I was relieved to find your oganization online. I’ll try to briefly tell our story:
Our daughter, age 23, was in a relationship with a young man of part Native American descent. She became pregnant and immediately realized that the birth father wasn’t ready to become a parent. He is an alcoholic and drug user who has not had steady employment and has frequently been in trouble with the law. She repeatedly told him she was considering placing their child with a couple who could better provide for and care for the baby. My husband and myself also talked to him and expressed hope that he would straighten up his life, gain employment, and become a responsible provider for our daughter and their child.
Our daughter gave him many chances but his drinking only seemed to increase. He did not take her to even one appointment during her pregnancy and did not find employment. He admitted to us that he couldn’t pass the required drug testing that most employers used. During this time our daughter began meeting with an adoption agency and learned about ICWA and it’s implications. She was disheartened, it seemed so unfair! The agency contacted all the possible tribes and waited for a response. Meanwhile, our daughter delivered a healthy baby boy. She didn’t want to place her son until she knew that the tribe would not interfere, not wanting to put him or an adoptive couple through that. Finally, when the child was four months old our daughter made a firm decision that it was in the best interest of her son to place him with the couple she had chosen. The birth father had made no positive changes in his life and had become abusive with her. This was a decision that she cried and prayed over and I have never seen a decision more motivated by love than hers. The only remaining tribe that had not responded finally did, stating that the birth father was not an enrolled member of their tribe and so the child was not eligible for enrollment. Per our state laws the father had not established paternity. To this date he still has not registered with the putative registry.
Our grandson was placed with a married Christian couple this past February and the joy on their faces has carried our daughter through these difficult months. Meanwhile the birth father’s mother has pushed him to fight this. It’s been mostly her battle. We’ve learned they have not been able to get him enrolled in the tribe thus far but have this past week obtained an attorney who was willing to take the case on pro bono. We fear he will push the tribe to enroll the birth father, and then invoke ICWA into the court procedings. The adoption would have been finalized August 5th. Our daughter is represented by the adoption agency’s attorney but we wonder if we also need someone more experienced in challenging ICWA.
Can you recommend an attorney experienced in challenging ICWA?