Oct 142018
 
Empty Swing

The Texas DFPS is wrong…but this just illustrates what our families will continue to be up against.

The story –

Just recently, the Brackeen family learned that their adopted daughter has a newborn sister in need of care – so their attorney contacted Texas DFPS about the Brackeens fostering and/or adopting her and keeping the girls together.

DFPS responded that they would take it under consideration, but that “such placement” would be “subject to any requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which as you know, remains in effect.”

The attorney for the Brackeens responded “…on October 4, the U.S. District Court for the North District of Texas declared all relevant provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act to be unconstitutional and also set aside the legislative regulations that the Department of Interior issued with respect to ICWA in 2016…Texas and its agency, DFPS, is bound by that judgment and its declaration of ICWA’a unconstitutionality. DFPS, therefore, cannot apply ICWA or Interior’s 2016 regulations with respect to the placement…”

Read the communications between them here…

170-appendix Brackeen attorney letter 10-10-18

May 032014
 

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

First Published May 2, 2014 by the authors

Quote from Author:

“This is a PODCAST INTERVIEW with a South Dakota family that was torn apart by the court system. These children have not seen their foster parents since November 1, 2013. The State of South Dakota put these children into a home on the reservation where they we HEAVILY ABUSED, MOLESTED, AND NEGLECTED!!!
This video is in NO WAY ANTI-TRIBE PROPOGANDA. . . Our page (the Angel page) was started by Randal Bohn, a 18 year old member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.”

Nov 182013
 
Dorothy, Andrew, and Walter, June 1983

Every now and then, someone accuses us of being an evil adoption org, “stealing” babies from families. I usually delete the remarks because they are off-the-wall – unrelated to and disconnected with what we actually do.

We have already explained off and on over the last few months what we are. There is no desire to further waste time addressing baseless accusations from people who aren’t interested in reading what has already been written.

Nevertheless, it has been suggested that I state it one more time, and then simply cite this page when appropriate.

Alright.

#1) We have never “taken” anyone’s children. We are not a social service, adoption agency, or orphanage. We don’t house children (other than our OWN), transport children, or facilitate any kind of child custody transfer. There isn’t one child we have EVER “taken” – period.

#2) The original goal, way before my husband and I started this org, was to stand up for our OWN rights as parents. I will say it again. I, my husband, and our family and friends stood up to say that we have the right to determine the best interest of our OWN children. This is OUR right – not the right of tribal or federal government.

#3) Like it or not – my husband (100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage) was a Christian. He had visited his cousin, (a tribal member who was an evangelical preacher) and became a Christian in 1988. Months later, he led me to the Lord. He, by the way, also founded this org. So one accusation against CAICW – the talk of “white” people stuffing religion down the throats of tribal members – is both frivolous and, well… racist.

#4) Having seen so much pain inflicted on so many family members … having looked on the battered face of a two-year-old in a casket, chased a drunk off of a 10-year-old, stood in the closet where a beautiful 16-year-old had hanged herself, and much more – We knew we had to do something. Yup. We wanted to rescue family members – of all the terrible things.

Further, knowing first hand the depth of crime, corruption and abuse on my husband’s reservation, we knew we could not raise our own children in Indian Country. If something were to happen to us, we wanted a member of our church and his wife – in fact, a man who happened to be our state representative – to be guardians over our children.

Contrary to the uninformed mantra of some who claim we are fighting to ‘take’ their children – the reality is we’ve been fighting to keep people of their view point away from our own children.

#5) That said – ICWA became a problem. Knowing that ICWA gives tribal governments jurisdiction over our kids if we died, and hearing from people that tribal governments had interfered with placement of children into Christian homes – and knowing that the ICWA mandates that the children be raised in what is said to be the culture of the tribe, whether parents agree or not – we feared that our children could be placed contrary to our wishes. We felt angry that our Congress would pass such an invasive law.

