Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl the United States Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
I'm very shocked at the "Whoop Whoop" (which seems racist), and cheering of many of the adoption groups on FaceBook. I don't think that they realize the bigger picture of this decision regarding Baby Veronica and the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act).
I don't know enough about the detailed particulars of this one case, but the child spent about 27 months with prospective adopting parents and then was moved to her birth father and has spent the most recent nearly 24 months with him. Are you saying the court now wants to remove her and transfer her once again?
It appears that the professionals did not do their job ethically early on if the birthfather, his family, and his tribe were not addressed as soon as possible after the birth of the child. From what I have read, they did not spell the father's name correctly in the beginning, and so they didn't see that he was registered as a Cherokee. I don't know enough to say that the child is 'better off' staying with the loving parents who have cared for her since soon after her birth or with her father and his extended family/tribe who cherish her and fought for her and are forever connected to her. I do, however, know that the ruling by the Supremes is not a good one.
Do you realize (whether you would be for or against this decision) that the Justices have now stated that children should simply be moved back and forth between families until courts can make final decisions? Do you know what all of that waiting and insecurity of the adults, and moves of the child does to a child's core? I know we are quite used to moving children in state care and internationally in order to be adopted at age 6 weeks, 18 months, 5 years, 11 years...Can't we do things in the right manner from the beginning in the best interest of the child and not of the 'business of adoption'. Is anyone thinking about not just now, but the whole lifespan of this child?
Adoption should be ethical, caring, and right in order to stand the test of time. Baby Veronica will be 18-year old Roni some day and will read the FaceBook notes, the Supreme Court judgment and will know that her life is made more traumatized and fragile because the people in charge could not do the right thing from the start, go by the law, and make swift decisions in the child's best interest.
I think this is probably a very joyous day for the adoptive parents and for some adoptive parents in general, but I believe most adoptive parents really care deeply about their children and their children's first families, and they will know that this is not cause for whooping and celebrating. This is a very mixed experience for most of the parties involved, and most especially the child who has no voice.
On Tuesday, June 25, 2013 The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in favor of the adoptive parents of "Baby Veronica" in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and reversed the decision of the South Carolina state court that removed the child from the adoptive parents' home at the age of 27 months and placed her with her biological father, a member of the Cherokee tribe, whom she had never met, The Supreme Court's decision held that the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that the state court relied upon in its decision do not apply to the facts of this case. Specifically, the Court found that ICWA "was designed primarily to counteract the unwarranted removal of Indian children from Indian families. But the ICWA's primary goal is not implicated when an Indian child's adoption is voluntary and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent with sole custodial rights." The Court stated that the biological father abandoned the child before birth and never had "continued custody" (legal or physical) of the child so there was no relationship that could be discontinued by terminating the biological Indian father's rights to the child.The Court also held that ICWA's adoption placement preferences for Indian families do not apply in this case, because the biological father and extended family did not seek to adopt the child.
Please take a moment to read Jacqueline Keeler's excellent piece. I agree with Keeler that Indian Trubes need to do more to make "it clear enough to non-native Americans that Tribes are political nation states that predate the United States...They are more than simply a self-identified minority group."
Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao