Adoption Controversy · In the News · Indian Country

Karen Vigneault – Helping Native Adoptees Search

MAKING CONTACT: My Interview with Native Genealogist Karen Vigeault-MLIS

By Lara/Trace

I was so surprised and happy to receive a gracious email from Karen about four months ago as I do know many adoptees who get stuck on doing genealogy when they open their adoptions and have a name or family story that says there is INDIAN BLOOD.  Once you have a name, you have to connect a parent or grandparent to a tribal roll. This has been a real problem for many adoptees.

The following short interview is with Karen Vigneault-MLIS. She is an academic research librarian, genealogist and historical researcher. Karen is a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel. 
She has offered to help adoptees do family genealogy to be enrolled with their tribal nations. This offers hope for many of us! But remember that adoptees must do all the necessary steps to get their adoption records. She explains why this is so very important.

Karen, you have helped a few Native adoptees find their way back home. Can you share an example?

http://theacademy.sdsu.edu/TribalSTAR/services/EMailNewsletter/Archive/Sep_Oct2013/TS_Drumbeats_Sep_Oct_2013.html
Above is the link to pics and small article showing all that were involved in Patrick’s aka Quinton’s (his real name) story.  It was interesting because in his case his mom was adopted as well… but she had passed.. so we had to get both cases opened. By opening his mothers we found more info on grandmothers last name. They spelled it wrong, which meant I had to try and decipher what it possibly matched on Aleutian records. I also called Alaska and spoke to people from villages in the area asking if they ever heard the name I thought it was.. In the end we found the enrollment documents on the tribal website.. He filled them out, sent out the adoption records as well.. and ultimately was enrolled..

Opening records seems to be the biggest roadblock for many adoptees.  How have you opened or accessed records?
I myself did not open the records. I had connections along the way and the ADOPTEE did their part in requesting info and documents… It starts with going to family court and requesting to get the records opened. Here in California we also have CILS (CA. Indian Legal Services)… which also has a form to petition to have your records opened.
http://www.calindian.org/about/cils-history

You work with another person that trains judges on these types of cases. You have opened records to get the adoptee enrolled. How did you do this? 
(see above) It is important that adoptees cultivate relationships with people connected to the court system. 

Have you used the Indian Child Welfare Act to petition the courts?
Yes, definitely!

Do you recommend an adoptee use someone like you and could someone get in touch with you for your help?
Yes I think working with someone who already has the experience navigating through websites/ documents and Indian country would make the task a little easier.  I can be reached at my email: kumeyaayindian@hotmail.com
 
I wish to thank Karen for this amazing offer to help adoptees in their search.  Since this was first published on American Indian Adoptees, Karen has successfully helped three of my friends who are Native adoptees find their ancestors and relatives. Because of Karen, I will be travelling to San Diego next month to address the tribal judges about my work and my books.

 

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