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Cases

line Nearly every day, a case involving a child and the Indian Child Welfare Act is being heard in this country. Each case is complex and surrounded by its own unique set of circumstances but each case is closely connected in one way – each case involves an innocent child. The following cases demonstrate how ICWA is being used within our judicial system. We invite you to review them and determine if the best interest of the child(ren) is being considered. We invite you to ask yourself, “Is this truly what Congress intended?”

Here are several sample ICWA cased. You determine for yourself if you feel the Indian Child Welfare Act is being used for the best interest of these children?




Norris Family Struggles for Permanency for Years
K.H. was born in 1990. Voluntarily placed for adoption at birth. The Navajo and Yakama tribes fought. The tribes didn’t even intervene until the child was 7 years old. The case was argued and submitted in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2002. The child was 11 1/2 years old and had been in the adoptive home since 1 day of age and yet the tribes were trying to dissolve the adoption anyway. The final ruling was handed down in June 2003. The child was 12 1/2 years old and finally the family could rest knowing the adoption was final (assuming the tribes didn’t appeal further).
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Raymond, Jesse and Angel’s Case (California)
Siblings have been in foster care for three years and three months and are bonded with their foster mother. Early on the birth mother had told a social worker that she “thought her father had Indian heritage but did not know which tribe.” Now, three years later, she successfully claims that DCFS should have complied with ICWA notice requirements. After three years in the system, permanency for these three siblings is yet delayed again. Additionally, the hearing terminating parental rights took place in October 2006. The ruling on the appeal wasn’t filed until 10 months later. Neither parent even showed up to court the day their parental rights were terminated!
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T.B. and J.B.’s Case (California)
The petition alleged that the children’s father had physically abused T.B. and that the parents had failed to protect the children in various respects. The case also states that the birth mother has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and serious mental illness, that she failed to obtain appropriate medical care for infected bug bites suffered by T.B., that the parents failed to appropriately respond to multiple suicide attempts by T.B., that the three-year-old was found home alone at 10:30 p.m., and that the parents engaged in acts of domestic violence in front of the children. Mother contends that CFS failed to comply with the notice requirements of the ICWA. Mother informed CFS in that she believed her maternal grandmother was part Cherokee. The court remands the case for compliance with ICWA. At this point the children have been in the system for four years.
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4-Year-Old “A” (Oregon)
This case involves a mother and father, both incarcerated and a 4-year-old little boy who psychologist say is in need of permanent placement. The court document states that, “Because “A” is eligible for membership with the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, DHS must do more to attempt to reunify “A” with his parents than it must do to reunify [his sibling who is not eligible]…” Court remands the case in favor of the incarcerated birth father and permanency plans for child are delayed due to ICWA requirements.
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Serenity’s Case (California)
Serenity’s parents have a lengthy history of methamphetamine abuse and four other siblings have been adopted by her grandmother. Birth father is using ICWA to try and prevent his parental rights from being terminated. He is unsure of his Native American heritage and consequently 30 tribes are notified about the possibility of his eligibility and Serenity’s case. Eventually, his rights are terminated but Serenity’s permanency is delayed for more than a year and our court system is tied up with this type of case.
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Little boy known as H.R. (California)
Parents are drug addicts and have been incarcerated. Paternal grandparents want to adopt their grandson but the tribe intervened and will not allow a traditional adoption. They insist on a tribal customary adoption but the grandparents are not comfortable with the tribe’s demands. The child has already been delayed permanency for two years. They testified they respected their grandson’s tribal heritage and would encourage him to spend time with his extended family and support him should he choose to participate in tribal activities, but that they “just want him to grow up in a normal, ordinary . . . family without having this order hanging over [their] heads.”
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In re E.J. et al. (California)
Three siblings already stuck in foster care system for years due to parental neglect will likely remain in the system even longer because birth parents appeal citing compliance with ICWA was not followed. Court agrees and remands case for further evaluation of ICWA because the birth mother thinks the children “might be Indian.”
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9-Year-Old Amana (California)
Amana was at risk of suffering serious physical harm because both parents excessively abused methamphetamines while Amana was in the home. Birth mother had a long history of drug abuse and a record that included a number of child welfare referrals and criminal arrests. Birth father was in jail. Amana wanted to stay with her caregiver and siblings. Permanency delayed for little girl because her incarcerated birth father might be Blackfoot.
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23-month-old S.E. and one-month-old B.B. (California)
Permanency delayed for two children. They entered foster care for abuse and neglect and two years later are still in foster care. The order terminating parental rights was reversed to “comply” with ICWA. Why? ICWA provisions are triggered when the court “knows or has reason to know” an Indian child is involved. In this case, Mother’s attorney had indicated that the mother believed she might have “some Indian background in her family, not sure what tribe or which relative…”
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Little Skylar (California)
Permanency delayed for little boy. Skylar was born in April 2004 and enters foster care in May 2005. Parents were both incarcerated. No one claims Indian ancestry for the child. Reunification services for both parents were terminated when Skylar was 2 1/2 years old. Parental rights were terminated in March 2007 opening the doors for a permanent home for Skylar. Still, to date, no one in the case has claimed Indian ancestry then birth mother appeals and claims non-compliance with ICWA. Appellate Court agrees and reverses the termination of parental rights in August 2007, saying that the juvenile court needs to comply with ICWA.
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Asia and Twin Brothers (California)
There is no apparent ICWA connection in this case, however permanency for three children is delayed because their birth father claims Indian heritage, as well as being one of the “last of the Mohicans.” Obviously, living with mental health issues, this birth father his selfish actions made a mockery of ICWA, wasted taxpayer dollars and delayed the children from having a permanent home. Birth mother attempts to use ICWA in an appeal but is unsuccessful.
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