Today’s Star Tribune article referencing Mark Fiddler’s Indian Child Welfare Act case of 1994 hits the bull’s eye of what is most damaging to America’s abused & neglected children.
It’s obvious to almost anyone that reads this article that the best interests of the child weren’t even considered when Sierra Goodman was ripped from the Campbell’s adoptive home by ICWA. It was a home she loved and flourished in.
But the best interests of ICWA were not being served, as is today the case with baby Veronica Rose in the same disturbingly anti child court case being held in South Carolina.
Living in 20 foster homes, passing through 13 schools, and leading a tortured life, Sierra Goodman, now 28 is allowing her story to be told in the hopes of bettering the lives of the many children passing through child protection systems that are not allowed to consider the “best interests of the child” when ICWA is involved.
What have we become to use children as a football to advance our political and institutional objectives above and beyond their own precious souls?
Tevlin: Adoption case from long ago brings lessons for one now
- Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
- Updated: September 5, 2012 – 8:16 AM
In 1994, Minneapolis attorney Mark Fiddler was involved in what he thought at the time was a significant victory for American Indians in the Minnesota Supreme Court. As executive director of the Indian Child Welfare Law Center, he opposed the adoption of Sierra Goodman to Eugene and Carol Campbell because she was Indian and they were not.
Fiddler, who is part Indian, believed that if the Campbells were able to adopt Goodman, it would violate the Indian Child Welfare Act, which had been passed because of widespread removal of Indian children from their homes in the 1980s. Indian children were better off if they remained with families of their own culture, the courts agreed.
Fiddler still believes keeping an Indian child with the tribe is a good idea if possible. But experience has taught him that in some cases, the desires of the Indian tribe to keep children in the tribe overrules the best interests of the child. He is now the attorney for a couple in South Carolina who recently lost their adopted Indian daughter because of the ICWA, and he’s reaching out to an unusual person to help him bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court: Sierra Goodman (now McGaughey).
“I wrote to [Sierra] and told her that my opposition to her adoption was well-intentioned,” said Fiddler, “but it was wrong.”
The Campbells doted on Sierra and despite some problems, fell in love with her. But when they tried to officially adopt her, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe sued and won.
After Fiddler’s “victory” in 1994, Sierra was taken from the Campbells. She bounced in and out of more than 20 foster homes and 13 schools. She ran away many times, trying to get back to the Campbells.
When Sierra and her sisters were removed, Sierra wrote to the court: “We love them so much. You are mean, crude and evil like the devil.”
As a teen, Sierra dabbled in Satanism and eventually hooked up with a seriously disturbed young man, Darryl Headbird. In a bizarre plot chronicled in this newspaper, Headbird murdered his father, then tried to ambush and murder the Campbells, stabbing both of them before running off. Headbird was sentenced to prison, and Sierra was charged with aiding in the assault.
Despite the incident, the Campbells stood by Sierra and eventually were allowed to adopt her. She is now 28 and living in northern Minnesota. She has now agreed to use her life story to support Fiddler’s efforts to amend the ICWA to make sure that a child’s best interest is considered by courts when they place Indian children.
Fiddler’s current case is similar to Sierra’s. He represents the Capobiancos, who adopted “Baby Veronica” Rose at birth. Veronica’s mother placed her for adoption, and the father had never met her. The Capobiancos were even present at birth and cut the umbilical cord.
Veronica’s birth father waited four months after her birth to file for custody, and didn’t pay child support for 16 months. The South Carolina Supreme Court found in favor of the birth father, solely because of the ICWA, and Veronica now lives with a virtual stranger.
The case has gotten national attention, and legal experts think it has a good chance of being heard in the country’s highest court. Monday, prominent Washington, D.C., attorney Lisa Blatt agreed to take Fiddler’s case. She has brought 30 cases to the U.S. Supreme Court — the record for a female attorney — and won 29.
“We have found out so much about childhood attachment since ,” Fiddler said. “We didn’t know then what we now know about attachment theory. The intent of the ICWA was good at the time, but I think some courts are making what’s best for the tribe paramount, instead of what’s best for the children. We need to take a step back and ask if that’s what the law intended.”
So Fiddler is taking a two-pronged approach. He’s hoping to get the Supreme Court interested in hearing the Veronica Rose case, while trying to change the law in Congress to provide some consistency among states.
