Tribal adoptive family hurt by ICWA, , “If we were treated this badly by a Tribe …I can only imagine how they treat the average Joe”

 

September 20, 2006

We are the family placement home of a Tribal Child who is in the custody of another Tribe, due to jurisdiction issues.  The child was born last December and was placed with a foster family when she was 4 days old.  No one in the family knew of the baby until February, at that time my husband and I along with other family members made ourselves available as foster homes.  The mother and father are both enrolled members of different Tribes and both have substance abuse issues which has caused both to lose custody of their previous children.

In June we were called by …Nation to see if we still wanted (her) and we of course said yes.  It tore our hearts out to take her from the loving family she had been with since she was four days old but we and they knew if we didn’t take her God knows where she would end up.  We have maintained contact with the original foster family as we have made (her) part of ours.

(The baby’s) mother relinquished her rights back in May which left her dad’s rights in tack.  Her biological father has two pending felonies and one pending misdemeanor all alcohol related.  Until August 16 her biological father has seen her maybe a total of six hours.  Since they had a court review hearing he has made all visitations and now … Nation has decided that he is such a stand up dad that he can have unsupervised visitation.  This is after he lied to the caseworker just last week about four nights he has spent in jail and how drug court is monitoring his progress.  The caseworker is not working this case whatsoever.  She is doing no follow up work and apparently doesn’t care that he lies to her. She is advocating more for the biological father than for the child.  She says the bio dad and (baby) are making a real bond.  Please tell me how someone can say a person is really bonding with a 9 month old when they have seen her for maybe a total of 20 hours in her lifetime.  Bio dad has no vehicle and has over $7000 in fines to pay.  He lives in a horrible unsafe area … and has had to made no effort even for supervised visitation other than getting our of bed.  The child is brought to him.   The caseworker has even said that as long as he is sober during the visitation there is nothing she can do.  So let’s see he just can’t drink for two hours a week!

We are afraid for the well being of this child and her safety.  We need God to intervene in this situation immediately and open someone’s eyes.  The biological father has not proven trustworthy or credible, how can her be ensured to care for a child.

Please pray for our situation and the safety and well being of (this baby), her whole life depends on it.  Please GOD send your angels to intervene and to protect this child.  Send your everlasting love and light to shine on this situation so that the truth can be seen.

– Thank you very much.  We just know that God has to intercede in this situation or who knows what will happen to this child.  It is rather ironic because both my husband and I are Native American and my husband is even an ICW worker for a local Tribe and he is in astonishment about what is going on.  Since no one is advocating for this child.

– Thank you for your prayers.

UPDATE October 18, 2006

Lisa: Just thought I would give you an update on the situation with …Since the unsupervised visitations have begun we have seen some regression in (baby’s) behavior,, she won’t eat is very clingy and needy (of course that is for lack of a better explanation), she is very restless at night when she sleeps, among other related behaviors. 

We found out through some relatives that her biological father had contacted her biological mom (Just as a reminder her bio mom is my husband’s cousin and relinquished her rights in May of this year).  He told her that he was getting the baby every week for two hours and was going to bring her up to see her and that he was getting her back and that he would not keep her from (baby).  Well my husband called the bio mom last night to confirm the story and we found out that he apparently has a vehicle and was going to drive the child up there.  She does not want to see him or have anything to do with him.  She knows if she would like to see (baby) we are fine with her visiting and us being there.  She is happy that the baby is with us and she knows she is being well taken care of.

When my husband told the caseworker about the call she acknowledge that he did have a vehicle but that she told him he had to get his license and insurance, like she can police that in any way.  I found out today that this man’s license was revoked in February of this year.  But according to the caseworker, when he has her for visitation he can take her anywhere he wants.  So, bio mom is a known drug addict and alcoholic, he is supposed to be “in recovery” but is a drug addict and alcoholic who is in drug court for the next three years.  He has two felony DUIs pending against him and the caseworker doesn’t care where or who he takes her around.      

You continued prayers are desperately needed because all this caseworker cares about is reunification; she is not in anyway concerned about what is in the best interest of this child, which is what ICWA was meant to do, protect the interests of the child. 

We know that we need to do something fast and are looking at hiring (baby) an attorney since she does not have a GAL or a CASA worker.  There is no one looking out for this child, except us and of course God.  Please continue to pray for us and (Baby) as we are standing on the promises of God and not believing what we see happening with our carnal eyes but are believing God will find a way. Thank you and God Bless….

