I am happy to announce that I’ll presenting at the 2014 Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture (ASAC). conference, Crossing Boundaries at Florida State University in Tallahassee.early next year.. I’ll be part of a Book Session panel headed by E. Wayne Carp author of the upcoming biography Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption (University of Michigan Press, 2014). A permanent title for the presentation will be announced in a few days, but for current informational purposes, we will be discussing the Jean Paton’s work and the book..
A few days ago Jim Hamilton posted a comment regarding ICWA and the Veronica Brown case under Veronica: One of the Many Multi-Heritage Children Harmed by ICWA. published on the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare webpage. The misnamed CAIW is one of the leading organizations whose mission is undermine Indian autonomy, tribal sovereignty, traffick Indian children into appropriately white christian families, and ultimately dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act which it claims harms Indian children.
Jim’s comment was put on “moderation” and has never been posted. We can guess why.
With Jim’s permission I am posting it below.
I am an attorney and an international adoptive father. In my view, the ICWA does no harm whatsoever to children, including Veronica Brown/Capobianco. What does do great harm to children are those who circumvent state and federal laws in the blind pursuit of children.
I fully understand how intense the desire for a child can be and the emotional upheaval that delays in the adoption process can cause for prospective adoptive parents. My son’s adoption process in the country of his birth lasted 12 months. We met him for the first time almost 4 months after his referral and 8 months before the process was completed and we could bring him to the United States.
But, I and my wife had to be prepared at any time during that process for his mother or father to revoke their consent to the adoption and assert their right to parent the child to whom they had given life. This was not only a matter of the law, but of what was moral and ethical. We were the supplicants, not they. It was we who were required to meet with their approval, not they with ours. That is as it should be, because a child should be raised by his or her biological parent(s) where that is possible. It is not our place, as Christians or otherwise, to judge another’s fitness to parent or whether another culture affords a fit environment in which to raise a child.
Although I am an adoptee rights activist I seldom read adoption books outside of history or other topics I have a specific interest in. I almost always avoid memoirs. To be honest most are awful. It may be good therapy to write your adoption story, but please leave it in your desk drawer!
Michael Allen Potter’s The Last Invisible Continent: Essays on Adoption and Identity is quite a different story. I’ve been familiar with Mike’s work for several years. I knew part of his story. I knew this book would be important. I was thrilled when he emailed me a few days ago and told me the book was finished and on Kindle. I downloaded it immediately.
And holy moley! What a book it is! Unlike the typical weepy adoption memoir this one is hard and gritty. It’s of the street, but also of the heart. Mike doesn’t pull any punches about his mother’s mental illness, his battle with alcohol, or his rotten adoption, which he discusses almost in passing, though it it obviously the core of the essays.
My personal favorites are the essays “The Re-education of Michael Allen Potter” and “Checking the Bastard Box.”
In “Re-education”, Mike recounts how is mentally ill mother ends up living in a crack house–evicted from her own modest government-subsidized apartment by some rockhounds down the street who then extort her to live in the dump. Mike leaves San Francisco for a quick trip to Schenectady to return her to her rightful home. She’s ambivalent about leaving, but happy to see him. His run-in with her “landlord” (not to mention his mother’s reaction to his arrival) is both scary and funny. What strikes me most, though, is Mike’s respect for her illness. He doesn’t treat her like she’s crazy. Ever. He watches out for her in person and from afar, yet respects her independence and choices, even while he worries. Much to Mike’s surprise and relief he manages to scare the shit out of her crack dealer tormentors who end up towing his line.
“Checking the Bastard Box” examines the “fake Mike” the adoptee without his records or roots.
The essay opens thus:
When I arrived in San Francisco, late in the summer of 1996, I had someone else’s name. In my bags were packed photographs of someone else’s family and every form of ID that I brought with me was fake; my driver’s licence, all of the credit cards that helped to propel me across the continent, my birth certificate, my Social Security and ATM cards. All fraudulent. My medical records contain no information. My blood type has never been recorded. The person whose name appeared in thick block lettering on my English degree was just as fictitious as the Pucks and Oberons of my undergraduate studies.
… Continue Reading
... by, for, and about Bastard Nation, our mission, and members for education, fun, and entertainment!