#6) Around 1995 or so, we began writing about the unconstitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). People, seeing our writing on the internet, contacted us to ask for help. We were just a couple of regular parents, not trying to get people to contact us. But we listened and cared about their situations. We researched, learned, and grew. The org was born in February, 2004.

#7) The ONLY people we have ever advocated for is families who – because they saw what we have written – CONTACTED US asking for help. We have never gone and pushed ourselves into any situation – unlike some of the tribal governments we kept hearing about, who were pushing themselves into private family situations constantly.

#8) The calls came from people crossing all demographics: different heritages, incomes, backgrounds, ages and locations. We have served birth parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, foster parents and adoptive parents. …This includes low-income tribal members living within Reservation boundaries.

Unlike others, we don’t discriminate.

#9) Our membership includes former ICWA children – children who felt abused by the Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal government. Children who were very happy with their foster and adoptive homes, did not want to be placed with relatives on the reservation, and begged their tribe to leave them alone. One example is a girl that 60 Minutes did a story on about twenty years ago during her struggle against ICWA. The Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Dr. William B. Allen, was involved with trying to help her at that time. She joined us in DC last year to tell legislative offices about her ordeal.

#10) The child’s true best interest is priority. – Having been a registered nurse, been a day care provider, raised nine children of heritage and taken care of at least a dozen more at various times – I don’t accept what some tribal governments claim to be needed by kids.
I am not alone. Many tribal members are tired of seeing their families hurt year after year after year and feel let down by both tribal and federal government. They want REAL help and they want it NOW.

#11) Despite what some Congressmen and Tribal leaders say – more money isn’t going to fix things. Action is what is needed. Many tribal members feel that more money will simply add to what is already lining the pockets of corrupt tribal officials.

Stop pushing more “task-forces” or 3 year “Commissions.” Start, instead, with enforcing the law and jailing criminals.

#12) Needless to say, some Tribal leaders don’t want people to talk about the real problems. Real problems are supposed to be covered up and not ever mentioned. So – our talking about real people and real tragedy makes some tribal leaders angry.

#13) We will not stand down. 60 tribal governments are currently considering expanding their membership criteria to include children who are of extremely little heritage and whose families could have disassociated with Indian Country generations ago. The federal government gives tribal leaders full authority to “determine their own membership” – so they can expand membership to include a child despite objection by parents and grandparents.

Further – these same governments have discussed getting rid of the “Supremacy Clause” from their constitutions in order that they not need submit to federal or Supreme courts. This means that tribal members will be without appeal outside of the tribal system. Those who disagree with tribal leaders will be without recourse.

And with laws like the new version of the Violence Against Women Act – which states if either the victim or perpetrator in a crime is tribal, the tribal court has jurisdiction – more and more non-members will find themselves in tribal court without recourse. Mind you – if the perp of a violent act is a tribal member, the victim, whether a member or non-member, is forced into tribal court as well.

Even victims who are tribal members could have good cause not to want to share their pain in tribal court. Imagine if the perp is the son of a tribal official. That’s not an unheard of scenario.

It’s time to see the woods through the trees. For those who think this org and others have “no business” interfering with tribal sovereignty – understand that tribal sovereignty has no business interfering with independent U.S. citizens.

The current trajectory will allow tribal governments to interfere with even more families. If the tribal constitution is changed, the ICWA could apply to our own family for generations. (Kind of the opposite of what my husband and I wanted to see happen.)

Q) Who are the undeclared entities currently “taking” other people’s children across the country?

A) Tribal governments – some of whom are lowering membership criteria and pushing Congress to tighten ICWA to force their jurisdiction on others – including unwed, non-tribal mothers. (Who have been referred to as a “loophole” left open by a June Supreme Court case.)

Q) What was the original agenda of this org’s founders – before the org was started?

A) To demand tribal governments leave our kids alone. To stop Congress from unconstitutionally mandating relationship with tribal government and stop mandating the culture and religion a child has to grow up in.

Q) What is the current agenda of CAICW?

