Should the Indian Child Welfare Act be repealed?

Posted in the Lincoln Forum

penelope

Lincoln, NE

#1 May 24, 2012
During the Clinton Administration, Congress passed racist legislation amusingly (and in my view somewhat inaptly) named "The Indian Child Welfare Act". It basically provides that any child of part Native American ancestry must have tribal approval before an adoption is allowed. You can seek to adopt from a tribe if you are at least 1/16 Native American, but if you are a different racial combination you are out of luck unless a special exemption is granted by an impacted tribe.

Because of this law, many unfortunate children who have at least one Native American ancestor (parent, grandparent or great-grandparent) languish in semi-permanent foster care, unable to obtain permanent adoptive placements. The state and tribe usually receive some payments for their care, of course, from the federal government.

In all fairness, some tribes do an excellent job finding permanent placements for partly Native American foster children. But some tribes find the requirements burdensome from an administrative standpoint and expensive for the tribe as well.

Should the Indian Child Welfare Act be repealed? Why or why not? What is your opinion about this topic?
Debbie

Murrells Inlet, SC

#3 May 25, 2012
The ICWA was enacted in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high percentage of NA children being removed from NA homes and placed in non NA foster homes. As a result many NA children were being disassociated from their culture and heritage and assimilated into non NA cultures. The law was put in place as a way to maintain tribal culture by assuring these children would be placed in NA foster homes and able to maintain their culture and heritage. 34 yrs later the law is antiquated and is being applied in situations Congress never anticipated or implied when they passed it. As a mother of three NA children adopted from foster care I support change to the ICWA although IMO the law as an entirety does not need to be repealed. In many cases tribes are using the law as a tool to maintain tribal numbers, with little and sometimes total disregard for the well being of the children themselves. Hundreds of NA children are currently languishing in foster care. Many will never achieve permanancy and stability because the tribes do not allow non NA families to adopt these children, and they do not have the families avaialble and willing to take these children into their homes. They would rather they stay in state foster care, being shuffled around from home to home, or living in group homes rather than let a non NA family adopt them. Supporters of this law continuosly spout that these children need to maintain their culture and that is why they need to remain under tribal care however time and time again families who have actually been successful in adopting NA children are rebuked and ignored when they look for their children to have affiliation with their tribal families. So I ask is it about maintaining cultural ties and heritage or is it about the numbers and federal dollars the tribes receive per member.
lane

United States

#4 May 25, 2012
penelope wrote:
During the Clinton Administration, Congress passed racist legislation amusingly (and in my view somewhat inaptly) named "The Indian Child Welfare Act". It basically provides that any child of part Native American ancestry must have tribal approval before an adoption is allowed. You can seek to adopt from a tribe if you are at least 1/16 Native American, but if you are a different racial combination you are out of luck unless a special exemption is granted by an impacted tribe.
Because of this law, many unfortunate children who have at least one Native American ancestor (parent, grandparent or great-grandparent) languish in semi-permanent foster care, unable to obtain permanent adoptive placements. The state and tribe usually receive some payments for their care, of course, from the federal government.
In all fairness, some tribes do an excellent job finding permanent placements for partly Native American foster children. But some tribes find the requirements burdensome from an administrative standpoint and expensive for the tribe as well.
Should the Indian Child Welfare Act be repealed? Why or why not? What is your opinion about this topic?
this is absolutely ridiculous. I am aboutb50% Native American . I am not registered with any tribe nor will I due to this law. If one chooses to adopt or place their children for adoption it should be there decision alone.I believe in preserving ones culture and roots. An adoptive parent or child should never have to worry about having their child ripped from their arms. A parent who made the choice of adoption should not have to worry about their decision being overturned. What makes their culture better than any other?.
Angela Sparks

