And Man Created God

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Synopsis

 

on my to-read list

A groundbreaking history of the age when empires used religions to become powerful and religions used empires to spread their message At the end of the first century BC, the world was full of gods. Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another. In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets so as to become priests of Atargatis. In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine and claimed to be the Messiah. Kings, queens, and emperors were riding on the backs of these religions to increase their power. And Man Created God considers how and why religious belief has had such an immense impact on human history by identifying the roots of belief within societies. O’Grady looks at the whole world during one short period and asks a specific question: Why did Christianity grow so quickly and become the predominant world religion? The beliefs held by a tiny Jewish sect in an obscure corner of the then mighty Roman Empire would have seemed doomed to disappear within a few generations. Instead, they became the official religion of the Empire. What was it about Christian ideas that appealed to people in so many different cultures at that time? Beginning in Rome, expanding her review out to Gaul, Germania, North Africa, the Near East, Persia, and beyond to China, the author sifts through the economic, political and sociocultural facts to understand why some ideas die and others thrive in a thrilling new work of history.

At the end of the first century BC, the world was full of gods. Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another. In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets so as to become priests of Atargatis. In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine and claimed to be the Messiah. Kings, queens and emperors were riding on the backs of these religions to increase their power. And Man Created God considers how and why religious belief has had such an immense impact on human history by identifying the roots of belief within societies. O’Grady looks at the whole world during one short period and asks a specific question: Why did Christianity grow so quickly and become the predominant world religion? The beliefs held by a tiny Jewish sect in an obscure corner of the then mighty Roman Empire would have seemed doomed to disappear within a few generations. Instead, they became the official religion of the Empire. What was it about Christian ideas that appealed to people in so many different cultures at that time? Beginning in Rome, expanding her review out to Gaul, Germania, North Africa, the Near East, Persia, and beyond to China, the author sifts through the economic, political and sociocultural facts to understand why some ideas die and others thrive in a thrilling new work of history.

At the time of Jesus birth, the world was full of gods. Thousands of them jostled, competed and merged with one another. In Syria ecstatic devotees castrated themselves in the streets to become priests of Atargatis In Galilee, holy men turned oil into wine, healed the sick, drove out devils, and claimed to be the Messiah. Every day thousands of people were leaving their family and tribes behind them and flocking into brand new multi-ethnic cities. The ancient world was in ferment as it underwent the first phase of globalisation, and in this ferment rulers and ruled turned to religion as a source of order and stability. Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (though he never dared officially to call himself so) was maneuvering his way to becoming worshipped as a god – it was one of the most brilliant makeovers ever undertaken by a ruler and his spin doctors. In North Africa, Amanirenas the warrior queen exploited her god-like status to inspire her armies to face and defeat Rome. In China the usurper Wang Mang won and lost his throne because of his obsession with Confucianism.To explore the power that religious belief has had over societies through the ages, Selina OGrady takes the reader on a dazzling journey across the empires of the ancient world and introduces us to rulers, merchants, messiahs, priests and holy men. Throughout, she seeks to answer why, amongst the countless religious options available, the empires at the time of Jesus chose the religions they did?Why did Chinas rulers hitch their fate to Confucianism, a philosophy more than a religion? And why was a tiny Jewish cult led by Jesus eventually adopted by Romes emperors rather than the cult of Isis which was far more popular and widespread? The Jesus cult, followed by no more than 100 people at the time of his death, should, by rights, have disappeared in a few generations. Instead it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Why did Christianity grow so quickly to become the predominant world religion? What was it about its teachings that so appealed to people? “And Man Created God” looks at why and how religions have had such an immense impact on human history and in doing so” “uncovers the ineradicable connection between politics and religion – a connection which still defines us in our own age. This is an important, thrilling and necessary new work of history.

[I heard an interview with the author on AlJazeera...it sounds like a must read! We must really understand the basis for world religion... Lara/Trace]

interconnectedness and quantum physics

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I was honored to work with MariJo Moore on this amazing anthology. Indians always knew String Theory but call it The Theory of Everything …Lara/Trace

Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time

Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time

The Spiritual Universe of American Native People By Marcianne Miller on April 7, 2014

