Federal law supersedes the desires of a woman for her baby


 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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