Naabaagoondiwin (Traditional Adoption)

“In ceremonies there were four orders represented: the rock, the fire, the air and the water.  There were four parts to each ceremony: the purification, the preparation, the offering and, finally, the festival in which all took part in the dancing or thanksgiving.  All life and being were honoured.”  Basil Johnston 2011

A few years ago a friend along with a couple of my relatives decided to adopt the Archbishop as their brother. I may be wrong but it was more of a symbolic gesture as opposed to “building families” as in: … traditional adoptions are “building family,” he explained, in Ojibwe cultural contexts where extended families are the foundation of society. Ojibwe Elder Bernard J. Rock, Sr  (“This is a huge kind of symbolic gesture. Archbishop”) 

Still it is a grand gesture and it is something that goes on throughout the Indigenous community everywhere. There are many reasons for adoption but like the Elder has said, it is to build family. I like that.

My wife Suz, our daughter Clo are raising a baby girl. Avs came to us when she was month old and her Mom, our oldest girl is letting us bring up her baby. I have seen this in our community over and over again, the Grandparents bringing up grandchildren. It has been done over and over and will continue. It is a great thing for us and we are so happy for the opportunity.

There are challenges of course with raising a grandchild. We don’t have the guardianship papers required by several agencies to make decisions for the child (schools, doctors, identification application, adding her to our health benefits, etc.). So our oldest girl comes to make those inquiries for us. We went to register for Indian registration at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and after months of waiting were denied as we didn’t have guardianship papers, didn’t matter that our daughter has written a “to whom it may concern” letter saying we are the guardians. The court process is tedious and expensive. I have gone several times to stand in front of a Judge but each time there is a stumbling block. The latest is someone has to come do an assessment of our home- a $2,000.00 minimum fee. I went to CFS for advice and they say to give her to CFS and then they can do the assessment. We are not willing to do that and see no reason for it. We are going to go custom adoption and we may not even decide to go to court. I feel that it should be recognized. Its recognized in British Columbia but it is still a provincial court process which is kind of strange?

I have spoken to our friend and relative David and Sheryl Blacksmith to do our Adoption Ceremony. It’s strange because the adoption ceremony for children is not as widely done as it is for adults. I am just guessing because people just took the kids and they were theirs, no need to adopt. Everyone just knew. The world is different now. Our families or I should say some of our communities don’t behave like extended family. They isolate themselves are becoming more and more individualistic. That is a shame because our community foundation is based on extended family and helping each other. When we become more and more individualistic we are more and more adopting the ways of the Whiteman; thinking like a White person.  So we are making our Adoption Ceremony a little public.

For the Ceremony we of course will have family and extended family come and share the good feelings and for good life. We have yet to get the time and place of the Ceremony but we are feeling very good about it.

nimino-wiijiiwaaganag  My good friends

Ceremony is more than a religious gathering; it is the way of life.


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