Grandparents fought ICWA for three years to help birth parents get kids back


May 17, 2004

I have thoroughly digested information on your site.

We are in a situation where we have a daughter-in-law who is 1/8 …..-and one grandchild 1/16 (not eligible per blood quantum), who have been become part of the ..Department of Human Services system. We are the closest blood kin, as paternal grandparents, and want to provide for our 10 month old granddaughter while our son and his wife meet the requirements and hopefully reunite their family in 3 to about 9 months.  I say “hopefully” now that the family (tribe) has become involved.  They say they have “rights” based upon the Indian Child Welfare Act based upon descendancy!

The ….. Tribe (basically a family power structure in the Tribe) has
intervened – and a county caseworker has given the child to a half-sister in the tribe.  They have not supported our daughter in law at all, claiming “we shall take the children and you will never see them again.”

It appears that we have stepped into a legal maelstrom that affects many, many families in our country now, where we are losing our Civil Rights, and once they appeared, the DHS backed off pursuing letting us have the child – even though we had a home study completed by County DHS and were approved as a kinship foster home.    We are an officially appointed CASA case, which is good, and the next court date is June, 2004.

My questions are these:

1. What would be the best course of action in seeking our granddaughter?

2. Can you recommend any attorneys in [our] area …?

3. Are there any legal funds available, based upon the legal fund you have available to give to?

4. Any other thoughts, for a quick resolution?   We feel that the judge is favorable to us, because in an emergency court hearing last Thursday he questioned why the paternal grandparents weren’t considered.  The social worker, for whatever reason, said we would not protect the child!!!!!!!  I am on ..retirement from public education .., the same as my wife; and also a United Methodist Minister related to the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church-pastoral ministry for 12 years.

If you had a telephone number, I would appreciate visiting with someone
regarding this issue.  ….

THIS WAS A SIMPLE CASE WHICH WOULD HAVE RESOLVED ITSELF WITH REUNIFICATION OF THE FAMILY IN A VERY SHORT ORDER, UNTIL THE FAMILY (TRIBE) BECAME INVOLVED.  Our daughter-in-law moved from the tribal location … seeking to leave a very dysfunctional family and extended family (mother dead) and father not around.  Now our grand daughter, who is 94% NOT native American, is being pulled back in….Thank you for any and all help.


UPDATE June 9, 2004

I am forwarding this letter to you as an update of what is happening.  The
kids have fallen under ICWA (??????!!!!!!).  The judge, DA, and children’s
public defender did an about face at the hearing last Thursday,
6/03/04—because of the tribal involvement they are pursuing criminal
charges against our son his wife (she is 1/8 …..) through the criminal
courts of Oklahoma County-warrant(s) are forthcoming.    So we have had to
focus all our efforts around our son and his wife, who will be moving in
with us … to gather enough money to hire an attorney.  The tribe is also seeking that the parental rights of our son and wife be terminated-pending the criminal proceedings.       So they have royally botched up stuff for the next year until the criminal charges can be dealt with.

… we do fear retribution from the tribe and the court system could backfire negatively for our son and his wife.

I called a district court clerk I know… regarding some other family business-told her what was going on —-she said, “I understand—–we were adopting two children, partially native American-and when the tribe found out, this couple had quite a fight with the Indians to complete the adoption”….She worked for the District Court, so I’m sure that had to be advantageous.

Anyway, it appears that ICWA is being used for legalized kidnapping in this
great nation of ours—and we are glad that you have been there for us.
Continue to hold us and all involved in your thoughts and prayers-and when
the time is right you will certainly have persons (us and one’s we know)  to
help advocate for a more just exercise of this bizarre law, which I’m sure
was done originally with the best of intentions.

Never in our wildest dreams would we think that our precious little
granddaughter (one year old in a few week) could be snatched from those
closest to her!

To:        CASA Program

RE:       Kinship Foster Parent Status of ….

Date:    09 June 2004

This is informal notice that …………………………. paternal blood
grandparents are not currently seeking the relationship as kinship foster
parents …..

We shall be notifying you by more formal means of our rationale.

It is still fully our belief that the current placement by DHS is not in the
best interest of the children, including their physical safety and other
means of child endangerment.  For previously stated reasons, including what was sent to you last Saturday by e-mail… which included:

A.                  [current caregiver for the little girl]’s inability to control, and alleged abuse of her two teen step-daughters, who are not in the home–whose names we gave you for investigation, as well as school officials for the 2003 – 2004 school year who have, to our best knowledge, witnessed a serious altercation at the ….r high school she was attending…

Also, past alleged physical abuse of the children’s mother … by her older half sister.

