Harriet McLeod with Reuters reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case regarding the adoption of a Native American girl, three years old, who has gone back and forth from her adoptive parents to her biological father, during the course of a family law case that involves custody rights under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
To boil it down:
1. The father, a Native American tribal member, is said to have renounced his parental rights during his girlfriend’s pregnancy
2. The girlfriend, after the birth, sought to have her daughter (a girl) adopted
3. After the adoption, the father sought custody of his daughter and alleged never to have given his consent to the adoption
The baby girl’s new adoptive parents do not happen to be members of a Native American tribe, which gives rise to the question: Does the Indian Child Welfare Act, in its interest in protecting Native American families, trump a lawful adoption that’s already happened?
Or does state law, which gave rise to the lawful adoption, trump the Indian Child Welfare Act, and support the interests of the adoptive family and the baby girl in having a stable home?
The Supreme Court doesn’t generally hear these types of family law cases, but the outcome of this particular case could affect future cases when it comes to Native American adoptions.