Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare [CAICW]
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Three enrolled children, adopted into a non-tribal home, laugh together: Across America, children that have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs are routinely being removed from homes they love and placed with strangers chosen by tribes. - www.caicw.orgHOPE

 

Little boy with blackened eyes, beaten by his ICWA chosen caregiver. He and his siblings were removed from their paternal grandparents home simply because the grandparents were not tribal.  But ICWA is not supposed to be applied in this manner.  Though proponents of the ICWA argue that the act has safeguards to prevent misuse, scores of multi-racial children are being negatively affected by application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  - www.caicw.orgHARDSHIP 

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"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:18-19"



"BE IT RESOLVED,

"That this organization will fulfill this responsibility by coming along side of established local Christian Churches and assist and support them in their ministry and missions by providing needed resources and services, and by assisting local churches in their ministry to families of Indian and Mexican heritage, and by assisting and supporting families of Indian heritage and in the defense of their civil and parental rights."





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Gal. 2:10


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Funds contributed to the General Fund are separate and apart from other organizational funds and will be used exclusively for charitable reasons related to Charitable, Religious, educational, and scientific purposes.

CAICW is a U.S. 501c(3) Public Charity

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a registered Extra-Provincial Society in Alberta, Canada


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Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare


PO Box 253, Hillsboro, ND 58045 - 0253


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Vision Statement:


"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:18-19"



"BE IT RESOLVED,

"That this organization will fulfill this responsibility by coming along side of established local Christian Churches and assist and support them in their ministry and missions by providing needed resources and services, and by assisting local churches in their ministry to families of Indian and Mexican heritage, and by assisting and supporting families of Indian heritage and in the defense of their civil and parental rights."





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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1Cor. 13:13


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Please Join us in Prayer




Prayer List of Canadian Reserves



Prayer List of United States Reservations






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"All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do."

Gal. 2:10


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All Donors Receive a Free Subscription to the CAICW "News and Update," with new information not always posted online, including family, legislative and court updates and efforts.

Click Here to CONTRIBUTE

Funds contributed to the General Fund are separate and apart from other organizational funds and will be used exclusively for charitable reasons related to Charitable, Religious, educational, and scientific purposes.

CAICW is a U.S. 501c(3) Public Charity

and

a registered Extra-Provincial Society in Alberta, Canada


____________




For a printable Membership form,
Please click:
Join us




Contact us at
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare


PO Box 253, Hillsboro, ND 58045 - 0253




Email us at:
[email protected]

"All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do."

Gal. 2:10

 
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Letters from Familes hurt by ICWA

 

The Law Offices of O. Yale Lewis III Focuses on Client Care

The Letters Below are Posted for the Purpose of :

        • Prayer - (Identifying information has been omitted.)
        • Families learning they aren't alone: Someone has a story similar to their own
        • Families learning from each other, gleaning information
        • Educating Others: Illustrating how widespread and harmful these problems are

        Thank you for taking the time to read these original letters from birth parents, grandparents, foster families, and pre-adoptive families with multi-racial children negatively affected by Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Except where birth parents have requested otherwise, Identifying information has been omitted to protect the children. So, as clarification for legislators that have asked - YES - These letters have come from many different states. And NO - the tribes involved are not always from the same state as the child. ICWA allows tribes to petition for jurisdcition across state lines

Are these families receiving Due Process and Equal Protection?

(Some of these letters were not originally posted at the time of their writing due to the illness of CAICW co-founder Roland Morris, who passed on June 9, 2004)

Contact us

 

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95)

 

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94) April 21, 2011

I am a non Tribal mother of a Native American daughter. This has been a battle of 14, nearly 15 years now. I’ve felt so alone over these years, and due to my experiences and feelings have decided it is time to reach out to the other parents like me, to help protect the children like my daughter.

I became pregnant at 16.  During my pregnancy her paternal (tribal) grandmother tried to convince me to give her up for adoption to her. I refused.  The day she was born, her father would not sign her birth certificate. I stayed together with him until she was nearly 2.  He was abusive to me, he was doing drugs and drinking. He had a very short temper. He even attacked me at work. I tried to make it work for her sake, which was a mistake. Thinking maybe if I could force him to go to therapy he would get better.  Then one day he turned his anger towards her.  That was the last day.

I left him that day, and would not allow him to be alone with her. Because I did not trust him, I set arrangements for him to see her at his mother’s house on pre-arranged dates. The first few visits he was there when I brought her there. After that he wasn’t. His mother told me “It hurts him too much to see you, so he went for a walk, he’ll be back after you leave” Like an idiot 19 year old girl, I believed the woman. It later came out in the open that he had run off to San Francisco to follow his dream of being a homeless drugged out bike messenger.  Which later in life is referred to in all legal proceedings as his “Spiritual Journey”. 

When she was 5, the state took him to court to establish paternity. They issued a warrant for his arrest for the genetic testing. They actually had to arrest him and bring him in against his will. Once paternity was established, he was a no show for court to sign the papers. The judge had to sign it for him, which  by US Citizen law, negates your parental rights.

He was absent from her life with the exception of an occasional Christmas or Thanksgiving – Which he attended to get free stuff, for 5 years. No phone calls, no visits. Nothing.  (No child support, but we managed to live with me working 2 or 3 jobs at a time) He started doing something called “Canoe Journey” which I made sure that my daughter could go to when the grandmother asked if she could go.  I even volunteered as class mom for all school Tribal functions, making sure that the Native American students could go to the big meets. If I hadn’t have done that none of those children would have been able to go.

Then, one day I get a knock on the door. my daughter’s Uncles are sitting there with a camera and big grins laughing , they say “You’ve been served” and take my photo as they hand me the papers.  This is how I found out that her father was filing for custody.

The first court hearing went in my favor. The judge reviewed the case, recognized it as he was the judge that signed the paternity and threw it out.  He told my daughter's dad that he expected him to turn his life around before he would even grant visitation, that he expected child support payments, anger management courses and clean urinalysis.

The Tribe appealed the case, which I state this way as 30 or 40 Tribal members showed up in the court room the next day, they even pushed and shoved at me as I tried to walk through the door into the court room.

We went through 4 extremely painful months of custody battle, during which a Guardian Ad Litem was assigned to research the case.  During the case, hundreds of “Declarations” were produced by the tribe, attesting to my inability to parent stating things like that I had “Fecal matter spread on the walls” or that I “Partied and brought different men home every night”. They even had the audacity to claim that I am abusive to my daughter. None of these things are true.  The odd thing about it all, as I had never even heard of any of these “People” that wrote the declarations, and they all seemed to be written in a variation of 3 or 4 different styles of handwriting.

The Guardian Ad Litem did a very scrutinizing investigation. She concluded that my daughter was best living with me, that she and I had one of the closest most loving relationships she had seen between a parent and child, that she had a wonderful home and a strong support structure. That her father had anger management problems, that he had failed his Urinalysis both the first and the second time, that his home was unfit structurally and sanitarily for a child, and that my daughter seemed to barely even know him. Her advice was for my daughter to stay living with me, for her father to take anger management courses, attend drug and alcohol therapy, get his life in order, THEN start visitation with our daughter under supervision.

The judge threw out her assessment. Why assign a Guardian Ad Litem to a case if you are going to throw it out if it is in the Non Tribal parent’s favor? Was it just to make me spend another $2,200? Was he hoping she would dig up dirt on me?

Needless to say, my daughter, now 14 has been living on the reservation since then. It’s been 5 years.  ICW has taken her from her father’s house 3 times now, that I know of. They refuse to give her back to me. They have no just cause for this. They have stated to me they will never place her back in my home because I am not a Tribal Family Member.  When they took her, for ABUSE allegations from her father I tried to work through real CPS that would never let this happen. Real CPS informed me that the only way they can get her back for me is if my daughter calls 911 or is hospitalized from the abuse.

Last night I found out that the reason I have been unable to reach my daughter or any of her paternal family for the past 3 weeks is that ICW took her from her father’s home and placed her with her grandmother. Again.  They did not contact me. Again. My daughter had to sneak to the computer and email me, when she had been told not to contact me. Again.

 

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93) February 26, 2011

On February 28th, 2011, we go to curcuit court. We have no money or legal education.
Our brother died about 4 years ago, the baby was born a few months later. Before the child had a start in life
Mom was doing the drugs and alcohol just as she had the last 10 years and really longer. She drank and used
into her pregnancy...
So with her pleading we took the child thinking she would be around only a few months. "The mothers, "Support System" is worse."
We need help! This child will be dead in this womans hands. We feel the good fight to do whats right but fear
this child will be severly marred.
You see we have raised her from a car seat, taught her everything so far. Now she faces a tribal 3rd placement. Where she will be placed for failure.
 -   I say no. She is half caucasion. Never been on a reservation, born illegitimat and never will stay on the reservation.
It's for the money,it's all about "Who gets the Money' It has not one thing to do with the "Best interests of the child."
Our hearts ache for her. We have taken not a dime to raise her. The mother even called the girl. Never sent a penny and never even talked with her on the phone.
And now find an expert tribe member to testify.
"That all men are created equal" Abe Lincoln to me an American Disabled Veteran.
God we pray for help.

UPDATE March 2, 2011

As we all sat around talking someone asked what was the job of the GAL. He arrived to the hearing with nothing but a note book. I looked up their responsibilities.
He did none of them.
He presented nothing and only asked a few stupid questions. Then advised the child be sent home.
They did not prove us unfit in any manner. Can this be reversible error? The GAL did not represent  (my niece)
Is this incompetent counsel?
Ineffective counsel as she was entitled to?

UPDATE April 15, 2011

We can not afford any actions in the court. So we have done as we were told.
We were used for a year to raise a child.
Never received a penny to help us. Remember I am a disabled vet
Now the Government and the tribe tell us thanks and big deal. The court sent us a $1300 bill.
Within 24 hours of her return to homeless mother the child was identified at a drug and alcohol celebration.
The tribe gets their money, mom gets her welfare, jail sentence dropped and child support arrears disappeared.
We can not win. Special treatment is written into the law.
With out the law being changed/ repealed their is no hope.
Never saw the child again and never will.

