Parental Rights Violations: But it’s only those people….

Native Foster Care: Lost Children Shattered Families on NPR.

The above article was quite disturbing because it highlights a parental rights violation perpetrated by our own government which WE have DONE NOTHING TO REMEDY.

Unless there is abuse happening or other serious endangerment issues there is no legitimate reason for the government to take children from their homes.  In this case the claim is neglect.

The state says parents have “neglected” their children, a subjective term. But tribe leaders tell NPR what social workers call neglect is often poverty; and sometimes native tradition.

The article says that while the Native children are only 15% of the population, they make up more than 50% of the children in foster care.  Another key point is that the foster care system gets MORE MONEY from the federal government for each Native American kid in foster care.

“They make a living off of our children,” said Juanita Sherick, the tribal social worker for the Pine Ridge reservation.

Think about this: If the government paid your local child protective services more money for Catholic kids in foster care than for other children, wouldn’t that child protective services office be motivated to find excuses for taking more Catholic children from their homes?  This is what the tribal leaders are saying is happening to their children!!  Here is a story about one such group home that gets state money and is motivated to get and keep Native American kids.

Would YOU want the government to come and take your children because you chose to raise them Catholic?  The Tribal leaders are saying that these social workers are often calling their Native American patterns of living “neglect”  which is no less subjective than some social worker calling our Christian patterns of living “abuse”.

We must fight for the rights of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs and educate them according to how they, their parents, choose to educate them. If we let the government marginalize one group of parents for being different, in this case Native American, and for choosing to raise their children to love and honor their own heritage, then how will we defend our right to raise our children Catholic in accordance with our heritage?

I see a story like this and I recognize in this violation of parental rights, based solely on the ethnicity of the people involved, a precedent for deciding to remove children from other groups, this time based on religious beliefs and I think about history.

In Nazi Germany groups were persecuted and other groups of people accepted it because it wasn’t their group that was persecuted.  The end result was that no-one had any civil rights and Gypsies and Jews, Catholics and Evangelicals, handicapped persons and anyone who spoke out against the evils all died in the concentration camps.  We cannot for get this and we cannot fail to speak out when ANYONE’S legitimate, God given rights are violated.

In Great Britain there was a time when starving Catholics had to let their children be educated as protestants in order to keep them alive because food was only available to children who rejected Catholicism.

In another story, found here, I read:

The Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that, except in the rarest circumstances, Indian children must be placed with relatives, a tribal member or at the very least, another Native American. It also says the state must make every effort to first keep a family together with services and programs.

Sadly, that is NOT what has been happening in Native American cases.  The children are not placed with relatives, or tribal members, nor with Native American foster parents.  The children are simply taken and the money for their care is absorbed by the foster system.  This could be OUR children. We cannot allow for violations of parental rights, and the rights of the families involved, without recognizing that these are an American version of the “other people” that nobody spoke up for in Nazi Germany.

There are a bunch of other articles that are all related.  Go read them for more details. ESPECIALLY this one which is the adults who have come through the foster system.

We cannot afford to let our government violate parental rights with impunity. So, I’d love to hear from people who know something to be done about it.  Not the reasons, mostly based in bigotry and greed, for taking the children of Native Americans, but something concrete that is being done to help restore their parental rights?

UPDATE:  another side to the story:

Slandering the Red States pt 1

Slandering the Red States pt 2

I’m still inclined to suspect the system that appears to target a particular ethnic group to the degree the Native Americans are targeted.  There is a very long and ugly history of abuses against the Native American community that I doubt has ever been even remotely addressed.  But fair is fair and it is important to include another perspective so please read Slandering the Red States pt 1 and 2.



Comments are closed.