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.