“Some people were sounding alarms about taking children away from their adoptive parents way back when I was fighting Sierra,” Fiddler said. “My transformation got me to where I am today. We need to start looking at the evidence and applying current child development theory.”
firstname.lastname@example.org • 612-673-1702
The policies and politics impacting Indiana children, are not the fault of the foster parents, adoptive parents, social workers or others working with abused and neglected children, but the almost singular efforts of a governor currying political favor at the cost of poor young lives.
Mitch Daniels needs to be identified for his personal policies ruining young lives; these policies are at the same time costing the state more money than useful and promising policies would (and save many more lives).
By eliminating funds that had been guaranteed to families adopting special needs children, he put the state in the precarious position of defending lawsuits and made the adopting of special needs children a giant problem in the years to come (who will adopt Indiana’s special needs children next year?)
These are recent Indiana child protection headlines for the State Of Indiana;
(Please pass this post on to Indiana People & we welcome your comments)
IN: Violating child abuse reporting law rarely results in punishment
Indianapolis Star August 29, 2012
In Indiana, professionals such as doctors, teachers and counselors face requirements for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect that go above and beyond the law that applies to the general public. But few “professional” reporters — or any other Hoosiers, for that matter — ever face criminal charges for violating the state’s mandatory reporting law.
IN: Star Watch investigation: Child abuse warnings not being made
Indianapolis Star August 29, 2012
Star investigations repeatedly have uncovered instances that call into question the diligence of the Department of Child Services in investigating reports of abuse and neglect. But Jayden’s death raises an additional concern: It prompted a Marion County judge to call out the emergency-room doctor who treated Jayden last summer, an unusual jab that more broadly highlights growing concerns about Indiana’s mandatory child-abuse reporting law.
IN: EDITORIAL: State slow to start in looking at central child abuse hotline
Evansville Courier Press – August 28, 2012
An Indiana legislative investigation of the state’s Department of Child Services got off to a bumpy start Wednesday after officials concerned about the agency’s centralized child-abuse and neglect hotline learned it would not be discussed at the first meeting. According to The Associated Press, a group of sheriffs and judges had complained that a new system which sends all child abuse hotline calls through a central intake center in Indianapolis was experiencing difficulties, including poor response time.
IN: Overdue answers from DCS
Journal-Gazette – August 26, 2012
A public relations effort paints the work of Indiana’s child protection agency as among the best in the nation. But under the scrutiny of judges, child advocates, health officials and lawmakers familiar with their work, agency officials issued an almost apologetic response to troubling questions about their performance.
IN: Legislators looking into child welfare concerns
Indiana Public Radio August 22, 2012
After months of complaints and concerns regarding child safety and welfare within the Department of Child Services, the General Assembly began reviewing the agency Tuesday. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about DCS, ranging from high caseworker turnover to the centralization of the agency’s hotline.
IN: Some Judges, Police Call DCS’ Child Abuse Hotline ‘Frustrating,’ ‘Inefficient’
Indianapolis Star August 21, 2012
DCS decided more than two years ago to route all child abuse calls through a central intake in Indianapolis rather than having each county take the calls that come in. Since then, DCS has faced scrutiny on several fronts.
IN: Andrea Neal: Improving child welfare
Indianapolis Star August 15, 2012
It has taken Jim Payne, head of Indiana Department of Child Services, virtually all of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ two terms to launch the institutional reform intended. But reform is taking place.
IN: DCS Looks for Local Experts to Serve on Child-Fatality Review Teams
The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) August 14, 2012
The Indiana Department of Child Services announced Tuesday that it has issued letters statewide that ask county agencies and professional groups to recommend experts to serve on local child-fatality review teams. This action is the result of a law that went into effect July 1 that requires DCS to establish review teams in all 18 regions it staffs throughout Indiana.
IN: Where is Child Welfare Reform Headed?
South Bend Tribune August 15, 2012
Mitch Daniels to head the new Cabinet-level department, Payne recognized the challenge: Combining 92 county programs with “92 different ways of doing things” into a statewide system with consistent policies for handling child abuse and neglect cases.
IN: Court: Gary doctor not required to disclose birth defects before adoption
NWI.com August 13, 2012
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Victor and Lynell Jeffrey failed to submit a request for health records that complied with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Indiana law. As such, Dr. Paul Okolocha was not required to send the requested records, the court said.