BOOK REVIEW
Format: Paperback

“It was not until the 20th Century that [Eurasian scientists and philosophers] began to suspect something that the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere have known all along. Everything is connected,” Dean Hutchins explains in his essay “Deciphering the Great Mystery.”
This essay is part of the anthology Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time: Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe. Editor MariJo Moore says she sees “the universe as a great cloth… shawl… spreading and spreading…unendingly into a circle that flows forever.”  This anthology explores the ways the interconnectedness of the universe, while a new concept for Western thinkers, has long been a part of Indigenous knowledge.
Moore and co-editor Trace A. DeMeyer have compiled an eclectic collection of nonfiction and fiction: essays, poems, stories, prayers, songs and memoir. For example, follow a concise history of philosophical thought with Hutchins.  Dance with Mary Black Bonnet in her kitchen as she learns the Lakota flag song. Find out what the Milky Way tastes like and what note black holes sing in from Kim Shuck. Hear a Ketoowah traditional story and follow Denise Low as she discusses its implications for modern day climate change survival. Read the best poem that Doris Seale has written – yet. These are just a few of the illuminative and creative pieces contained in this book. Each author explores Indigenous knowledge about the interconnectedness of the universe.
The anthology, dedicated to Moore’s mentor, Vine Deloria Jr, honors him and carries forward his work on the subject of the spiritual universe.  It opens with the poem “Sing Your Song for Vine,” by suzan shown harjo. In the essay included by Deloria, “Spiritual Universe,” he examines some of the most significant Western thinkers and how they reach “the opinion that the world we think of as solidly physical is, in fact, a strange, indescribable “mind stuff” that provides the foundation for everything.”  Throughout the book it becomes clear that there is a parallel between Europeans “discovering” an America that was already populated with native peoples, and Western scientists and philosophers just now “discovering” truths that native peoples have known and told for a long time.  The authors of this book don’t stop there, however.
Deloria says, “This belief, as we have seen, is the starting point, not the conclusion. Assuming or intuiting mind as the dominant entity, would not the tribal peoples’ questions vary substantially from the questions asked by the Western philosophers?”  This anthology records and passes on knowledge, and at the same time asks us to consider how we have and will continue to use the knowledge we possess.
If the concept of Quantum Physics is intimidating, don’t worry. The authors here guide the reader through the subject matter in easy to understand language. Conversely, for the reader versed in Quantum Physics, there are plenty of opportunities to engage on a deeper level with the philosophical and spiritual implications.

excerpt from Rapid River Arts & Culture magazine, Asheville, NC

(Click on book cover for more reviews and to purchase)

Des Moines adoptee finds birthmother using social media

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VIDEO LINK: Woman finds birthmother

Des Moines woman finds birth mother: Social media helps Hannah Stouffer find mom

Apr 17, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa —A picture and social media have helped a Des Moines woman find her birth mother.

It took about three days for Hannah Stouffer to get the name she was looking for.

“It’s actually happening,” Stouffer said.

It was the moment Stouffer had waited years for.

“I felt like I was going to throw up, like I wanted to scream,” Stouffer said. “It was within three days, 50,000 people.”

Thousands of people saw the picture and couldn’t help but spread the word.

“Within an hour, I had over 1,000 retweets. I have over hundreds of shares on Facebook,” Stouffer said. “The next day, it was on KCCI.”

It was a simple photo with a huge plea.

“My name is Hannah. I was born April 12, 1995, at Des Moines Hospital, Iowa. My birth mom was 15 years old … I was adopted through a closed adoption and am trying to find my birth mom. I just want to meet her,” Stouffer posted.

“I won’t go every day wondering what I look like. I won’t go every day wondering where I got my nose from, my eyes from,” Stouffer said.

A woman who saw the post three days later thought she knew Stouffer’s birth mother.

“I didn’t believe it at first, and then she was asking different questions, and then she … asked her who delivered me, and she told me the name of the doctor,” Stouffer said.

There was something else.

“I asked her if she left me anything, and she said, ‘Yes, a blanket and an outfit,’ and I knew no one else would have known that,” Stouffer said.

Stouffer has already talked to her birth mother on the phone, and they’ve exchanged text messages. Now, 19 years later, she’ll once again get to feel her mother’s arms around her.

“I want to see her. I want to thank her, hug her, talk to her, her her voice,” Stouffer said.

Stouffer will reunite with her mother over the weekend. Her mother also lives in Des Moines.

Stouffer said she doesn’t yet know her mother’s address, but she’s excited to meet her.

How to End a Narcissistic Relationship

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Edited by SiestaDawn, Teresa, ShrUtiable, Yessica_ and 1 other

“Narcissism” is a disorder wherein a person tends to focus on self more than the others. In this type of trait it is more about the “self” and this behavior affects the others. If this is prevailing in a relationship than it does a lot of damage to the partner.

Steps

  1. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 01.jpg

    Go for therapy. If your insurance won’t cover it, or if you can’t afford individual sessions, find a support team. Most women’s advocate groups and domestic abuse shelters can give you excellent references. And yes, you are a victim of abuse. Use the therapy to learn everything you can about what can you do and say, and the intuitive signs you keep dismissing in yourself, that make you a perfect NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) victim.

  2. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 02.jpg

    Use your therapist’s/support group’s balanced, objective feedback to help you through the grieving process you are experiencing now that your NPD has stopped recognizing you as a primary supplier, and is engaging in the behaviors that hurt you so much.

  3. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 03.jpg

    If you are still with your NPD, they will do everything they can to discourage you from doing this: they will attempt to embarrass you, accuse you of being imbalanced (and that’s why “you” need therapy, they will say), disrupt your schedule so you can’t make your meetings / appointments – anything to prevent you from getting help from outside.

    • The more s/he does this, the more you can be assured that you need the help, and the more determined you should be about getting it.
  4. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 04.jpg

    Learn everything you can about NPD. Become an NPD expert. There are tremendous resources literally available at your fingertips through any web-connected computer, just like the message you’re reading right now. And when you think you know it all, learn more. There is no truer statement made, in the case of an NPD victim, than this: knowledge is power.

  5. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 05.jpg

    Stop all contact with your NPD abuser. Know this: being with a narcissist is very much like being addicted to a narcotic — wonderful at first – so wonderful that you keep longing for that initial high, and keep “taking the drug” (taking his/her abuse) hoping to get that amazing high again. And just as with a narcotic addiction, that initial high will never happen again. S/he’ll lay out the lures for you, but see #2 above.

