“I am sharing some more personal stuff because it is easy for people to focus on Veronica but the reality is, she is one of hundreds needing our help. The toll on the children and families trying to help them is huge! It is sometimes seen as a grand, wonderful thing to support a cause but the reality is – it is hard and dirty for those on the front lines. I know people are shouting hurray for some of the leaders of Save Veronica -but truly M and M are the heroes and the attorneys who helped them
– The work is hard.
– The financial price is high.
– The emotional stress is devastating.
– Saving the children is priceless.
Helping case by case is important but an organized effort to take down the ICWA is essential. If we can get rid of the ICWA the individual cases will decline. We need some heavy hitters to get involved.
I know you know most of this but so many have no idea:
1) Attorneys won’t work for free….we lost 2 attorneys because we couldn’t pay them. They showed up for court and before they left said it would be the last time they would be representing us. We then had to come up with $5000 to retain a new attorney.
2) ICWA are specialty cases. You can’t just get any old Joe…we learned this the hard way. Our original attorney said he could do an ICWA case and told us he knew what he was doing and had a friend who could help him if he had questions. This attorney in reality had no idea what he was doing. Before it was over we had 4 different attorneys. Oh, and had 2 judges.
3) Emotional stress is very high…A person tends to run pretty efficiently when you are fighting but it takes a toll. My husband would head off to work and I would do as much as I could all day while watching the kids, making phone calls and such. When he got home, he watched the kids and I got busy working on the computer and reading and researching. I would stay up until 2 or 3 every night. There was so much to do and we didn’t have an army to help us.
4) One has to work hard to guard their children from all of the chaos. We work so hard to keep the kids from the reality of the situation. They did not know they were on TV or that someone was trying to get their brother. This was a daily effort on our part.
5) Addressing all the struggles he was having because of visitations was huge. We spoke with a physiologist friend, a few attachment therapists, and did lots of research. We started homeschooling mostly because we knew he couldn’t handle public school at the time. We tried diets, discipline techniques, and medicines.
6) Our marriage… LOL – Our dates were a meal after court. We couldn’t afford a sitter and we didn’t want to ask my mom to babysit for something that seemed frivolous. She watched the kids for us for every court date, visitation, attorney meeting, therapist meeting, GAL meeting, etc… every time the media would come to interview she would take the kids so they didn’t know what was happening. She helped soooo much.
7) We had support from our community, family and church but it was still very, very hard.
8) When the adoption was finally done we went into a mode of relief and relaxation. I remember enjoying lots of bubble baths… LOL – We would stay up and watch TV instead of reading court documents. We made a lot of popcorn at night and both gained about 10 lbs – LOL. We hardly knew what to do…I think we needed the rest but maybe let the pendulum swing to long. There was still much we had to do. Our family needed some repairing and our little boy needed some help but the constant necessity to be driven was over.
9) Fundraising is so important – It seems there are so many places to give and times are tight right now but this fight takes money. Our case cost over $150,000 and we didn’t even end up going to trial [because the birth mom changed her mind and ended up wanting us to have him.] The bills from our attorneys every month were often bigger than our monthly income. Yes, we would have months when our bill might be $5000. It could be more or less…but just to get an idea.
Some adoptive parents, like us, are required to sign contracts with bio-parents and tribal government. It is unknown whether this was part of the negotiations Matt & Melanie went through. However, these can be hard to deal with as well.
– We had to sign an agreement with the tribe and bio-mom. The adoption agency contacts me every year to make certain we comply with terms. The tribe has NEVER contacted us. Only one time when I asked for some information did we hear from them and the effort to fulfill our request was pathetic.
– The tribe had us sign that we would take trips to the reservation and visit family there and bring the bio-mother with us (she does not live on the reservation.) Also we are to do things with her and her extended family yearly, like pow-wows, and pick up the bio-mom and transport her there. (BTW – bio-mom told us she doesn’t believe in pow-wows and such because she is a Christian)
– We have not heard from our son’s bio mom since Valentine’s Day. She will do that…then will call a few times a week for awhile, making promises she won’t keep, and then…off the radar for who knows how long.
– Bio-mom is not required to make any effort. We do all the work. The tribe who fought so hard for him has had nothing to do with him since.
Anyway, people need to know this is not a $20,000 regular adoption cost, it is not an easy, happy road. Like my husband said, when it comes to ICWA cases, logic is gone. You are dealing with illogical thinking from that point on. We found that to be one of the hardest things.
We couldn’t believe how it seemed there was absolutely no common sense involved with the case and decisions.