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Indigenous communities have a history of taking care of their own and formal adoptions are not the norm. To date nearly half a million children of all cultural backgrounds are living in foster care in the United States of America. Of the small percentage of indigenous children in foster care less than 3% are classified "Native American". This number is disproportionately high as the population of Native Americans in the USA is lower than 1%, however, that is not the issue I wish to address at this time.

I was talking with another co-administrator regarding the placement of children in foster care or adoption. The standard policy is that if a child is indigenous, they are registered and placed with the tribe. The tribe then places them with close family or another tribal member depending on that nation’s policy. If registration cannot be achieved due to any particular barrier, then the child is placed with a biological family member who may or may not be Native. If that home cannot be found then a child who is not tribally registered can be placed in a home within the child's own community so as to minimize any disruptions to the child's life. If that cannot be achieved then the child can be placed outside of the neighborhood, outside of his culture and outside of the state if need be. It is unfortunate for many children that they lose not only the biological families from which they come, but also the cultures languages and traditions.

I am the parent of eight children. My children come in a wide variety of colors. Quite a few are formally (legally) adopted. Out in the community I get strange looks from people who are sure (without ever conversing with me) that I am a welfare mom who has had way too many sexual partners. They get a bit confused if I sarcastically say I have many baby mommas. For those who have a genuine interest I answer questions about adoption, foster care and the children who need homes. I am often told stories about seriously disturbed children who destroy homes and the adoptive families in which they live. These are shock stories and should be taken lightly. That is not to say raising an adoptive child (or birth child) isn’t a tough job, just be aware that in the midst of all these Hollywood style stories, all my children who are either enrolled in a university, graduated from a university or on their way to a university. They are leading productive and successful lives. They were raised by a single mom. Some had amazingly difficult beginnings. But all are doing exceptionally well.

With that in mind I would like to encourage you, if you have ever considered helping a child, to check in to foster care or adoption in your area. Even if you are not an adoptive parent you can volunteer to help in programs serving children in state care. Call your state foster and adoptive care system for more information. In most states you will be given an orientation, take classes on what to expect and how to manage in the system, and you will then receive your first foster child or begin a search for an adoptive child. Be aware that children over the age of five are the most difficult to place because adoptive families usually prefer children to be younger. Also, sibling groups (groups of brothers and sisters that can be two or more children) are difficult to place, but most states go to great efforts to place them together in loving homes.

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It takes an incredible person to open their hearts to a foster/adopted child. Being the mother of an incredibly intelligent and creative child myself, I know of the challenges a parent faces. You have accepted this challenge not once, but 8 times!

Kudos to you Carrie. You are an exceptional woman.
thank you, Nanu, but what I have done is so little in comparison to what needs to be done. i have not been a perfect parent (yes I am aware this does not exist) but i do try my best and encourage others to join me



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