[current caregiver for the little girl]’s appearance on DHS documentation that she was a regular caregiver to the children, when in fact [the children] were left in [her] care by the parents on only two weekends in the past year, and the last visit, we believe in April, [her] calling for her father…, to
come and get [little girl] at midnight because …couldn’t make [her] quit crying.

In relationship to the aforementioned “regular weekend care” …[my son and his family] were [visiting us] an average of once a month; by the same token, [we] visited in their … home approximately once a month-at all of these visits the [baby girl ] was present.

B.                  [Birth] Father of [8 year old boy]’s best friends [two relations on mother’s side] who are drug users/sellers of illegal substances, who visit his
home on a frequent basis; as well as his past and alleged current use of
unlawful substances..

Father owns a large, unsecured gun collection,.., as it was in the past …

This is in addition to all the other evidence, presented in the petition to the court about being an “unfit parent”, the perceived inability to recognize or meet the special educational/developmental needs of his son, and past undocumented???? alleged physical abuse of his son… two years ago.

We feel [children’s mother’s] paternal grandparents should be interviewed.  This gentleman has an insurance business …   Their story is very interesting, in that their own son, [children’s mother’s ]father, was “driven” away from the tribal (family) community …, all made to feel very “unwelcome” to ever visit his daughter at the … “reservation” of the …Tribe.

Since the majority of the ….. Tribe that lives at the settlement in…appear to all be related in some form, with similar family patterns and, in our opinion, much social/familial dysfunction, that placement within the tribal community …would not be in their best interest, nor would it be a location where the safety of the parents, paternal grandparents, [children’s mother’s] paternal grandparents, could be assured or be made to feel that visitation could be accomplished.    This is evidenced by the racial slurs and threats that have been made by the tribe (family) to the parents of [the children] at the Juvenile Justice Center in Oklahoma City, as well as various telephone threats made …, and the statement made in court by maternal great grandmother, who is a tribal leader.

We are quite appalled that members of DHS have witnessed the untruthful
statements given by the tribe against our son, his wife, and regarding us;
as well as the misinformation given by the DHS to investigating officials,
I.e. residence … and … receiving calls …by detectives …; incorrect information given …regarding our personal residence.  This is also evidenced by DHS official misstatements regarding medical evidence and police reports, etc. that have been presented to the court regarding [all of us]

We hope that when the criminal charges are satisfied, that justice will
prevail, and the family … will be reunited.

We shall follow up this electronic mail with a certified letter, which we
feel would better serve this type of official notice.  We have done this so
we can notify you in a timely manner.

UPDATE September 12, 2006

I have been looking all over for the latest newsletter you sent, because we wanted to respond with a gift…….can’t find it anywhere.  I also know I have your telephone number, but can’t find it anywhere, because I would prefer to visit with you in person.

Over a month ago a wise judge at the felony level sorted out some of the facts of the alleged child abuse by our son and his wife.  They were both given 5 year deferred sentences (in other wise they will not have criminal records) and he can continue saving lives as a Paramedic.  All of this was the end result of the tribe (Leaders/members our daughter-in-law’s family) push to have our son out of the picture, and have their “native daughter” returned home.  In the 2 and 1/2 years they have have not offered any form of support to her–money, moral support, encouragement…..of course they know they created the mess that followed.  We have had 6 attorneys, and my wife and I …..have spent over $50,000 of our retirement helping them survive this ordeal. ….

…Yesterday we had the Children’s court …—-the tribe, now coming in full support, acting totally surprised that their efforts in sacrificing their “daughter” and our son to the prison system didn’t work.  Our daughter in law is at point of relinquishing her 8 year old son–in effort to gain our now 3 year old granddaughter back.   ICWA continues to work it its highest level of dysfunctionality as, after a meeting, (they hadn’t had a tribal meeting to discuss the issue yet)–basically saying that even though our kids were judged not to be criminals, think they should have right to keep the girl–the offer at this point was for the half sister who is the Foster Parent to continue to be the Parent, and given our kids the right of supervised visitation.  Our attorneys are saying that the law doesn’t provide for this kind of absurdity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Our kids would relinquish her before putting her through the confusion which would impact her for her whole life….

