Seen & Heard
In an opinion piece for CNN, Tompkins shares her incredibly personal perspective on the Indian Child Welfare Act as the Supreme Court considers a landmark case about the law: “As a Native person who was adopted into a White family before the implementation of ICWA... I can attest firsthand, as a citizen of both the United States and the Navajo Nation, that ICWA is not about race.”
Tompkins was adopted into a white family and raised in New Jersey. As an adult, she reconnected with her Navajo relatives in New Mexico and felt an “overwhelming” sense of loss. Tompkins says the ICWA should stay intact to prevent other Native American children from having their tribal connections severed:
If ICWA had been in place when I was adopted, my Tribe would have been involved in my adoption. Navajo tribal authorities would have had a say in my adoption had I been adopted under the provisions of the law. I could have maintained a connection with my relatives – even if I had ended up with White parents. I still could have been adopted by a non-Native family, but my adoptive family might have been able to connect with my extended family or others, fostering a connection with my Tribe. But because I was placed for adoption prior to the existence of ICWA, I had to reclaim my connection with my Tribe all on my own.