UPDATE November 13, 2006

We have found an attorney who specializes in Indian Law, matter of fact he is the prosecutor for the Court of Federal Offenses ….  He has agreed to take our case, as he believes (Baby) needs legal representation.  He is very well versed in the ICWA and …. my husband has worked with him so we know him and trust him.

As far as he and my husband can tell, there have been several incidents of misconduct on the part of the caseworker from …Nation and it looks as though she did not follow ICWA ….  If that can be proved then all proceedings regarding (baby) could possibly be thrown out.  Including the relinquishment of her biological mother’s rights.  This would be the ideal situation for us as her bio mom is my husband’s cousin and she wants us to have (baby).

…Visitation was supposed to go to three hours a week and of course be unsupervised, however that has not panned out yet and I know that it is God in the working.  The biological mom is worried that if bio dad has unsupervised visitation and has a vehicle that he make take the child and run with her.  She told my husband that if he gets to (State) with his family we would never find them.  We are looking into where and how we can get (baby) fingerprinted. 

Things are still going but we feel a lot better about them, of course when you are dealing with Tribes things have a tendency to progress slowly.  We definitely know that this caseworker is bent on placing (baby) back with her bio dad and we are going to do everything we can to stop it.  She told my husband that she has to reunify.  My husband told her that no she has to do what is in the best interest of the child.  It has been a blessing for us to have his ICW experience. 

We have people all across the US praying for her and even in Mexico, we have friends that are Missionaries there and they are having their village pray for her also.  We know that that is what is going to win this fight!!

I will keep you updated as things progress.  Thank you so much for your prayers and concerns!!

Update December 13, 2006

Hi Lisa.

Thought I would give you an update.  We were just told today that after the first of the year (Baby) will be having overnight visits with her biological father.  Now mind you he is still an active participant in drug court and has no drivers license but he is going to get a one year old overnight.  Then the caseworker told my husband that after he gets his license back he will meet us to get the child and the worker will take her to day care on Monday morning.  We are still trying to get her enrolled in … Nation so that they can intervene.  Please keep us on your prayer list as things are looking very grim.

UPDATE January 10, 2007

Just thought I would give you an update..  Here what has been happening the last few weeks.

…. biological father cancelled his visit on 12/29 15 minutes before it was supposed to happen – He said he was called in to work.  This of course was after he spent the night of 12/26 in jail.  Last week on 1/3 he called the worker at 1:00 and told her to come and get (baby) because “he had to go” again he said he was called into work.  Today, well today is proof positive that God answers prayer.  When the worker showed up with (baby) she found another couple at his house asleep on the floor, he told the worker that today was not a good day for a visit.  The worker that transported her called her normal worker who called my husband and he went and picked her up.  (Baby ’s) worker told my husband that she was headed to his house to find out what was going on.  …and I are praying that God will just work fast and swift on this situation.  Our prayer has been for her biological father to lose interest in her and that appears to be what is happening.  I know it is horrible to say praise God that he is spending nights in jail, but if that is the way God wants to work it out that is his business, and maybe it is his way of taking care of the biological father to ensure that he does not drink and drive or do drugs and drive and kill someone.  We just want God to work this out his way to ensure the safety of (baby). 

Also, the ….Tribe which (Baby) is eligible for enrollment in is getting involved in this case now which is a good thing for us.  Their ICW worker is a real go getter who has (baby)’s best interest at heart and told me that (baby)needs to stay where she is with open communication with her biological parents.  She has been a real Godsend.  Plus, the attorney that we were hiring for her is that Tribe’s prosecutor so now we don’t have to pay for an attorney.  I am going to speak in faith that things appear to be working themselves out, however I know the devil will rear his ugly head again before it is all over.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  I will keep you update.

UPDATE January 19, 2007

Thought I would give you a new update.  Visitation was cancelled this week, we believe due to the weather here in Oklahoma, but are not really sure as we were not given a reason by the caseworker.  However, the bio dad has spent another night in jail this week and now has a bench warrant issued for him for failure to appear.  It looks as though God is moving in this situation and moving quickly.  We know it is from all the prayers that are going up on our behalf, please continue!

Thank you to you and the board for all of your wonderful support.

