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Allysa’s Story


Indian birth parents should have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.


At nine months old, Allysa was handed over to the Navajo Nation as she cried out ‘Da-da.’ Her birth mother, an unmarried, 21-year-old Navajo, wanted Rick and Cherry Pitts, a non-Native couple, to raise her child. The baby had been with the Pitts since birth because the birth mother could not support the baby and did not want her to grow up in Navajo poverty. As the baby reached out for her prospective adoptive parents and her birth mother, a tribal social worker put her in a van and sped away. Allysa’s Indian Child Welfare Act custody battle ensued when the tribe learned of the adoption and wanted a Navajo to raise the child. A Santa Cruz, Calif. judge ruled the tribe would keep the baby until a Navajo court decides on custody.

Read the full Associated Press article.

BABY ALLYSA UPDATE: A Washington Post article in 1988 reported that in the end all parties agreed and it was Allysa that won despite the strong arm of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

More News Coverage:
Navajo Medicine Man Prays Over Baby Girl Caught in Custody Fight