Sarah and Jeremy H. were allowed to proceed with the adoption of “A.D.,” a three-year girl they have had in their home since she was five days old. The child was removed from her birth mother due to substance-exposure at birth and was placed into foster care. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the couple that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) could not stop the adoption. ICWA is a federal law enacted about 40 years ago to prevent the removal of Indian children from their homes and their tribal roots. The Indian community fought to get the case transferred to tribal court.
But it was ruled that the Indian community didn’t move fast enough and needed to make a motion before the parental rights of the birth parents were severed. Adi Dynar, the family’s attorney and staff attorney for the Goldwater Institute states, “The ruling helps define the reach of the federal law. It puts tribes on notice that won’t be able to use ICWA.”
The ruling disappointed Indian community governor Stephen Lewis. AZ Central summarizes Lewis’s statement: “with the involvement of ‘anti-Indian’ groups such as the Goldwater Institute, tribes are moving more quickly to seek transfer of child-dependency cases to tribal court, as the federal law allows. That would avoid situations such as the one concerning the child named ‘A.D.’”
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