    • The more you know about NPD, the easier it will be to recognize that all s/he is doing is baiting a hook, and you know what happens when fish bite on a baited hook.
      End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 05Bullet01.jpg
    • But the only way you can avoid the lures is to make it impossible for him/her to leave them in your path. This step is critical: *no* contact. Read that again: ***no*** contact.
      End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 05Bullet02.jpg
    • In some cases, NPD victims actually have to move, where violence or other threats are imminent from their abuser for the act of leaving them. If that is your case, and you cannot or do not want to move, engage your support group and local law enforcement officials in what you are doing and why; make them aware that you are afraid for your safety, and they will, in most cases, help you.
      End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 05Bullet03.jpg
    • Get a restraining order if you have to (although most NPDs are “above the law,” and that would be meaningless to them).
      End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 05Bullet04.jpg
  6. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 06.jpg

    Learn to defend yourself. Take a martial arts course, or learn to handle and effectively and comfortably use a weapon until it is second nature, get a license for it (if necessary), and buy one for yourself. Buy a dog of a breed well-known for its owner-protective qualities, and make that creature your best friend above all others. Make it unsafe for your *abuser* to contact *you*, instead of the other way around. Not only will you be providing yourself (and your children, where applicable) some measure of protection from further abuse, but you will build confidence and strength and belief in yourself — all qualities that your NPD abuser has systematically eroded, and which s/he is counting on you never having again. Turn the tables!

  7. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 07.jpg

    Start a journal – today. Find a notebook at any local drugstore, keep a pen handy, and write down your thoughts every day. Most especially, start a list at the back of it of all the behaviors, all the things s/he has done, that even in the beginning caused you to have doubts. Keep working on your list, every day, as you remember things. Its purpose will serve you in several ways, the two most important of which are the following: a- you can go back and read it when you are feeling “weak” (need your “drug” again) and need to be reminded of the true nature of this soulless person with whom you have shared your heart; and b- it becomes very cathartic over time. You find yourself realizing that this person is truly mentally ill, and that there is nothing wrong with you; you just became a target, and you are now ready to move out of the firing range.

  8. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 08.jpg

    Get rid of every reminder of your NPD – take that energy out of your home and your environment. Find everything in your possession that were the early gifts from your NPD, and/or the (usually cheaper, less significant) later attempts to schmooze you back into compliance so you continued to supply his/her narcissistic needs. Eject every item from your life. Donate them to charity, sell them, give them away, or throw them away, even if you like them.

  9. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 09.jpg

    Find new friends, and cultivate new **non-romantic** relationships. Perhaps the most amazing discovery you may make is that suddenly all kinds of genuinely nice people were coming into my life. Give yourself that same opportunity! Join a pottery class, or a yoga class, or a book club, or a birding group – whatever interests you! It doesn’t have to cost money. Just put yourself outside of your home, and into the company of new people, and learn again how wonderful it is to have an active, normal social life without this huge black cloud dominating it.

  10. End a Narcissistic Relationship Step 10.jpg

    Give yourself time to grieve. *don’t* jump back into a relationship. Not for a while, anyway. The sooner you do so, the higher the likelihood that you will attract and get involved with another NPD. See #1 and #2 above. Especially as you become more aware, through counseling and/or your support team, that an NPD is incapable of loving, you become aware that you are, in effect, a widow/-er, yet even worse. Not only has the relationship that you thought was perfect died, but that person you were involved with, the NPD, is not the person you fell in love with. You fell in love with something that never existed, and cannot exist, for those afflicted with this mental illness. So your partner is not only “dead”, but they never actually lived. You have to mourn your loss not of what was, but of what you believed could have been: but the sad fact is that your real loss is that it was all an illusion. Your belief was, and is, a false one. This person never loved you, and never could love you, because s/he is incapable of it. S/he is mentally ill. It does not have the capacity to be a he or a she. There was no “him.” There was just this “it,” and its entire purpose in my life was to suck mine out of me, to fill the emptiness that it feels inside itself. This sounds cruel, but the cruelty, in reality, has been against you, and you have a lot of healing to do. So take the time. Grieve. Invest in yourself. See steps 1-7 above, and focus on you, because no one else has been doing so for the entire duration of your NPD relationship – not even you. When you have given yourself back to you, then you can think about what you want to do next. Until then, be “selfish.” Yes. Does that sound familiar? It does because that’s what your NPD would say, along with all the other “faults” s/he said about you which were actually him/her projecting what s/he knows to be his/her deficits – see #2 above. Love yourself, just as you are, and give yourself time to learn once again how lovable you are to others…

Again, step 4 can be the most dangerous, in the case of some NPDs. Remember, if you have been physically abused by an NPD, your decision to stop all contact with him/her could become, literally, a fatal one, without appropriate protection. If you have ever been physically assaulted, or threatened with physical assault, by your NPD, engage law enforcement and a support team to get you (and your children) away from him/her. Do not underestimate a violent NPD’s reaction to being ignored by you.

