Christianity, ICWA, Ethics and the Case of Alexandria P.

So for those who don’t know, the Save Lexi case is well and truly over.   The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the case and therefore Lexi will remain in the home of her family with her sister.   This is very good news to both the Indian Child Welfare Act and to family preservation in general.

I am doubtful that true justice will be served here because true justice would be some sort of punishment for how long that the Page’s kept her from her true family – but I’d be fine if they would at least lose their foster care license and if Johnston Moore loses some major credibility with this case.

At the earliest mention of this case, which has been quite a bit of time ago, someone posted that Lexi’s father was a sex offender.   I did not allow this comment through and started to dig.   I found nothing.

When the Daily Mail outed the father’s name, both myself and many like me started to search through documents and registries to see if the father’s name was listed on any of them.

He wasn’t.   Not in Utah and not in California.

I was unsure of where this had even come from and it’s been sitting in the back of my mind as I’m poring through things.   It’s come up once in court paperwork – in the Supreme Court brief submitted by the Page’s it was  stated: “Jay E. had been in and out of prison, having been convicted of various firearms and drugs offenses, and of having sexual intercourse with a minor.”

I read this, knowing the names I do now and went back to the registries again.   Convicted would place someone on a sex offender registry.    (That goes even if it’s an 18 year old with a 15 year old girlfriend.   Still on the registry)

Guess what, except for this document and a WND article there is nothing to prove this.   And as WND has shown that they are not finding all the story (as per viewing their story versus the Court of Appeals Documents) then I am believing they got their entire story from the Page’s.    And with this sort of wild accusation that flies just as much as it was during the Sonya Case, I am wondering how much of this is still going back to Jessica Munday.

I am appalled that so many Christians went on this boat and this high horse without fact checking.   I know that Johnston Moore has a place in the Evangelical community but this is insane.    This case to me further has put a nail into HIS credibility.

If you look at the document that the Page’s sent to the US Supreme Court you’ll see a pretty dramatically different story than every other source has – claiming that the tribal placement was lined up after they’d had the child for awhile when in fact the Utah placement was set up before they got her and the little bit about her father being a sex offender.

The story about the placement being last minute was indeed mirroring what Lori Alvino McGill said at a  press conference implying that the tribe had been lax about finding a placement for the child.   When everything had been set up with appropriate planning from all accounts.

I know that many Christians want to go and be pro-adoption in the idea of caring for widows and orphans.    But this case is showing how far someone wants to push to make someone an orphan.   This child should’ve been with her family all the way back in 2013 – not being subjected three years later to an army of media protests.    This.  Should.  Not.  Have.  Happened.

The Page family should’ve cooperated.   They should have done what they were legally, morally and contractually obligated to do – reunite a child with her family.

Johnston Moore and those like him, despite their feelings toward ICWA should not have gotten involved in a situation fraught with so much dishonesty.   He should not have been spreading untruths about this case which so clearly damage the credibility of the case, of the movement and of Christianity.

So who am I slamming here?

  1.  Johnston Moore for getting involved in this case and doing administration job on the Facebook page for a story that was clearly becoming more and more easily disproven by the facts.   This means that either 1.  he was misled in which case he should own up to it and apologize and step away or 2.  He was part of the deception.   Either way, unacceptable behavior for someone at the head of a Christian movement.   Focus on the Family is seriously on an ethics watch list to anyone and everyone as long as you are in any capacity with the organization.
  2. Glenn Beck’s Network and WND – two news sources who could not figure out how to find a balanced story.   My high school journalism teacher would’ve reamed me over the coals for the stories that have come out.    It took me approximately 15 minutes of research to get those court records and find out that the Page’s were blowing hot air with their story.  In these days of nearly instant internet access there is no excuse for this.
  3. The Page family and their church – seriously, under what planet is lying acceptable let alone lying to this extreme extent.   What kind of witness are you bringing out when you not only try to make an orphan out of a child that is not one but also lying to everyone about the hows and the whys.      THEN instead of doing your job you call in cameras, you call in protesters.   You claim that you don’t know where the reporters came from when the call on the Facebook page was for everyone to show up at your house with an address!

    You could’ve sent Troy Dunn away.   You did not choose to do so.   You could’ve chosen to do a great many things to do right by the child you claimed to love and you didn’t.