 

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92) February 4, 2011

Our story is the same as many others affected by the ICWA.  We are white foster parents who were caring for a Native girl.  She was 7 mos old when we got her and was 18 mos when the tribe took her away from us to place her in a Native foster home.  We were the only family she knew.  Her own family didn’t visit her.  We were all she had and then one day the tribe comes sweeping in we had to give her to strangers. 

Us, along with our family, have vowed that we will make every effort to change this law.  It is downright wrong!!! Every day our hearts ache wondering what is happening to her, if she is being taken care of, and most of all if she is okay. 

Every day we have prayed that she is returned to us, as the case is in appeals right now.  But everyone we talk to say our chances are slim. 

God has put it upon my heart to fight for this little girl and for all of the other children out there that this is happening to.  Then God directed me to your website.  A little late as I know many more that would have signed your petition.  I am devastated that I didn’t find this website sooner and could have joined on the list. 

I am very interested to join your cause.  Please let me know what I can do to help. 

 

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91) April 14, 2010

On March 2nd of this year I adopted a newborn baby. His birth mother signed the papers in front of the hospital notary, and I took the baby home. 10 days after he was home, I recieved a phone call from the birthmother stating that her cousin wanted to adopt the baby instead. I immediately went and filed emergency guardianship papers to keep (baby) with me. When we went for our guardianship hearing, Indian Child Welfare was there and told our judge that it was a law that they had to give the baby to the birthmothers cousin because of Indian Child Welfare Act. I am also indian, and had the baby for 32 days. My judge had no idea what the ICWA was, so he just immediately turned the baby over to the cousin. A little bit about the case, the birthmother and the baby both tested positive for drugs, this is the 4th child the birthmother has lost due to drug use and she is only 20 years old. Her cousin who has the baby, has a misdemenor Marijuana charge, a DUI, and No drivers license and has been arrested 2 times this year for driving without a license. Is it fair that this law can put the baby back with the family just because of the ICWA? Please help me in any way! Im so lost and desperate.

Response: I did hear back from the couple in Oklahoma, and here are the comments they had, based on Oklahoma ICWA law - Again, we aren't attorney's...an attorney might be able to guide a little better...but...

1) Unfortunately, an Indian mother can't relinquish her rights ten days before or ten days after the birth.  It's a racist law, but it's the current law.
2) The Tribe had to be notified of the Mom giving you custody for the transfer to be legal.
3) A judge would have to terminate both the Mother's and Father's rights for an adoption to take place

4) The tribe or DHS were supposed to be notified by the hospital about the drugs in the baby's system..

I am so sorry, but it seems as though there isn't anything that can be done - the tribe appears to have all the rights.

Bless you; I pray your loving heart be filled with the Love of a child.
Lisa
Caicw.org

 

UPDATE April 16, 2010

Just to let you know, DHS was notified of the drugs, and they had to do a background check on me before I could take the baby home. But all the other stuff is true. So thank you so much. I just wish there was something in place, it's really hard when you have a baby for 32 days, and then him be taken away, but from what im reading, it happens all the time. Thank you so much for getting back with me.

Response: Yes.  I'm so sorry. 
That's why we are trying to fight this law, because it isn't right, and it does hurt so many people - and so many children. 
I understand your concern about the cousin.  I've watched so many children be placed in bad homes.  Once, a social worker told me that they would never allow children of another race to be placed or left in the same types of homes that some enrollable children are.

So - in other words, are they saying that the law doesn't think that enrollable children are entitled to the same protection and stability that other children receive?

It's criminal that this is happening.  There is no real sense to it.  My children are 50% Indian (my husband was 100%) and they are no different from any other child - no less important and worthy of protection.

So, yes.  I do feel for you and understand your pain.  Very much.  Bless you for loving and caring for Kyler.  I pray that everything you had poured into his heart for that month remains with him forever.  And - I pray that if it is God's will - that doors be some how opened, that the mother changes her mind, and that Kyler be restored to you.
Bless you
Lisa

 

 

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90) January 22, 2010

To whom it may concern: I am writing to you in hopes that you may be able to provide some answers for my family. I would like to tell you a story without going into too many details due to concerns about the pending legal cases surrounding this situation.

Approximately two years ago, my brother opted to divorce his wife of 13 years for multiple reasons Ö After a custody battle in our local county court system, my brother was awarded custody of their two daughters, then age 11 and 3, with the mother receiving visitation every other weekend. The mother also received mental health treatment at an inpatient ..facility for approximately one week and was to continue to receive outpatient services while meeting regularly with the psychiatrist.

Because the divorce was not final and my brother wanted to believe his marriage could be salvaged, he opted to allow his wife to return home with the stipulation that she would engage in regular mental health treatment and take her medication daily. It was not long, however, before his wife stopped taking her medications and slipped back into her old ways. She again left the family and divorce paperwork was filed. This time, however, she claimed that my brother was physically abusive toward her and the two children, an accusation which had never been mentioned before even through out the previous custody battle. She also had no evidence to substantiate her claims (i.e. pictures, doctors reports, police reports, etc.).

However, one day Children's Services showed up at his door and said they were taking his two daughters away. Keep in mind, my brother had only ever spoken with Children's Services on the phone once but had never met him or been to his home. They stated that there was evidence of abuse but would not show it to him. An emergency hearing was held four days later at which time the county courts ruled that there was no evidence of abuse in the past or currently and that Children's Services had not done their job correctly. So, the girls were returned to my brother.

The next day, my brother came home from work in the evening to find paperwork taped to his door from an Indian Tribe (which he knew both his wife and two daughters to be registered members of in the state of Michigan although the family actually resided in Indiana). The paperwork told him that he was to appear in a tribal court in another state the following morning which, by this time, was less than 12 hours away. He contacted his lawyer at his home who told him that he did not have to attend because he had never heard of this court and that he had not been given enough notice. So he did not go.

So, my brother went to pick up his daughter from school the next day only to find police men there stating that they had received paperwork from the tribal court that morning stating that both children had been made wards of the tribe and that the tribal police were on their way to pick up the girls. Nothing further happened that day, but an emergency hearing was held four days later in the county courts to determine jurisdiction. No one from our county had ever heard of a tribal court and the judge said that, to the best of his knowledge, he had no choice but to rule that the tribe had jurisdiction. The tribe picked up both girls after school that day and drove them straight to their mother's home and thatís where they have been ever since. Despite the fact that the county courts had already given custody to my brother because his wife was deemed unable to care for them. The Ö is too mentally ill to be able to take care of herself (let alone two children) and cannot hold down a job.

Our courts recognized this, but the tribal court is refusing to give the children back to my brother because he is not Indian. My brother has completed everything the tribe has requested of him including supervised visitations, multiple drug and alcohol test, a domestic violence assessment, a psychological assessment, two alcohol assessments, etc. and all have come back in his favor. Yet, with every new test in his favor, they get more and more angry and have now taken away his visitation completely (he has not seen his girls or been allowed any contact with them at all since Dec. 21, 2009). They have made countless allegations against him including that he is an alcoholic and a drug addict; that he has abused his children and now ex-wife, that he has various mental illnesses; that he is a "deadbeat dad," that he doesn't care about his children, etc.

His girls were taken away on April 22, 2009 and we have been fighting for them ever since. My brother's rights have been violated over and over again and the tribe answers to no one for their actions, as they hide under the protection of the Indian Child Welfare Act. They even looked at him and said, "If you hadn't done this to us 50 years ago, you wouldn't be in this mess now."

He has done everything the tribe has requested of him, yet they will not drop this case or allow him to see, speak to, or e-mail his children. We have paid $10,000 just in retainer fees to lawyers not to mention the thousands of dollars in outstanding bills we still owe the lawyers. My brother has now had to file bankruptcy and will likely lose his home shortly. I understand that your organization is not here to give legal advice, but our family wants to know what can be done to help these girls.

Are there legal avenues we haven't explored? What rights are afforded to non-Indian parents of an Indian child? Does the Indian Child Welfare Act even apply in divorce/custody cases where no adoption or termination of parental rights is involved or is the law being mis-construed to fit the needs of the tribe? Are there advocacy groups out there that will speak out in these cases to help non-Indian parents? Are there other organizations out there as well that have spoken out about the damage being done by the Indian Child Welfare Act? Have you ever heard of any other case where the ICWA is being used in this manner? Any information you can provide to us would be so very much appreciated.

Although it is clear that other families are being affected negatively by the ICWA, we have failed to find any cases quite like ours and sometimes its a very lonely and hopeless feeling. We were oblivious to these laws at all until these girls were taken and we are seeking to educate ourselves now not only so we can reunite our family but also so we can be a voice to others who may be experiencing the same thing. Thank you so much.

 

 

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89) January 7 , 2010

My husband and I were chosen by a birthmother in New Mexico due in 3 weeks to adopt her baby girl. She chose us in November and we have been matched since then. She is Native American, and we are not, so the ICWA law applies.

Here is the problem. When she originally contacted our agency, the first thing they did was speak to the Tribal Judge. He said he would approve the adoption because of the wishes of the birthmother. So we all proceeded with an open adoption plan. The birthmother was in foster care herself, and does not want her daughter being raised on their Pueblo. She has many reason for this, and it was one reason why she chose us, a non-native family in Pennsylvania.

Well, the tribal judge has now changed his tune, because the other tribal judge, a female, has decided she wants to adopt the baby. Our birthmother is STRICTLY against this other woman taking her child. The tribal judge then lied to the birthmother saying that my husband and I were trying to finalize the adoption before the baby was born, and they wanted her to sign the unborn child to the tribe right away and they would consider allowing our family. The birthmother did not sign anything, as she was afraid the tribe would take the child and give her to this other judge.

Here is our concern, we are not trying to circumvent a law that is meant to "protect" a heritage. However, they are now strongarming this young woman into raising a child she does not wish to raise or give the child to someone she does not want to raise her baby. She has said that she will keep and try to raise the baby if they are going to take it from her. She has chosen our family because we are Christian, our son is Mayan Indian, whom we adopted from Guatemala in 2005, and that we promise a loving family structure for her baby that she never had. She said there is much corruption, drugs and alcohol use in this Pueblo and does not want to raise her daughter there, and she herself tried running away a few years ago.

Our hearts and concerns are not for getting a baby, but have turned to the rights of this birthmother. It seems a federal law supercedes the desires of a woman and her baby.

