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I don’t know how old I was, but I was pretty young.
They took all of us — my sisters, my brother, and me — and they placed us in foster care. I was the last one to come home.” With her square-frame glasses and dark hair that falls loosely past her shoulders, Cheryl looks like a college student, but she is in her late 40s, a mother of four grown children and a grandmother of two.
Beside Denise Altvater, the Passamaquoddy woman who helped launch the probe by publicly sharing her story about life in an abusive foster home in the late 1960s, only one other person with direct foster-care experience has agreed to meet with me.
As the city was located on the Penobscot River, logs could be floated downstream from the North Maine Woods and processed at the city's water-powered sawmills, then shipped from Bangor's port to the Atlantic Ocean 30 miles downstream, and from there to any port in the world.
Denise Altvater says the worst part of being placed in an abusive foster home was not what she suffered, but how it crippled her ability to parent her own children.
She believes she and her sisters were taken primarily because their family was poor and Native American. As a teenager, it was hard for me to understand, but she had her reasons: to protect us.” In some Maine tribes at that time — the mid-1970s — as many as one in three children were in foster care, usually with non-Native families.
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