Like any opening liner, it all stated back in 1970………..
I grew up knowing I was adopted. My parents told me I was part Kiowa and Quapaw Indian and that my biological mother looked like an Indian princess. Back in the 70’s they were still trying to integrate Indians into society and I was adopted by white parents. Today the courts try to keep the tribes together to maintain the Indian heritage. It was a culture I sadly missed out on.
Over the years people told me to get involved with the Indians. Don’t be a stranger, get to know them. Go to powwows’ (powwows’ are dances put on American Indians – some people don’t know that…my daughter didn’t and she’s one of the reason’s I’m writing this blog) anyway, everyone said get involved. Well, I do…to an extend.
Growing up the only Indian for 300 miles or it could have been 30 miles but I don’t know..I never knew any other Indians growing up, it was just me. So I was never part of a culture that knew anything about them. I was not one of them and yet I didn’t feel I was one of the ones around me, they were white and I didn’t look white. No offense, it’s just how I felt at the time. I guess knowing I didn’t even belong to the family I was in made me insecure about everything.
Growing up Indian was like growing up a troll. You never saw any trolls around. You ‘hear’ they lived in Oklahoma or Arizona or some far off state you never visited until one day you do and then you’re like, there they are. And I’m thinking looking at them, looking at their beautiful dark faces and dark skin and brown eyes, these are my people. I should dance, I should sing but I don’t. They’re Indian and I’m a troll – I just never fit in.
Truthfully, I never wanted to be one of those sad people. You know the ones with blond hair and fair skin wearing buckskin and beads claiming they are Indian, desperately trying to fit in. I shouldn’t be too hard on them because they were walking around with tribal roll numbers and here I am still numberless. Blue eyes are able to prove their Indian ancestry and I can’t prove a thing. I don’t attend powwows’ because I feel like an imposter. I also feel extremely frustrated trying to determine my identity. Oklahoma basically makes it impossible. This is what happened.
I lived fairly comfortable with the life I had made for myself and then things started going wrong. I wasn’t happy in my marriage; I was more indentured slave than wife and work was going great. Why do I list that as a bad thing? Because it ultimately ended my marriage. My ex probably never figured I’d ever amount too much (heck, me neither) but once I entered Federal Service, I was a rock star. I loved it but he didn’t. I was working late, taking on more responsibilities and everyone including me glorified my new position but we started fighting and it all just went downhill. I won’t bore you with those details.
It was during this time the urge to find my family became profound. The urge had always been a small voice I had learned to ignore over the years but the little voice was now shouting and I decided to do something about it.
I wrote Oklahoma’s Department of Family Services and asked for all “non-identifying” information on my family. For those of you who don’t know you can do this you can IF your adoption was state approved. They are required to give you everything they know, everything but names. I received a five-page letter telling me tons of information. I’ll go over it in detail later. Among the many pieces of information I was given, as stated by the social worker who met with my mother over a period of months leading up to my adoption, one piece was that my mother was half Quapaw. My biological father was full-blooded Kiowa.
Armed with this I thought I had quite a bit of convincing material to open my adoption records. I had a leading clue to the ancestry and an Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act (that was established after I was adopted) and proved a useful tool for the courts. I petitioned Oklahoma to open my records but the judge (who shall remain nameless because I might need to petition him again) wrote me a very nice letter back informing me my records were opened but there was nothing in it that verified my claim to being Indian. See? That social worker set me up. Did they completely invent my background, is there some Indian conspiracy at work here?! (you see where my minds goes – I blame that on them too) Anyway along with the letter came several pages; a document correcting my name, a parental relinquishment paper and a document correcting my mother’s name. Apparently the county clerk was drunk. Probably not but makes you think, why all the mistakes?
It was quite a bit of information and it really answered a lot of my questions and really wish I would have had the information 30 years ago. It would have saved me a LOT of heartache. But those are lessons learned and I’ve had tons of them. My life is a cautionary tale. I’m a cautionary tale. My blog should be named “Deborah, cautionary tale” but I like to think I have more to leave behind than just a tale or two and I’m working on them. I’m an author. Not a well-known or even a very well-written author (can’t afford a good editor) but I’ve written a couple of books. “One Step Closer” details the last five miserable years of my life in a character named Lara Martin. Check her out. She’s not bad.
I am a struggling writer, a struggling mother, a struggling Christian and doing this daily journal (daily blog) I think I’ll find the answers I’m looking for. You’re the couch and I’m the patient and like any good psychology will tell you, ‘all you need to do is talk and I’ll listen’. Well, I’m going to talk and at the end of the day maybe someone will be listening.