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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Updated BIA Guidelines #ICWA

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Roberts Announces Updated BIA Guidelines to Strengthen Implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act with Focus on Family Unification

by Levi Rickert

Published January 1, 2017
Guidelines provide best practices for supporting stability security of Indian families and tribes
WASHINGTON – Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts today announced final, updated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) guidelines for implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) that will better protect the rights of Indian children, their parents and their tribes in state child welfare proceedings.
The guidelines explain the ICWA statute and regulations while also providing examples of best practices for its implementation, the goal of which is to encourage greater uniformity in the application of ICWA measures.
Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior - Affairs Larry Roberts. Photo Courtesy - Twitter
“The BIA’s updated Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines are the capstone of the Obama Admin-istration’s efforts to support the stability and security of Indian families and tribes by providing a more consistent interpretation of ICWA, regardless of the child welfare worker, judge or state involved,” Roberts said.  “I want to thank tribal leaders, the Indian child welfare community, and our state and federal partners for their valuable input and assistance with updating the guidelines.  The guidelines themselves will help with ensuring the rights of Indian children and their families under ICWA, and in strengthening the cohesiveness of tribal communities everywhere.”
The BIA first published its ICWA guidelines in 1979, shortly after the law’s passage.  While the Department updated the guidelines in 2015, it updated them further to complement its recently finalized regulations which became effective on December 12, 2016.
Congress enacted IWCA to address the separation of Indian children from their families at a disproportionately high rate, as a result of state agency policies and practices that placed the children in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes.
Based on 2013 data, Native children nationwide are represented in state foster care at a rate 2.5 times greater than their presence in the general population.  In some states, Native American children are represented in state foster-care systems at rates as high as 14.8 times their presence in the general population of that state.
Since ICWA’s enactment, state courts and state agencies have sometimes differed in their interpretations of the law and been inconsistent in their implementation of it.  To address this problem, the updated guidelines provide information for them to consider in carrying out the Act’s and final rule’s requirements, often drawing upon approaches states have already used.
In developing these guidelines, the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs worked closely with the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S.  Department of Health and Human Services and with the U.S. Department of Justice to produce a document that reflected the expertise of all three agencies.  Its development was also informed by public hearings, tribal consultations, and more than 2,100 written comments on the March 2015 proposed rule, as well as input received during training conducted on the final rule from July 2016 to November.
To view the updated guidelines, visit the Indian Affairs web site at:http://www.indianaffairs.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/OIS/HumanServices/IndianChildWelfareAct/index.htm.

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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.

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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