Yes I am angry.   I am terribly angry.   I am angry that my faith has been used to justify what has occurred here.   I am angry that my faith is being used to justify taking children away from their fathers.   I am angry that the integrity that I have worked so hard to build up on behalf of my faith is crumbled by these kinds of shenanigans.   I’m angry that more and more native people look at Christians as the thieves of their children and judging by WND’s racist comment section, I cannot contradict them.

Just Stop.   All of you.  Stop.

 

 

“Common Misconceptions” vs Court Documents in the Lexi case

So I haven’t been about awhile, real life has DEFINITELY kicked in of late.   But the case for Lexi has come back from the court of appeals with a set of documents even more damning for the foster parents then the earlier court of appeals.

Newest Court of Appeals Document

For those that had not seen it – the newest case is right here – and it’s a doozy with much more information then the previous case, where several supporters are even aghast with how much had been left out.

I don’t know if Jessica Munday is at least directing this public relations campaign from behind the scenes but the similarities between the campaign on both this and Sonya’s case are pretty striking.   Combine this with the fact that both she and Johnston Moore (who is an admin on the Save Lexi page) are both involved in CAMI, it’s a pretty good bet.

Currently on the Save Our Lexi webpage there are a set of distinct “Common Misconceptions” and I thought I’d go through a few of them in comparison with the court documents – although according to them, the court documents lie about everything.

So the first thing they wanted to address is that the Page’s were not authorized to be an adoptive placement.

Adoptive Placement

So let’s start talking about how the Utah family was supposed to be the adoptive family from the get go.

Firstly there is the bit they quoted from both Court of Appeal documents:

“At some point after father’s reunification efforts failed, the P.s decided they wanted to adopt Alexandria. They discussed the issue with the Department social worker, who advised them that the tribe had selected the R.s as the planned adoptive placement.”

It goes farther then this though.   California has its OWN version of the Indian Child Welfare Act which strengthens the Federal standards.   So under California state law, still Lexi would have gone to her relatives.

All of the bits within this full code are here – including parts of the state law that the website has omitted – but it does walk through exactly how things work for an Indian child.

In addition, California law mirrors ICWA in the idea that family comes first – if there is no other options THEN an unrelated adoption can occur.  This was obviously not the case here.

Furthermore, a court order to stay the transfer does NOT mean that the child was adoptable – what it DOES mean is that the courts were going to take the time to see what they had to say.   They have heard it, and multiple times it has been denied.   So that argument is moot.

Lexi’s siblings are the next point.

Beyond all the back and forth about the subject of her siblings (Including Lori McGill’s “There is no evidence that her siblings are with her”) – they have put this tasty tidbit on their page.

siblings

Stop right here.

The latest court of appeals documents contradict this in the largest possible way.

“The R.s have an ongoing relationship with Alexandria’s half-sister, Anna, who visits the R.s on holidays and for a week or two during the summer. Anna and Alexandria have the same paternal grandmother (who has since passed away) and step-grandfather, and the step-grandfather has designated the R.s to care for Anna if he should become unable to care for Anna.”  (Page 10)

“The R.s would usually include Alexandria’s older half-sister, Anna, in the visits. Alexandria first met Anna during a July 2013 visit, when Anna was about 12 years old. Anna lived with the R.s for a time, but by September 2015, she had moved down the street from the R.s. Alexandria’s younger half-sister Kayla was born in March 2015, and was being cared for by R.s. Alexandria responded to Kayla positively during  Alexandria’s first overnight visit with the R.s in April 2015. On a visit to Utah, Alexandria left Post-its around the house, including one on Kayla’s swing, because she did not want her sister to forget her.”  (Page 13-14)

“A social worker traveled with her, observed her transition to the R.s, and reported that Alexandria was excited about the visit and appeared to be comfortable in the R. home. On the return trip, Alexandria told the social worker she had a great time and would like to visit her sister and the R.s again. The P.s felt that Alexandria was too young for overnight visits, noting that they would not let their son of the same age stay with someone overnight. ” (Page 14)

“Alexandria had been able to form meaningful and affectionate collateral attachments to the R.s and her half-sisters, Anna and Kayla. Doi Fick noted that if Alexandria were to lose her strong sibling relationship with Anna, it would shake her sense of identity. Both Doi Fick and Alexandria’s therapist Wejbe felt the R.s would be supportive of a continued relationship between Alexandria and the P.s. Both also expressed concern that the P. family would be unable to support a continuing relationship between Alexandria and the R.s and her half-sisters, Anna and Kayla.” (Page 29)

That statement is a large lie in this case – Anna and Kayla are close to Lexi and the concern with the expert that the Page’s agreed upon is that the Page’s were NOT going to support a continued relationship with the sisters.   Based on other things brought up in the Court of Appeals document I think this is a valid point.

