A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World

A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World

A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World

A Generation Removed: The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World

Synopsis

On June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl, which pitted adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco against baby Veronica's biological father, Dusten Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Veronica's biological mother had relinquished her for adoption to the Capobiancos without Brown's consent. Although Brown regained custody of his daughter using the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Capobiancos, rejecting the purpose of the ICWA and ignoring the long history of removing Indigenous children from their families. In A Generation Removed, a powerful blend of history and family stories, award-winning historian Margaret D. Jacobs examines how government authorities in the post-World War II era removed thousands of American Indian children from their families and placed them in non-Indian foster or adoptive families. By the late 1960s an estimated 25 to 35 percent of Indian children had been separated from their families. Jacobs also reveals the global dimensions of the phenomenon: These practices undermined Indigenous families and their communities in Canada and Australia as well. Jacobs recounts both the trauma and resilience of Indigenous families as they struggled to reclaim the care of their children, leading to the ICWA in the United States and to national investigations, landmark apologies, and redress in Australia and Canada.

Excerpt

Matt and Melanie Capobianco appeared on the popular daytime television talk show Dr. Phil on October 18, 2012, to bring their case to the public. The white middle-class South Carolina couple had sought to adopt a newborn, Veronica, with the consent of her unwed mother in 2009. Authorities served notice of the adoption to Veronicas father, Dusten Brown, four months later, less than a week before he was to be deployed for military service in Iraq. He petitioned to gain custody of his daughter. After almost two years of legal wrangling, the family court ruled and the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed that Veronica belonged with her father, and she had moved to Oklahoma to live with Brown in January 2011. The reason? Dusten Brown is a member of the Cherokee nation, and the provisions of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) require that where possible Indian children should grow up in Indian families. Dr. Phil, his guests, and audience members expressed outrage at the awarding of custody of Veronica to her father and deep sympathy for the adoptive couple on live television that day in 2012. The Capobiancos and their supporters argued that ICWA is a racist law that undermines the best interests of children like Veronica.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case, known as Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, in early 2013, and they ruled in favor of the Capobiancos in a 5-4 decision in June that year. They remanded the decision to the South Carolina Supreme Court to reconsider the proper placement of Veronica. The court soon required that Brown return Veronica to the Capobiancos. Brown fought the order for several months but finally and reluctantly gave up his daughter to the South Carolina couple in September 2013. Dr. Phil, his guests, and his audience were surely elated at the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.