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.

 

 

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“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.

 

Multiple Organizations: One Purpose

So a new organization has come on the radar of the adoption reform movement.   The Coalition Against the Misuse of ICWA otherwise known as CAMI.   First they have a Facebook page and now a webpage.

Their webpage is particularly telling as it finally gives us a list of the founding members.

ICWA Members

Read line number four.   Home Forever, that is right.   Johnston Moore who only recently commented on this blog:

johnstonemoorecomments

So in October Home Forever had no official stance and now it does?    Why the sudden change of heart?

It is very telling that neither this nor his cofounding of the Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families (CPICF) is mentioned on the Facebook page.   In addition his work with this “CAMI” isn’t mentioned either.

Also behind the scenes on this if you view the source on the CAMI webpage is this gem.

JessicaMundayPage Source

Jessica Munday?   This gets better and better.

Those in the know remember Mrs. Munday from both her tireless work on the Veronica case and her tireless lies on the Sonya case.   In addition, she co founded the aforementioned CPICF.

Her twitter has also ramped up again with retweeting key players from both cases.

JessicaMundayTwitter

First off, Bonnie Cleaveland complaining about being blocked by NICWA is PRICELESS.   Why?   Because a lot of people banned from posting on the CAICW page were mysteriously blocked without posting a single thing on the new Facebook page!   This makes me think Lisa Morris is in this woodpile SOMEWHERE but we haven’t proven it yet.

So here is the thing – it’s suspicious as it is with the crossover between CAICW and CPICF – why would Lisa Morris need to be in TWO organizations for the same thing, in fact to found two organizations.   Now, Johnston Moore is also doing the same thing – two organizations that he helped to found.   And why is Jessica Munday involved?  Who is paying her?

With the exception of Home Forever, each of the other organizations is made of people who profit from adoption.   Let that sink in for a moment, they profit from the breakup of families and the formation of new ones.   Many of the attorneys in these organizations are ones that know how to manipulate the law in order to get a product to sell.   Let’s be honest – private adoption is a money sink – price listings for babies at agencies and medicare fraud.  Native children are an easy sell, light enough to not be too different but different enough to be exotic.

I will argue that ICWA isn’t harming kids it is when ICWA isn’t followed that it IS harming kids.   Its when attorneys try to circumvent the law that it hurts kids.

Kids have a right to be with their families period.   Multiracial kids need access to all of their culture.   Both sides and all of it.

So follow the money and find where it leads.

An Open Letter to Focus On the Family and iCareAboutOrphans Regarding Orphan Care

I write this with a heavy heart after doing a lot of research.

I have always used Focus on the Family as a resource for so many things and had share articles with many of the Christian community at large.

But while doing research into the ethical adoption movement, I have realized that you like many others, are falling desperately short.    Like many Christians, you are talking a terrific game about caring for orphans, but when looking into the speakers you have brought to speak for you, I was stunned and horrified.

The name that horrified me was Johnston Moore, of the group “Home Forever” which has become quite the name in orphan care with their push for adoptive parents for foster children.    On the surface this sounds like an amazing scriptural idea, until you start doing research into what measures he wants to implement.

Moore is one of a group of outspoken critics against the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).   This is an act that many in the adoption reform movement would like to see extended to all children.   The family placement preferences in the end are better for children who are not forced to loose their identities and culture.    In addition, in a private adoption case, both father and mother signing off in front of a judge with full knowledge of what they are doing is in the end, the best way of securing permanency for the children without the long court battles and disruption in the lives of children.

Instead of pushing to make sure that family is involved, Moore has involved himself in FOUR  ICWA cases wanting to deny children permanency with their natural families.   In the case of Veronica Brown (Capobianco), he ignored the numerous ethics violations that were at the start of this case and even the dishonesty of the adoptive parents and biological mother in favor of using this case to overturn ICWA.   A majority of the misinformation that was sent out about this case was through a public relations firm headed by Jessica Munday.     I only bring this up because instead of distancing himself from the case when the lies came out into the open, he decided instead to found an organization with Jessica Munday and Lisa Morris (who runs the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, a group considered by many natives to be a racist hate group, indeed, a group with its own ethical questions to answer) called the Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families.    In short, this group has thankfully done nothing since the Veronica case except to renew its nonprofit status, but there he stands with two people with questionable ethics.

