Excerpt from David Fanshel, Far From the Reservation, 1972

First, the results of my research thus far support the view that the placement of Indian children in white homes appears to represent a low level of risk for the children with respect to safeguarding their physical and emotional well-being. The repeated interviews with the adoptive parents left the interviewers with the strong impression that the children were, by and large, very secure and obviously feeling loved and wanted in their adoptive homes. Even if the adjustment of the children proves to be somewhat more problematic as they get older—particularly during their adolescence when the factor of racial differences may loom larger—the overall prospect for their futures can be termed as “guardedly optimistic.” When one contrasts the relative security of their lives with the horrendous growing up experiences endured by their mothers—well documented in the summaries Arnold Lyslo received from agencies referring the children—one has to take the position that adoption has saved many of these children from lives of utter ruination. In this sense, the research offers supporting evidence for the continuation and expansion of these adoptions. . . .

Given that the children appear to be doing well in their adoptive homes, that the parents are highly satisfied with what they have consummated, that the appeal of Indian adoptions to couples applying to agencies is increasing, and that considerable monies are saved, is there any doubt that the transracial adoption of Indian children ought to be encouraged? The answer is yes–this is a doubt. . . .

It seems clear that the fate of most Indian children is tied to the struggle of Indian people in the United States for survival and social justice. Their ultimate salvation rests upon the success of that struggle. Whether adoption by white parents of the children who are in the most extreme jeopardy in the current period—such as the objects of our study—can be tolerated by Indian organizations is a moot question. It is my belief that only the Indian people have the right to determine whether their children can be placed in white homes. Reading a report such as this one, Indian leaders may decide that some children may have to be saved through adoption even though the symbolic significance of such placements is painful for a proud people to bear. On the other hand, even with the benign outcomes reported here, it may be that Indian leaders would rather see their children share the fate of their fellow Indians than lose them in the white world. It is for the Indian people to decide.


Source: David Fanshel, Far From the Reservation: The Transracial Adoption of American Indian Children (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1972), 339-342.

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