Adoption is probably the only area of family law in which the end result is almost always a happy one for all the parties involved. Over the years countless Texas children have found a loving, stable home through the adoption process. But the process does not always go smoothly or happily for everyone. The U.S. Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a case in which the competing interests of an adoptive family and a Native American community are at odds.
The case involves a South Carolina couple who adopted a baby girl who was a member of the Cherokee Nation. The couple attended the girl's birth and took care of her after she was born. The couple then legally adopted the child.
After the adoption, however, the girl's biological father came forward. He petitioned the South Carolina court to overturn the adoption and grant him custody of the child. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that he was entitled to custody because the Indian Child Welfare Act gave him, as a Cherokee Nation member, a custodial preference. The father took the girl back to Oklahoma with him in 2011. The little girl is now three years old.
The Indian Child Welfare Act is a federal law enacted in 1978, at a time when many Native American children were being taken from their homes by various state agencies and private adoption agencies. The Act was designed to protect Native American communities by giving them a say in decisions affecting Native American children, and by allowing those children to be raised in Native American communities whenever possible.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the South Carolina couple's appeal from the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Court is expected to hear arguments in the case later this year. Unfortunately, no matter what the Court decides, someone will be unhappy with the outcome.
Source: Minneapolis StarTribune, "Court to review Native American adoption case," Jan. 4, 2013