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Baby Mary’s Story

line On February 28, 2011, we went to circuit court. We had no money or knowledge of this law to feel prepared but we were there to fight for our niece. Our brother had died about 4 years ago and the baby was born a few months later. Before she even had a start in life, her birth mom (who is connected to the tribe) was abusing drugs and alcohol, just as she had the last 10 years. She drank and used drugs into her pregnancy.

The birth mother plead for us to take care of Baby Mary. We took the child thinking she would be around only a few months. We fell in love and wanted to provide her a permanent home. She bonded and we grew as a family. Her mother remained MIA and never reached out to find out how Mary was doing. However, the tribe stepped in to demand she be returned. Mary will die in the hands of this woman. We decide to fight for what we believed was best for the child and to help protect her from being severely marred.

We had raised her since she was an infant. We taught her everything she knew. Now she faced a third tribal placement, having been placed twice before she came to us. She would surely be placed for failure. We said no. She is half Caucasian. How could the tribe have ownership over this child. What about my brother?

The Indian Child Welfare Act has nothing to do with the “best interests of the child.” Our hearts ache for her. We had never taken a dime to raise her. The mother never even called her. Never sent a penny and never even talked with her on the phone.

As we all sat around talking, someone asked what was the job of the GAL. He arrived to the hearing with nothing but a notebook. We looked up their responsibilities. He did none of them. He presented nothing and only asked a few stupid questions. Then advised the child be sent home. They did not prove us unfit in any manner and they did not appropriately represent our niece.

We could not afford any actions in the court. So we did as we were told. As a disabled U.S. Veteran, now my own Government and the tribe just ripped my heart out and destroyed this child. The court sent us a $1300 bill.

Within 24 hours of her return to homeless mother the child was identified at a drug and alcohol celebration. The tribe gets their money, mom gets her welfare, jail sentence dropped and child support arrears disappeared.

We could not win. Special treatment is written into the law. Without the law being changed or repealed there is no hope. Never saw the child again and never will.