Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act heals our families

"Native American Culture Matters!" The National Indian Child Welfare Association recently concluded its 35th annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. Photo: NICWA

Independent journalist Mary Annette Pember offers an update on her experience with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law is under attack from conservative groups and the adoption industry but without it, her family wouldn't be complete:
I’m mad at you!” my son Danny said one morning. He was perched midway on the stairs from my bedroom to the living room where I sat on the sofa drinking coffee. “Why?” I ask.

His arms are crossed tightly across his chest, his lower lip extended. “You left me!” he said accusingly.

He had crawled into our bed sometime in the wee hours and laid snuggly between us, oblivious to my husband John’s early morning departure and eventually to mine until this minute.

Stomping down the stairs in his bare feet, he stands in the middle of the living room and gives me the full effect of his angry face. His lips are drawn back into a kind of snarl, revealing his teeth. I know better than to laugh at a 4 year old boy’s anger, so I open my arms wide and bow my head. He settles into my lap, curling his legs under himself and rests his head on my breast. “I like your boobs,” he says of my built-in kid pillows. I have to laugh gently to myself thinking, “This must be why men are so crazy about breast size.”

As we snuggle, he asks me a question I have long waited to hear. “I used to be in your tummy, Mom?”

“No son, first you lived in another lady’s tummy, then you came to be my son.”

“Ooooh, too scary,” he shudders, his questions over for the time being. And so it has begun. Maangozit, Loon’s Foot, is ready to begin the journey to know his birth.

Read More on the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act: One Family’s Journey Along the Adoption Trail (Indian Country Media Network 4/24)