In the same case, he celebrated the removal of a child who had been with her family for TWO YEARS and had no memory of the adoptive family.    For all his calling for permanency and Christian orphan care, he helped fight to take a native child from her CHRISTIAN parents and send her to an atheist family.   He had also gone on the Dr. Phil show with them to  commiserate and to speak out on the evils of ICWA.   Now, I am not saying the law is perfect, but I DO believe that many of the standards are common sense and ethics.

Three other young girls have been featured on the Home Forever Facebook page, Dee, Elle and a young Choctaw child.    Dee was sent to live with her aunt and her biological brother.   Elle was sent to live with her aunt and uncle and the young Choctaw child should have been sent from California to Utah to live with HER father’s family.   All three of these children were foster care cases, with an entirely different set of case law than the Veronica case would be, and in most of their states they would be placed with the family regardless of ICWA, at least in theory (and specifically in Elle’s case that was going to happen) but yet Moore has only focused on the ICWA, as if because of native status their families were not a good idea to take care of them.    In fact, the young Choctaw child had not even been with the foster family for a year when the foster family requested de facto parent status as a way to get around reunification with her family.

With this, I come to a white child that has been prominently featured on Moore’s site, in fact, prominently featured in the national news, Sonya McCaul.

If you do not know the story, I will give it to you in a nutshell.   Sonya was removed under questionable circumstances from her father as a toddler – her baby sitter took her to Tennessee and refused to return her.   From there, instead of being sent back to Nebraska, she was sent into foster care with Kim and David Hodgins who tried five times to circumvent the law and adopt her.   They succeeded once but the adoption was overturned less than a year later because it was ruled that her father’s parental rights could not be terminated.  (The father had been put in jail, but the grandmother was about to get placement when they filed for the first time to terminate her father’s parental rights)    The father’s life had long been straightened out, his stint in prison was due to being literally in a vehicle with the wrong person who didn’t secure their gun properly.

Instead of waiting for the courts to do their thing, they tried to create an orphan in need of adoption by going around the Tennessee court system.    They even put up a restraining order AGAINST DCS when they were going to remove Sonya because they weren’t cooperating with the reunification process.   The courts had enough of this in January and just abruptly removed her which was when Moore got involved, calling out that HER rights had been violated, but instead of putting the blame where it belonged (the court documents have come out more and more supporting this) on the foster parents, he put it on Sonya’s family, the one that had been fighting for her since day one.     He has been silent on this of recent times, but nothing going back and saying that he was wrong and that this case wasn’t what it seemed from the start.

Every case on his Facebook site, these foster parents are fighting biological families for their CHILDREN.    He does not share successful reunion stories, only successful adoptions.   One such case was “Little Johnny” who was returned to HIS great grandparents.    Instead of encouraging the family to work with “Johnny’s” family to get to know his God given family, he encouraged prayer that the child was to stay.   In short, the only permanency that Johnston Moore believes in is the permanency of an adoptive family.   A biological family is nothing more than an obstacle for him.

Sometimes foster care is a necessity, sometimes it is a short term necessity, sometimes it does sadly, have to involve terminating parental rights and other times an adoption.   Adoption however is NOT the long term answer to a short term problem.   In fact, fighting the reunification process opens children up to more instability as they are fought over between their families and legal strangers.   Adoption is also not the first answer to jump to when things are wrong, adoption involves a loss for the child and termination of parental rights is a serious step that needs to be approached with extreme caution.   Followed by that, a child’s fit relatives should have the ability to care for a child from their own families, thus keeping a child’s God given identity intact.

Does God make mistakes?  I know your answer is NO.   Undoubtedly it is no.  But the attitude of Moore and many like him that seem to push creating orphans for the sake of caring for them because God ordained it, to me, screams of men knowing better than God does as to what family a child belongs.   God places children in families for a reason.    As Christians we need to support family preservation wherever it is possible and then care for the children when families are unable or unwilling to care for them

As Christians we should NOT be supporting dishonesty to steal children.  We should not support those that are thwarting the law and we should not be using those who outspokenly support both to push a cause we support.

Because of the use of Johnston Moore as an ongoing spokesperson for the orphan care movement that is solidly pushed, I no longer feel like Focus on the Family is supporting the values of honesty and integrity that they are purported to support.  I urge you to look into his support of unethical adoptions and to join many of us in a push for greater ethics in adoptions.   That is true orphan care.