ANYWAY–in your last newsletter you said you had a videotape which was presented on TV several times…………….would it be possible to see if if might help us to educate the Judge in this case–and the public later on?????  Again, would rather call and visit with you about this ASAP–about content, appropriateness, etc.  Would be glad to pay for copy, and/or any expenses..

.   We visited once on the telephone, and that were possible, had you number and a good time to call I would like to visit with you.   Anyway, difficult to condense the mess of the past 30 months.  Was sorry to hear of Roland’s death; but know that he lives on; especially in this work that you and your organization do to help persons.   We shall keep you and your ministry in our prayers.  Likewise, remember us as we continue a long fight which may have an ending???   Best wishes,

UPDATE April 23, 2007

I need to send you a family photo so you can see who they really are… Also the article about “broken bones” — [my son’s] step son has Aspbergers Syndrome (mild autism)–falls without being able to catch himself–and just about zero pain level–in other words he can have a broken bone and not even know it. He was in emergency repeated times for head injuries (falls in tub)–much documentation of being at doctor—NEVER ONCE did these doctors suspect/or report abuse!! Our son is a an excellent paramedic with about 13 years experience–was at OKC bombing–just completed credentials to teach–staff development for ALL medical personnel–emergency medicine—but ICWA was used to press this issue to the point where they could never once speak for themselves. The closest was a personal statement I made before judge–and a three page document I prepared—anyway….this is ICWA at its worst–trying to make criminals out of people who aren’t …

…I’ve wanted to write you over the past months, but I’ve been trying to firm up an action plan for our (my)  response to the loss of our granddaughter and step grandon–who for your PR, were both 93.75% NOT native american. …..1/16 native (I read your comments about 1/4 native american).  I still remember the judge listening to the tribe in our case, tribal members who had driven in numbers to Oklahoma City and overwhelm the judicial system–saying their “tribe determines who qualifies for membership–their implication was that blood quantum was not a consideration, but the “welfare of the children”.  The judge  said lightly that he wanted to become a member, if that was the case….The ramifications of that interchange alone is outrageous because it means the tribe can “go after” anyone it chooses..  …   You can see I can get on my soapbox pretty quickly–so back to the purpose of this communication.   Part of my strategy includes:

1–possible newspaper ads….   These ads would hopefully address the “problems” regarding ICWA–not be negative–and focus attention on your organization.

2–Develop a letter which uses a … situation without names …; address the problems and those impacted; use the Christian Alliance as a primary web resource– etc. and send to ALL [our state] Legislators (house and Senate)–ALL [our] Supreme Court Judges– (possibly other at the state level (debating about Human Services–for Children and Families)…

PLUS ..–little different format for each group, to ALL members of the US House of Representatives,  US Senate, the US Supreme Court.  Maybe this mailing could be done with a letter and an accompanying CD or DVD …)

As a United Methodist Minister I hope to prayerfully construct “materials” which would challenge the aforementioned leaders.  As an educator I have published reports for school districts and other organizations.     I would like to have all this done yesterday–but reality has to temper the pace. …All of this is tempered by the loss of our granddaughter.  We were all together doing some moving furniture and storage–and toys and articles of clothing–photos–always constant reminders that our story is being repeated numerous times every day across this great country of ours.

… ICWA problems seem small when faced with the human and financial disaster being sustained by the policy in Iran—nonetheless, we have to try–because we have laws and people destroying our families right here at home–the basic family structure is being destroyed by laws like those of ICWA– …-

… I (we) hope to make a positive contribution in this effort.  We also plan to send what we can to support your efforts.   I think I mentioned that we supported our son an daughter-in-law with much of our retirement funds–over $60,000 for 6 attorneys–most of whom were not helpful.  Our daughter-in-law’s family did absolutely nothing to help her–thinking if they could destroy our son she would come back to the tribe.  Needless to say she has nothing good to say about her family or heritage–which is very painful….she not only lost her son and daughter–she lost her family and heritage.

I see words written in some of the ICWA letters of the Christian Alliance of similar comments made to our daughter-in-law–her two  half sisters (who knew the system) told her they would take her children and she would never get to see them again!  We thought they were idle, stupid threats.  Not in our wildest dreams did we know of the destructive, evil powers of such ysfunctional people, could wreak  the kind of damage they did.

