Child Custody In Native American Adoption Raises Questions, Says Denver Child Custody Attorney
Feb 22, 2013
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) February 21, 2013 – The Supreme Court has agreed to review the ruling which returned an adopted child to her biological father.
The adopted parents requested an appeal in the care of the now three-year-old, which the court had granted. The South Carolina couple adopted a Native American baby; her father is a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
“Child custody cases such as this one are difficult for everyone concerned, and happen with some frequency,” said Denver child custody attorney Bill Thode. “Everyone typically wants what is in the best interest of the child, but everyone has a different concept of what that entails.”
The federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), passed in 1978, was put into place to stop Indian children from being removed from their biological homes by both state and federal agencies and placed in non-Indian homes or in institutions to “assimilate” them. The ICWA oversees the minimal federal standards put into place to dictate when an Indian child can be placed outside their tribe environment and focuses on custodial preference toward the child’s extended family, typically granting custody to a child’s biological parent, granting the child’s family and tribe members a voice in their care.
The adoptive parents want the ICWA waived in this case. They were present for the birth of the child and were granted custody by her biological mother in a private adoption. The biological father later went to court to seek custody, which was granted in 2011. He took the child from South Carolina back to Oklahoma with him.
“While the couple in question may have thought the adoption was binding, the biological mother may have not secured a relinquishing of parental rights from the biological father,” said Thode, who is not involved in this case.
The legal representative for the Cherokee Nation stated that the Nation defends the rights of “Native American children to be raised in Native American homes” and was surprised that the Supreme Court plans to go forward, as there had already been a ruling in South Carolina.
The Supreme Court plans to hear the case in late 2013.
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
201 Steele Street, Suite 201
Denver, CO 80206
Call: (303) 330-0425