The Family Weekly: The Consequential Legal Battle Over One Dallas Family’s Adoption

Plus: How much leisure time is too much?

This Week in Family

When the Brackeens, a married couple in Dallas, agreed to foster a nine-month-old baby, they had no idea that a year later they would run afoul of a 1978 law called the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law was passed as a retroactive measure after centuries of forcibly removing Native American children from their families and sending them to boarding schools or to live with white families, in an attempt to assimilate them. The Brackeens sued, arguing that the law doesn’t protect the best interests of children, writes Gabby Deutch—but it could bring down central tenets of hard-won legislative achievements for the Native American community.
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(Illustration: Wenjia Tang)

In this week’s installment of The Friendship Files: Two women who first met online in Twilight fan-fiction forums, and over the next several years of their friendship published multiple best-selling romance novels together. “We didn’t leave our jobs until December of 2013. By that point, we had such a good thing going that we were like, ‘Why would we stop working together? You’re my best friend, and I have the best job ever,’” says Lauren Billings, a former neuroscientist and one half of the duo.
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How much free time is too much? Research suggests that two and a half hours could be optimal: any more, and you start to feel unproductive or lazy; any less, and you feel stretched thin. Joe Pinsker explains that the correlation seems clear, but we don’t know that much about the reasons behind the magic number—or how to achieve it if you’re balancing work, kids, and other obligations.
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School shootings tend to receive the most attention in debates about gun control. But the truth is that most children who die from gun-related incidents are killed in a home. “The more-mundane shootings, and the ones that mainly affect people of color, tend to get far less media attention than those that occur in suburban or relatively affluent and predominantly white communities,” Alia Wong writes.
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Dear Therapist

(Illustration: Bianca Bagnarelli)

Every Monday, the psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb answers readers’ questions about life’s trials and tribulations, big or small, in The Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist” column.

This week, a mother writes in about her son’s college-admissions process, which she feels is rigged against him: He’s white, middle class, and has good grades, but didn’t get into any of the Ivy League schools he applied to. How should she help him through the frustration?

Lori’s advice: Children and young adults tend to absorb their parents’ worldviews—and anxieties. If a parent’s first reaction is to focus on the negatives at hand, that might set children up for a self-fulfilling prophecy of discontent at the schools they eventually go to.

Ask professionals in the admissions field, such as an experienced college-guidance counselor, whether a student with your son’s résumé who happens to be a woman of color might still be rejected from the school of her choice. You may be surprised by the answer. Having this information might help you separate the reality from the reaction you’re having, and this in turn will help you talk to your son in a more productive way about what is, for most families applying to top-tier schools, a grueling and anxiety-provoking process.

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Send Lori your questions at