…our daughter-in-law [wants] to get off the ….. roles as a member.  She thinks you do that through the BIA–I would assume a notorized letter to the tribal elders (with return receipt) would be enough–and not claiming any tribal benefit.  Do you have any thoughts about that????????????????

… I feel so strongly about the abuses of ICWA and the abuses by the tribes–and the corrupt courts and bankrupt legal and welfare systems–are quite sickening.

…..You are doing a great job with the website and all the information posted….it seems like you are getting a lost of response to a lot of needs.   Anyway, you, the Christian Alliance, and the many who have needs,have been in our thoughts and prayers. ..

Our situation with ICWA is cluttered, if you recall.  Our kids were charged with felony child abuse–they plead guilty because of an idiot attorney at the “criminal” level–yet the judge at that level,  during the sentencing phase which carried over several months (Judge wanted more input) could see something was very, very wrong–that our son and his wife should NEVER have been charged as they were–basically after several months of probation, will have their records expunged in 7 years (they technically have never been convicted of a felony, even though he plead guilty)–this was a case where the judge had the wisdom to try to make this go away…..

… ALSO, Lisa, I will try to visit with Senator you wrote about (Tom Coburn)….I’ll see what I can get done–and will keep you posted.   I would appreciate any comments that you may have, regarding about anything I have written.  If you have questions, suggestions, need clarification–I’m trying to write too much in too little time!!!   Our best wishes to you and your family.  Thank you for what you are doing!

….. Regarding the children–I think it is a done deal.  The kids relinquished the children instead of fighting at the children’s court level, even though they received the deferred sentence at the criminal level.  Their fear, and ours, was  the children’s judge was already so biased, in favor of the tribe.  ..Social Services had approved us as Foster Parents for both grandchildren–but by the time it reached Oklahoma City, they twisted the situation–and basically said we were TOO OLD to take care of them (we were 58 at the time….My wife and I both educators; I a United Methodist Minister–we had seen the grandchildren at least once a month or more for overnight visits in Oklahoma City –their relationship with the tribe at that time was limited at best….

Anyway–with another 10 or 20 thousand dollars for all the legal fees and witnesses, with no guarantees of winning—if our kids had been found guilty (with the bias so heavily against us in that court), they could never have had any children without fear of losing them.    As it is, the kids face probable harrassment from the tribe —all went into the decision.

….  The half sister aunt who became the foster parent, had her two teen age step daughters removed from the home because of problems–and they place [our granddaughter] with her!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about a biased and sick, sick, sick situation.

If we had an unlilmited supply of resources it would have been a grand legal battle—yet, one knows when you have an impossible situation. If the criminal judge would have been in the children’s court, the outcome might have been better.  But it seems when your are a small family pitted against 25 to 30 tribal members, with all of their Indian social worker, Indian attorney, and so on—we literally never had a voice.   The judge didn’t even know anything about our family except what was presented by the tribe or social services. One of our attorneys at the children’s level was well versed–but the judge literally shut them down every time they tried to speak.   We caught the social workers in a string of lies, which we could have proved–medical evidence which they ordered (in our favor) which was never presented….but it takes money…..our kids had none, and we have much, much less!!! Even though the kids visited [their daughter] on a regular basis, she had to be reacquainted with them every time…..Disrupting her life at that point of relinquishment, played a part in the decision–no matter how dysfunctional her family.

There were never any allegations of abuse of this little girl–and the little 6 yr old boy, who was very happy with his parents–his mother was NEVER ALLOWED to visit him in all that time–because of the alleged emotional trauma (???)—given his problems (and I worked with kids all my life), you couldn’t have seen a more content and happy little boy with his mother and step-father–that is why we tried to keep them (besides being the closest blood relatives to the little girl.

Wow, what a trip!   What’s the phrase “Freedom and Justice for all!”    I’ve been a very positive person all my life–focused on helping other persons and families–I have to say I’ve grown a wee bit cynical over the past few years. I knew people could be cruel–I’ve just never experienced being on the end of a conspiracy before.  And bluntly, that is what it was.  I’ve toyed with the theme of “Legalized kidnapping is now a part of  acceptable Due Process in US courts”.  I’ve known that the systems are broken–I just didn’t know how badly!

Blood quantum????  What blood quantum!  The question is, “Do we want the kid for our tribe?”  Then it’s open season, and anything goes.    The mean justifies the means.  Members of the tribe are leaving– so anything goes to obtain fresh bodies–I’m surprised they don’t “sell” tribal memberships.  Why not?  It would be better than taking children from loving home environments..

