Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Leech Lake Press Release

The following is a press release that was printed in the Bemidji Pioneer newspaper on Monday December 22. Thought you would all get a kick out of this. I have put in red the sentences that I find TRULY amusing. Enjoy!!

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Arthur “Archie” Larose Chairman
Michael Bongo, Secretary/Treasurer

District I Representative District II Representative District III Representative
Robbie Howe Lyman L. Losh Eugene “Ribs” Whitebird

Press Release December 20, 2008


The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) thanks the Larsons for taking good care of one of our newest tribal members, Destino (Talon). Contrary to reports in the news, the baby known as Talon in Utah was never adopted by the Larsons. In fact, the adoption proceedings were not initiated in Utah until a month after the LLBO Tribal Court issued an order for pick-up and return of the baby to Minnesota under the jurisdiction and custody of the Tribal Court.
It is unfortunate that Heart and Soul Adoptions failed to follow-up on the “red flag” responses the birth mother gave on their Intake questionnaire. Heart and Soul knew a pick-up order had been issued by the Tribal Court within two (2) weeks after the baby was born. Instead of complying with the court order, Heart and Soul and the Larsons initiated a “flawed” adoption process in Utah courts.
Under Utah law, when the birth parents are married, both parents must give consent to the adoption. In this case the married father never gave his consent. It is regrettable that adoption agencies are able to prey on pregnant mothers in poverty. Worse yet is giving false hopes to their paying clients, who they present with a baby, who is actually someone else’s child.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) protects tribes, tribal members and their children and our collective Anishinabe culture. The Band did respectfully intervene in the Larson’s Utah adoption proceedings. That Judge carefully reviewed the facts and evidence, as well as federal law trumping state law, and followed the law.
Heart and Soul should have returned the child in June to avoid this unnecessarily long duration and consequential attachment by the Larsons. ICWA, Indians and Indian tribes are not the problem here. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe hopes the Press media and Utah’s agency licensing adoption agencies will critically examine Heart and Soul as quickly.
The Band hopes that the Larsons will be provided a child that they may legally adopt and keep. Any requests for information or other questions should be directed to the Leech Lake Legal Department, Tribal Attorney Frank Bibeau at 218-335-3673.


Jensboys said...

Do you mind sharing what you find about those comments ironic? In this instance, I think quite wisely the agency should have never proceeded with an adoptive placement if there was ANY suggestion of a parent wishing to parent or band disputing with the child being placed outside of the community. It would have allowed the baby to suffer one less transfer and parental loss, and for you to protect Kade and your family from the heart break you have been through.

I have absolutely MASSIVE and HUGE sympathy for your grief and loss, having been through it myself, but also huge concerns about the way the agency handled this placement (and the band is right, despite news reports, the baby wasn't adopted - he was placed with the INTENTION of adoption, that was never completed).

If the agency knew of the situation or even PARTS of the situation, they should have NEVER allowed you to take the baby home - to protect YOU and to protect HIM (more importantly, in my books, the baby's needs should always come first).

Reality is, he had a family (however disfunctional) that wished to parent him and a community with supports in place to allow that to occur, and they had the added legal right to enforce it obviously.

I know how easy it is to focus on the "we are better off, married, more stable, and loved him" aspect of the situation here but many, many children have less than ideal birth circumstances, or parents with addictions or unmarried parents or greedy parents or even parents that considered adoption while pregnant and those aren't reasons alone to justify taking a child. In this circumstances, although easy to blame first mom or band, I think your agency failed to protect you from a situation that was inevitably going to end this way. Our emotions blind us at times - and its impossible NOT to fall in love with a baby, and that's why they need to be the sober second thought. That baby wasn't available for adoption and should have NEVER been placed in an adoptive home at the suggestion of the agency - instead, foster care or returned to a first parent immediately. According to your blog you knew IN the hospital with him that there were issues with the placement and the agency advised you to take him home and you "should win". In my estimation, that was completely the wrong advice.

A "failed match" however painful, is certainly less painful than a "failed placement", which is what this was (although a long one certainly).

Anyways, again, I understand your pain, intimately. But also taking a step back and realizing that blaming the tribe or blaming the baby's family only does HIM a disservice. You made choices that put you in this position - and those choices include listening and trusting your agency. Obviously, that was a wrong decision that has resulted in HUGE pain for your family. God bless you during this difficult, difficult time.

Jenn said...

my heart just breaks for you and your family...and can't believe that they are using a perfect little life to "prove a point". i get so angry whenever i hear about your story. i'm praying for talon's return to where he belongs.

Heather said...

