January 26, 2005
It is January 2005. What is detailed below is happening right now. My friend is her “foster” mother. We are desperately tring to get her home. Please send anything that we might be able to use.
Dear Fellow American:
I am writing you today, not as a person of any color or race, but as a fellow American. I want to tell you a sad story of great tragedy.
On January 25, 1994 a beautiful Native American child was born to a woman of Sioux origins. She was born in Las Vegas, NV. At five months that child was abandoned by the mother in Los Angeles, CA. The birth father, which was her ex-husband, had already denied and refused paternity. The infant child was sent back to South Dakota to live in tribal foster care. During this time the child was sexually molested by some person associated with that foster care program.
By the time the child was 2 and a half years old, her mother had remarried to a man of Hispanic and Native American origins. Together they sought and won custody of the little girl. At this time they brought the child to Las Vegas, NV to live with them. They, in turn, were living with a woman named (Sonja). During the course of the next year, the step-father adopted the little girl. They also gave birth to a son. Shortly after the birth of her son, the mother began to return to her life of drug abuse and prostitution. The stepfather sued for divorce and won custody of both children. The mother was intermittantly in the children’s lives, caring little for their emotions or needs. Often when around them, she was physically abusive to them. When the little girl was four and a half years old her adoptive father died due to cancer. While the father had wanted both children to be awarded to Sonja, who had been helping him with the children all along, the tribal courts awarded the son to his paternal uncle and aunt. They did not want the young girl, because she was not their blood. Sonja was awarded foster guardianship of the young girl. She had finally found a home with a loving mother.
During the next several years, the young girl flourished, in spite of her rough beginning. Her foster mother sent her to greif counseling to help her with her adoptive father’s death. She went to a private school for the first three years of school. She was on cheerleading teams,made the A Honor Roll, and was active in girl scouts. Most importantly, Sonja knew how important the child stay close to her heritage. She taught her about her culture, kept her bonded to her brother, and always let her know how much she loved her. Together they fought through a life threatening illness that Sonja has since recovered from. Sonja taught her honesty, boldness, compassion, a love of nature, and many other things.
This all came to a halt on January 6th of this year. A South Dakota Child Protective Person showed up at Sonja’s home and took the little girl back to South Dakota. The tribe has decided to establish paternity and give the little girl to a father she has never known. It is not even sure that the father will accept the child. This is all done in the best interest of ICWA, and not the child. The tribe does not care that they have stripped this child of the only loving, caring mother she has ever known. She knows her birth mother, but hates her because of the abuse she has suffered by her. They do not care that the child wants to stay with her white foster mother. They want to ground her in her heritage. They do not care how this is affecting the child now or in the future. They do not care about the half-brother that is now not allowed to contact his sister. They do not care about the other 11 year old little girl that cries herself to sleep every night because her best friend (since kindergarten) has been cruelly ripped away.
I plead to you! Help this child! Do what is decent for her. At this point, her race should not be a factor. Pray for the uniting of a mother and child that is closer than any blood. Pray for the safe return of a child to the life she once knew. Please send this to every person you know. The more publicized this is, the better.
UPDATE January 28, 2005
Since the DA found out that (Sonja) was contesting the removal …, they have scheduled a court appearance for Feb 8th. Someone had orignally told her that Sonja had relinquished custody. Please keep your prayers going up for Sonja . She is taking all of her paperwork with her. Also, (Little girl) has managed to get a letter out to Sonja. She is begging her to come and get her before decide to send her to live somewhere else. She begs to not be out of her life forever. She signed it “Love …, your one and only daughter”. Please continue to keep lifting this child up in your prayers. Please pray that the Lord reveals anything out of order, and that (little girl) will be returning with Sonja after the February 8th hearing.
UPDATE January 30, 2005
I did get a chance to see the Dr. Phil show. … I admit, that after seeing that segment, discouragement started to try and take hold. But I then started reminding myself of all of the scriptures that state all things can be done through Christ, and that faith the size of a mustard seed can make the impossible happen. We certainly have faith much bigger than a mustard seed, and there are friends and family praying across the nation. We also have wonderful people, such as yourself, praying for us. ….Sonja has said that absolutely you can use (this) story. ….We will be praying for the Hofer family as well. We know all too well what they are going through.
… The hearing will be in South Dakota. I, also, have spoken to the intercessors of my church. Ferverent prayers are being sent up. Sonja has been told to bring any witnesses, so I am not sure what the standards are in that court. Judge BJ Jones is the presiding judge. He is the person that wrote the ICWA laws. Although, when the mother tried to get both children four years ago, he sided with us. We are praying that the Lord moves his heart again.
UPDATE February 3, 2005
I do agree that what ICWA was written for, and what it is used today for, are two very different things. Please keep me updated about these other cases so that I may pray for them. I will also advise you of what I find out… Since my children (ages 24, 22 and 11) are 1/8th Cherokee, these issues are of great concern to me. They have never lived on or near a reservation. I do teach them to be proud of their heritage, and have taken them to pow wows. Unfortunately, I do not know any of their relatives on the Oklahoma reservation.
UPDATE February 10, 2005
…Sonja got to see (little girl). … They have not terminated Sonja’s gardianship, but they are not yet allowing (little girl) to return with her. The DNA tests have not come back. The person they believe to be her father has decided he wants her, if the test come back positive. From what I was told, (little girl) is identical to her older sister. He now believes (Little girl) is his daughter. He said that when (little girls) mother told him she was pregnant with her, she took off shortly after that. Because she left so fast, he believed that (little girl) was not his. He said that is why he has never wanted her. ..(Little girl) sounded very upbeat. I am praying that it is because she is adjusting moderately well to all that has taken place, and not just because she had Sonja with her. It would be so much harder to have Sonja leave, if she is not adjusting well. … I pray that she is doing well with all of this. There is to be another hearing in March. At this time, I do not know the date. … Thanks for all of your prayers,
UPDATE May 5, 2005
Apparently the paternity test did rule that the man in question is her father. We knew this already, but hoped it would be negative. Do to this finding, there is not going to be another trial, he has been awarded custody. It is my understanding that he has 6 children, other than (little girl). She is still in foster care in SD. She is having trouble adjusting to her father’s house, and visa versa. The other kids are not acceping her very well. I do not know much about the father. She is adapting, but still asks to come home to Sonja. Her current foster mother in SD seems very nice, and they have been attending counseling. (Little girl) has such a sweet spirit, I continue to pray that this will not break it. (We) are continuing to communicate with (her) . I pray that our contact will give her balance and strength in a situation that can only be confusing at best. Please continue to lift her up in your prayers daily. Someday (7 years at the most) this will all be a bad dream in the past. God Bless all that you do!
…One can only wonder what instigated all of this. When all of this started, I did come across several articles from 2004 where South Dakota got into some trouble their activites in the foster program. Who knows…..maybe somebody dusted off her case and decided to get involved. The tribal social service is being very tight lipped. It took her step-aunt many weeks to get information. …. The next seven years will be very long for many people. … As for prayers…. I pray all the time that God covers her with his protection; that she will not be physically or sexually harmed. I pray that he will help her to adapt to a situation that is out of her control. I pray that this will not cause permanent emotional scarring. I pray that her family will treat her well, and that the years will move quickly.