Syracuse, NY

#5 May 25, 2012
My Opinion about about the INCWA of 1978. it doesn't need to be repealed, it need to be rewrote, becuase it is so out dated, it need to come into the 20 century so many thing have change since then. Drug abuse, child abuse is on the raise, people useing the system these days. THis acts has been mist used for so many years and some people and goverment people know that. It just need to be recreated and rewrited with better laws and better understanding. it need to show where this act can be use and where it can't be use. It like it saying that a family of non-indian blood doen't have right right to love a part or full indian child, when there is anybody else their to love them. come on now.
rfw

Springboro, OH

#6 May 25, 2012
While I won't pretend to know everything about this Act, I have read about some cases where I do not agree with decisions made based on ICWA. I do believe that children should be found permanent homes when they cannot be raised by their biological family. If the child is Native American, they should be placed in a NA home. If a NA home cannot be found within a reasonable (?) amount of time, then a non NA home should be found. I have also been reading up on cases where people say the law was misapplied. It seems in these cases that the law was not misapplied, but was not applied at all. A large majority of these cases also seem to involve adoptions where BOTH biological parents were not counseled, represented, and agreeable to an adoption plan PRIOR to the adoptive family taking placement of a child. When agencies and attorneys are completing adoptions and not including one of the biological parents who may or may not be Native American then how can the law be applied correctly? To say a mother didn't know the father was Native American or to misspell a name when researching Native American ties are not valid excuses. Why would any professional take the word of one parent without substantiating the information with the other parent? This is not to say that every mother should be seen as a liar, but any professional knows that to get a full, accurate picture of a situation, all parties involved must be interviewed, counseled, etc. They also know that in order to complete an ETHICAL adoption that is in the best interest of a child, BOTH parents must be involved. Professionals don't make blanket judgements on who would make a good parent or if they thought someone did enough and did it quickly enough to be deemed a suitable parent. They could only form an opinion after a full assessment of both parents. Can you imagine losing your rights to parent because someone else thought you didn't deserve it? I know plenty of people who are against two working parents and placing your child in daycare, feeding your child formula, single parenthood, etc. In order for the ICWA to be misapplied in many of these cases, it must first be applied. I think a lot of what we read regarding ICWA are actually issues with unethical adoptions occuring, not problems with the ICWA.
whatatravesty

Raleigh, NC

#7 May 25, 2012
This law is just another indication of the lack of accountability that is eroding the fabric of our nation. Although pure in its inception; there are countless situations of gross abuse of its misapplication.The notion that a human being is defined by their blood is archaic, racist and fundamentally flawed. Innocent children and families are being destroyed all in the name of tribal sovereignty.I'm not sure if it's the law or it's application by individual with unscrupulousness motives but the bureaucracy involved is staggering in its lack of compassion for the lives of these children.
Mark Fiddler

Minneapolis, MN

#8 May 26, 2012
penelope wrote:
During the Clinton Administration, Congress passed racist legislation amusingly (and in my view somewhat inaptly) named "The Indian Child Welfare Act".

[Correction: Actually, this was passed during the Carter Administration in 1978.]

It basically provides that any child of part Native American ancestry must have tribal approval before an adoption is allowed.

[Correction: nothing in ICWA requires tribal approval of adoptions, though that is the myth.]

You can seek to adopt from a tribe if you are at least 1/16 Native American, but if you are a different racial combination you are out of luck unless a special exemption is granted by an impacted tribe.

[Correction: tribes have different requirements to be Indian, and most require 25% Indian blood to be enrolled. The Cherokee require no minimum.]

Because of this law, many unfortunate children who have at least one Native American ancestor (parent, grandparent or great-grandparent) languish in semi-permanent foster care, unable to obtain permanent adoptive placements.

[This is true; Indian children spend more time in foster care and awaiting adoption due to a shortage of Indian foster homes.]

The state and tribe usually receive some payments for their care, of course, from the federal government.

[All foster care placements receive federal foster care subsidies--Indians are no different.]

In all fairness, some tribes do an excellent job finding permanent placements for partly Native American foster children. But some tribes find the requirements burdensome from an administrative standpoint and expensive for the tribe as well.

