ICWA: Placing A Native American Baby Up For Adoption
If you are experiencing an unplanned or teen pregnancy or are considering adoption for your baby, there are some New York adoption services you should take into consideration while putting together your adoption plan. If you or the biological father of your child has Native American ancestry, you may wish to inquire about how the ICWA affects you, your child, and putting your baby up for adoption.
Adoption Choices of New York is here to support you through your adoptive process, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, or ability. This article features the ICWA and the adoption of Native American children. If you are adopting or putting a baby up for adoption, please be aware of the ICWA.
What is the ICWA?
The ICWA is the Indian Child Welfare Act. This Act is aimed at trying to keep families together and keep Native American children in their tribe or placed in a family with other Native American individuals who will make this child a part of their tribe. Due to the racial disparities in the removal of children by Child Protective Services, Native American children are more likely than non-Native American children to be removed from their homes. This law was passed to offset and protect Native American children from this disparity in child removal actions. This is why this Act minimizes removals and maximizes early placements in order to go against the racial and socioeconomic disparity which impacts the scrutiny of Native American families over non-Native American families. This Act favors extended family placements and stability for the child.
Who does the ICWA apply to?
The ICWA applies to any child with any percentage of Native American ethnicity, regardless of their biological parents ever having lived on a reservation or being a part of a tribe. The child must have a parent who is a member of a tribe or be a registered member of a tribe for the ICWA to apply.
Can Anyone Adopt a Native American Baby?
So long as consideration is first given to extended family and tribe members before anyone else, non-Native American individuals can adopt Native American children. The ICWA allows individuals who are members of the child’s tribe or extended family to be considered over other prospective adoptive families.
Find out if the ICWA applies to your child before finalizing your adoption plan to prevent the adoption from being undone or unable to be finalized. As previously stated, this could be due to the ICWA allowing priority consideration for adoption to be directed toward extended family and tribe members of the same tribe the child or one of its parents has a membership to.
An exception to the ICWA can be applied to unwed non-Native American mothers. Extra notice must be given to any possible adoptive parents within the biological family’s tribe or extended family before the possibility of the child being adopted by non-Native American parents can be entertained. Adoption Choices of New York will support you throughout the adoption process and any legal questions you may have.
Native American Child Adoption in New York
The ICWA is also meant to preserve Native American and tribal culture. The violent and discriminatory history against Native Americans, unfortunately, runs deep in American history and culture. This is why the ICWA is meant to protect and pass on ancestral heritage through extended family, tribal members, and elders. Through the adoption of these children by tribal members and/or extended family further preserves the passing on of history, heritage, and culture that could otherwise be lost if not properly taught and passed down. If you are adopting a Native American child, it may be helpful for the child if you contact or stay in touch with the tribe their parents or grandparents are members of. While you may not be able to pass on the teachings they would otherwise learn if raised in a Native American family, contacting a tribal member or staying in touch with their biological family could be of great aid to the child. This could also allow the continuation of ancestral knowledge and heritage that would otherwise be forgotten.
Unplanned Pregnancy Help And ICWA
If you have any remaining questions about the ICWA, the National Indian Law Library is a great resource for examining past cases involving the ICWA. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, also known as the US Department of the Interior Indian Affairs, is also helpful for further understanding this piece of legislation.
The ICWA is meant to protect the heritage and rights of Native American children and families. It may not always be the perfect solution, but it is built-in good intentions for the Native American children and families who have not always received the respect and equality they deserve. This Act is meant to support those who do not ordinarily benefit from the doubt in custody cases or the respect they deserve in family court. If you are pregnant and in need of help, Adoption Choices of New York does not discriminate and is ready to support and defend any child, family, or case, especially those who may not receive the respect and care they are entitled to.
Meet the author: Carly is a recent graduate of Connecticut College with a dual degree in Psychology and Italian Studies. Graduating Cum Laude with honors in both Psychology and Italian departments, Carly has a background in gender-related research through the Connecticut College Psychology Department and Honors Theses Program. When not trying to figure out life or working, Carly is reading historical fiction novels or playing with her black cat, Isabelle.