(can you imaging being lied to by the county by doctors about birth defects or mental health issues of the children you are adopting? It is more common than you think.
IN: Taking public’s pulse on DCS
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette August 5, 2012
The most anticipated of legislative study committee meetings this year might be the ones charged with reviewing Indiana’s child protection agency, which has been the target of criticism for budget decisions and changes made in reporting abuse.
IN: Indiana makes impressive strides in child welfare
IndyStar August 5, 2012
At the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national philanthropy dedicated to the most vulnerable children, we’ve worked alongside the Department of Child Services as it has undertaken its ambitious improvement efforts. While the system still has substantive improvements to make, a look at the experiences of children known to DCS shows that clear strides have been made in just seven years.
IN: Allen County in DCS region with third lowest caseworker turnover numbers in State
The News-Sentinel July 27, 2012
But despite the lowering of case numbers the number of turnovers among case workers is up from 17 percent to 19 percent. DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan said in a press release “outside scrutiny on individual workers is taking its toll, especially on morale and longevity.”
IN: Ind. child protection agency blames caseworker losses on low pay, stress from media scrutiny
Associated Press July 25, 2012
DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan accused Indiana media outlets of singling out caseworkers for criticism, though he didn’t provide examples. Scrutiny of the department has grown in the last year as newspaper investigations have detailed numerous child deaths.
July 25, 2012
TOM LoBIANCOAssociated Press
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Indiana’s Department of Child Services is blaming low pay and high stress for greater turnover among caseworkers.
The department reports the turnover rate among caseworkers rose to 19 percent this year from 17 percent in 2011.
DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan partly blames the news media for its investigations of child deaths around Indiana. He told members of the state budget committee today that “intense scrutiny” of individual caseworkers has driven them away. He didn’t provide any examples.
Ryan also says that departing caseworkers often cite low pay. Starting caseworkers make about $33,500 a year.
DCS operations have come under scrutiny amid newspaper investigations into child deaths across Indiana. State lawmakers are scheduled to look into the matter themselves in the coming months.
IN: Indiana’s DCS study committee finalized
South Bend Tribune July 20, 2012
After newspapers around the state, including The Tribune, published reports earlier this year raising concerns about DCS changes, the General Assembly mandated an interim study committee to examine the issues and develop possible recommendations.
IN: Gregg says he’ll push for plan to find more adoptive parents in Indiana
Evansville Courier & Press July 9, 2012
Former House Speaker John Gregg – the Democrat running for governor – announced a plan Monday he says will make Indiana’s children a priority and ensure sure they are raised in safe homes.
IN: Democrat Gregg calls for strengthening child welfare
Indianapolis Star July 9, 2012
That results in children staying longer in foster care, he said, which is more expensive in the long run than subsidizing adoption services. Gregg said Indiana is the only state in the nation that does not provide this type of adoption assistance.
IN: Indiana Department of Child Services will spend rather than return most of its surplus funds
Indianapolis Star July 1, 2012
Officials said they will redirect more than $37 million in excess funds from the agency’s 2012 budget to expand prevention and family-support services, programs expected to assist more than 11,000 additional families annually over the next three years.
IN: State child agency boosts funding Abuse prevention, other services to get $37 million more
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette June 28, 2012
“The news is absolutely wonderful,” said Rachel Tobin-Smith, executive director for SCAN, or Stop Child Abuse & Neglect. “We know the need is out there. I don’t know how much this means for our region but it can’t be anything but good news because some money will come here to help families.” Also: http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/sbt-20120628sbtmicha-01-02-20120628,0,5097696.story
IN: Church helped promote adoption
WHTITV.com June 24, 2012
Temple United Methodist Church paired up with Indiana Heart Gallery this week.
The Heart Gallery is a national movement and features images of Indiana children waiting to be adopted.
IN: Child abuse: State drops controversial process
Star Press June 23, 2012
Advocates for abused and neglected children across the state breathed a sigh of relief last week after state officials abandoned a controversial plan to “right-size” Indiana’s network of youth treatment centers in an effort to contain costs.
IN: Children left in cars raise legal questions
WTHR June 6, 2012
Two Indianapolis mothers could go to jail for leaving children alone in cars. The prosecutor is trying to determine whether the incidents are serious enough to warrant criminal charges.