[This is so important - know what is necessary to protect yourself. GET HELP..Lara/Trace]

Rescuing Children or Homogenizing America? — Part 2

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Lara/Trace:

please read and share Carol’s writing

Originally posted on Voices from the Margins:

Carol A. Hand

 (Part 1 Questions)

… Grandfather Thomas focused on helping others. He took me under his “left wing” and shared his stories, photos, and the amazing beauty of his art (paintings, wood carvings, drawings). I wondered what his life would have been like if he had been able to grow up with his family. I wondered what his life would have been like if he had been able to attend a school that provided more than abuse, discipline, and training for farming and manual labor. And I wondered what his life would have been like if the government had apologized and offered reparations to the children and families who had been traumatized when agents were sent to kidnap children and place them in abusive institutions simply because they were Native American.

Part 2

State and Federal Child Welfare Initiatives (1935-1978).

The answer to these questions is suggested…

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History of Grandmothers Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo

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Children Who Disappeared or Who Were Born in Captivity

[ARGENTINA]

The drama of children who disappeared in our country, the Argentine Republic, is one of the consequences of the National Reorganization Process enforced by the military dictatorship, which ruled the country between 1976 and 1983.

These children are the children of our children, who have also disappeared. Many babies were kidnapped with their parents, some after their parents were killed, and others were born in clandestine detention centers where their mothers were taken after having been sequestered at different states of their pregnancies.

We, the babies’ grandmothers, tried desperately to locate them and, during these searches, decided to unite. Thus, in 1977, the non-governmental organization called Abuelas (Grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo was established, dedicated specifically to fighting for the return of our grandchildren. We also relentlessly investigated our children’s and grandchildren’s disappearances, in hopes of finding them.

protests

As mothers our search is two-folded because we are demanding the restitution of our grandchildren while simultaneously searching for these children’s parents, our sons and daughters.

From the moment that our children (often with our grandchildren in their wombs) disappeared, we visited every court, office, orphanage, day care center, and so on, to locate them. We appeared before the courts, the successive military governments, the Supreme Court, and the ecclesiastical hierarchies, never obtaining a positive result. We finally directed our claim to international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States, again to no avail.

In 1977 we began our struggle with the claim for 13 children’s restitutions. As of August 2004, over 400 children have been recorded as missing. However, we know that there are approximately 500 kidnapped children. In many cases, their relatives did not declare such kidnappings, either due to ignorance of the ability to do so or because they did not know that the mothers were pregnant at the time of their disappearance.

The disappeared children were deprived of their identity, their religion, and their right to live with their family, in order words, all of the rights that are nationally and internationally recognized as their universal human rights.

…There is a large number of disappeared children whose identities were completely annulled. In those cases, we use modern science to prove that they are members of a particular family. For this purpose, we rely on support from the scientific community in the field of genetics, hematology, morphology, and others.

Through our participation and effort in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, we were able to push for the inclusion of articles 7, 8 and 11, which refer to the right to an identity and are known as the “Argentine clauses.” This International Convention was later incorporated into the Argentine Constitution, via law number 23,849.

In 1992, as a direct result of a petition we organized, the National Executive Power of our government created CONADI, the National Committee for the Right to Identity. The main objective of this organization is to assist young adults who doubt their identities by investigating all existing documents and referring them for blood analysis. Blood analyses are conducted by the National Bank of Genetic Data, which has the power to perform such analyses without legal intervention.

Our demand is concrete: that the children who were kidnapped as a method of political repression be restored to their legitimate families.

Continue reading

complex identities

Lara/Trace:

your past is just a story…

Originally posted on The Life Of Von:

story In the world-wide web of adoption, there are amongst adult adoptees, still a few areas which remain taboo. One of these is to do with biological mothers and the difficulty adoptees have in criticising them or taking them to task for obvious wrongs committed. Yes, we all know they have suffered, been abused, been denied their rights and had a hard time living with the guilt, the loss, the trauma. Most of us would believe we have compassion and empathy for that suffering. It is very hard when what they have suffered causes behaviour which directly impacts on us. I’m thinking here of the adoptees denied, those amongst us who have their very existence denied by a woman they know to be their mother, a woman who cannot face up to the past in which she could not or would not tell the truth. Another scenario in which a woman…

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Why Would Anybody Who was Raised in a Loving Home be Unhappy About Being Adopted?

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sheepby Kali Coultas

Why would anybody who was raised in a loving home be unhappy about being adopted, or opposed to the very nature of adoption?

This was asked to me today in the comments on the “About Me” page I have here. Its a genuine question that I think a lot of people who aren’t effected or maybe even are effected by adoption ask themselves once they come across someone who’s views towards adoption, are similar to mine.

I do not support it. I don’t condone it, nor do I believe in adoption. I have many reasons and I think it will do me some good after this long break to put it into a post and get it into the concrete form of some kind for others to read when wondering why the hell i feel the way I do.

As I have said, i had and still have good parents, adoptive and natural. I wasn’t physically abused, sure my aparents made some mistakes just like all parents do, but nothing to be held by a noose and hung for and not much to blame or hate adoption for.

The little bit being the uneducated state of mind they were encouraged to have and left with after taking me into their care. I don’t support encouraging people experiencing infertility and desperate for a child to adopt. Adoption is not a band-aid for infertility and it never should be. It doesn’t heal someones infertility and putting that responsibility onto a child grieving the loss of their mother is dismissive and not honoring the emotional well being of the child.

