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Standing Rock

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

Baby Veronica in Oklahoma (ICT PHOTO)

RENO, Nev., June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

-- In the June 25th 5-4 decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl the United States Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), but reversed and remanded this case back to the South Carolina courts on a technicality. The narrow decision focused on the standard to determine whether this particular father's parental rights could be terminated.

Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians delivered the following statement from the organization's Mid Year Conference in Reno, Nevada:
"Today's decision sends a clear message that there is no question of ICWA's role as the most important law to protect Native children and families. The decision also affirms Congressional authority to protect Indian Children. While we are pleased the court has upheld ICWA, we're very disappointed for Dusten, Veronica, and the Brown family that the court has ruled to send the case back to the South Carolina courts on a technicality. However, the courts in South Carolina have previously affirmed that Dusten Brown is Veronica's father and that he is a fit parent. We are confident that his parental rights will be upheld, and that Veronica will stay with her family.
We remain committed to Native families and we will continue to support Dusten Brown's fight for his rights as a father and for Veronica to remain with her loving father, grandparents, and community. Dusten loves his daughter and has never given up in this process, and neither will we."
 
Background
In mid-April of 2013, the Supreme Court Justices considered an appeal by the South Carolina couple and their lawyers to the South Carolina Supreme Court decision which held the following;
   1. that it was in Veronica's best interests to be placed with her father; 
 
   2. that ICWA applied and was not unconstitutional; 
 
   3. the "Existing Indian Family" doctrine was inapplicable as an exception to 
      the application of the ICWA in this case; 
 
   4. that the father did not voluntarily consent to the termination of his 
      parental rights or the adoption; 
 
   5. the Appellants failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that 
      Father's parental rights should be terminated or that granting custody of 
      Baby Girl to Father would likely result in serious emotional or physical 
      damage to Baby Girl. 
In advance of the oral arguments, support for the position to uphold the lower court rulings and the protections of ICWA was characterized as historic. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and 19 states and state attorneys general were joined by a large array of groups who submitted 24 separate briefs in all. Not one state submitted briefs in support of Adoptive Couple.
The overwhelming support included 17 former and current members of Congress; Casey Family Programs, the Children's Defense Fund, and 16 other child welfare organizations; the American Civil Liberties Union; broad coalitions of psychology associations, child advocates, and legal experts; adult Native American adoptees; and tribal amicus briefs which include 333 American Indian tribes.
Two national tribal amicus briefs were submitted. The first, focused on the legislative history and importance of ICWA, was submitted by the Association on American Indian Affairs, NCAI, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), who were joined by 30 Indian tribes and five Indian organizations. A second national tribal amicus brief addresses the constitutional issues raised by the petitioners and also includes 24 tribal nations and organizations. The members of the Tribal Supreme Court Project--Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and NCAI--in partnership with NICWA, joined together to organize the briefs in support of the father.
About The National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit www.ncai.org
SOURCE National Congress of American Indians
/Web site: http://www.ncai.org

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To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

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Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

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ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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