To Jensboys:

I find SEVERAL things ironic about those comments...first and foremost, how is it that the agency "prayed" on this birthmom, when SHE found them (and us). If anything the birthmom prayed on the agency AND us. Second, the tribe is all but admiting that the birthmom is a liar by talking about "red flags". Also, what I don't think you understand is that throughout this process, until about a month ago, the birthmom has told us that she wants the baby to stay with us, and told us that she was trying to get the tribe to drop everything. She told us the day after the birth that she had second thoughts, but that she was just being selfish and did indeed want us to adopt this sweet baby boy. Now as for the tribe...several attempts were made to contact them prior to the birth of the baby, and they would NOT contact us back, so research was done showing that Talon did not qualify for enrollment in their tribe according to their own constitution, so we believed, and still believe that we are in the right. Thank you for your concern and I hope this helps you understand. If there is any further confusion, please feel free to comment again!

Lisa said...

I do agree with Jensboys that your agency should have done more to protect you. I hope you are not going to go through them again. Is there anything else you guys can do to get him back? Is he still in tribal foster care or with the BM? She sounds like a piece of work. Basically, she was playing you guys and when she couldn't anymore, she turned against you. I REALLY hope the baby is not with her. Is it true that Utah law says if parents are married then both have to sign? If so, did the agency know she was married? If Talon is not "enought Native American" to be in their tribe, how is it that BM is a full fledged member? I hope you and your family are ok. How is your other son taking all this? Prayers to you all...

nature said...

Jensboys, great post. This poor baby suffers so much. I am also an adoptee as well as an adoptive parent and it infuriates me that the children pay the ultimate price for this.

Laurie said...

"until about a month ago, the birthmom has told us that she wants the baby to stay with us, and told us that she was trying to get the tribe to drop everything. She told us the day after the birth that she had second thoughts," you said

Did the tribe want him back without her request? Do you know who initiated the process for the tribe to claim him? Weird case. Did your agency know before you knew? That seems really messed up.

Shell said...

It seriously makes me want to vomit when I hear people making comments that this birth mom is a victim. She's NOT a VICTIM she's a user plain and simple.

My Husband made a very good point being that, Natasha knew she was doing drugs throughout her pregnancy (lied about it) and she probably didn't want to deal with a baby that may not be healthy, so like the coward that she is, she decided she would give him up. Once she found out that baby was healthy and happy she wanted him back. So very convenient isn't it?

Doesn't she have 7 other children?? How many of those does she actually have custody of? Why does Natasha keep saying he looks like her other kids? DUH, you did give birth to him, RIGHT? What did she think he would look like? A white baby with blue eyes. It's all so ridiculous. Just because she can go get knocked up numerous times doesn't make her a mother.

I do hope that if this adoption agency made mistakes they make it right for you. It's the least they could do. I continue to pray for you and hope you are still fighting to get him back.

Is Talon 's fund still open at Wells Fargo?

Laurie said...

I agree with much of what Jen said as well. Without having both birthparents sign termination papers as well as the red flag of a tribe wanting the baby back, it was a risky placement from the get-go. And it was never finalized so legally he was not adopted yet. But that all being said, the baby boy you raised from birth as your very own no longer being yours is heartwrenching and devastating no matter what the reasons for his removal. We all continue to pray for you and precious Talon. May someone intervene for HIS best interest, not that of a tribe or birthfamily.

Jeni said...

Ahhhhh! Are people forgetting that this baby was PUT UP FOR ADOPTION! Some are acting like Heather and Clint barged into the reservation and took the baby at gunpoint. they found him because he had been PLACED UP FOR ADOPTION...Deep breath. stopping now.

Heather said...

To Lisa:

Thank you for your concern. To answer your questions: there are still things that we can do to get him back, we are doing everything possible...this fight is NOT over. We believe that he is in foster care, but the BM has visitation. As for the marriage issue; yes both birth parents have to sign. What the tribe did NOT disclose was that until over a month after placement we did not know that she was married. She signed several things saying that she was not married. Last but not least, the BM IS an enrolled member, but she is not 100% native. She only has 3/8 blood quantum, and since the birth father is Mexican, that makes the baby 3/16. If you have any other questions please feel free to comment again.

Screaming Grasshopper said...

I hope TALON LARSON is able to get home to you soon Heather & Clint (& Kade). I cannot believe...well yes I can- that article/press release reeks of CYA. I have not been impressed with them in the slightest.

I'm wondering if they made a deal with Natasha (sp?) regarding her other children if the tribe is allowed to "make a point" with Talon's adoption situation.

Praying for you!!