TTL Total = percent of total  [  1  1:: 101  Source:Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Facts and Figures 1964.  196  Table IV. PROV  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY:  1963-64 I  1964-65  NI  %  TTL  I  NI  %  TTL  BC  18  32  39  68  57  7  17  35  83  42  ALTA  20  74  7  26  27  15  79  4  21  19  SASK  2  100  —  -  2  2  40  3  60  5  MAN  4  100  -  -  4  1  17  5  83  6  ONT  30  41  44  59  74  17  29  41  71  58  1  100  1  -  -  -  -  -  QUE NB NS PEI NWT  TT L  —  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  —  -  1  100  1  1  50  1  50  2  {  74 44 = Indian NI Non-Indian TTL = Total = percent of total  1:80 56 1:8 43 32 3 136 Source:Department ot Indian Attairs and Northern Development, Facts and Figures 1964, 1966.  [  197  Table V. PROV  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY:  1965-66 I  1966-67  NI  %  TTL  I  NI  %  TTL  BC  2  4  43  96  45  12  23  40  77  52  ALTA  18  90  2  10  20  7  78  2  22  9  -  —  10  100  10  3  30  7  70  10  MAN  2  100  —  —  2  1  20  4  80  5  ONT  19  24  78  59  61  37  39  96  -  -  1  100  -  -  -  1  100  -  -  1  100  -  -  SASK  QUE NB NS PEI  NWT  TT L  59  76  2  100  2  -  —  —  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  —  1  100  1  2  50  2  50  4  122  74  165  87  48  93  52  180  43  {  26  I = Indian NI = Non-Indian TTL = Total = percent of total  [  1 1 1  Source:Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Facts and Figures 1967, 1970.  198  Table VI. PROV  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY:  1967-68 NI  I  1968-69 %  TTL  I 14  18  -  -  NI  %  TTL  64  82  78  4  100  4  BC  14  27  37  73  51  ALTA  1  33  2  67  3  SASK  8  29  20  71  28  2  6  32  94  34  MAN  1  50  1  50  2  2  10  8  80  10  ONT  26  45  32  55  58  16  20  63  80  79  QUE  1  33  2  67  3  1  100  -  —  NB  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  1  1  100  -  -  NS PEI  NWT  TT L  1 -  1  100  -  —  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  33  3  21  44  27  56  48  2  67  1  [  36 :8 54 I = Indian Non-Indian NI TTL = Total % = percent of total  1  1:: 152 57 22 201 78 258 ource:Departmeflt ot .Lnctian rrairs and Northern Development, Facts and Figures 1970, 1971.  199  Table VII. PROV  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY:  1969-1970 I  1970-1971  NI  %  TTL  I  NI  %  TTL  BC  16  20  64  80  80  11  14  65  86  76  ALTA  4  40  6  60  10  2  13  13  87  15  SASK  4  15  23  85  27  5  17  25  83  30  MAN  4  50  4  50  8  2  13  13  87  15  ONT  23  30  53  70  76  12  13  80  87  92  -  -  -  -  -  2  100  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  19  86  3  14  22  2  33  4  67  6  QUE NB  NS EEl NWT  1:: TT L  70 31 1:5 = Indian NI Non-Indian TTL Total = percent of total  2  1:: 36 15 2:5 241 {_2_5 Source:veparimeric o1 ino.ian tairs and Northern Development, Facts and Figures 1971.  [  200  Table VIII. PROV  NUMBER OF INDIANS ADOPTED BY:  1972-1973 I  1973-1974  NI  %  TTL  I  NI  %  TTL  BC  16  13  106  87  122  3  10  28  90  31  ALTA  8  62  5  38  13  3  33  6  67  9  SASK  4  12  30  88  34  10  12  74  88  84  MAN  3  5  58  95  61  12  15  70  85  82  ONT  5  8  55  92  60  15  14  92  86  107  QUE  1  50  1  50  2  3  50  3  50  6  NB  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  1  100  1  2  100  -  -  PEI  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  NWT  4  27  11  73  15  27  55  22  45  49  TT L  41  13  NS  .i.  NI TTL  Inctian  [  281  Non-Indian Total percent of total  2  87 322 75 20 300 Source:Deparcment ot Indian Attairs  and Northern Development, Membership