Media

So let’s start with the court document from the latest court of appeals.

“The court ordered Alexandria to be placed with the R.s and imposed a seven-day stay, after which Alexandria would be moved without a transition plan.

The P.s filed a notice of appeal, and also sought another writ of supersedeas to stay Alexandria’s transfer. We denied the writ petition on March 18, 2016.”

Based on the way that they kept calling protesters to the house, I somehow doubt that there would have been any way that a private transaction would have taken place.

Calling Troy Dunn?   NOT protecting Lexi.   Calling the media?   Calling protesters?   Not protecting her.

So get off that high horse now.   I would say that they POSSIBLY didn’t realize that DCFS would do it but I also don’t think that DCFS had many options.

I’ll go into the other issues later but I’d also like to address the concept that Summer is native and therefore would be suited to teaching Lexi about her culture.

This is all from the court of appeals documents:

“The P.s have described efforts they made to incorporate Native American culture into their lives. Summer P. has Southern Tuscarora heritage, but the tribe is not enrolling new members and is not a federally recognized tribe. They have painted one wall of their kitchen “Navajo Blue,” and are members of the Autry Museum, participating in Native American arts and crafts activities. They attend an annual pow-wow, and shortly before the September 2015 good cause hearing, Summer and Alexandria attending a sage burning ceremony. However, Summer declined to participate in a part of the activity, and did not encourage Alexandria to participate.”

In addition:

“Those other factors include Alexandria’s relationship with her extended family and half-siblings; the capacity of her extended family to maintain and develop her sense of self-identity, including her cultural identity and connection to the Choctaw tribal culture; and the P.s’ relative reluctance or resistance to foster Alexandria’s relationship with her extended family or encourage exploration of and exposure to her Choctaw cultural identity.”

And:

“After remand, the case was assigned to Judge Trendacosta, who ordered individual therapy for Alexandria in December 2014.8 Alexandria seemed happier and less anxious in individual sessions and was much more open about discussing family. Wejbe felt that Summer P. was reluctant to implement some of the therapy tools she suggested for Alexandria in the home, and the P. family did not attend many of the cultural activities offered through United American Indian Involvement. During one session, Wejbe made a dreamcatcher with Alexandria. Summer P. testified the dreamcatcher had ended up in the trash.”

The court papers show a child who loved her extended family and was willing to go with them and also showed a foster family unwilling to literally foster this bond.

I’ll go more into it later, but this post is long enough.

 

Introduction: Or Why Write this sort of blog anyway?

Adoption, it really does seems such a beautiful thing doesn’t it?

And if it’s done correctly and ethically it IS.    But by and large it is more and more becoming something that it shouldn’t be.

Should we be finding homes for children that need them?  Or are we finding children for parents that want them?

The former is true ministry, the latter is pure selfishness.    James 1:27 (KJV) says this: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Note it does not say to make a child fatherless in the attempt to make them your own.    But also important in this scripture is to keep oneself unspotted from the world.      

Unspotted, that’s a big word.   Undefiled and unspotted – everyone pays attention to the part about the widows and the fatherless but not about the undefiled and unspotted.

What does that mean to me?   That adoption should not be a business, it should be about finding homes for children in need and those adoptions should be handled in a Christlike fashion, with total honesty towards birth families and toward the children as well.

What is more scary to me though is that there is an attitude of “the ends justify the means” to get a child to a family.    Even when those ends involve falsifying documents, using a PR firm and even blatant lies.

Within this blog, I want to spend time exploring some of these cases, and what the Christian response should be.

The article I leave you with to start right now is one from The Nation.    And it brings up what should be disturbing ethical violations that a Christian should shun.

http://www.thenation.com/article/160096/evangelical-adoption-crusade