Throughout the county, there is a rich Native American heritage. Whether in Texas or Minnesota, there are certain areas in the states where different tribes live on their tribal lands. On those lands, tribal laws exist, laws that are different than the laws that non-Native Americans live by.
When those laws extend outside of tribal land, complications can arise. Emotions are running high among an out-of-state family who adopted a daughter back in 2009. They didn't know that the biological father was a member of the Cherokee Nation. And they didn't know, until recently, that his connection with that heritage would mean the loss of custody of their adopted child.
The South Carolina couple was in the room when their adopted daughter was born. They have brought her up during the last two years. And last week, they said goodbye to the child. The emotional loss is due to a misunderstanding and a federal law that tries to keep Native American children with their biological parents.
The Indian Child Welfare Act seeks to preserve Native American culture by keeping kids and parents from the heritage together. The biological father in this child custody case challenged the adoption after it had taken place between the adoptive parents and the biological mother on the grounds that the ICWA would serve the best interests of the child.
Ultimately, the federal law worked in favor of the biological father's child custody argument. As one would expect, the formerly adoptive parents are devastated and disappointed in the outcome of this family law matter. They understand the importance of preserving culture but don't believe that this situation played out in a way that will serve the best interest of the little girl.
This case proves how important it is to approach the matter of adoption with extreme care. The ICWA is a federal law and could, therefore, affect adoptive parents in Texas and throughout the country. Families looking to adopt and protect their adoption should look into the cultural background of their prospective adopted children in order to avoid an extremely emotional misunderstanding and potential loss.
Fox23.com: "SC couple fights for custody of adopted child now in OK," Adam Paluka, Jan. 4, 2011