She could have had an abortion, and no one could do anything, but she chose life for the child, and thought she could choose the type of life she wants her daughter to have. When she was looking for a family, she said we were everything she had hoped for. It breaks our hearts, as we just don't know what to do. Our attorney reccommended hiring one for her, but we are afraid the tribe is going to take further action against her for trying to fight them, and then eventually still try to take the baby away from her. We also don't have the seemingly endless financial resources to fight this battle.

We would love to have this baby, but our main concern is for this young woman who's wishes and rights are being completely ignored. Any advice, help or anything you can give would be greatly appreciated.

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88)  This story on hold until adoption final -  

 

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87) November 19, 2009

Dear sirs, We have a 2 yr. old boy from the Omaha tribe. We are the only family he knows as we got him right from the hospital & he's had little contact with birth family. But because he is Native American & because of the ICWA law, the tribe is planning to pick him up in less than a week. Do you know of anyone who can help us legally, etc... Thanks & God bless you for fighting for these innocent children.

 

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86) November 8 , 2009

Hello, Iím 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 weíve 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 wasnít 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 donít know when heíll 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 doesnít want her baby raised on the reservation and would rather the dad didnít have anything to do with the baby or her. The dad has two x wives and three girls that he doesnít take care of. He also has a long record with the law and is in and out of jail. The fatherís rights were taken away from him only after he or his lawyer didnít 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? Doesnít ICWA recognize that the child is just half Indian?

Thank you for your assistance,

 

UPDATE November 9, 2009

Hi Lisa, Thank you again for all your help yesterday. Unfortunately, after talking to our attorney ... he told us that not only would that mean $550 an hour just for the two of them to talk, but also another $20,000 to $30,000 to go to trail and that doesnít include appeals. We donít have the money. I donít know how people do it. Is there any justice? We shouldnít have to take our life savings to fight something that isnít right in the first place. I canít wait to join your cause against ICWA. This is unbelievable. We could have adopted a child of our own race through an agency for half that much.

God Bless you,

UPDATE November 30, 2009

Lisa, It was front page news. It is really causing a stir.Hopefully we will come to an agreement so we can adopt. Blessings, -

- Thank you for putting your website on the comments. We had asked the reporter to add the website as well as other things, but for some reason she didnít. People need to be aware of your organization. If many people stand up maybe we can lobby against ICWA or at least make more amendments.

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85) September24 , 2009

ÖMy husband and I have a Native American baby (almost 17 mos old) living with us, full time since 12/21/08, and we have been a part of her life since she was about four months old. We are her Mama and Daddy. Iím sure our story isnít much different than all the others, but [Baby Girl] was left with an ďadoptedĒ (enrolled) grandmother, pretty much right after birth, and the mother told the grandmother to love and take care of her or find someone who would. The adopted grandmotherÖwas already raising at least a couple of other grandchildren, had a mentally handicapped daughter and her two children living with her, etc., and asked her daughter-in-law Ö if she knew of anyone that would be interested in taking and raising this baby and give her a good home. She asked me at church one Sunday morning and my husband and I went to her house after church, met the grandmother, and met [Baby Girl].

From that time on, we pretty much had [Baby Girl] every weekend and as I mentioned before, have had her full time since 12/21/08. The grandmother actually lives down the block from us, and one of her granddaughterís (who has been more of a mother-figure to [Baby Girl] than her own birth mother but is still in high school) will come and visit [Baby Girl] frequently and even will take [Baby Girl] to their home for overnight visits on occasion.

My husband and I are not Native but Caucasian. During the course of time that we have had [Baby Girl] the mother has only come to our home one time and asked to take [Baby Girl] to visit when we said no. I had put [Baby Girl] down for a nap and she was asleep and I offered to call the mom when she woke up and she told me to forget it and left. In July the mother came to our home and told us that she was there to take [Baby Girl]. When I asked why she first told me that her mother wanted her to come get her. When I questioned her on that reasoning, she then said her father wanted her to come get her. I questioned her again, and she finally told me that she wanted [Baby Girl] and she just hadnít come to get her before because she didnít want to hurt us. To make a long story short, [Baby Girl] was rescued by a daughter of the ďadoptedĒ grandmother after [Baby Girl] had been staying with her half sisterís mother and her family for about 2 weeks, Social Services have become involved, and for now [Baby Girl] is with us again. (From what I can figure out, [Baby Girl] wasnít with her mother for more than a few days at best, with her blood grandmother Iím not sure, and as far as I know the grandfather didnít see her at all.)

The Social Services caseworker has told us many things about how they are going to try to reunite the mother with [Baby Girl] (mother is living in a motel 45 miles from [here] with friends). They already offered to put mother and daughter in a home together but when the mother found out all the rules she refused and wanted to take [Baby Girl] to live with her at the hotel. The motherís family members have apparently already stated that they do not want [Baby Girl] living with us, presumably from all I can find out, because we are not Native American. I asked the caseworker (who is also Native American) why they hadnít been interested in [Baby Girl] until now. Itís not like the family didnít know when the mother was pregnant with her. They have known the mother didnít have the child. They knew that [Baby Girl] was living with us. But not until now, now that Social Services is involved, do they want to step in.

I voiced this to the caseworker who told me that I didnít understand the Native American way, which, according to her explanation, is that [they] watch and observe. They donít step in until they perceive a problem and that is why they are stepping in now. My husband and I love this little girl. For all intents and purposes she is our daughter.

I can understand that the Native Americans want ďtheirĒ children to be raised by other Native Americans up to a point. I think by our behaviors, it is obvious that we are not trying to stop [Baby Girl] from being exposed to her culture or her Native American family members. I am more than happy to teach her about the Native American culture. I just canít seem to understand how that has become more important than the wellbeing of the child. [Baby Girl] knows us, loves us, has a stable home, and our friends and family (many of who are Native American) also love her. It seems like the bottom line is that the problem is because we are white. How do we fight this prejudice?

I have been told by the Social Worker that the first court date is 10/5. I donít know if we will even be allowed to speak during this meeting. My husband and I arenít rich or anywhere near it and canít afford lots of legal counsel or costs. What do we do? Thank you for listening and for any advice you can give.

Disclaimer: We are not attorneys and can not give Legal Advice:

Response: My name is Andy Reum and I work with CAICW.  I am an adoptive Parent and former foster parent.  I also serve on the board of Anaconda PCA Family Resource Center, however, I'm no expert on this and this isn't any kind of legal advice.

I am praying for little [Baby Girl]...that God will open up the path that helps her.

 

First, I suggest making as good a relationship with the Caseworker.  If she's [an enrolled] Caseworker, she will likely work very hard to place the child on the Reservation.  If she's an employee of the state she is probably still inclined to place [Baby Girl] on the Reservation or at least feel "required" by ICWA to place [Baby Girl] (long term) in [an enrolled] home.  That isn't to say this can't work out.  We nearly lost both of our adoptive children before they were legally adopted and lots of tears and prayers later, we found they were going to be able to stay with us. As a Foster Care Review Committee member I have seen these ICWA battles and have seen a few work in the favor on non Native care givers.

 

Second: Documentation is important in these cases.  For [Baby Girl]'s sake, write down all of the details you recall while attempting not be overly condemning.  Keep track of the things taking place now as well. 

 

Third: In order to show your interest in [Baby Girl]'s future and in being in line with state laws, consider getting into the next possible Foster Licensing class in your area.  It is likely to be in Billings and lasts approximately eight weeks, one night a week. The training is not hard but it is discouraging ...sorry...that's just the truth.

 

Fourth: It might be useful to refer to your care as consistency and the bond that [Baby Girl] has with you instead of referring to your home as what's in her best interest. It may be true but the caseworker may think you are experiencing tunnel vision.

 

My last small piece of advice is to ask for contact with [Baby Girl]'s (Guardian) G.A.L. ( this is a Court Appointed Special Advocate [CASA]).  As soon as you find out who this might be, ask them to come to your home.  This person is not working for the court or the state and is assigned to kids as that person that is positioned to observe, interview and attempt to offer the court officers (judge) an independent opinion about the child's options for care. 

 

There is no guarantee that there is a GAL (but there should be) and the first court date seems so close but I would still ask for this information.  This person needs to see [Baby Girl]'s environment and relationships with you and other interested persons.

 

This isn't much to offer you, I'm sorry for that.  I know this is a very hard place to be, especially when you love [Baby Girl]. 

 

God bless your efforts on her behalf.

UPDATE   September 25, 2009

Thank you so much for your quick response. I appreciate your advice and prayers. We have known from the beginning that having [Baby Girl] taken away from us was and is a very real possibility. Our goal (besides giving her a stable home life) is to take this gift that God has given us in [Baby Girl], and to love her as much as we can for as long as we can. Thank you mostly for your prayers. Although we (my husband and I) believe we are the best home for [Baby Girl], we do ultimately believe that God knows what is best for her and that is what we ask for; not that we are allowed to keep [Baby Girl], but prayers that God work out what is best for [Baby Girl] regardless of whether it is with us or not. I believe that God is more powerful than any court and if it is His will that [Baby Girl] stay with us, it will happen. If it doesnít happen (even though my heart will be broken), I rest in the knowledge that God is still in control of the situation and will always take care of her. Thank you again.

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84) July 23, 2009

Hello - We are licensed foster parents. On 05/01/08 we recieved a call from our agency about a 14month-old girl that was to be foster only. After prayer, we accepted this child into our home. It wasn't until she arrived that we were told she was 1/4 Cherokee Indian. We couldn't believe it. She had the prettiest RED hair and very fair skin. She didn't look Native American at all. With the approval of the state social worker, we started an open door policy with the family. They could come see her, with our approval, when they wished. The mother was Ĺ Cherokee Indian, the Grandmother was full Cherokee along with the great grandmother being full also. The father was white.

As time went forward, both mother and father had their problems with substance abuse. The father backed out of the picture and the mother was left with a case plan to follow to help her regain custody of her daughter. After a year of serious substance abuse issues and addiction, the mother knew that she couldn't give the child the life she deserved and both her and the father signed the child over to my wife and I in open court stating that they wanted us to adopt her. The judge accepted it and moved the proceedings from placement to adoption. The (Tribal Government) let it be known in court that day that the child was an enrolled member and they would have the last say on where the child goes. They are very much against us and are fighting us very hard.