Yes, I’m cynical!   Enough venting for now.

UPDATE August 8, 2007

At this point we are still unable to go to Washington D.C.   … JUST DON’T KNOW presently, which doesn’t help with all the scheduling you have to do.  In the meantime, would a letter or something be helpful–and what would you need–our story or other information?

We paid over $55,000 of our retirement monies because of the tribe and ICWA–otherwise we would be in better shape financially.  We had to help our daughter-in-law in the same fashion as our son, because her family/tribe did nothing but put their full force into destroying the family, and using ICWA did irraparable damage to our families in composition, financially, emotionally.  We firmly believe that when our son and wife try to begin another family, the tribe will find them and destroy whatever peace they might achieve, inventing whatever lies they might to achieve their own ends.   Do I sound bitter?  You bet.  I need to do something constructive, but with our own situation, with illness, and now, having much less financial resources, must first try to keep our own heads above the financial waters.  Given the circumstances I wasn’t able to contact Senator Coburn’s office before we left, but plan to do so.   What are the dates that you plan to be in D.C?  I’ll put them on my calendar–don’t have the dates with me–never left home and plan to be gone for 2 months before.  Have most stuff, and can visualize where the Christian Allince info and letters are   Appreciate hearing from you and keeping posted with happenings of other folks as they deal with unjust laws and interpretations.   We shall keep the Alliance and all it serves, in our thoughts and prayers for positive progress and resolution to the pain caused by the interpretation of unjust laws.   Sincerely, …. (former) grandparents of ….

UPDATE January 23, 2008

We were heartbroken when we read of this outrageous travisty–outraged that what happened to us and our son, daughter-in-law and our granddaughter, can continue to happen again and again.  Sucked into a legal system which is confused in our federal and state laws and totally skewed and corrupted by all the separate, autonomous Indian nations, and very few attorneys in the United States begin to know how to help those persons who have been emotionally raped!—children torn out of stable and loving homes and relationships to repeatedly placed in reservation and or Indian families, where, in our experience our granddaughter has become a pawn of familial dysfunctionality and tribal financial gain!!

Attorneys and judges in the US and state court systems don’t have the backbone or courage to oppose any tribe.  Also, most families caught in this web, cannot afford the thousands of dollars it takes and the emotional energy to try to oppose the tribes–with, it seems, very few non-Indian families ever winning these court cases.

This letter you shared has given us the impetus to go to U S Senator (Oklahoma) Tom Coburn’s office to tell our story (as you had opened the door for us) ….  Again, our story was so vastly complicated by the tribe focusing on seeing their native daughter and our son punished, for her wanting to leave the reservation–that without our help they would have been serving prison sentences of 30 years!  Had it not been for a wise Distrtict Judge, who could see that something was “way out of legal sync”, that he deferred any sentence–nor will anything appear on their records.   That 3 year battle left our family so emotionally and financially drained that hope of ever seeing their daughter and our granddaughter (93% not Indian) can not be pursued.   Lisa, you know our situation.  We shall keep the family in prayer; yet it seems pretty hopeless for them.  The borrowed $3,000 won’t get them to first base; yet, maybe there’s an attorney somewhere who would celebrate this cause–which hopefully could become the fuel need to have ICWA revisited at the federal level and DO THE RIGHT THING!!!

(Later that same day – )

– Lisa,   Just wanted to let you know that we called Senator Tom Coburn’s office this afternoon.  I spoke with Joni Williams, who I think is his primary staffer here in Oklahoma (or at least Tulsa–think is only office).   Anyway, shared briefly with her, and used your name regarding contacting her last April.   We have an appointment with her … to tell her our story.   If there is anything you feel that we should know about ICWA or stuff going on through Coburn’s office, please refresh us or inform us.  I know I have much/most of our communications saved.  So I’ll review that.  But if there are some specific dates, etc, please let us know.   Thanks for the email earlier–the outrage is there–wish I was 10 years younger and had more energy to fight this law.  With the war in Iraq and other stuff, I’m sure it doesn’t become major priority with governmental officials.  Yet, they need to know.   Do you know, guessing, projecting, or otherwise, how many persons are affected by this law every year? Is there anyway reasonable to gather data, besides going through every court docket in the land.  I’m sure the tribes don’t keep stats, except when they submit increased numbers for their federal allotments, or filling out aps for their latest casinos!   Help us if you can, please.

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