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What I find the most disheartening, or even, disingenuous, is how quickly they are willing to convict you of being a bad father because at some random point you signed a piece of paper, even though you immediately withdrew that piece of paper and contested the adoption. They find everything "hard to believe." That's what they say. "I find it hard to believe that " and then they put something in there about how you must have been serious when you signed some piece of paper that you didn't want to be a father, and they "find it hard to believe" that you didn't mean it. They "find it hard to believe" that you want to be a father because other people have said you weren't "involved" in Veronica's life before she was born. (I know you tried. I believe you tried.) I don't know why you aren't allowed to change your mind, if that was the case, if any of their accusations are true. I don't know why you aren't allowed to be a father. I don't know why you have proven every second of every day from that point that you DO in fact want to be a father but it doesn't seem to matter. I don't know why the onus is on you to prove you are a father in some legal rigamaroo and not on that couple to LEGALLY adopt a child.
They didn't follow a lot of rules either (we excuse them), they didn't follow the laws of Oklahoma (we excuse them), they didn't follow the Indian Child Welfare Act which is a federal law (we excuse them), they didn't follow the gag order for the case (we excuse them) and they didn't work for the best interest of your daughter (we excuse them). They should not be excused. Do not excuse them.
So Dusten fight. You may be exhausted. You may feel heavy. You may be grieving. But I say fight. Be the warrior. I will burn some root for you (in my tribe we burn root to bless, say prayers, offer thanks, prepare ) and I will sing for you and I will look up into the sky and I will send you my laughter, my tears, my strength and I will say "fight." Fight by telling your story. Go on every single talk show. Fight. Tell everyone your story. Talk until you cannot talk anymore and when you cannot talk any more, write. Write Veronica letters every single day and post them. Compile them and publish them. She will find them. Dear Veronica, I love you. She will read them. Dear Veronica, I fought for you because I am your father. No, wait, I FIGHT (continue to) for you because I am your father. She will see you fight. Don't apologize for who you are, don't apologize for anything. Continue to fight this good fight. There are many who will stand with you. You were never in this fight alone, though you had to fight it without many of your supporters standing next to you. But we were there. We will continue to be there. And we will continue to fight.
And tonight I will sing a song for you. In Hupa we sing the song three times once for our K'ixinay, once for our community, and once for ourselves. Tonight I will sing it as a prayer (to our K'ixinay), as a blessing (to the community, including Veronica) and for you.
With much respect and continued hope,
Cutcha Risling Baldy
Cutcha Risling Baldy, Hupa, Karuk, Yurok, is a scholar, instructor, and PhD Candidate in Native American Studies at UC Davis. Her research is largely interdisciplinary and incorporates her interests in contemporary Native American society, politics, literature and California Indians. Ms. Risling Baldy is an enrolled citizen of the Hoopa Valley Tribe with ties to the Yurok and Karuk peoples. She also has her Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction and Literature from San Diego State University and her BA in Psychology with a special focus in Health and Development from Stanford University. She is also the Project Coordinator for the "Uneasy Remains" Film Project and the Executive Director for the Native Women's Collective. Find out more and read her blog at: http://cutchabaldy.weebly.com
posted September 26, 2013 2:20 pm edt