When a child is born she/he is attached emotionally and physically to the mother. Everything that child wants, loves and needs is provided for from the mother whom he/she has grown with in utero for 9 months until birth.

Everything should be done to keep these beings together, and poverty although one of the leading factors to surrender, should never be a leading factor to surrender because money never makes someone a good parent.

I don’t believe in adoption because it has become an industry that provides babies to couples willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a child. With no care of the child’s well being they have price tags put onto their heads that differ according to race and age. Priority has been put on getting the commodity to make billions annually off of the couples willing to pay, instead of helping the children stuck in foster care get homes. Foster youth are rotting away because they have become least valuable and marketable and so they have been swept under the rug.

continue reading

 

I could have wrote this myself which is why I am sharing it – and check out the website while you are reading – I have a friend who is having his adoption annulled and he is planning to be readopted by his birth family…Lara/Trace

Social Services Arrests, Imprisons Pregnant Woman for a Drug She Wasn’t Taking

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Posted: 09 Apr 2014

Alicia Beltran, 28, of Jackson, Wisc.
Is Social Services emerging as the new “SS” of the West?

Those of you familiar with twentieth century history will understand the reference to the Schutzstaffel or SS, which is German for ”Protective Echelon”.  During World War II, the SS was one of the most powerful and feared organizations of the Axis Alliance, believing its members to be the elite of humankind.

It would seem so given the horrific stories of human rights abuse at the hand of social workers, such as the recent story where Social Services obtained a court order to sedate and surgically remove a baby from a pregnant mother’s womb without her knowledge or consent because she had a panic attack brought on by missed medication.

Now, another story of Social Services out of control has emerged from Jackson, Wisconsin, where social workers instigated the arrest and illegal imprisonment of 28 year old Alicia Beltran, a pregnant mother-to-be after a routine prenatal visit.

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Sources: Pregnant Woman Alicia Beltran Fights Wisconsin’s ‘Fetal Protection’ Law Across America, Attacks on Pregnant Woman’s Rights on the Rise Shackled and Pregnant, Wisconsin Case Challenges “Fetal Protection” Law Are over-zealous social services acting on orders to meet adoption quotas? – See more at: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/social-services-imprisons-pregnant-woman-for-a-drug-she-wasnt-taking/#sthash.6ekMTkSZ.dpuf

Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the Madness

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DSS and affiliates rewarded for breaking up families

By Nev Moore,  Massachusetts News – and thanks to Karen Vigneault for this archive news article!

Spaper-art mother and babyOURCE: http://www.massnews.com/past_issues/2000/5_May/mayds4.htm

Child “protection” is one of the biggest businesses in the country. We spend $12 billion a year on it. 

The money goes to tens of thousands of a) state employees, b) collateral professionals, such as lawyers, court personnel, court investigators, evaluators and guardians, judges, and c) DSS contracted vendors such as counselors, therapists, more “evaluators”, junk psychologists, residential facilities, foster parents, adoptive parents, MSPCC, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, etc. This newspaper is not big enough to list all of the people in this state who have a job, draw a paycheck, or make their profits off the kids in DSS custody. 

In this article I explain the financial infrastructure that provides the motivation for DSS to take people’s children – and not give them back. 

In 1974 Walter Mondale promoted the Child Abuse and Prevention Act which began feeding massive amounts of federal funding to states to set up programs to combat child abuse and neglect. From that came Child “Protective” Services, as we know it today. After the bill passed, Mondale himself expressed concerns that it could be misused. He worried that it could lead states to create a “business” in dealing with children. 

Then in 1997 President Clinton passed the “Adoption and Safe Families Act.” The public relations campaign promoted it as a way to help abused and neglected children who languished in foster care for years, often being shuffled among dozens of foster homes, never having a real home and family. In a press release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dated November 24, 1999, it refers to “President Clinton’s initiative to double by 2002 the number of children in foster care who are adopted or otherwise permanently placed.” 

It all sounded so heartwarming. We, the American public, are so easily led. We love to buy stereotypes; we just eat them up, no questions asked. But, my mother, bless her heart, taught me from the time I was young to “consider the source.” In the stereotype that we’ve been sold about kids in foster care, we picture a forlorn, hollow-eyed child, thin and pale, looking up at us beseechingly through a dirt streaked face. Unconsciously, we pull up old pictures from Life magazine of children in Appalachia in the 1930s. We think of orphans and children abandoned by parents who look like Manson family members. We play a nostalgic movie in our heads of the little fellow shyly walking across an emerald green, manicured lawn to meet Ward and June Cleaver, his new adoptive parents, who lead him into their lovely suburban home. We imagine the little tyke’s eyes growing as big as saucers as the Cleavers show him his very own room, full of toys and sports gear. And we just feel so gosh darn good about ourselves. 

Now it’s time to wake up to the reality of the adoption business. 