UPDATE April 24, 2007

Lisa: I just got your message today.  I spoke with my husband over lunch and he is going to contact Coburn’s office.  I think his will be a great tell since he can talk first hand at dealing with the ICWA …. from two perspectives, one being a foster/adopt parent dealing with it and the other being a former ICW Director for a Tribe here. ….  If he can be of any other assistance to you please let us know.  He is no longer working for the Tribe as he was the victim of Tribal politics.  However his reputation as an ICW Director and advocate for children is well known in this area…. 

….We are doing well,(Baby’s) case has been transferred out of…(A certain ) nation and into the (other )Tribal Court.  They have Court this Friday.  No one has seen nor heard from bio dad since January.  He still has the warrant out for his arrest.  The worker from tribal court said even if he does show up for court on Friday she is recommending termination on him since he has failed two treatment plans and was a no show on 2 drug screens and tested positive for meth on a third.  ….

 If we were treated this badly by a Tribe when the worker knew my husband was an ICW worker I can only imagine how they treat the average Joe and how many children are put back into homes where they don’t need to be all for the sake of “reunification” and calling a case successful.  God have mercy on them all when it is there time to answer for the decisions that they have made.

I will keep you updated and let you know how is conversation with Dr. Coburn’s office goes.

….Other than Senator Coburn’s Office is their anyone else you would like us to contact?  I think the key to all of this is education education education education.  Judges need to be educated, adoption agencies need to be educated, foster parents and pre-adoptive parents need to be educated.  Because if they are not educated going in and a Tribe …. bucks them it can be very intimidating because people think “I cannot win” …..  And I think one of the only reasons we did was because we knew how the system worked and knew the people to contact and more importantly a whole lot of prayer and waiting on God to move in the situation so those doors would be opened and ready to walk through!   But we were not giving in just because of it being (a certain) Nation.

…[my husband] has talked many times at trainings on the subject of ICWA and what you can and cannot do.   Maybe he can do a breakdown on the law, something that would be easy for John Doe to understand (like a flow chart or something), possibly be given to attorneys, judges, adoption agencies, etc.  We have a judge here …that follows ICWA to the tee and if the prosecutor or the state doesn’t do what they are supposed to do then he throws the case out and makes them start all over.  He does not want anything left to be overturned when it comes to the welfare of a child.  …He would be an excellent source of information.    

The problem (here) and I am sure many other states is that we also have an (state) ICWA which has some different requirements than the Federal ICWA.  The other thing is that if the Tribe’s accept 638 monies from the government then they also have to follow the ASFA (Adoption and Safe Families Act) – which many people do not know and there are some real specifics in that act.  There are so many ifs ands and buts with ICWA that it is very confusing.  For instance under ASFA if a parent has had their rights involuntarily terminated with a prior child then the state tribe whomever are not required to seek reunification efforts.  But when you look at that fact that if a tribe counts the number of reunifications they have as a success how many are even following any law.  Our case worker from(a certain) Nation had an over 90% reunification rate.  That is completely unheard of!   I was looking at the web page and there was a note from March 29 about the son being in jail and the Tribe intervening and moving to Tribal Court – I know that [here] if the case is in district court and the Tribe petitions to move to Tribal court if one parent objects then the petition is denied.  It could be the same in other courts, especially in states where their is a heavy Native population.  That would definitely be something they can look into.    Whatever help we can be please let us know!

UPDATE May 2, 2007

Thought I would you give you an update on [our] case.  …. our adoption [should be] completed in September. 

UPDATE August 3, 2007

I think the cases of ICWA being abused is the key in all of this and making the law I guess you should say clearer.  I don’t know how it works in other states only in Oklahoma and it gets very confusing here, because as I told you not only does ICWA have to be followed but also Oklahoma ICWA.  I can tell you that my husband has left Indian children in non-Indian homes and has even had adoptions approved that way through the Tribe.   

It also seems that most of the problems here in Oklahoma come from Cherokee Nation.  Now I do not know if that is because they are the biggest tribe and think they can do whatever they want and get away with it or if no one will fight them because they are “Cherokee Nation” but when you look at how much money they put into the states economy and the OK politicians pockets it is very scary.  Luckily, in our situation, we had a back door to go through and use and that is how we got (Baby) out of Cherokee Nation’s hands. 

I understand tribe’s wanting to protect their children, you cannot blame them for that because they are the future of the tribe, however there has to be some middle ground for birthmothers or birthparents for that fact to have the ultimate say and choice over what happens to their children, as long as it is in the best interest of the child.  As in the case you sighted with your own child. 

