How Does My Native American Heritage Affect My Adoption Plan?
If your baby has any Native American heritage, your adoption plan may be subject to a federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). This law is meant to help preserve Native American families, tribes and culture by regulating the adoption of American Indian children.
Under ICWA, each federally registered Native American tribe has legal rights relating to children of members or possible members. For this reason, you must inform FCCA of any possible Native American heritage in your family or in the biological father’s family. FCCA will then notify all possible tribes in which your child might be eligible for enrollment. Each tribe will respond to FCCA as to whether the child is eligible for enrollment.
If the child is not eligible, the adoption can go forward as planned without further notice to any tribe.
If the child is eligible for enrollment, the adoption can usually proceed whether the tribe consents or not. However, it will impact the legal adoption process in three main ways:
- The relinquishment must be signed in court before a judge
- You may revoke that relinquishment (i.e., change your mind and reclaim the child) until adoption finalization
- The tribe must be given written notice of and the opportunity to attend all court proceedings, including the adoption finalization
If you believe that you or the other birth parent may have Native American heritage, you should discuss your situation with us very specifically to ensure you have accurate information about how the process will work in your case. This allows us to assist you in a manner that complies with the law.
To learn more about ICWA and other laws that may impact your adoption, contact FCCA today for free, no-obligation adoption information. The following resources can provide additional information about ICWA and other issues impacting Native American birth parents: