ICWA Reaks. Reservation is Worst Place for Many Kids

Children messed up by drugs and alcohol need a safe, stable, therapeutic home – The LAST thing they need is placement back into the very garbage that they came out of.

Two days ago I sat in the front seat of an ambulance transporting my 14-year old, unresponsive “son” (placed by ICWA) to the ER. His blood alcohol level was .35.

We were not a bad home. But we were not a therapeutic home. The four children placed with us thirteen years ago, solely because my husband was their grandfather, did not get what they needed.

We were a good home, but we were not educated in the needs of the kids and were never truly inspected by Leech Lake or any other social service. We could have done anything and no one would have known or cared. All they cared about was that we met the criteria for an ICWA placement. And under that single criterion, kids are continually being placed into horrible situations with the blessing of both the federal and tribal governments. And not just kids of tribal heritage – but children of every heritage, because a child doesn’t need to be 100% tribal to for a tribe to have jurisdiction over them through ICWA. Most tribes require only 1/4 blood quantum, meaning the child has an even greater heritage somewhere else. Some tribes require even less to claim a child. For example, a child in Texas has less than 2% tribal heritage, but the tribe is trying to claim him.

But as I said, the LAST thing kids of ANY heritage need is placement back into the very garbage that they came out of. Children messed up by drugs and alcohol need a safe, stable, therapeutic home – heritage isn’t even an issue.

The bottom line is that this isn’t just about keeping them off the Rez. We don’t live on the Rez. It’s about placing them in an appropriate home.

I was too overwhelmed – with five birth children and these four legal custody, as well as my husband dying of cancer. Any sane social service person should have seen that this can’t work. But they didn’t care. And I couldn’t bring myself to give up and have them sent to Cass Lake. I’ve seen how kids are being raised there with our relatives. That place is absolutely horrid and dangerous for children. I could not kick them out of my home and make them live there. So I kept them and ended up doing an inadequate job, not only for the four, but for my birth children and husband as well.

With diagnosis’ of FAS, ADHD, Attachment Disorders and/or Oppositional Disorders, these kids – from the very beginning – needed more help than I could give.

After having the two oldest turn 18 and proceed into the same dysfunctional lifestyle that we had supposedly rescued them from, I am today trying to get the third one into some type of therapeutic treatment. Simply taking them out of the circumstances – or even showing them a totally different way to live – didn’t change the way their bodies, already affected by alcohol, worked.

Further – the tribe’s choice exposed my birth children to harm. A truth I am only in the last few weeks realizing – is that the oldest of the four legal custody, now 20 yrs, old – is a con man. We had various struggles with him through his teen age years, but he was so charming and always seemed so cooperative, even when it came to discipline. Now I am finding out all the damage that had been done. Several of my birth children were affected – very negatively. He encouraged at least five of the other children to drink and or smoke weed with him – one of the kids being as young as ten when this happened.

I am only now thinking – We know that Al-anon exists because of the tremendous emotional difficulties of living with an alcoholic. Why did we not consider this in terms of the birth children living with FAS in all four?

We were not prepared to deal with the many issues. I neglected my own children in many ways. I was focused so much on correcting the behavior of the four that I totally missed so much that was going on with my own. I put my birth children in danger. This was not an appropriate home. The only reason they were placed here was because of ICWA. At the time were the healthiest part of the extended family that there was. We were the only healthy family within the extended family.

At least at the time. I no longer categorize us as a healthy family.

Children messed up by drugs and alcohol need safe, stable, therapeutic homes. It’s the only chance they have. Anything less, and they will not be able to cope any better than their parents did. Fifteen years later, you will have another generation of babies needing special care.

Stop it now. Let the kids get real help.

Stop listening to most of the tribal governments on this issue. They get more money from the federal government per head. This is not really about the best interest of kids, no matter what they try to claim. They are all about money and control. The kids are pawns.

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