I can tell you that (we) had to tell the Otoe Tribe who would take (baby) in the even something happened to us and that is a very difficult and heart wrenching decision to make.  Matter of fact if you adopt any child in the state of Oklahoma you are required to give them a name and address of the person that will take the child in case you can no longer care for them for whatever reason.  They then do a complete investigation on that person.  Now that is protecting the child.  It’s just like becoming a foster or adoptive parent they go through a mini-investigation.

Since we do not have “reservations” here in Oklahoma I have no concept of what that would be like, I know that was a fear for us with (baby) when her bio dad had unsupervised visitation him taking her to South Dakota to the reservation and us never being able to find him or her.  What happened to the woman in Oregon is equal to kidnapping.  Can the BIA or FBI not help? 

We were not trying to make an Indian / Non-Indian issue we just know how the Tribe’s operate and usually those that are the guiltiest screams foul the loudest.  Matter of fact last summer we interviewed with an Indian mother who was having a baby that she was giving up for adoption; she chose a non-Indian family over us.  I guess we could have gone to the Tribe and cried foul especially since we are good friends with the Chief however the decision was the mother’s and she knew the Tribe could or could not approve it, and that was her decision to make for her child. 

I know the only time that my husband would be questioned was if a child was being adopted outside the home they would ask him was there no immediate family (on either side) to take the child or children in some cases.  He would explain the reasoning for the child or children being placed where they were and then he was asked is this in the best interest of the child (ren) and he would explain to them why it was.  I don’t think they ever denied one of his adoptions.  So I think a lot of it relies on who the caseworker is and how they handle the situation.   Some go to the extreme and some do not do enough.  And how you fix that I do not know.  

I only know that when we update our home study with Cherokee Nation we told our worker that we would not work with the worker who handled (baby’s) case again.  She replied that it was not the first time she had heard that.  She apparently was then going to go to her supervisor to pass on the complaints about the worker.  I have no idea if anything was resolved or not.  I just know we will not deal with her again.

By the way if some needs a good Indian attorney in Oklahoma have them call Jess Green. I believe he works out of Ada and he is a very intelligent man on all aspects of Indian Law…  Matter of fact I believe he has his own grandchildren.

…Anyone, well anyone who is Indian can also call OILS (Oklahoma Indian Legal Services). They will even represent Indian Children.

UPDATE October 2, 2007 Re: Washington DC trip and policy changes

Lisa:

This was absolutely wonderful!  I took it home last night and let (Husband) read it and he was very impressed, he said you must have put in a lot of time locating the case law and said the points you make are very good.   We were I guess you could say shocked to see that two Senators from Hawaii were on the Indian Affairs Committee since they don’t have any Tribes there (that we are aware of) and were even more surprised to see no representatives from  California, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, Mississippi or Alabama.  You would think the committee would have representatives that understand Indian Politics and how the Tribes operate. 

(Husband) was telling me a story in relations to the Cherokee Nation going back to the Dawes Rolls.  There is another Tribe locate in Tahlequah, OK where Cherokee Nation is based called the United Keetoowah Band.  Now, if you ask anyone who is a member of the UKB they will tell you that they are the real Cherokees.  They are more traditional based than the corporate conglomerate of what is now Cherokee Nation and many UKB members were once Cherokee Nation members.  Anyway what Cherokee Nation was supposedly doing is any UKB children that were born at W.W. Hastings Hospital they were taking them into custody and then enrolling them into Cherokee Nation against the will of the parents.  These were not children being placed for adoption or have any other issues relating to Child Protection Services or Child Welfare, but in essence, Cherokee Nation was trying to steal children from the UKB and therefore squash their membership.  Now, this information came from an attorney that (Husband) knows who is the attorney for the UKB.  You talk about a flagrant violation of ICWA and Oklahoma ICWA.  The UKB was pursuing legal action against Cherokee Nation for I guess what you could call kidnapping their children!

