Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted a little girl through the legal adoption process in South Carolina. Two years into raising her (in what is reported to be a sound, loving home) the child was legally removed from them by the biological father. In as yucky a custody battle as the adoption world has seen in some time, the child stayed with the father for a year as lawyers played ping-pong with her life. The birth mother did not want the child removed from her adoptive family.
The birth father, Dusten Brown, won temporary custody solely because he is Cherokee Indian. He fought for his right to raise the child based on the Indian Child Welfare Act which says that American Indian children should not be adopted by non-Indian adoptive or foster parents.
This case ruffled my headdress for several reasons. First, I am 1/4 Cherokee on my birth father’s side. I did not discover this fact until I found my birth father when I was 30-years-old. My birth father wanted nothing to do with my birth mother once he knew she was pregnant. In fact, he tried to convince her to have an abortion. So no matter what the law suggests, I would not have been better off with my Cherokee blood relatives simply because they were Indian.
The second thing about this case that makes me see red is the whole premise of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The idea that a child is better off with its own race, creed, or nationality is outdated and ridiculous in a country of mixed marriages, mixed race adoptions, and international adoption. The Indian Child Welfare Act claims that Indians should stay with Indians whenever possible.
I know that the Cherokee Nation lost everything when white men tricked, cheated, and stole it from them. A travesty on which we built a country. I am also aware that poverty among Cherokees in 1978, when the Indian Welfare Act came to be, was astronomical. Just as in most poverty-ridden communities, relinquishment of children was on the rise and Native Americans did not want to lose their heritage (children) to outsiders.
Sound familiar? Every third-world country from which US citizens adopt, suffers the same stolen heritage. However, we allow and encourage these adoptions without restrictions of race, color or tribe. American Indian children should have the same opportunities, rights and rules as other children adopted in the United States. Period.
UPDATE- Please take a look at the comments on this case. Seems the birth father was in the picture from the start and not from the age of one, as the news reports suggest. So I agree that the father’s rights were violated. However, NOT due to his being Indian. See comments for more and thanks readers for setting me straight on the bigger picture.
What do you think? Look forward to your comments!
Blessings for forever homes free from bias, abuse and unwarranted separations,