This episode of In Other Words was originally aired on June 7, 2014. Interviewer Ann Szalda-Petree probed the issues that were brought to light in my study of American Indian transracial adoption. This type of child placement was an informal policy during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and the outcomes for adoptees were, many times, negative.
Nearly five years have passed since this interview and my ideas of American Indian transracial adoption have evolved, but they haven’t changed. I’ve become more aware of the policies and their outcomes, as well as their creation of specific social attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that are aimed at American Indians in general, and in which adoptees act as a lightning rod. I’ve also become more knowledgeable as I’ve honed in on the practice of customary adoption as a way of keeping the child within the memory of the family and the tribe.
American Indian child placement is the structure that allows a space for the violent collision of race, identity, history and policy. Give a listen.