He also told me the story of dealing with a case in California in which the child was Quapaw (the Tribe he used to work for) and had been taken into custody by the state of California.  The foster family that had him wanted to adopt him and (Husband) was fine with that because the child had no ties with the Quapaw Tribe or the customs of the Tribe here in Oklahoma.  There was a worker with the State of California who was their Tribal Liaison that argued with him that these children had to placed in an Indian home I guess he finally had to basically pull rank on her and remind her that these were “his” kids (whenever (Husband) had children in Tribal custody and if he had problems with foster parents he would always remind them that the children were “his” and that they were only the foster parents), and that he had the final say in where they would live and what was in their best interest that it was none of her business and she had no say in the matter

He said that ICWA is so vague and open ended that that is what causes all the problems and various ways of interpreting but he is very adamant that if a child has no ties to the Indian Culture then what good does it do them to place them in a “traditional” home when they don’t know traditions.  Now we know a family that is very traditional and if something ever happened to them it would only be in the kids best interest to stay in this area and continue to be part of the Indian Community because that is the way they have been raised.  The sad part is there is no family fit to take these children. 

All in all your letter was just fantastic and you should be commended and very proud of your work.  What a true calling God has laid upon your heart!

UPDATE October 17 2007

We are still waiting on confirmation of our court date for Monday.  In the mean time the court received a letter from bio dad stating that he wanted custody of (baby) and that he wanted her placed with his family.  Now mind you he writes this letter from the cell of a State Correctional Facility.  Our worker has assured us that this will not happen but that he has the legal right to appeal the termination and legally the court has to listen to his appeal and render an opinion.  However, his appeal will be heard via the letter, he will not be present and worse case scenario she says it may only delay the adoption by one month.  For over nine months now this man has been silent and had nothing to say or involvement now all of the sudden he thinks he gets a say in her life. 

I have just asked God to intervene in this situation and to allow everything to continue as planned on Monday and for her adoption to be completed legally and without delay.  (baby) is almost 2 years old and deserves to no longer be in “legal limbo” because of the actions of someone who has done nothing more than donate a substance which was required for God to make her.

Have you heard anything about your trip to DC?  Any feedback?  I am a huge Bill O’Reilly fan and I was wondering if you had ever contacted him about him possible shedding some light on this plight on his show?  He is very “family oriented” and seems to have a passion for things that affects families and children and he is very vocal about those things he believes in.  Just an idea to really get this issue out in the public.

Hope you have a very blessed day.

UPDATE October 19 2007

We finally have the word that we are on the court docket for Monday at 2:00 p.m.  Please pray that everything goes smoothly and the judge grants our petition.  Once our petition is granted, it will be submitted to the State for their approval and then we go back for a final decree.  We are half way down the home stretch and don’t need the devil popping his ugly self up anywhere.  Your additional prayers for favor with the judge and court and safe travel would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE October 25, 2007

Things went very well.  Her GAL was not able to be in court so the judge has asked for us to return on November 19 and they will do the petition, termination of rights, and the final decree all that day.  The information is being sent to the State so that they will approve so that everything can be finished then and we do not have to return.  His letter of appeal was not even considered.  The judge instructed the prosecutor to have him noticed ASAP and to let him know his rights are being terminated and he could still do the right thing and voluntarily relinquish so that it is easier on everyone.  She told him to check with the Dept of Corrections and make sure he was still at the same facility before sending the notice.  But she did not want to proceed without (baby) ’s GAL there so no one could ever say that she did not have legal representation and question the legality of the adoption.   We are excited and are breathing a little easier, though it is not completely over with yet.  But things went very well and we only have to wait 3½ more weeks.

Have you heard any updates from Kelley and how their situation is going?  They have really been on my mind lately. 

UPDATE October 26, 2007

I have a reverse ICW situation story for you.  Instead of the Tribe over stepping this involves them not doing enough to intervene.  There is a family that my husband and I know who are a very traditional Indian family.  Any way one of the daughters had her three children taken away by DHS, which was not a bad thing.  However, the children have been placed in a home with an older white couple, who know nothing about Indian ways or traditions.  The grandmother is getting a weekend visitation with the kids because in November the rights of the parents are being terminated and the children are being put up for adoption.  When the children were taken into custody by DHS they contacted the Tribal ICW worker for help, they were told that there was nothing that she could do, which was a big fat lie because she could have filed an entry of appearance and a motion to intervene.  Plus DHS has totally ignored the placement requirements of ICWA …. by not at the very least placing them in an Indian foster home.  The grandmother doesn’t know when or if she will ever get to see her grandchildren again once they are placed for adoption.  Now mind you these children are 15, 12 and 8 and have non nothing but their family and traditional lifestyle.  They are in complete culture shock and everyone keeps telling the family there is nothing they can do about it.  Grandma is not a candidate to foster or adopt due to her health concerns and their two aunts cannot take them because they have had issues and problems with their own children.  It is just a sad case for these kids that instead of everyone sticking their nose in no one is doing anything that is in their best interest.

