Adoption is a process that generally involves the biological parents giving up a child to parents who go through a lengthy legal process in order to take over the raising of and caring for that child. It is an emotional process that carries with it many highs and lows. These situations tend to spiral out of control in an unfortunate manner when someone objects to the adoption, particularly if that objecting party is one of the biological parents. When that child is of Native American descent, the case can become extremely confusing even for legal professionals.
Unfortunately, that is what has been happening with a child who was adopted by a couple in South Carolina after she was born in Oklahoma. The biological father of the child challenged the adoption after finding out about it, and the case has been making its way through the legal system. Recently, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case, and the general hope is that whatever decision it makes will provide some uniform guidance to the adoption process across the country so that these difficult situations can be avoided in the future.
The case involves a little girl who was born to parents in Oklahoma. The mother is of Hispanic descent and the father has some Cherokee Indian in his background. Some of the facts are somewhat disputed, but what appears to be agreed upon is that after the mother agreed to give the child up for adoption to the adoptive parents, the father attempted to put a stop to it. The adoptive parents claimed that he should not be able to do so because he provided no financial support to the mother while she was pregnant.
Aside from the difficult facts, what is at issue here is the interpretation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or the ICWA. This is a federal law that was originally enacted by Congress in 1978 in order to put a stop to a trend that saw nearly one-third of all Native American children being removed from their families by government authorities and being offered for adoption and placed in foster homes because of allegations of abuse and problems with their well-being. Approximately 90 percent of those children went to live in homes where the parents were not Native American. The law is intended to help preserve their culture.
To date, the Supreme Court has not issued a decision regarding the ICWA, which may be why it has agreed to hear this case. It is extremely difficult to see loving adoptive parents face the possibility of losing their child, but the hope is that a decision will prevent these difficult situations from arising at any point in the future.
Every scenario where the custody of a child is in dispute is extremely difficult. If you face this situation, contact the San Diego child custody attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center today to schedule an initial consultation.