This is what we have, Good Cause, and the fight is in state court... The child has been with us 15 months and has bonded, and both parents have signed custody over to us for adoption. We have an expert witness that was administrator over ICWA for almost 18 years that will testify to leave the child where she is at. He has personally witnessed the bonding and says it would be a disaster to move her after all this time. He says if ICWA was to be applied, she should have been moved from our home after a week or so and placed in a Tribal Home. It is now too late. Plus BOTH PARENTS and their families want the child to stay with us.

We continue to have an open door policy with both sides. The Tribe wants to move the child to her 3rd cousin, and her [non-Indian] Husband, who already have 3 children, (My wife and I dont have any children). The cousin lives in a different county away from the child's family and her 3 half brothers and sisters. The child's heritage is in her home county, where most of her family live on the Indian Land. (The child did not live on reservation) ... We had to hire an attorney to fight this. We believe it is worth fighting for. Not for us, for the CHILD!! She loves us very much and we love her. She is our World and we will fight till the end for her to remain with us. It is the wishes of the parents, the social worker and her department, the Guardian Ad Litem, and the child to be adopted by us. Just can't believe the Tribe fighting so hard. We will in no way take her away from her heritage, if anyting we will go out of our way to preserve it. Through our attorney, we filed for adoption on 07/13/09. We strongly anticipate the intervention by the Tribe and a hard court fight. Please pray for us

 

UPDATE   October 21, 2009

WE WON!!!!!!!! The (Tribal Government) agreed today in court Oct 20, 09, to allow us, a white family to adopt a 29 month old Cherokee Baby. We went to court this morning looking for the fight of our lives and the tribe backed down and consented to the adoption. It should be final on Thursday, Oct 22, 09. The tribe filed motion to change placement to an Indian home, and that was gonna be the fight. Instead, they backed down and approved us, a white family to keep and adopt this child. Both parents were present in court and told judge they wanted us to adopt and the tribe just backed down. WOW!!!! WE ACTUALLY WON!!!!!!! PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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83) July 21, 2009

Hello. I 've reviewed your site & found it helpful.

I need your help. I am in a custody battle. I divorced an abusive american indian husband. He didn't get custody of our daughter. I had her until a tribal attorney removed her from me her mother & her siblings, due to the fact that I'm not of indian descent. The tribal attorneys intervened & were invited by the ex-mother-in-law. The tribal attorney is attempting to force me & my attorney to give up or to attempt to force me out. Thy're trying to successfully file a motion to make my daughter a WARD of their court. ... The IndianChild Welfare Act is & has been wrongfully applied & misused in our custody case. ..Your help is much needed. My children do not wish to be seperated & my daughter wants desperately to return home.



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82) July 21, 2009

Dear CAICW,
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?
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81) July 10, 2009

To Whom it May Concern:

I am a foster parent in need of HELP.

I will try to make this brief, but it is a long and confusing case.

Back ground on my husband and I:  We have been foster parents for 15 years. During that time we have adopted 4 of our foster children. They are now 15yr., 8 yrs., 7 yrs., 5 yrs. Three of our children are of Hispanic descent and the fourth has some Native American blood although not enough to qualify for ICWA.

In 2006 DHS approached us to take an 11 month old girl "K" and my husband and I agreed. One week later "K"s baby brother "I" was born and when he was a week old we were asked to take him too. Of course we agreed. The parents of these children lived a life of drinking and drugs and "K" had overdosed on some medications and almost died prior to being placed with us.

Despite efforts of the local DHS, the mother and father refused to do  the things necessary to get their children back DHS attempted to contact suitable family members as resourses and found a "grandmother" in (another state). The woman came to (Our State) and tried to help the mother get straight but to no avail. In 2007, it was determined by DHS that termination was in order and started proceedings. The "grandmother" in (another state) was contacted as a possible permanent placement for the children. She was interested and investigated by DHS. During this investigation they found that the woman was not a legal grandmother and so determined that she would not qualify as a family placement. It was then that they asked my husband and I if we would be interested because according to (Our State) law, we were now considered family placement because of the length of time the children had spend in our home. Of course we wanted to be considered as an adoptive placement because of the bond that had formed between the children and the rest of our family.  - we  were approved as the adoptive placement for "K" and "I".

A little background on mother.  She is about 3/8 Native American.... When she was a child her mother was an alcoholic and was about to have her children taken from her. She asked the "grandmother" in (another state) to raise her children and allow her some contact with them. "grandmother" agreed and raised "K" and "I"s  mother in her Caucasian home. The "grandmother" did not enroll the mother in her tribe because she didn't want to deal with ICWA. So the mother of "K" and "I" was raised as a white child. In "grandmother"s care the mother got a documented 5th grade education and worked in the "grandmother"s daycare facility. The mother also reported that she was raped by the "grandmother"s oldest son at about the age of 9 and nothing was done about it. The mother was a troubled teen and drank and did drugs at an early age. The mother also reported to me that she and her husband had left (another state) when "K" was 4 months old and come to (Our State) in order to get away from the "grandmother" and her controlling ways.

The father of "K" and "I" is a Caucasian and has had trouble with drugs and the law.

Now back to the case.  Upon hearing of DHS decision to place "K" and "I" with us permanently, "grandmother", in 2007, adopted the 22 year old married mother of "K" and "I" so that she could be considered their legal grandmother. At this point DHS realized that this was only a ploy to get the children back to (another state) where the parents now live and stayed with their decision to place "K" and "I" with us. After hearing this decision, in 2008, the now "grandmother" convinced the mother of "K" and "I" to enroll in the tribe of her ancestry, thereby getting ICWA involved in  the case, knowing that the tribe would intervene and place the children with the "grandmother" in (another state). Coincidentially, the tribe had a vote in May 2008 to change their requirements for enrollment to include "any child born to a member of the tribe".  In early June, the tribe informed the court in (Our State) that they intended to intervene in the case. In July, the court heard the termination case on the parents and the tribe agreed that the termination should take place. In Sept the mother of "K" and "I" appealled the decisoin and it was upheld in the appellate court in Nov. In Nov the tribe informed DHS in (Our State) that they had decided that the children should be placed with the "grandmother" in (another state). The lawyer for "K" and "I" asked the court for a show cause hearing and in Mar my husband and I hired a lawyer and petitioned the court to be granted intervener status. A hearing was scheduled for Aug....

-Now I would like to ask you if there is anything you can do to lead us on the path we need to take to keep "OUR" children. Thank you for reading of our plight, and please keep up your work in helping children who are victims of ICWA.

                                                              Sincerely,

                                                             DR  Mother of 6

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80) July 10, 2009

I have a very unique situation. I am pregnant with Twins.

The father of these children is Native American. But he is born in Canada and his tribe a a first Nations tribe. I am so confused...

At first I wanted to put up these children for adoption cause I was over whelmed.. but then I learned of the ICWA.. and the adoption agency I am working with basically have stopped contacting me because my situation is hard for them to work with.. because they arent sure how to. So now I feel so lost and alone.

Anyways I have decided to keep these kids now because my family is going to help me. But im scared now because I got a letter from his tribe saying they do not allow adoptions outside of the "first nation's community" And they try to keep the children with the tribal community. But how can they interfere with these kids being with me... their mother? Or can they?

I figured maybe they could later on because I am not Native. And how are the Rules an different if I am from the US and the father and his tribe are from canada? Thank you

Response - Disclaimer - I am not an attorney. I can only speak one parent to another.

Thanks for writing.  I am a non-native mother of enrolled children as well. 

First of all, you are their mother.  You are right that since no adoption is taking place, the Indian Child Welfare Act doesn't apply and can't be used against you.

The Indian Child Welfare Act is only supposed to be used when there is a "change of custody" occurring with the children.  There will be no "change of custody: happening with your children, since you will be keeping them.

But further, the Canadian tribe might be just blowing steam, trying to pull a power trip on you.  I am not an attorney and can't give legal advice, but I do know that Canada does NOT have an Indian Child Welfare Act.  There is no law in Canada that demands the children stay with the tribe.

And I don't think the American ICWA applies to Canadian Tribes.  Here is the definition of Indian Tribe from the ICWA law. (below)  Canadian Tribes aren't eligible for services from our Secretary of Interior.  Let me know if you have trouble understanding these definitions....

(8) ''Indian tribe'' means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians recognized as eligible for the services provided to Indians by the Secretary because of their status as Indians, including any Alaska Native village as defined in section 1602(c) of title 43;

Further -

(9) ''parent'' means any biological parent or parents of an Indian child or any Indian person who has lawfully adopted an Indian child, including adoptions under tribal law or custom. It does not include the unwed father where paternity has not been acknowledged or established;
(10) ''reservation'' means Indian country as defined in section 1151 of title 18 and any lands, not covered under such section, title to which is either held by the United States in trust for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to a restriction by the United States against alienation;
(11) ''Secretary'' means the Secretary of the Interior;

About the definition of "parent, it appears that if the paternity is not acknowledged or established, the ICWA also doesn't include him as a parent.

The American ICWA applies only in a Child Custody Proceeding, as defined below:

''child custody proceeding'' shall mean and include -
        (i) ''foster care placement'' which shall mean any action removing an Indian child from its parent or Indian custodian for temporary placement in a foster home or institution or the home of a guardian or conservator where the parent or Indian custodian cannot have the child returned upon demand, but where parental rights have not been terminated;
        (ii) ''termination of parental rights'' which shall mean any action resulting in the termination of the parent-child relationship;
        (iii) ''preadoptive placement'' which shall mean the temporary placement of an Indian child in a foster home or institution after the termination of parental rights, but prior to or in lieu of adoptive placement; and
        (iv) ''adoptive placement'' which shall mean the permanent placement of an Indian child for adoption, including any action resulting in a final decree of adoption. Such term or terms shall not include a placement based upon an act which, if committed by an adult, would be deemed a crime or upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.

Does all this help?  I think you are okay and don't have to worry.  I would just be careful about taking the babies up to that reserve, because I've known mothers who have lost their children when they've stepped into tribal court.   Tribal courts do whatever they feel like, and once they do it, the federal government does little to help get the kids back.