Very few children who are being used to supply the adoption market are hollow-eyed tykes from Appalachia. Very few are crack babies from the projects. [Oh… you thought those were the children they were saving? Think again]. When you are marketing a product you have to provide a desirable product that sells. In the adoption business that would be nice kids with reasonably good genetics who clean up good. An interesting point is that the Cape Cod & Islands office leads the state in terms of processing kids into the system and having them adopted out. More than the inner city areas, the projects, Mission Hill, Brockton, Lynn, etc. Interesting… 

With the implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, President Clinton tried to make himself look like a humanitarian who is responsible for saving the abused and neglected children. The drive of this initiative is to offer cash “bonuses” to states for every child they have adopted out of foster care, with the goal of doubling their adoptions by 2002, and sustaining that for each subsequent year. They actually call them “adoption incentive bonuses,” to promote the adoption of children. 

Where to Find the Children

A whole new industry was put into motion. A sweet marketing scheme that even Bill Gates could envy. Now, if you have a basket of apples, and people start giving you $100 per apple, what are you going to do? Make sure that you have an unlimited supply of apples, right? 

The United States Department of Health & Human Services administers Child Protective Services. To accompany the ASF Act, the President requested, by executive memorandum, an initiative entitled Adoption 2002, to be implemented and managed by Health & Human Services. The initiative not only gives the cash adoption bonuses to the states, it also provides cash adoption subsidies to adoptive parents until the children turn eighteen. 

Everybody makes money. If anyone really believes that these people are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, then I’ve got some bad news for you. The fact that this program is run by HHS, ordered from the very top, explains why the citizens who are victims of DSS get no response from their legislators. It explains why no one in the Administration cares about the abuse and fatalities of children in the “care” of DSS, and no one wants to hear about the broken arms, verbal abuse, or rapes. They are just business casualties. It explains why the legislators I’ve talked to for the past three years look at me with pity. Because I’m preaching to the already damned. 

The legislators have forgotten who funds their paychecks and who they need to account to, as has the Governor. Because it isn’t the President. It’s us. 

How DSS Is Helped

The way that the adoption bonuses work is that each state is given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population. 

For every child that DSS can get adopted, there is a bonus of $4,000 to $6,000. 

But that is just the starting figure in a complex mathematical formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the state has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. The states must maintain this increase in each successive year. [Like compound interest.] The bill reads: “$4,000 to $6,000 will be multiplied by the amount (if any) by which the number of foster child adoptions in the State exceeds the base number of foster child adoptions for the State for the fiscal year.” In the “technical assistance” section of the bill it states that, “the Secretary [of HHS] may, directly or through grants or contracts, provide technical assistance to assist states and local communities to reach their targets for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care.” The technical assistance is to support “the goal of encouraging more adoptions out of the foster care system; the development of best practice guidelines for expediting the termination of parental rights; the development of special units and expertise in moving children toward adoption as a permanent goal; models to encourage the fast tracking of children who have not attained 1 year of age into pre-adoptive placements; and the development of programs that place children into pre-adoptive placements without waiting for termination of parental rights.” 

In the November press release from HHS it continues, ” HHS awarded the first ever adoption bonuses to States for increases in the adoption of children from the public foster care system.” Some of the other incentives offered are “innovative grants” to reduce barriers to adoption [i.e., parents], more State support for adoptive families, making adoption affordable for families by providing cash subsides and tax credits. 

A report from a private think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis, reads: “The way the federal government reimburses States rewards a growth in the size of the program instead of the effective care of children.” Another incentive being promoted is the use of the Internet to make adoption easier. Clinton directed HHS to develop an Internet site to “link children in foster care with adoptive families.” So we will be able to window shop for children on a government web site. If you don’t find anything you like there, you can surf on over to the “Adopt Shoppe.” 

If you prefer to actually be able to kick tires instead of just looking at pictures you could attend one of DSS’s quaint “Adoption Fairs,” where live children are put on display and you can walk around and browse. Like a flea market to sell kids. If one of them begs you to take him home you can always say, “Sorry. Just looking.” The incentives for government child snatching are so good that I’m surprised we don’t have government agents breaking down people’s doors and just shooting the parents in the heads and grabbing the kids. But then, if you need more apples you don’t chop down your apple trees. 

Benefits for Foster Parents

That covers the goodies the State gets. Now let’s have a look at how the Cleavers make out financially after the adoption is finalized. 

After the adoption is finalized, the State and federal subsidies continue. The adoptive parents may collect cash subsidies until the child is 18. If the child stays in school, subsidies continue to the age of 22. There are State funded subsidies as well as federal funds through the Title IV-E section of the Social Security Act. The daily rate for State funds is the same as the foster care payments, which range from $410-$486 per month per child. Unless the child can be designated “special needs,” which of course, they all can. 

According to the NAATRIN State Subsidy profile from DSS, “special needs” may be defined as: “Physical disability, mental disability, emotional disturbance; a significant emotional tie with the foster parents where the child has resided with the foster parents for one or more years and separation would adversely affect the child’s development if not adopted by them.” [But their significant emotional ties with their parents, since birth, never enter the equation.] 

Additional “special needs” designations are: a child twelve years of age or older; racial or ethnic factors; child having siblings or half-siblings. In their report on the State of the Children, Boston’s Institute for Children says: “In part because the States can garner extra federal funds for special needs children the designation has been broadened so far as to become meaningless.” “Special needs” children may also get an additional Social Security check. 