To assist and advocate for children and families in their pursuit autonomy, strength and wholeness – and to do our advocacy in relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

To show and tell how Jesus Christ saved and changed our lives and the lives of others.

To declare the independence of United States citizens above that of tribal sovereignty.

Or – it could be put this way: To assist and advocate for families in their struggle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness –

Sep 262013
 
Flower Planter

Family StoryMany have expressed desire to help stop the harm ICWA has been causing.  These are some specifics of the fight you want to help with, from a mother who has been through it:

“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 MVERONICA SUPPORTERS – What You Need to Know: 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.

Christian Ministry

Sep 242013
 

TAHLEQUAH, Okla, September 23, 2013 –Veronica's Rights

The adoption of 4-yr-old Veronica Rose by Matt and Melanie Capobianco has been upheld in Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare is delighted that visitations in the last month between the Capobiancos and Veronica went very well. Veronica remembered, was glad to see, and felt comfortable with the Capobiancos. The transfer of custody, reported by Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree to have been a “peaceful transfer,” was completed by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office by 7:30 pm with the family leaving for South Carolina soon after.

The claim that Veronica was an ‘Indian Child’ as a result of 3/128 Cherokee Heritage was alienating to many Americans. Even more so was the claim that removing Veronica from Indian Country constituted genocide akin to the Trail of Tears. This was particularly offensive to parents of tribal heritage who have personally chosen to remove their children from Indian Country.

This case has opened eyes to the horror the Indian Child Welfare Act has been inflicting on children across the United States.

Veronica’s situation resolved, CAICW will be spending time in Washington DC this fall, educating legislators about the harm caused by ICWA to multi-racial families across the nation, many more of whom have contacted CAICW after watching the long drawn out ordeal of the Capobianco family.

While one feels for a father losing custody his daughter, the 2013 rulings of U.S. Supreme Court and South Carolina courts overruled initial orders and found that the Capobiancos had stepped in to take care of Veronica in good faith after Mr. Brown advised birth mother, Chrissi Maldonado, that he was not willing to pay child support and chose instead to avoid any interaction with his child, thus losing his parental rights.

Sep 142013
 
Washington DC, January 2011

Yes, Veronica, there may be no Santa Claus, but there is a God and there is work being done to amend ICWA.

Washington DC, February 2013

Washington DC, February 2013

Some very kind, concerned supporters of justice have begun a petition to amend the Indian Child Welfare Act. We appreciate the effort very, very much.   But after having been urged several times to act on the petition, I need to explain why we an’t work on the petition.

Many of our newer friends are unaware that draft legislation to amend the ICWA has already been written and presented to various Congressmen.   I am a little afraid of possibly a conflict in wording or goals.

This legislation was written by one of the best ICWA attorneys in the nation and introduced by the Coalition for the ‘Protection of Indian Children and Families’ to legislative offices last summer, 2012.  The ICWA attorney based his wording on the primary reasons families are coming to him for help – the most noted issues with how ICWA was hurting children and families.

It has been on somewhat of a hold during the Veronica proceedings.  Well… actually, the hold was only meant to be until the United States Supreme Court had ruled.  Congressmen needed to know what the Justices had to say about the case before they could move forward further with the bill.

The court has ruled – but these last two months have been nuts, taking everyone’s time and energy.  Further, Congress recesses in August.

BUT – it is now September.  Thank you all for the reminder concerning the legislation.  According to attorney’s I have consulted – because no real resources of our organization are being spent or used on the legislation – and because I don’t get paid by CAICW but am entirely volunteer, there isn’t much concern about my discussing it a little bit.

So it is time to get back into the saddle with the legislation. I will be rolling up my sleeves and leaving for DC as soon as I put various things in order here at home – hopefully within the next couple weeks.

For your information, here is the amendment wording as it stood last summer.  There MIGHT be changes made following the Veronica events. I can’t say for certain as I am not an attorney.  But this is what we stood on last summer.

 ICWA Amendments 11-11-12

 

PLEASE join us in urging your Congress members – as well as the President – to change ICWA.