UPDATE July 10, 2009

First of all I wanted to say than you... I can actually breathe now.
But there is a small possibility that he will be on the birth certificate later because he can order a paternity test to establish that they are his kids. Will he be able to use his tribe to fight for custody? Not sure if you know the answer on that. So i guess these children cant even be registered to his tribe because they are US citizens?
Thank you again. 
without your words I probably would be stressed out to death by now.

Response - So glad you can breathe again.   :)

I can't say that they won't fight for custody.  Sometimes the tribes do dumb things.  But the law is on your side, and they can only go under Canadian law, which doesn't apply to you. 

Further, I don't think Canadian law allows them to take babies without you being proven unfit.

Canadian law doesn't apply to you, and the ICWA doesn't apply to them. 

Stay off that reserve, is all I can say, because many non-native parents have written to us about the troubles they had after taking  their enrollable children within tribal boundaries, or allowing their children to go visit there.  That's when some tribes have stepped in (at the other parent's request) and transferred custody in their own courts.

The children can still be registered with the tribe, but only if paternity is proved. 

But even if he does end up on the birth certificate, that doesn't mean he can take the kids from you.  You said your family is helping you.  I'm so glad for you.  That's a blessing that they are willing to help.

Rest easy, Mama. God's watching over your babies.

UPDATE July 10, 2009

Thank you so much for all your kind words.
I am pretty broke as of now and might be on welfare at the time the children are born.. like food stamps. And state insurance for the children. Do you think they would consider that into me being an unfit parent? Have you seen where they have shown a mother on welfare is not a good mother.. Ofcourse taking time off of work being pregnant with twins alone.. plus having a disabled son I wanted to use all the help I could get even if its temporary.. but if being on food stamps means I will have my kids taken away I wont take the chance..
I cant thank you enough for everything.
God Bless You

Response - I understand.  Don't worry.  Welfare and food stamps won't be a reason they can use.  Most of the people on the reserve get government help, so they can't really hold it against anyone else.

I think that, in general, you shouldn't have any real trouble.  The tribe might have sent the letter merely because he told them you were going to put the kids up for adoption.  Now that you aren't., they probably won't do anything, and they really can't do anything. I'm not even sure if they could have intervened in an adoption.  I don't think you need to worry.

Bless you!

UPDATE July 10, 2009

Thank you Lisa.
I can relax now and try to finish making this pregnancy work.

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79) June 6, 2009

Hello,

My husband was adopted in 1963 by a Caucasian family. This family adopted 11 children in total. 50% of the children came from native American heritage and 1 from Canadian Indian heritage. My husband does not come from a native American heritage.

One of my husband's sisters (also adopted and of Canadian Cree heritage) has had considerable difficulty over the years. She has 8 children from 8 different fathers. The oldest child (now 19) was adopted by another adopted sibling (Caucasian) 14 years ago, one child (now 6) was adopted by his foster family in Colorado (Caucasian) 4 years ago, and one child's (now 3) birth father (Caucasian) sought sole custody in 2007 and won.

In 2007 the 5 children were removed from my sister in law's household due to physical abuse of one of the children (age 11). All 5 have been in foster care since /2007. The DFS is currently pursuing termination of rights.

Child (age 15) in juvenile treatment facility   - Child (age 13) in foster home - Child (age 11) in foster home - Child (age 5) in foster adopt home - Child (age 20 months) in our home - a non paying kinship placement.

Our concerns are this: 1. Birth mom (my sister in law) has become a enrolled member of the ************ band .... recently. 2. She is currently en route to the ***** reserve ... to enroll the children. 3. The state (DFS) is seeking to severe parental rights. 4. Court severance hearing should be in the 3rd week of **** 2009 - once the court severes she will have 60 days to appeal. 5. We (my husband and I) have been asked to be Plan B (adopt the youngest child who has lived with us since 2007). 6. Child (age 5) in foster adopt home have been asked to be Plan B (adopt the 5 year old). This family (husband) is an enrollment member of a federally recognized (US) tribe. 7. My husband and I are not of Indian heritage.

Questions: 1. Does the Canadian Tribe have any standing (ie: juridiction) in this case? 2. Do they have any right to over turn our adoption of the youngest child? 3. Do they have a right to an open adoption where the tribe is able to influence her life? 4. Do the children have benefits as an enrolled tribal member?

My sister in law is a very troubled woman; with a long, documented history of substance abuse, prostitution, petty crime, and mental health issues. Our concerns is for the welfare of all the children. We are not opposed to having our (possible) daughter learn the language, customs and culture - but don't want to be dictated to or constantly interfered with in her up bringing.

Please advise - thank you !!!

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78) March 26, 2009

Dear CAICW, Hello. We live in northern Virginia. We have a beautiful 3 month old little girl that we are in the process of adopting. That was until a week ago Monday, March 16th, when our nightmare began. We should probably start at the beginning. For our adoption process we have been on a national network which has given us choices among various birthmother scenarios and agencies to consider having our profile sent to. After being selected by a different birthmother only to have her miscarry, we became aware of the our Baby's birthmother and her scenario. Her information stated that she was a member of the Omaha tribe but the birthfather was not. He was supposedly an Africian American married man. She also was no longer living on the reservation. She did not have anything positive to say about the reservation and/or living there and wanted to protect her baby from that environment. Her agency had spoken to us regarding ICWA and yet we believe that it was misrepresented. The major point that was emphasized was that we would have to spend 3 weeks in Iowa after the baby's birth because of ICWA law.

We had been told that the tribal counsel would have a say in approving the adoption. We questioned whether the tribe could take our future baby away and we were told that they dealt with these scenarios alot and it was rare and there would be legal remedies that could be applied if it did happen. It shouldn't affect us. We didn't know any better, so we proceeded. The birth mother selected us and we spoke with her 4-5 times up until December 22, 2008 when she went into labor (2 weeks sooner than what we had anticipated). Her due date changed in the 3 months that we had been communicating with her. We spoke with her afterthe baby was born and told her that we were on our way that same day.

Her mother and sisters, who live on the reservation, spent time with her and Baby the night she was born. They began trying to change her mind regarding placing her baby with a non-Indian family. We have been told now, by our lawyer that this has continued for the past 3 months. She has 2 other boys that she does not have custody of since she is an alcoholic. They live with their father on the reservation. We were not aware of her alcoholism until after we arrived in Iowa. When we found out that she was in labor, we also found out that the information we knew regarding the birthfather was a lie. He is a 21 yr. old member of the Omaha Tribe, living on the reservation. He was not aware that she was even pregnant or that she had chosen to place the baby for adoption. We were later informed that the attempt to notify him of the pregnancy, birth, and pending adoption did/could not occur until after the ICWA consent hearing. That seemed a little late to us but we were advised that this was ICWA law. Upon arriving in Iowa, December 23rd, with Karen's mother, we immediately began caring for Baby.   The birth mother was discharged from the hospital December 24th. Iowa law states that custodial rights can not be terminated until 72 hours after birth. Both lawyers decided to push that back 24 hours more so that she would not have to sign over her custodial rights on Christmas day. We spent this additional time in an exam room off the hospital nursery caring for Baby. the mother signed over her custodial rights on December 26th without any issues. An at-risk placement was then initiated between us and our lawyer and we were able to take Baby back to the hotel. The ICWA consent hearing was not held until 18 days after birth. We knew that we would have to wait 10 days. During this time, per the mother's request, we took her out for dinner so she could see Baby. At no time did she seem to be changing her mind.

The 8 day delay in the ICWA consent hearing was because the mother conveniently made herself unavailable to the lawyers and us. She did end up going to the ICWA consent hearing on January 9th. Our lawyer did not anticipate any additional "hiccups." We were given the go ahead to return to Virginia, Friday, January 16th. We had already agreed to have lunch again with the mother so we had lunch and also took her to a possible job interview that Friday. Everything went well. We left Iowa and headed for home on Saturday, January 17th. Upon arriving back in Virginia, we began our incredible life with Baby. . She has adjusted and bonded well. She is developing perfectly and meeting all the appropriate milestones. We were informed that the proper proceedings for notifying the birthfather and tribe had been started and the termination of rights hearing had been set for Monday, March 16th.

Two months out seemed a bit far off but we figured that our lawyer was allowing for all the proper notifications to occur. We began our post-placement interviews with our caseworker. The 1st one was February 7th and the 2nd one was March 14th. Our lawyer's office told us that if there is going to be a issue with the termination of rights hearing then they normally hear from the tribe or lawyers the week before the hearing is scheduled. That week came and went without any news. We thought everything was progressing well until Monday, March 16th. Basically, the birthfather, his mother and sister arrived at court without a lawyer stating that they wanted the baby and had not abandoned her because they did not know that she existed. They requested a court appointed lawyer and then were told by the court that they were not eligible because the father makes $9/hr. working 40 hours a week at the casino on the reservation. At this hearing, the birthfather, his mother and sister also requested that this case be transferred back to tribal court.

the birth mother was in court with her lawyer. We were later told that she had an idea that the birthfather might show up at court and had basically decided that if he did she was not going to fight him. Both our lawyer and her lawyer had spoken with her about how she was going to need to once again articulate that she had chosen to place Baby with a non-Indian family and state our names. She did not do this in court nor did she say that she did not want the transfer back to tribal court to occur. We have been told that she is the only one that can stop the case from transferring. The judge set a continuance hearing for May 21st. Yes, an additional 2 months away. While the mother was traveling home with her lawyer, she verbally stated that she wanted to revoke her ICWA consent for adoption and she did not want to stand in the way of the transfer to tribal court. Her lawyer asked her to come to his office the following day to sign the paperwork so he could submit those desires to the court. She did not show at her lawyer's office the next day. She is conveniently unavailable - doesn't answer her door, doesn't answer her cell phone, landline phone is disconnected due to lack of payment. March 16th and 17th, our lawyer and her lawyer basically began preparing Matt and I for the transfer of Baby.