The adoptive parents also receive Medicaid for the child, a clothing allowance and reimbursement for adoption costs such as adoption fees, court and attorney fees, cost of adoption home study, and “reasonable costs of food and lodging for the child and adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoption process.” Under Title XX of the Social Security Act adoptive parents are also entitled to post adoption services “that may be helpful in keeping the family intact,” including “daycare, specialized daycare, respite care, in-house support services such as housekeeping, and personal care, counseling, and other child welfare services”. [Wow! Everything short of being knighted by the Queen!] 

The subsidy profile actually states that it does not include money to remodel the home to accommodate the child. But, as subsidies can be negotiated, remodeling could possibly be accomplished under the “innovative incentives to remove barriers to adoption” section. The subsidy regulations read that “adoption assistance is based solely on the needs of the child without regard to the income of the family.” What an interesting government policy when compared to the welfare program that the same child’s mother may have been on before losing her children, and in which she may not own anything, must prove that she has no money in the bank; no boats, real estate, stocks or bonds; and cannot even own a car that is safe to drive worth over $1000. This is all so she can collect $539 per month for herself and two children. The foster parent who gets her children gets $820 plus. We spit on the mother on welfare as a parasite who is bleeding the taxpayers, yet we hold the foster and adoptive parents [who are bleeding ten times as much from the taxpayers] up as saints. The adoptive and foster parents aren’t subjected to psychological evaluations, ink blot tests, MMPI’s, drug & alcohol evaluations, or urine screens as the parents are. 

Adoption subsidies may be negotiated on a case by case basis. [Anyone ever tried to "negotiate" with the Welfare Department?] There are many e-mail lists and books published to teach adoptive parents how to negotiate to maximize their subsidies. As one pro writes on an e-mail list: “We receive a subsidy for our kids of $1,900 per month plus another $500 from the State of Florida. We are trying to adopt three more teens and we will get subsidies for them, too. It sure helps out with the bills.” 

I can’t help but wonder why we don’t give this same level of support to the children’s parents in the first place? According to Cornell University, about 68% of all child protective cases “do not involve child maltreatment.” The largest percentage of CPS/DSS cases are for “deprivation of necessities” due to poverty. So, if the natural parents were given the incredible incentives and services listed above that are provided to the adoptive parents, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the causes for removing children in the first place would be eliminated? How many less children would enter foster care in the first place? The child protective budget would be reduced from $12 billion to around $4 billion. Granted, tens of thousands of social workers, administrators, lawyers, juvenile court personnel, therapists, and foster parents would be out of business, but we would have safe, healthy, intact families, which are the foundation of any society. 

That’s just a fantasy, of course. The reality is that maybe we will see Kathleen Crowley’s children on the government home-shopping-for-children web site and some one out there can buy them.

May is national adoption month. To support “Adoption 2002,” the U.S. Postal Service is issuing special adoption stamps. Let us hope they don’t feature pictures of kids who are for sale. I urge everyone to boycott these stamps and register complaints with the post office.

I know that I’m feeling pretty smug and superior about being part of such a socially advanced and compassionate society. How about you?

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Lost Sparrow solves mystery but leaves wounds exposed

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lost sparrow

Four Native American children adopted by the Billing family

I think of this important documentary LOST SPARROW all the time and wanted to share the links with you again. The earlier review I wrote is on this blog here and I’ve included it in TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.

Review by Lara/Trace

On November 16, 2010, the documentary “Lost Sparrow” premiered on PBS Independent Lens.  Based on a true incident in 1978, two Crow Indian brothers (both adoptees) ran away from home and were found dead on railroad tracks the next day. Chris Billing’s film takes a closer look at what killed these two boys and what truth shattered his entire family.

The filmmaker is one of four biological children. His parents adopted six, with four of them from the Crow tribe. Billing was 16 when the boys died. The family buries them in New York and moves on with their lives. His parents eventually divorce.

The filmmaker narrates how his little brothers Bobby (13) and Tyler (11) were trying to help their sister Lana (who is also Crow). Lana told her brothers she was being sexually molested by their adoptive father. The two boys were going to Montana to get help. They knew who they were and knew their tribe.

As the film unfolds, Billings’ story becomes more about the despondent quiet Lana, and how she didn’t survive the sexual abuse or find peace after her brother’s heroic gesture and unfortunate deaths.  Lana runs far away from the adopters to North Carolina. Her pain is so deep the alcohol abuse seems the only antidote she can afford.

There are no signs of wealth where Lana lives; unlike the Billings and their homes in New Jersey and the summer mansion in upstate New York. Journalist-turned-filmmaker Chris Billing said it took three years to make the film. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Billing, agree to see Lana on film but neither managed an appropriate response to her troubled past. Dysfunctional denial, which Mr. Billing’s exhibited while filming, seems inappropriate and not an apology, considering the facts revealed during the course of filming. The man at the center of the conflict, the adoptive father, an all-controlling philanderer, rich businessman, acts like nothing happened, like he did nothing wrong. What you hope is he was charged as a pedophile and sent to prison. This didn’t happen.

What does happen is the filmmaker and his siblings repatriate the two boys to the Crow tribe and have them interned on tribal land.