 

Washington DC, January 2011

Washington DC, January 2011

 

 

 

Sep 082013
 
Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Matt, Melanie and Veronica Capobianco

 

Mr. Dusten Brown’s personal testimony in the original family court concerning his interest in marrying birth mother Christinna Maldonado and his later abandonment of Veronica Capobianco.

It is good for all supports and detractors to read and consider this full testimony because it reveals points to the story that should give pause to advocates on both sides.  It is important for us all to be able to read, think, and pray about all aspects and know with certainty where we stand on various issues.

While Mr. Brown makes clear that he initially wanted to be married and take care of Christinna and Veronica, there is also an implication that Christinna might have backed away due to weekends he had spent with drinking buddies off base rather than coming home to be with her during the pregnancy.  For any mother who has been in such a position, that is very understandable.

While Mr. Brown’s supporters have shared liberally over the last few weeks the portions of Ms. Maldonado’s testimony that appear to discredit her, it would be good to be able to read the portions of her cross examination that have been held back – those portions which give her testimony explaining her motivation.  I look forward to obtaining that testimony.

Also – I have some discomfort with the assertion that the Capobiancos are “wealthy” and “connected” simply because Mr. Brown said so in his testimony – even if he claims a Guardian ad Litem told his family so.  That doesn’t mean it is was actually said, and even if it was, it doesn’t mean the GAL was correct.  Having known the C’s for a couple years now, I don’t believe those accusations in the testimony are true at all.

I further do not believe that it was the birth mother’s, the C’s, or the states responsibility to contact Mr. Brown and offer visits or pictures. As a man who knew he was a father and admitted in the testimony that he was aware of his obligations as a father – he had a responsibility to “man up” during those months and do what he needed to do.  Many, many service men are fathers – and many are even fathers without custody.  Most find ways to continue to uphold their obligations.

The laws of both Oklahoma and South Carolina agree and were enacted to ensure that men follow through with those obligations if they intend to father their children.  This is why Mr. Brown has been losing legally in both state courts ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ICWA did not apply.

This testimony also contradicts claims of Brown’s supporters that Mr. Brown himself did not claim to have a Bronze Star.  He is quoted here as saying that he does.

It also contradicts the claim that he had been fighting for custody of Veronica since birth.

Again – my question is, that knowing he was about to be deployed in a few days – and already locked down to base – why he had not made any attempt (by his own admission) to contact Christinna and see Veronica prior to deployment.   He knew that it would be months before  he returned to the states.  At that point, Veronica would have been almost a year old without a father in her life.

The only reason he hired an attorney and began a process in January, 2010, was because he had been served the adoption waiver.  Other than that, he would have left for Iraq without questioning Veronica’s whereabouts, period. 

One can not read his testimony and come to any other conclusion.

When I consider that, it is obvious that Christinna did the right thing – giving Veronica a father from the moment she was born.

From the moment Veronica was born, Matt was there.   While Mr. Brown was nursing the hurt of rejection (understandable) and  justifying his reasons for not making contact (not understandable), Matt was in the birthing room, cutting Veronica’s cord and welcoming her into the world.

Mr. Dusten Brown’s Family Court Testimony, 2011

 

Veronica Capobianco

Veronica Capobianco

Sep 072013
 
FAMILY, 2000

Julie – my husband was a man of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage. He grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in the 1950’s. He didn’t speak English until he was 5 years old and began kindergarten. His fondest memories were of “ricing season” – the time in the Baptism 1994early fall when the wild rice was ripe on the lake and the community would pitch tents down there and spend a couple weeks “ricing” the traditional way. He said it was like the Christmas Holiday is for us.

