Three adult adoptees, all non-Indian, have turned to poetry to share their overwhelming grief for Veronica Brown’s inevitable separation anxiety; for Dusten Brown’s loss of his child; and for the Cherokee Nation’s heartache over the removal of an Indian child who should be raised among her family and tribal community, immersed in her culture.
"Veronica" by Rebecca Hawkes
They tell us this has nothing to do with us.
They say we aren't you.
But we know better.
We are experiencing our own separation all over again.
We are both inside and outside our own bodies.
Projection, they say.
Reaction, I say.
It is happening again.
It is happening to you.
It is happening to us.
The only difference is that this time
We have not only our cries but also
Rebecca Hawkes is a reunited adult adoptee and a mother to a daughter by birth and a daughter by open adoption from foster care. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and daughters and is a co-founder of ashleysmoms.com. You can read her writings on adoption, family and identity at her blog Sea Glass & Other Fragments.
Hawkes’ poem was originally published by thelostdaughters.com.
"Equality" by Rosita (she requested ICTMN use only her first name)
Her cries are real, and his too. There is anguish in the eyes of a small four-year-old.
Baby Veronica is now in the arms of her adopted parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. Yet, whose arms are now empty?
A man. A father. Dusten Brown weeps for his daughter as she does for him. Here is where our system has failed. A man who desperately wants to be a father was denied the right. He was overlooked in the process.
As a feminist, I should make clear that I believe in the true definition of feminism … “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” But this assumes that men have rights.
In the case of Baby Veronica, her father did not have the rights that her birth mother did. He was misled. Birth fathers should have equal rights and protections, especially in the welfare of their children.
If a birth mother decides she cannot parent her child, and the birth father wants to raise his child, he should be given the opportunity to do so. No other adult should be given that right unless both birth parents have relinquished it.
Dusten Brown has proven that he loves his daughter. He has provided for her, cared for her, cuddled her and nurtured her for almost two years.
Baby Veronica knows he loves her, and she wants to stay with him. Her right in all this is paramount. She deserves the love of her birth father, the man she will never forget.
Rosita is a transracial, Korean-American adoptee. She is married to a Brit who refers to himself as an Anglo-American and is a mother to two Hapa children. Adopted in 1968 at the age of one, Rosita has not searched for her biological family. Her road has been speckled with Puerto Rican and Appalachian relatives and her biracial sister. While quite content with her role as a “Tennerican,” her curiosity has grown recently as her children explore their own ethnic identities. She considers herself a lost daughter, not because of the loss of her birth family, but more because of the loss of her adopted mother, who died in 2001 as Rosita became a first time mother. When she is not supporting her children on their individual paths, Rosita spends her time as an art educator and an art photographer. She also shares her adventures as an adoptee and parent on her blog, mothermade.
Rosita’s poem was originally published by thelostdaughters.com.
Baby Veronica by Mary Oishi
23, 24 & 25 September 2013
this day is begging for a poem
this day is running crazy down an oklahoma street, screaming
chasing carloads of federal marshalls and one little girl
who wants grandparents and cousins
a clan, a community, a daddy who looks like her
this day is chasing those marshalls, wailing
BUT GRANDPA'S IN THE HOSPITAL WITH CHEST PAINS!
WAIT! A WHOLE NATION'S GRIEVING
WAIT! THE U.N. HAS IMPLORED YOU TO SAFEGUARD HER RIGHTS
WAIT! A FATHER WHO FOUGHT FOR YOU--THAT'S HIS BABY GIRL
WHAT. IS. WRONG WITH YOU????
the cavalry of marshalls disappears from sight.
(Is this 1813 or 2013?)
this day falls in a heap exhausted
knowing the system always favors
wasichu values: more money.
greed washed righteous by “respectability”
flawless hygiene to cover a hollow life
numb with ritalin and prozac
its sterile feet squeezed into gold prada heels
parading as success
oh yeah, this day is begging for a poem
not a sonnet, not an ode, not some couplet
contrived behind ivyed walls
this day begs a poem, no, a prayer, forgotten prayer
rising slowly like a feather on the wind
joined by an eagle's call, a wolf’s, a bear’s
then ten thousand buffalo
thundering on ancient graves
a prayer that wakes the ancestors from
their too soon sleep from long walks and long rifles
until they rise up and follow Baby Veronica
walk beside her every step in the white man's world
whisper comfort so her Cherokee heart stays warm
in the strange cold heat of south carolina
Mary Oishi, a Japanese American woman adopted and raised in the Appalachians, is a performance poet and activist who now resides in New Mexico. Her first published book of poetry is Spirit Birds They Told Me (January 2011).