The mother had previously told her lawyer that she did not have the money to fly to Virginia to get Baby. The lawyers were in communication with the ICW worker to see if dad, grandmother, or someone from the tribe would be able to come. To the surprise of our lawyer, we have now gone over a week and no one has heard from dad and/or grandmother. No attempt is being made to bring Baby back to Iowa so they can begin to raise her as they so desire. We have been reminded that we could possibly have to return to Iowa with Baby because of the placement agreement we signed with our lawyer. This is what we are currently being told: - if we return Baby right now, she will be placed in foster care (either state or tribal) until the May 21st hearing - we are not being encouraged to do so - if birthfather or grandmother want to come to Virginia and get her they can and/or we basically just "babysit" for another 2 months knowing that we are going to lose her - basically live 2 months in a state of limbo - grieving for and caring for this precious bundle simultaneously - the case has already been requested to be tranferred to tribal court so if the birthfather says on May 21st that he does NOT want Baby we still can not have her because the case would still go to tribal court and they would decide what would happen to her - keeping her within the tribe - the ONLY way we can keep Baby is for the birthmother to show up at the May 21st hearing and state in court that she does not want the case to go to tribal court and she stands by her ICWA consent for adoption - she can revoke her ICWA consent for adoption all the way until the final decree for adoption (something we were not told until March 16th)

We are Christians and truly believe that God can rule and overrule. We also believe and know that Baby is His and He loves her more that we do. As her parents we want to fight for her and yet don't know if our lawyer is doing everything that she can. We want to trust her and yet it is incredibly hard to be told that we must sit and wait for the mother, a compulsive lying, alcoholic that conveniently disappears, to show up in court and stand by and articulate her previous words. Can you help us and/or connect us with someone who can? Is there anything we can do? Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

 

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77) This story on hold until adoption final -  

 

 

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76) March 10, 2009

Hi there, my name is............. I am the Grandmother of 2 small children. One, a grandson, 4 years old is of non native blood and no tribal affilation, I practically raised him up until late 2007 when I moved to Nevada. The other, a newborn granddaughterís father is a registered ________ tribe member. CPS has taken custody of both children and will not split the children up. I am trying to get my state, Nevada, to work to get them out of foster care, I have a stable home environment. All parties have had the initial meeting to discuss possible outcomes, and for now they are saying they will keep the kids in foster care for as little as six months up to fifteen depending on whether the parents can complete whatever treatments the court levies on them to regain the children. I would have gotten custody of them if I did not live in Nevada, they are trying to keep it where both parents can visit the children while they fulfill their obligations . Both parents have alcohol, anger and drug problems as well as a history of domestic violence. ...

The (other) Grandmother has expressed the interest to split them up and take the baby, but I know CPS does not want to split the children. The CPS investigator has admitted that this is her first case involving ICWA, and she has expressed a possibility that BOTH children could end up going to a different state under ICWA?? Is this possible, that would be defeating the whole purpose of why ICWA was passed, and in my eyes theft of a non Indian child and not in his best interest. I have a stable home and need help, I have contacted both CPS in Nevada, who needs the other state to call them. The first court case is the end of the week, and I am not getting any answersÖÖÖÖ.should I be filing for temporary custody?? I cannot allow them to take the baby, let alone a child of non-native blood from a different father. I am on a tight budget and cannot afford a lawyer. I am looking for someone who knows ICWA that can give me guidance in this situation before it is too late for my Grandchildren. Thank you for any and all help, I am terrified for both children

UPDATE December 18, 2010

My two grandchildren have been in Foster Care in Phoenix for almost one year. I am the maternal grandmother who raised the oldest grandchild until he was three, before I moved to Las Vegas.

My oldest daughter is trying to win the children back, and the permanency hearing is the first week of January, time is running out. If my daughter does not win back the children then ICWA could be a factor. She was abused by her boyfriend and his family in my abscence, an Ogala Sioux (who is now in jail)the second grandchilds father, and the paternal Grandmother has involved ICWA. She is trying to get custody of the baby and seperate the two children.

Now, the baby is only 25% blood quantum and to place the baby with the paternal grandmother in the event my daughter does not get them back would pose a serious detrement to my grandchildren. It would expose my daughter to a potentially dangerous situation just to visit her child and the Sioux grandmother has, herself mistreated her. This family has abused both my grandson and daughter both mentally and bodily. They have stole her disabiity money, stole toys and clothes me and my husband bought for my grandson. It has been hell dealing with them, I could tell you horror stories about the whole family, not to mention most of them are on drugs. Not to mention what it would do to my grandson (non-native) if he was taken from his sister.

I have been waiting for an ICPC since I reported both parents to CPS almost over a year. They are JUST NOW doing the background check. I feel that based on the grounds that I have a stable, loving home with financial security and both children would be well cared for and not be split I pray that the judge and CPS will rule in favor of an ICPC for me. We have gone through 4 different caseworkers, and I have to re-establish the story with every one. I am scared that justice will not be served due to this fact.

I do not believe that the Sioux nation has the right to enroll the baby in the tribe without my daughter, a caucasian with no tribal affiliation at all, but I could be wrong.

Is there any way you could advise me on what to do, this family is clearly not acting in the best interest of the granddaughter, and want her for the wrong reasons, this is an abuse of ICWA. I believe that is one reason that ICWA can be refuted. I am actually part native myself, although I have no tribal affiliation, because I never knew my father and have little to no information on his family. I am very familiar with Native American traditions and feel helpless, I would make sure my granddaughter knew her heritage. I would welcome ANY help as both me and my husband are currently financially unable to afford an attorney. Even advice would help..... Is there anything I can do to protect my granddaughter, daughter and grandson? Thank you and God Bless.

 

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75) February 25, 2009

I am a foster parent. We had a baby placed with us when she was 3 days old. She is now almost one year. She is part Native American. The mom decided that she would like us to adopt. We are not Native American. The tribal representative agreed to the adoption. On the day of the placement hearing a new tribal representative filed a motion to intervene, indicating that they would not allow us to adopt and that they would be moving her to a foster family on the reservation. We are looking for any connection or help that we can find to fight this. We are still just baffled that the tribe puts the best interest of the tribe before the best interest of the child. Any help or guidance you can provide would be very much appreciated.

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74) February 10, 2009

I am an enrolled Santee Sioux . I had a son 5 and a half years ago who has lived all of his life with an non indian family they recently asked if they could adopt my son. I said why not. My son does not qualify for enrollment. The _____ tribes of __________ said that they were not in support of the adoption and want to remove my child from the home that he has lived in for all of his life. and place him in a TRADITIONAL family. I am 1/8 making my son 1/16 the ____ reservation is one of the most violent places I have ever been. I have traveled all over the USA as I was a transient for years before my sons birth. I am horrified that they are trying to do this. "family" who have never cared if I was alive or dead. are now going to steal my child. I had horrible abuse and violence happen to me while living on the reservation there I was raped beaten and left to freeze to death by gang members their. I am terrified of that place and do not believe that my child will even live to be an adult. Do you know much about this can they do it I am scared . I am scared for my child. thank you very much for taking the time to read this email

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73) February 2, 2009

My husband and I are foster parents. In April 2008 we received placement for a 3 month old baby, whose mother had gotten picked up and sent to jail. Here we are in Feb 2009 and we still have her. We have expressed wishes to adopt her but CPS told us that the tribe (Navajo) who also happen to live over 1000 miles away, want her. They have never asked for her , her ďrelativesĒ have never asked for her but yet they want to place her with them. We are the only family she knowsÖ.What can we do?????

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72) December 22, 2008

...a week ago I received a phone call I thought I would never receive. A caucasion baby boy was born under the safe haven law and needed a family. This is what we were told anyway. By friday, we found out that the baby whom they had us name, that he was of native American heritage. It turns out the social knew the next day and didn't say anything to us. We were kept in the dark and blind sided. I feel like my heart has been ripped out, stomped and spit on! How in the world am I going to know that my baby is going to be safe? How can they say taking a baby out of a loving home the only home he has known is in the best interest of the child????? How can we go about getting the law to be ammended to actually be in the best interest fo the child. How can the system use a couple and toss them aside like they don't matter? They were so cold and uncaring. I have lost all faith in the system and will pray for the poor children who are/will become a victim of it!

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71) December 2, 2008

Hi there... I am trying to find out a couple of things. There might be a private adoption situation that we might be considered for. The bio father is caucas. the bio mother is 1/2 or 1/4 Indian. She doesn't receive benefits...does this child need to be cleared from the ICWA? Can that be done prior to the birth? Is there a rule like 1/16th and they don't have to be cleared-anything like that? Thank you for your time-

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70) November 11, 2008

I'm looking for help or information on guardianship. I read on your website that the biological parents can petition the tribal courts for custody. The child has been in foster care since birth and I am the foster parent also a tribal member. Could this happen. If someone could answer my question I would greatly appreciate this. Thank You

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69) September 23, 2008

Lisa,  Thank you for sharing from your heart at the conference in Wahkon.  My wife really wished she could be there and I would like to introduce her to you.  I've copied her with this email and if you would be willing to chat with her over the phone I'd appreciate your sending her/us your phone number.  I hope you found your visit a blessing.  Your good courage shown as you share this message is appreciated.  God bless you all and have a great day

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68) September 8, 2008

I am a case worker with _____ County Job and Family Services I am tying to get a contact phone number to speak with someone regarding a current case of three children that are part Indian. 

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67) May 29, 2008

I recently found your website and my attention was drawn to an article written about the ICWA and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.  I cannot comment on the article, but I am interested in your program.

I will read more about your program and I hope to learn from you.  I am a tribal member and I have fours sons ages 18 to 6 months.  I have experience on both sides of the judicial system. 

My parents were from two different tribes and I believe my non-tribal member mother experienced similar issues, I cannot prove them because she is deceased.  Only recently learning how the system operates makes me believe she experienced these issues.  


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66) May 29, 2008  

I have the opposite problem I want to move jurisdiction to tribal court from state court. I am native and so our my children. I've read
countless stories of children being removed from their homes and it is sad. I feel where you are coming from. But trust me it's just as hard for me to have my cased moved to tribal court. I feel my children and I have a chance to remain a family in tribal court than to be racially profiled in a state court. If you know of any laws or cases that would justify our tribe of having jurisdiction over us please let me know.