I just thought what a complete oxymoron from the stories that you normally hear.    So I guess this proves the pendulum swings both ways sometimes Tribes and workers overstep and sometime that sit and do nothing!

UPDATE October 29, 2007

Here is a quick reply to your questions and remember this is from the perspective of how things are done in Oklahoma.

  1. The Tribe or the State would have to work through a prosecutor either through Tribal or CFR court or the state through the District Attorney’s Office. 
  2. In Oklahoma children are assigned a Guardian ad Lidem (spelling?).  This is true in State Court, Tribal Court, and CFR Court.  Also in Oklahoma especially in state courts  the children are also assigned a CASA worker.  The GAL and CASA worker oversee the legal actions and decisions to ensure that the best interest of the children are being followed. 
  3. What this parent has to remember is that the CPS and the ICW workers do not work in the parents best interest but in the best interest of the child and they must present a treatment plan and work on reunification.  They are required to do this under ICWA. 
  4. There should have been an adjudication hearing in which she heard the charges against her.  If there was an emergency custody order a judge had to of signed it based upon information he received from the CPS worker.
  5. Just like an other criminal case she has the right to hear the charges against her and has the right to legal representation, even a public defender if she cannot afford an attorney herself. 

 

UPDATE November 15, 2007

Just wanted to let everyone know that we will not be going to court on Monday to finalize (baby)’s adoption.  Apparently there was a miscommunication between the prosecutor, the court and the Guardian Ad Lideum ((baby)’s attorney).  The GAL says he was never assigned the case … So, …. we are now hoping to have it completed at their December court date on December 17.  …

….God really needs to grant me so patience here.  You think you are getting two steps ahead and you end up getting knocked back 5…,

UPDATE December 13, 2007

Well, I thought I would give you the latest on the court battle.  The (tribal) court has now appointed dad an attorney to represent him, even though he never requested one.  The judge has also denied our Petition for Adoption Without Consent on the grounds that (the father) has been incarcerated and therefore has not willful been unable to pay support or have contact with (Baby).  This ruling came on a petition that was never “officially” filed but somehow was filed as part of her juvenile ICW case.  Also, the decision about the petition and about appointing an attorney for bio father were made without the input of the Gal or the caseworker.  They were decisions made by the “new” prosecutor and judge.  So, we are going to court on Monday not to finalize anything but to fight it out with the judge, the prosecutor, and the newly appointed attorney for bio father.  Our caseworker is really mad because things are being done and decisions are being made without her knowledge and input.  She has assured me though that … she is ready to fight this battle head on with us.  It is her opinion that they have only appointed an attorney for bio dad so that he has legal representation and he cannot ever comeback and say well I never got a say or a defense in the matter. 

Just wanted to update you on the current craziness that is going on.  This all took place the day after we had a major ice storm and we have been without power since 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.   You talk about being stressed out!!! …Please keep us in your prayers for our upcoming court date!!

UPDATE January 24, 2008 – Re: another family’s situation –

I have spoken with my husband and we do have a couple of questions.   It appears that the child was removed from the home or taken into custody at birth?  Is this correct?  Also, there is no mention of bio dad – is he unknown?   Also, is the court district court or is it a Tribal or CFR Court?

The best course of action is going to be focusing on the best interest of the child and have a psychologist testify about bonding issues, separation anxiety, and detachment disorder.  Also, the ICW worker from either the Tribe or DHS is required to have contact with the family and child at least once a month.  The workers notes from these contacts need to be subpoenaed and reviewed for behavioral issues related to the above.  Now, that is if the case is still open.  If the case has been closed your best bet is to focus on the best interest of the child.

An attorney who teaches at Rogers State University is versed in ICW her name is Sherry Hugel (I am not sure about the spelling of the last name).  If you call RSU, I am sure you can find her.  …You can also contact Jess Green or Nancy McAlister in Ada, OK.  They are both versed in Indian Law. …  Another contact would be Truman Carter in Shawnee, OK.  He is a prosecutor for several Tribal Courts and CFR courts and is a wonderful man.  I unfortunately do not have a contact number for him but if I find it, I will pass it on.  You should be able to find him on the Oklahoma Bar Association website.