Chris films the boys’ father and tribal family who knew the boys were adopted by a rich East coast family but could do nothing to stop the adoption. Their grief leaves the viewer tormented. After revealing the entire truth, the filmmaker said it did little to bond their family or cure old wounds, “If it was good for Lana, then making the film was worth it.”

Wounds this egregious and deep are not healed by a 78-minute film.

From the Lost Sparrow PR:  On June 27, 1978, a 44-car Conrail freight train struck and killed two Crow Indian brothers near the town of Little Falls, New York — a day after Bobby, 13, and Tyler, 11, had disappeared. The two boys had run away without warning from the white, Baptist family that had adopted them and their biological sisters seven years earlier, spiriting them from a troubled Montana reservation family to an idyllic Victorian castle across the country. Lost Sparrow recounts award-winning filmmaker Chris Billing’s investigation, three decades later, into the dark family secret that prompted his adopted brothers to flee.

Trace A. DeMeyer (Lara) is the author of One Small Sacrifice and Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects… She lives in Massachusetts.

Author Peter Matthiessen, Chronicler of Leonard Peltier, Walks On

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Associated Press
Author Peter Matthiessen, who championed the story of Leonard Peltier and Indian country in his work, walked on due to leukemia at age 86 on Saturday April 5, 2014.
4/7/14

Author Peter Matthiessen was a champion of Indian rights, not least of all for his controversial In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI’s War on the American Indian Movement (Viking Press, 1991) and the prophetic Indian Country (Viking Press, 1984).

But as the writer and the teacher of Zen Buddhism would no doubt tell us, it was truth he had been championing all along. And he did so with rigor until the very end. On April 5, 2014, when Matthiessen walked on at age 86 due to leukemia, his latest book—which he himself had said could be his “last word”—was about to be released. The “haunting and bewildering” novel In Paradise, as the Washington Post described it, does no less as it “ventures to Auschwitz to confront the Holocaust.”

The novel grew out of the author’s week at the Nazi death camp on a Zen retreat designed for participants to pay homage, pray and meditate in memory of the victims who had perished there. And he felt that the truths that emerged from the experience could only be presented in a fictionalized format.

Not so, of course, with his works that focused on Natives. The truth Matthiessen unearthed was hard-hitting enough that one of the books, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, was in litigation for eight years while those who did not like some of what he had to say waged a legal battle to keep it off bookstore shelves. In the end, though, the detailed examination of the American Indian Movement and the trial of Leonard Peltier that was shown by Matthiessen to be “based on widespread fraud and government misconduct,” as The New York Times noted in its review back in 1983, persevered.

“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse is one of those rare books that permanently change one’s consciousness about important, yet neglected, facets of our history,” wrote reviewer Alan M. Dershowitz in The New York Times. It is an effort that is still under way today as Peltier, given consecutive life sentences after his 1977 murder conviction on the killing of two FBI agents, remains in prison.

Soon after that would come Indian Country, equally scathing in its indictment of the environmental, cultural and psychological damage that centuries of European occupation have wrought. Matthiessen spent time with the Miccosukee Seminoles in Florida; the Hopi and Navajo in Arizona; the Eastern Cherokee in Tennessee and North Carolina, the Mohawk on the St. Lawrence River in New York; the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow and Wind River Shoshone, members of the Black Hills Alliance in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota; and California tribes including the Chumash, Yurok, Karuk, Pit River Nation, Western Shoshone and Paiute. The resulting book provides insight not only into the hurt being inflicted on Turtle Island’s First Peoples but also the injury that those who are attempting to eradicate them inflict on themselves.The author of 33 books—the only writer ever to win the National Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction—was profiled in an article in The New York Times Magazine printed just a couple of days before his death. “Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing” does not discuss his connection with American Indians, though it does mention his reporting on the infringements upon Indigenous People’s lands and the environment in general, worldwide, and alludes to the folly of continuing along that path. Matthiessen’s words would seem to be common sense, yet the same battles are still being fought today.

“It isn’t enough to admire Indian teachings; we need them,” he wrote in the introduction to Indian Country. “We belong to this earth, it does not belong to us; it cares for us, and we must care for it. If our time on earth is to endure, we must love the earth in the strong, unsentimental way of traditional peoples, not seeking to exploit but to live in balance with the natural world. When modern man has regained his reverence for land and life, then the lost Paradise, the Golden Age in the race memories of all peoples will come again, and all men will be ‘in Dios,’ people of God.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/07/author-peter-matthiessen-chronicler-leonard-peltier-walks-154364

Robert Redford renews fight to release jailed AIM activist Leonard Peltier

Lara/Trace:

War is dirty, cruel, and it’s time for Peltier to be released for he is a prisoner of war from a longtime battle fought in Indian County.

Originally posted on Warrior Publications:

Leonard PeltierTells Sunday Edition host Michael Enright he is pushing for a pardon from Obama

By Michael Enright, CBC News, April 6, 2014

On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents drove onto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Jack Coler and Ronald Williams were looking to arrest a man named Jimmy Eagle, who was suspected of stealing a pair of cowboy boots.

Pine Ridge had been a nightmare of violence, intimidation, murder and mayhem almost on a daily basis.

There had been more than 60 killings in just a couple of years in confrontations between members of the activist American Indian Movement, and groups of thugs who controlled life on the reservation.

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