 

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65) March 3 , 2008

I am an adoption counselor at a private agency.  I am working with an expectant mother who has chosen to place her baby for adoption with our agency.  She and the birth father have found a family they want to raise their son and their adoption will be open.  The birth mother is ¼ Native American and not an enrolled member and the birth father has no heritage.  The birth mother placed two other children for adoption in the past with the tribes blessing.  Now, the tribe has said they have chosen a family on the reservation to adopt this baby and they will not budge.  We thought that the child had to be an enrolled member or one of the birth parents in order for a tribe to take a child – especially in a voluntary relinquishment.  Do you have any information that would help us? Thank you

Response - Disclaimer - I'm not an attorney, and the only advise I can give the couple is to get a good attorney as soon as possible.   Too many families don't get an attorney right away, thinking this isn't a big deal, and it really is.   They need to find a GOOD attorney that knows the law well and is able to fight for the family's rights.  Encourage them not to settle with an attorney that is going to roll over for the tribe - afraid to stand up and demand that the law be followed.   Too many tribes, having more money and access to attorney's than many of the low-income families in situations such as this - can be somewhat bullying, and sometimes push for their will even if it has nothing to do with the law.

.... as I understand it, one parent to another - If the mother isn't enrolled - the tribe shouldn't be able to usurp the birth family's wishes.  Again, I'm not an attorney and am not giving legal advice. That's just what it seems it says - (1903 (4) - printed on our website) - -  http://www.caicw.org/icwalaw.html )

......get an attorney right away, try to keep in county or state court rather than tribal court, and make it clear from the start that this is NOT an ICWA case, as the mother is not enrolled.   Keep that mantra up.  This is NOT an ICWA case.  Get that nipped in the bud right away in order to get this over with quickly - with the least amount of cost.  

Further - 1911 (b) "absent objection by either parent" - It seems to me that this is saying that the tribe can transfer the case to tribal court, unless one of the parent's objects.  Again, I'm not an attorney - but I would tell the state court, if it were me, that I strongly object to any type of transfer. 

And don't forget to pray - we've see amazing answers to prayer. 

Bless you all - I pray that the best interest of the child is truly upheld, and the child is placed in the home God has prepared for it. 

UPDATE March 4, 2008

Thank you so much for your quick reply.  Your information has helped me understand the ICWA law.  We have contacted a very good attorney.  It is clear by this tribe’s own membership code that the child must be ¼ blood quantum and have a biological parent who is a member in order to be eligible.  This child is 1/8. Although I think the adoptive parents would most likely win this case, the cost of litigation (financially and emotionally) has to be seriously considered.  It is so sad that the birth parents may not get their first choice in families because of this.  The family has to be willing to endure thousands in court costs.  Thank you so much for the work that you do. Blessings,

 


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64) February 22, 2008

I am a Native American disable single father....
I have been fight for my son for over 3 years now. Welfare stated that ICWA did apply in my case in court the ....tribe has did nothing to help me or my son, the tribe stated that ICWA did not apply in my case as well WHY I am Indian and my son is Indian we are tribal members with a roll number, but yet DHS stated it don't; why is this...I have brought this up with the B.I.A in portland oregon and nothing has been done on this matter of my rights and my son's rights,were my son is in this foster home my son is being abused. I do have picture's I gave copy's to the tribe they did nothing? I have written letter's conplants on the caseworker's. I am asking for help as my tribe has done nothing and will not do anything .... tribe has done nothing to help our people nor will they do anything but for there one family's and friends and there friends and so on. I want to know what my rights are as a Native American and is there any native American attorney's that work in oregon, thank u

Response - I wish we could help you figure out what all is going on with your son.  We aren't attorney's, though, and so really don't know.  We're parents, like you, who are trying to figure out what's best for the kids God gave us.   In general, though, ICWA does give the tribe the right to decline an ICWA case.  They can look at a situation and decide that they don't want to change what the DHS is doing.    I pray that God guides you and shows you what it is that you can do to make things better and gives you comfort while you wait for answers.  And I pray that the Lord puts His hand of protection over your son. In Jesus' holy name - Amen

(1911 (b) ( printed on our website - -  http://www.caicw.org/icwalaw.html )


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63) January 23, 2008

Our family has been devistated! This happened last Thursday about 3 in the afternoon:
This is a story about a little 61/2 year old girl, my Granddaughter....  She is half Navajo Indian. I have included a picture. About 6 years ago they lived on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, her Mother was using some heavy drugs and she and my son, began fighting. Lets call her (Mother)...,  

My son didn't want his daughter around the drugs, the fight grew until (Mother) told him to get out, he wouldn't leave without his daughter, she finally told him to get out and take the kid with him.    We sent him a bus ticket and he and the 6 month old baby came to live with us.   Sounds pretty much boring so far doesn't it?  

He was legally married to (Mother) and she wanted nothing to do with him.  He couldn't get a divorce due to our wonderful Federal law that says "you cannot take an Indian child away from an Indian" the child will go to ANY Indian before it would be place with a "white" person, they don't even have to be an aunt or cousin, just Indian.  

(they) stayed here in Missouri with us and worked and took care of (granddaughter).    We could not possibly love (granddaughter) any more than we did or do.   (Mother) would call every 8 or 9 months and ask (son) for money.  She was not the least interested in how (daughter) was.  She once called when (daughter) was 4 and wanted (son) to quit his job and bring (daughter) to Arizona so she could see her for a week, then he could have her back.  This is how she thought it would work.   (my son) could not get a divorce due to the law protecting the Indians and the fear of losing (daughter).  He worked he came home he took care of (daughter), we all did.   Several years went by, 6 to be exact, (they) have moved to Dallas to live with his sister to get a better job.  (granddaughter) goes to a wonderful school, she goes to church, she has friends and family who love her very much.  

We started getting letters from a lawyer in Arizona at my house here in Missouri and I sent them on to (son), the letters said that (Mother) was trying to get (daughter) and was suing (son) for custody.   (son) got a lawyer, a group of lawyers actually that are suppose to just help Dad's get their kids.  They sent for all the papers that (Mother) had ever filed and come to find out she had been filing papers since 2003. It took over a month to get the papers from the Indian courthouse. With all sorts of excuses about people being on vacation and not able to send the papers.   She had talked to (son) on the phone several times during this time and never mentioned any of the lawyer stuff.  She did talk to him about wanting a divorce, but never said anything about (daughter).    She didn't even know (daughter).    It has been six and 1/2 years.  

(son)'s lawyers advised him to contact (Mother)'s lawyer to let them know his whereabouts, so that they could serve him with the court papers and then the lawyers could go to court for (son).   (Mother)'s lawyers got (son)'s address. Filed a injunction from the Navajo court which is Federal.   5 Police cars came to (son)'s house yesterday and told him they were there to take (daughter).  They went to day care and took (daughter).   

(Mother) was there to collect her daughter.  (daughter) was crying and screaming she didn't want to leave her Daddy.  (Mother) told her that she had been looking for her for a long time and her Daddy wouldn't tell her where she was.   (Mother) has always known where they were, she has talked to them on the phone.    She lied and told the Indian court that (son) kidnapped (daughter) when in fact she told him to "take her and get out" She lied and told the Indian court that (son) was hiding (daughter) when in fact she has had his phone number and our phone number has not changed.   Had this been a "non-Indian" court, they would have maybe given the Mother supervised visitation at least for a period of time for the child to get to know her.   The Indian court believed everything (Mother) told them and they swooped in and collected (daughter) like this family never even existed.  The sent her off with no clothes, no toys, no books, (Mother) wouldn't even take (daughter)'s coat.  

I know I may sound like just another crazy old lady, but this is just wrong as wrong can be....   For "our government" to allow this kind of treatment of a child is criminal, just criminal, we have dogs in this country that are treated better.   Now, in order to possible if ever get his daughter back, my son will have to fight this in Indian court in Arizona, he has to hire a lawyer, minimum $3000.00 just a retainer and that is ridiculous because the Indian court can just postpone and postpone and (Mother) will just never show up with the child...  

(Our son) had (daughter) for six years and never collected any government assistance, he worked and took care of his daughter.   He hired a lawyer. He followed the rules.   We loved that little girl more than any words can express.   We may never see (daughter) again.   This is just wrong as wrong can be!  

One devastated Grandmother  

Response to my response -    

Dear God someone help us please. 
 
Thank you so much just for reading my letter, I am so lost as to know what to do, where to go or who to trust.   Yesterday, I stayed home from work to get a lawyer for my son, we were told by a lawyer where I live that we would have to have an Indian Lawyer from the reservation, in order to do anything,
 
My daughter and her husband took out a loan for a $3000.00 retainer and we hired a lawyer, we faxed her all the papers that (Mother) left when they took (My Granddaughter) and she studied the papers and said that there was only a very slim chance that we would ever see (daughter) again.
 
The papers are ridiculous!!!
 
Evidently, she had been filing papers since 2003, and all the time talking to (son) on the phone at my house and him sending her money.
 
First she said that (son) kidnapped (daughter), and she didn't know where he was. When in fact, her own mother and her took (them)  to the bus.
 
Then she said that he was at my house and when she would call my house to talk to him, I would answer the phone and either lie to her or "make loud whooping noises" (like an Indian) into the phone. I have never heard of anything so crazy! I have an answering machine, if I didn't want to talk to her, Oh my goodness.
 
Now, the lawyer that we hired yesterday is saying that because my son, spent a year moving around trying to find work, (ONE YEAR OUT OF 6) that he is unstable, even though, he lived with (daughter)  in ONE PLACE with his father and I for 5 solid years. He worked, he supported his daughter, he has never had any government assistance....  
 
So, because of this year, that (son) spent trying to make a better life for he and (daughter) , the lawyer is telling us that he has a "very slim chance of EVER getting her off the reservation! He has a good job now, he is in a apprentisship program for management.
 
I really don't know how to go on, I read in the paperwork (Mother) left, that becuase she is suppose to be employed and making $7.00 an hour, that SHE is ABLE to PROVIDE for (daughter) , and  (son) must now pay $475.00 a month child support!... 
 
How, dear God HOW, can they take this child?, child who has never done anything to ANYONE and RIP her from everyone she knows and loves and throw her into this?
 
She didn't even have a change of clothes,
She doesn't have her BLANKET!
How can MY GOVERNMENT TREAT A CHILD LIKE THIS?
HOW CAN THIS BE RIGHT!