(My husband) found it really odd that a judge did not follow the recommendation of the GAL; normally their opinions carry a huge amount of weight with the judge.  That is why he was questioning whether it was district or tribal/CFR court.  To be brutally honest if it is a Tribal court, the fact that you are not Indian nor are you a relative is deeply against you.   Unfortunately, too many Tribes get high and mighty off of their sovereignty and they seem to think they know what is best and they can raise “their” children better than anyone else can. 

But contact Sherry or one of the other attorneys I mentioned and see what their advice or perspective if.  I am praying that this is a district court issue and not Tribal or CFR and you unfortunately have gotten a judge that does not understand ICWA.  Also remember in Oklahoma that there is the Oklahoma ICWA and there are some differences in requirements of the two laws.  Also, the Tribe also has to adhere to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) if they accept 638 monies. 

Let me know the answers to the question and who her GAL was and I will see what else we can come up with.  Our prayers are with you!

UPDATE January 25, 2008

I am requesting prayers for a two year old little girl who is currently in ICU in a Tulsa Hospital.  This little girl was beaten by her mother so badly that she has a broken arm, a 5 inch tear in her stomach and is having rectal bleeding.  At this point they do not know if she is going to make it or not.  Please pray that this child is touched by God and receives a complete healing.  There are two different Tribes involved in the case and both are wonderful caseworkers.  As a mother of a two year old I cannot imagine a mother doing this.  This little girl needs all the prayers she can get.  One of the caseworkers says she has vowed to the baby never to return her to her mother, let’s hope she is able to keep this promise!!

UPDATE March 10, 2008

The little girl is out of the hospital and living with her paternal grandmother.  She is doing well but still has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

UPDATE February 26, 2008

I thought I would give you an update from our court proceedings yesterday.  Even though things are still not finalized, we have moved one-step closer.  There will be a permanency planning hearing in March and a termination hearing is scheduled for June 30.  The judge and the prosecutor are both very ignorant of the law.  Every case they did when the judge would ask the prosecutor what he wanted to do he would reply “I don’t know”.

When she asked him about (Baby)’s case, his response was “Your honor I don’t know.  I need an education.”  Of course, natural father’s attorney was bragging about how well he is doing in the penitentiary and what a model citizen he is.  When the GAL got to give his input he told the court that it was wonderful that natural father was doing well in prison but that doesn’t translate to doing well in the real world and (Baby) would be 5 by the time any reunification could be done so it is in her best interest to terminate natural father’s rights and proceed with adoption.  He told the court that when natural father had the opportunity to make changes when (Baby) was an infant he chose not to and it has been too little too late.  The natural father’s attorney said if the court proceeded with termination and adoption he was going to push for an open adoption so that natural father could maintain contact with the child.  I told our lawyer and the caseworker absolutely not, no open adoption.  That he was a violent offender and I would not feel safe if he ever showed up at home when it was just (Baby) and I.  I did get to address the court and thank God for putting a watchman over my mouth because I was so mad I couldn’t sit there any longer and not say anything.  The judge is worried about some case law that she thinks she has in the back of her head regarding terminating rights on parents who are incarcerated, that a mother after 6 years got her daughter back.  Do you know anything about that?

The point the caseworker was trying to make is that they are not terminating based upon him being incarcerated they have a list of reasons to terminate other than that.  So, on June 30 (the exact two year anniversary of her being placed with us) there will be a termination hearing.  The judge has requested that natural father be brought to court. 

(My Husband) and our attorney thinks the judge is only doing this so that he cannot appeal any termination or adoption, he will have been given his day in court and there will be no recourse for him to appeal the decision.

