November 8 , 2009
Hello, I’m writing in hopes that you may be able to help us find some direction after losing our case for adoption last Thursday. We are trying to adopt our daughter that is born to a white mother and an Indian father… She is 3 months old and we’ve had her since she was two days old.
On Thursday Nov 5th, ICWA decided to intervene. It was the same day we were to finalize the adoption. They say that the ICWA was not followed. The mother was working with a social worker from the tribe before we knew her. She was introduced to three families all of which were not acceptable. Than the mother found us and felt we would be the perfect family for her daughter. The social worker from the tribe was notified and after talking to the mother and reviewing our home study she okayed us to adopt. She did add that they could still intervene though. And as I said that is what they did. ICWA is saying that she needed to consider extended family and other tribe members, even members of other tribes.
Since this wasn’t done and we had no chance to win our lawyer advised us to allow for her to revoke her rights to terminate and give her back her daughter or she would end up in a foster home on the reservation. The courts also returned the fathers rights. The mother being white is very upset that she cannot choose the family for her daughter and that the Indians/ICWA had more rights than her. We are joining her in the fight to allow this adoption to go through.
This is where we need help/guidance.
Here is a little history: We had talked to the dad about 5 weeks before the Oct 5th court date and he did say that he changed his mind and that his mom wanted to raise the baby until he got out of jail. (We served him anyways.) We don’t know when he’ll be out but the sentence date is exhausted 2012. He will probably be out on parole soon though. Anyway, after talking to his mother we found out that this was true. The birth mother is totally against this. She doesn’t want her baby raised on the reservation and would rather the dad didn’t have anything to do with the baby or her. The dad has two x wives and three girls that he doesn’t take care of. He also has a long record with the law and is in and out of jail. The father’s rights were taken away from him only after he or his lawyer didn’t respond to the papers we served him. We thought we were free to adopt after our Oct 5th court date since the dad nor a lawyer showed up. ICWA also said they were going to intervene and would be there, but they never showed up either. It was two weeks later, (Oct 19th) that we received official notice that ICWA was intervening and that they would now be at our Nov 5th court date.
Since we are back to square one we need to get the dad and I guess the grandma as well as the tribe to see it the birth mothers way.
The question is how and what rights if any does a white mother have to stand up for her child and her chose of the adoptive family? How should we go about this? The ICWA lawyer said that the dad has a very large extended family and that the mother needed to look at them as possible families for her daughter. Also, they said that they can find a family on another reservation. Can they do this? Does she need to play along and refuse each and every family before we can adopt? Doesn’t ICWA recognize that the child is just half Indian?
Thank you for your assistance,