....I am just praying that you know something that I don't know, something that will help, anything,     One devastated Grandmother

 

UPDATE January 24, 2008

God Bless you, Thank you so much for caring, I am having a really bad day today, yesterday I felt like we had some hope, this morning I am right back to scared to death and wondering what must be going through (granddaughter''s) mind. I wonder if she is cold,if she has any clean clothes and if she is hungry. I wonder what they must be telling her when she says she wants to go home. I am just really having a bad day I guess.  I can't figure our where God is and why this should happen to her. I have always beilieved that God is in control, today I just don't know.

UPDATE January 26, 2008

I am at (Son's house), he found out yesterday that he has to be in Arizona for court about the "Order to Return the Child to Texas Immediately" court will be either Wed.,Thurs., or Friday. Is there anyone from the Christian Alliance in the Window Rock area that may be able to attend court with us?  I just thought it wouldn't hurt to ask, you never know unless you ask sometimes.
Thank you for being there
,

UPDATE February 2, 2008

We are still waiting for a court date for the "return the child to Texas" order, our lawyer said last Thursday that the judge was looking over the papers that she had filed and would decide how important he felt the case was as to how soon we would get a court date.
 
I probably have lost my job as I came to Texas to go to court this past week with (Son) so he wouldn't have to go alone and we never got a date to go, so maybe it will be next week, who knows.  But, two weeks off work isn't good at a job I just started and didn't have my 90 days probation in yet, even though they told me to go be with my son, I doubt that they meant to stay.  
We also had to retain a lawyer here in Texas this past week to file for custody in what is considered (Granddaighter's) "home state" however the way the tribal court sees it, the reservation is her home state. The lawyer that we got here for the custody wanted to know if I could get any information about living conditions on the reservation and I thought that you may have that. Please let me know,
 
I really appreciate you being there.

UPDATE February 13, 2008

...things are not good,by any means.  The Tribal Supreme Court Judge, has been sitting on the motion to return the child for 3 weeks now, 3 weeks, (granddaughter) has been out there a month now and we have not talked to her or even know where she is for sure.  This is wrong on so many levels.  This child has done nothing to have to go through this.
 
We have talked to newspapers and tv reporters ....no one wants to get involved, Everyone just hides behind,"OH thats a child cusody issue" So they can't help.
I asked one reporter here in Texas why are there stories on the news about dogs being abused and nothing about what is happening to our children?
   
....I guess I have to go back home Friday, I have been here waiting for the court date that never happens for 3 weeks now.
 
Please please, pray that God will lead us to the money for the attorney's .  We just don't have it. It looks to me like the plan on the Indian Court side is just to sit it our until we are out of money. At this rate it wont be long...
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UPDATE February 15, 2008

A six year old child was illegally removed from her Father January, 17th 2008 with the help of ... County DA's office ....
 
... police telephoned (DA)requesting advice after 2 members of the Navajo tribe showed up at the police station producing a paper from the Navajo Tribal Court giving the child's mother temporary custody. After faxing a copy to DA and DA reviewing the document, DA advised the police to turn the child over to the mother.
 
The police then traveled to the childs daycare where the six year old little girl was sent crying and screaming with 2 complete strangers to travel to Arizona to the Navajo reservation.
 
According to ....County Standing Orders regarding children, property and conduct of parties, IT IS ORDERED:

1.NO DISRUPTION OF CHILDREN  Both parties are ORDERED to refrain from doing the following acts concerning any children who are subjects of this cause.
1.1 Removing the children from the state of Texas, acting directly or in concert with others, without the written agreement of both parties or an order from this court.
1.2 Disrupting or withdrawing the children from school or daycare facility where the child is presently enrolled, without the written agreement of both parents or an order from this court. 

It is my opinion that DA took one look at the letterhead from the Tribal Court of the Navajo Nation and had no clue what to do.  She gave her legal opinion which was wrong and aided in us loosing our child.
 
Going on 4 weeks now we have had to retain 2 separate attorneys,one for the reservation one for Texas.  The child is and was a resident of Texas there for Texas had and still holds jurisdiction. We have had no contact with our child nor she with us since she was illegally taken.
 
She is six years old and torn from the only family she has ever known and loved and taken to a place not unlike a third world country.
 
What must be going through this little girl's mind?

UPDATE February 18, 2008

...We can't even get in touch with anyone who can tell us where they are.
The phone numbers (they) gave us have been shut off.  We have no court date, because the judge is just sitting on the papers. We don't know anything, our lawyer doesn't know anything, it's like we live in the "Twighlight Zone", I am 53 years old and never thought that I would live to see something like this in my lifetime.  .... nobody cares, they stole our child, she is gone as far as we can tell never to even be seen or heard from again.  People just don't seem to understand my world stopped January, 17, 2008

We can't even get (other party) served, something about the "advocate"that she has is "KNOWN" for helping people avoid being served.

As long as she can't be served, she keeps (Granddaughter), how is this right?

.... People look at me like I am making it up.   I barely have any hope left. I'm really glad that you are there and that you understand, I have no one to talk to who gets it.

UPDATE February 20, 2008

Did you get to talk to anyone yesterday?  Any new ideas this morning?  I need a reason to keep going.

UPDATE February 22, 2008

I just got a call from (Daughter) , it seems that (Attorney from Rez) called (Attorney in Texas) .....  said that the Navajo Supreme Court made a decision that is; 'The Navajo's have jurisdiction over ALL Navajo children' so she does not have to be returned to Texas....

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UPDATE March 14, 2008 - letter to Senator John McCain staffer:

Mr Currieo,
 
Please, can you tell me anything that is being done about (My Granddaughter)?  
In a couple of days it will be 8 weeks.
 
Over and OVER the Tribes have done the same thing and they continue to do this until we (non-Indians) don't have the money to fight to get our children back.
 
Our family has done nothing wrong here, yet 'WE' are the ones who have to find lawyers just to 'ATTEMPT' to ever see our child again.
 
Do you realize we had to call over 25 lawyers just to find one that would EVEN GO ON THE RESERVATION?
 
God must be shaking his head and asking himself, 'What in the world?'
 
Dear Mr. Currieo this is our baby, our child, a living breathing HUMAN BEING, not a peice of property! She has been ripped away from the only home and family that she knows. Why is this allowed to go on?
 
Please, I know there is something SOMEBODY CAN DO.
 
Please, I am begging and I have never begged for anything in my life.
 
We don't have a home we can mortgage.  We are at the END of our funds.
Are we suppose to just GIVE UP, GIVE IN?
 
THIS IS NOT RIGHT!
 
Dear God in the name of everything that is RIGHT...., PLEASE HELP US!
Help (My Granddaughter) before its TOO LATE.



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62) January 14, 2008

I will try and make a long story short. (Baby Girl) came into my home when she was nine days old (June 14, 2006).  I knew at that time she was eligible for membership of the Choctaw tribe.  As a foster parent it is my personal policy not to take a child that I would not be able to adopt if parental rights are terminated.  I believe this to be in the child's best interest, and my family's best interest. 

I contacted the tribe's child welfare worker and was told that this would not be a problem.  She told me that it is preferred to keep children in the tribe, but she did not have many tribal homes in the area and she would not push it. There was not an appropriate kinship placement at this time. 

On August 11, 2006, (Baby Girl) went for a trial re-unification with her birth mother.  I assumed our time together was over.  On October 20, 2006, (Baby Girl) returned to my home, and it did not look as if re-unification would happen.  There was still not an appropriate kinship placement. 

I had voiced my interest in adopting (Baby Girl) to the child welfare worker.  I again called Choctaw Child Welfare asking about adopting (Baby Girl).  She stated that she could not discuss it with me.  The supervisor responded that she would provide names of Indian adoptive homes, but the ultimate decision would be for the judge. 

This is the same response I got from DHS child welfare.  (Baby Girl)'s birth mother relinquished her rights in January 2007.  An out of state cousin agreed to take (Baby Girl) after that, so an ICPC was started.  Everyone kept telling me that the longer this took the better my chances of keeping (Baby Girl). I was also told that if the ICPC was approved, that did not mean an automatic approval for adoption. 

The first week of August 2007 I received my 5 day notice to have (Baby Girl) ready to move.  I immediately notified my attorney, and filed for a court hearing and stop the transfer.  The last week of August 2007, we went to court arguing for (Baby Girl)'s best interest.  I believe we proved staying in my home was in her best interest without any doubt.  Closing arguments on our behalf were not only made by my attorney, but (Baby Girl)'s attorney, and the District Attorney as well.  Unfortunately, the judge said he just could not go against ICWA.  My attorney and I went back to court because he did not address the good cause and best interest statutes in the ruling.  We went back to court and the judge stated it was in her best interest to be transferred out of state with the family because I would never be able to adopt her because I was not Indian therefore (Baby Girl) would never be able to achieve permanency. 

I do not study the law, but I do not believe ICWA is a mandate written in stone.  My daughter was taken away from the only family she had ever known, to live in a place she had never been, with people she had never met. How is that protecting her? There is policy and statue for best interest.  Why doesn't this prevail?  I apologize for getting of on a soap box.  Anyway, the order seems to be floating around somewhere out there.  It still needs to be signed and filed.  So, I still have time.  Is there anything you can do to help me?  Is there someway to get around ICWA? Do you have any advice?  Do you know anyone that can help me?

(Baby Girl) has been away for 4 months now.  I have 30 days left to file an appeal.  Her brothers, grandparents, and myself would love to have her back home.  Financially,  I can't afford to fight.   I don't know that she would even remember us now.  What would you do?

Thanks for your time!

UPDATE February 8, 2008

...she says I have a few different options.  All will take lots of time and money.  She has to meet with (attorney) and a letter will be sent explaining my options and costs and then I can make my decision. I'm just waiting for that letter.  It's been a week.

 


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61) December 22, 2007

Hello,
I have created a myspace page called: fight_icwa, and I would like your permission to add a link to your site, or a banner if you have one. ...

My interest in ICWA stems from work with the local court systems, a personal experience and having witness the devastation it has visited on some children. Thank you so much for your time, and have a very happy Christmas.


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Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

PO Box 253, Hillsboro, ND 58045 - 0253

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