The first four paragraphs of the story:
Each time Elisia Manuel sees her daughter Precious rehearsing traditional basket dancing and humming tribal songs around their home in Casa Grande, Arizona, she’s overwhelmed with emotion. “It’s beautiful to witness,” the mother of three says. “She’s part of the community.”
This wasn’t always guaranteed. Elisia and her husband Tecumseh, who is a member of the Gila River Indian Community, became foster parents in 2012 after learning about the great need for Native American foster families in Arizona. They couldn’t have biological children of their own and felt a deep calling to help other families, Elisia says.
Within two years, the couple had taken in two foster children and adopted three more. Their two adopted sons are biological brothers, and each came to the Manuels when they were just days old.
Their daughter, Precious, also needed to leave her home as a baby but was going to be placed with a non-Native family at first. “She wouldn’t have received any education about her culture,” Elisia says. She knows what that would be like. Elisia’s family is Hispanic and has Apache roots, but, her grandmother was adopted and raised away from her biological family, so Elisia did not grow up learning about Apache culture and is not an enrolled tribal member.