Sister-in-law concerned about 2-yr-old they have been raising – Can Canadian tribe interfere?


June 6, 2009


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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