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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Memoir about Finding Oneself Will Especially Resonate with American Indians

One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects
By Trace A. DeMeyer
ISBN: 978-0-557-25599-3.

Originally reviewed by John Christian Hopkins, for the national Native newspaper News From Indian Country

The Beatles sang of a long and winding road, but they never set foot on the long, treacherous path of a Native American adoptee that is strewn with potholes, dead-ends and disappointment.

Award-winning Native journalist Trace A. DeMeyer shares the heartfelt journey of loss, loneliness and finding love in her powerful, new memoir “One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects,” an exposé on generations of American Indian children adopted by non-Indian families.

One reader told DeMeyer it was like being “punched in the gut.”

Pulling no punches, DeMeyer, who now lives in Greenfield, Mass., with her husband, Herb, rips away the illusion that adoption ends happily ever after as soon as the documents are signed and finalized.

She delves into the dark world of doubts – “Why didn’t my mom want me?” – and the fear that asking too many questions would cause her adoptive parents to throw her away all over again.

She suffered years of abuse – emotionally, sexually, and physically – as pain became her constant companion and a pretend happy smile her childhood defense against the torrent of doubts in her life.

DeMeyer spent years meeting and talking with other “Split Feathers,” Native American children taken from their homes and placed in non-Indian families; she discovered that her experiences weren’t new or unique, that many other adoptees, just like her, had unanswered questions, mountains of sadness and, often, shattered lives.

Conquering that tumultuous beginning felt like the easy part as DeMeyer attempted to find her birth family. Her first obstacle was that her adoption was “closed,” meaning sealed and she had no legal right to view her own file!

A sympathetic judge in her Wisconsin hometown allowed DeMeyer to look at her file when she was 22; she found tantalizing clues about her birth family, and even more questions to haunt her as sought to come full circle and discover who she really was.

“I read this powerful book cover to cover, Trace tells her story with such compassion and truthfulness,” Alutiiq-Cherokee adoptee and author Anecia O’Carroll wrote. “Her memories, feelings and facts are written with such unflinching truth, in my mind and heart, she is a warrior and a hero.”

Known for her exceptional print interviews with famous Native Americans such as Leonard Peltier and John Trudell, DeMeyer started research on adoptees in 2004, which led to this fact-filled, 227-page biography that includes congressional testimony, evidence of Indian Adoption Projects and how the Indian Child Welfare Act came to exist.

This jaw-dropping narrative of living as an adoptee, her search, meeting birth relatives, will surely raise eyebrows and question the validity of sealed records and the billion dollar adoption industry. Trace DeMeyer’s blog, updated often, can be found at

Her journey takes her to Illinois to meet her birthfather in 1996 where she learns about her Cherokee-Shawnee ancestry.

In the 1870s Ponca chef Standing Bear had to take his case to court to prove he was a human being; but DeMeyer’s journey took her further as she tried to prove to herself that she was somebody, too.
The reviewer is author of Carlomagno: The Pirate Prince,

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Anecia O'Carroll said...

I read Trace A. DeMeyer's powerful new book, cover to cover -- One Small Sacrifice. Trace is an adoptee, a journalist and author who has done years of research and tells her story with compassion and truthfulness. She has gathered memories, feelings, facts and written with unflinching truth, such that, in my mind and heart, she is a warrior and a hero. This book holds great meaning for all people involved in adoption.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in the same area that Ms. DeMeyer was raised, all my life, I truly enjoyed her book very much. I have several good friends that are Native Americans who also enjoyed the book. I truly found it fascinating the journey Ms. DeMeyer took to find the facts of her life. Very Interesting.

scott mcintyre said...

I spent the last two days reading Ms. DeMeyer's account of her journey to find her roots. I found it very informative as well as extremely interesting. I truly appreciated the amount of research Ms. DeMeyer went through in order to complete her journey. Well written and non stop great reading.

Scott McIntyre

barb burke said...

A powerful story told by an incredible writer. I could not put this book down.