How can I best ensure that I am doing my best to adopt my ICWA foster care placement?
In our firm’s experience, Arizona DCS has allowed increased Indian tribal participation in child welfare cases (dependency, severance, termination, adoption). Our firm has observed, in several cases, that Arizona seems to allow even greater tribal participation than federal law would require.
You should view tribal participation as a positive thing for your ICWA Indian child case. While the Indian tribe’s legal team may seem at odds with your foster care or adoptive placement, they are simply assuring that their family member is protected throughout the ICWA placement process. Many Indian tribes regard all tribe members as family, and this sentiment likely has a legal and scientific basis.
How do you ensure that your ICWA placement goes smoothly? First, listen to DCS or the placement agency and understand their expectations. Listen to the Indian tribe or family and consider their wishes and opinions. Educate yourself as to that Tribe’s culture and customs.
The Tribe or family may ask that you educate the Indian child in the tribe’s customs, or even return the child to its homeland for periodic visits. Be considerate of these requests, and if you make promises to do so, keep your word. If you do not want to honor such requests, consider a non-ICWA placement.
If the Indian tribe or family is not comfortable with your commitment to honor such requests, they are more likely to ask the Court for a tribal placement for the child.
Brittany Labadie is the Managing Partner at Lewis Labadie. She has been working with Lewis Labadie since it opened. Her current focus is with adoption cases, including juvenile adoptions, adult adoptions, foster care adoptions, same-sex adoption, surrogacy adoptions, and when necessary termination of parental rights. She works throughout the State of Arizona.