In 1995, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota filed a petition seeking to invalidate the adoption of a three-month old infant boy. The parents had planned to put their son up for adoption because of financial problems, but then changed their mind after he was born. After returning home from the hospital with her son, the mother signed the consent form and reluctantly gave her child to Easter House after repeated calls from the agency. She changed her mind within hours. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law, was passed in 1978 to protect the rights of Native American children, who were being removed illegally from tribes and reservations and being placed with White families. The law says that a Native American mother can't consent to an adoption until 10 days after the birth and that she can revoke her consent anytime before the adoption is final. Under Illinois state law, however, a consent to adoption is irrevocable after 72 hours. The mother had told Easter House that she was an American Indian, but the agency did not follow ICWA procedures and refused to help rescind the adoption.
"They told me I could change my mind," she said. "I felt betrayed." The agency's lawyer said the agency acted legally.
The people who were going to adopt the boy agreed to give him back because they said they did not believe that protracted litigation in Illinois courts would be in the best interest of the child.
Jeff Flock. "Native American Woman Sues to Revoke Adoption," CNN, Transcript #1084-6. Section News: Domestic. Show: News 10:26 pm et. January 3, 1995.
"In Circuit Court," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, January 26, 1995.
Andrew Fegelman, "Adoptive Couple Agree to Give Up Infant." Chicago Tribune, Section Metro Northwest, Pg. 4; Zone NW, February 2, 1995.
Lou Ortiz, "Mom Sues to Reverse Son's Adoption; Indian Child Welfare Act Cited." Chicago Sun-Times, Section News; P. 14, Feb 2, 1995.
M.A. Stapleton. "Adoption dispute ended in best interests of child. Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, P. 1, February 1, 1995.