We had five children together and raised four of his relatives’ children as well. They were placed with us through ICWA – their parents were addicted to crack. So that was nine kids total. When the four came to stay with us, they were all very young. The youngest was only a year old. I had 8 kids under the age of 8 at the time (and one 12-year-old)

It was, as you can imagine, very difficult. I raised all of the kids to the age of 18. I kept the four even through my husband’s terminal illness. You see, he was very afraid of turning them back to the tribe – even though we were struggling very hard to raise them all. He had seen too many very bad things happen to children in his family. He knew what his extended family was capable of doing to children. We knew of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect. I was at the funeral of a 2-yr-old who was beaten to death. I chased a drunk off of a 10-yr-old girl. He didn’t know I was on the bed when he pushed her onto my legs, trying to take her pants off. And there is so much more.

As a man of 100% heritage – my husband had made the decision to raise his kids elsewhere, off the reservation, because of the danger and corruption going on at Leech Lake.

The fact is – he isn’t alone. 75% of tribal members, (according to the last two U.S. censuses) do NOT live on the reservation. Many have left for the same reason he did (not all have left for the same reasons – but many)

Roland & GirlsBecause of his fear of his children ever being raised on the reservation, he feared what would happen if we both died. He had also become a Christian and had led me to the Lord. He was determined to raise his children Christian and so wanted me to be a Christian as well. He did not want the tribe to move the kids to the reservation or place them with relatives. If he died, he wanted one of our Christian friends to finish raising our kids.

So – it is for all these reasons that he disliked the Indian Child Welfare Act and began to speak out against it. This was in the 1990’s. We made a website – and as we wrote about the law, people across the country began to contact him.

You see, at the time, when you would google ICWA – all you would get is all the sites that supported ICWA. Ours was the only one that didn’t. So people began to contact us and ask for help. Tribal members and non-members. Birth parents, foster parents, and adoptive parents.

Their stories broke our hearts. Lots of abuse of children – by tribal governments. But we were just two parents, no different than them. Roland continued to speak up though, and had opportunity to give testimony to the Senate Committee, among other opportunities.

In February 2004, we founded the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare – so we could help other families better. It has been a blessing every time we have been able to help someone – because we are small and simply do the best we can. We give all credit to God for whatever we are able to do.

When Melanie Capobianco first contacted us in July of 2011, we did our best to help her as well. I have found her to be a very sweet, kind, thoughtful, woman. She has been able to back up everything she has said with documentation. According to Oklahoma law, there is only 90 days after birth in which a father can show his interest in paternity. If he does not do this, he loses his right to object to an adoption. He is not considered a legal parent.

Mr. Brown exceeded that. He also exceeded the limits under South Carolina law. He admitted in the first family court – documented on the court record for all to see – that he did not, in truth, make any attempt to contact, inquire about, or provide for this baby in any way, shape or form. By the laws of both states, he had lost his right to object to an adoption. In the meantime, Matt Capobianco was there at the birth and cut the cord. THAT is the fact that the states have been ruling on.

Therefore, when MrChristinna Maldonado & Veronica Capobianco. Brown took the Capobianco’s little girl, without the benefit of any transition, breaking Veronica’s heart for the only parents she had ever known in her 27 months – it was seen by many of us as extremely selfish on the part of Mr. Brown, and that is how our judgment of him has stood. He did not care at all about Veronica’s need for the only parents she had known and was bonded to.

It was also seen as extremely selfish of the tribal government – which cares nothing about Veronica’s majority heritage. No one stops for a moment to consider whether Veronica, as a teen, might prefer to identify with the Hispanic heritage of her birth mother. If she chooses to identify as Hispanic – will she be allowed to? If she would like to meet her birth mother, who she was allowed to see while she was with the Capobiancos, will she be allowed to?

~ Do those who are demanding that she identify as a Native American truly care who she is as an individual with her own mind and heart? Or are they trying to stuff her into a box and make her into who THEY want her to be?

I just wanted you to know all this – as one Christian mother to another – both of us being mother’s in multi-heritage families.

Bless your heart; I am confused as to why you would send unkind emails to other Christian women. In the name of Jesus – please understand that these other women are not evil. They are simply seeing other aspects to this case then you have been seeing.

Father & Daughter: Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)http://dyinginindiancountry.com