So, the wall is crumbling but it isn’t knocked down yet.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

UPDATE March 17, 2009

I just wanted to update everyone on the ongoing saga …. We found out yesterday that as of Friday the Tribe does not have a prosecutor and will not have one for court on Monday. This means that there is an almost guaranteed chance that we will get a continuance. However, natural father’s attorney has filed a petition to resume visitation. According to information that we have gotten from the caseworker from the most recent former prosecutor is that the judge told him that she was going to continue the termination case until April but it appeared she was going to hear the petition to resume visitation. We are all dumbfounded as to how she could even hear something that was tied to this case when there will be no legal representation for the Tribe. This whole mess was further compounded by the fact that late yesterday afternoon his attorney called our caseworker and told her that he had spoken to Baby ’s attorney (the GAL) and that the GAL supposedly said he did not have a problem with visitation as long as it was gradual and that natural father was subject to random ua’s. If this in deed is what the GAL said then it is a 180 from his position in January and from his position a year ago. Since there seems to be a lot of ex parte conversations going on with the judge we aren’t really sure what is going to or not going to happen. There seems to be a lot of confusion and chaos being thrown in to this situation. Both the caseworker and the most recent former prosecutor agree that they believe the judge is going to terminate his rights.

We appreciate all of you for your prayers and support but we need to ask another favor. If you could please kick your prayers up another notch. Please if you have not added Baby to the prayer lists at your church please do so and please ask anyone you know who believes in Jesus Christ to pray for her and to add her to their prayer lists at church. We are still having the prayer meeting at our house this Saturday. It has become very relevant to me that the more we have prayed and the more people that have prayed the hotter the flames have gotten. And yes Darold and I are struggling, physically, emotionally and spiritually, so please pray for us for strength. In our hearts and spirits we know that God is there and working it out but that sometimes doesn’t translate to the head so well. So thanks to you all again for your prayers., love and support. We will keep you updated.

UPDATE March 24, 2009

Well, we got a victory yesterday in court. Biological father did not show and his attorney proceeded to start throwing him under the bus. The judge continued the hearing on the petition to resume visitation until April and the termination hearing has been continued until June (only because Baby’s attorney could not make a May court date). We are thanking God for answering our prayers because we see this as a battle won in this war. His attorney openly admitted in court that he did not know where his client was and that he didn’t show at an appointment they had last Thursday. That the contact information he had for his client was just a message phone at a relative’s home and that the relative admitted that he was not living there, that he was living somewhere else and all they could do was give him a message. Please do not quit praying for Baby and the situation, especially the judge. I will keep everyone updated as things progress. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers and support during this saga, but please don’t stop now!

UPDATE April 29, 2009

So, here is the latest on our court case. There was court on Monday. Bio dad’s attorney’s motion to withdraw was approved. So, the only attorney left is Baby’s attorney, the Guardia Ad Liteum (GAL). Anyway, the GAL and the judge decided that Baby could be released for adoption and that our attorney could file the paperwork and according to our caseworker, they (the judge and the GAL) are looking for all of this to be over on May 18. We are currently waiting for the GAL to contact our attorney to explain to her exactly what it is that they are doing and what she needs to file.   Our caseworker is a little confused about this new process. As excited as we are we want to make sure our i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed and there are no loopholes for him to ever come back and say something was not done properly. What is really sad in this situation is #1 they are not hurrying this process up for Baby’s sake, they are hurrying it up because they have dragged this out for so long that they now have egg on their face and #2 is that the judge actually said in court on Monday that she just can’t understand what happened with the father because he was doing so good. So good? So good at what, sitting in jail, for assault and battery on two Tulsa police officers and failing drug court. The GAL apparently told her that what happened with the father is that he is back doing drugs and alcohol just as he was before he went to jail. Our caseworker said it was as if she just couldn’t grasp that concept. That just floors me. She surely cannot be that naïve. I actually have another word for her that I won’t use because as Baby says ”Just calm down and Be Nice. Jesus doesn’t like that.” Thanks again for all your prayers and support. We’ll let you know more as we find out.

UPDATE July 9, 2009

We just found out that we will have our next court date w/ Baby on Monday, August 17. This hearing will be to adjudicate Baby eligible for adoption without consent of natural father. Once that is done, we will then go back the following month and do her adoption. So, if everything goes as planned her adoption will be finalized in September, with a huge part to follow!!! Thanks everyone for your continually prayers and unending love and support that you have given to us! The other side to this coin is that Baby now wants a little brother. Our advice to her has been that she needs to talk to Jesus about that one! And we all know what happens when children pray.

UPDATE September 16, 2009

I am very happy to announce that we go to court on Monday. September 21 to finalize Whitney’s adoption. On Monday, she will legally and forever be ours! Thank you to all of you who have prayed and interceded on our behalf and have been there for us. There is nothing that we could ever do to repay you! We are forever grateful to our friends and family. And the answer is yes! There is going to be one big huge party!    Love and Hugs!


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