Should the Indian Child Welfare Act be repealed? Why or why not? What is your opinion about this topic?
[most state and federal laws currently require relatives to be considered for foster care and adoptive placements, as well as reasonable efforts to remedy the family's problems, so I don't see how ICWA does anything more than that except cause delay. It is an out-of-date law.

ICWA advocates will say Indian children are placed disproportionately out of the home, yet that isn't because ICWA isn't followed--it is because of socioeconomic conditions. ICWA won't change the poverty, neglect, single parenting, alcoholism, domestic violence, and other ills that plague Indian communities. Yes, the US Government contributed mightily to these conditions, but that doesn't make ICWA the "cure." It is time to repeal it.
Jeff

Topeka, KS

#9 May 27, 2012
"Oh I'm sorry Misses White but you cannot adopt little child black he must go to an african family because of some ignorant law we made." wait a minute nevermind misses White hes African American which means he is african in heritage first but he is also an American therefore any american should be allowed to adopt him. Indians are commonly refered to as Native Americans and it is such because they are indeed Natives but they are also Americans. So if we are a country based on ethics and morals and base principles by all means an American family should be able to adopt a Native American child without so much fuss from people that share no commonality past heritage. They are parents grandparents or GAL to these children they are a tribe of senior natives who get to decide what occurs in other peoples lives based on a law passed 40 someodd years ago. What's even funnier is this statement which could infact be incurred from the law. "Oh i'm sorry your not NA so you cannot adopt this child. He will be spending the next 10-12 years in White/black/NA foster families bouncing all over the place and maybe even some group homes mostly owned and operated by the State not NA people with random staff who come and go and also know nothing about NA heritage.? Why not let the child be happy instead of worry about what they may or may not recieve from a cultural standpoint.
Bonnie Hofer

Hayti, SD

#10 May 31, 2012
Laws are already set in place to try and keep children with their families. The ICWA is being abused and comments like these below show that Native American Children actually do not have the same rights as citizens of the USA. They have less protection from abusive situations.

Jim Abourezk is a former U-S Senator and co-author of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, a federal law that he says continues to send a clear message about tribal adoptions. Abourezk says, "It basically says before you can adopt an Indian child, you have to go through the tribal courts will decide whether or not the adoption will go through."

It's a 28-year-old law that's creating new wounds for the Hofers. Abourezk says "The tribe has the right or law to stop adoptions if they see too many Indian children being taken out of the tribe."

Abourezk grew up on the Rosebud reservation. He says research shows removing a child from the reservation can life-long effects.

He says, "They grow up thinking they are white. Then they go to school somewhere and get hit with the fact they are Indian. There is racism involved."

While some might question the quality of reservation life for a child like Christian, Abourezk says research has found the loss of his culture could hurt even more.

Abourezk says, "We found also that even if a mother is an alcoholic and an Indian mother that the child is probably better off with that mother, than being taken away and put into a white culture that they are not used to."
http://keloland.com/news/NewsDetail6373.cfm...
rfw

Springboro, OH

#11 Jun 1, 2012
"The problem is even though the termination was done by Good Bird's attorney, it wasn't done in front of a judge. That leaves a loophole for Good Bird to ask for him back."

Abourezk says, "They should have gone through the tribal court and got tribal court permission for adoption, then if later on, the mom said I want to chance (sic) my mind tribal court would say 'Too late, you shouldn't be allowed to do that.'"

Once again, another case being looked at where ICWA was not misapplied or misused, but rather was not applied in the first place. Perhaps if the attorney would have followed ICWA, the tribe would have granted permission for the family to adopt per the mother's wishes and we wouldn't be running into these problems. This is not some obscure law, anyone that works in adoption/foster care knows about this law and should be following it for every case. What often happens is that agencies and attorneys are so desperate to make a placement to get their fee that they decide to ignore ICWA and hope that nothing happens. Some families are also willing to take the risk, knowing that ICWA is not being followed, and then they fight desperately for the child and use the defense that they are the only family the child knows. The real outrage should come from people (agencies, attorneys, families, etc.) breaking the law and then expecting everyone to be sympathetic.

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