Arizona Supreme Court Clears Way For Adoption of American Indian Child by Non-Native Parents

The local Native American tribe had tried to stop the adoption.

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A child
Glassholic/Foter

In considering the rights of Native American foster children, should the emphasis be placed on their status as Native Americans or as children?

The Arizona Supreme Court chose the latter, clearing a non-native couple to adopt their foster daughter over objections of a local Indian tribe.

The court's ruling is a challenge to the controversial 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Proponents say the act is essential to keep Native American communities together. Critics contend it establishes a racially discriminatory system that negatively affects the safety and welfare of Indian children.

At the time of ICWA's passage, removal of Native American children from their homes was "truly an epidemic that threatened native American children and their families," David E. Simmons, Government Affairs Director for the National Indian Child Welfare Association, tells Reason.

ICWA sought to stem this so-called epidemic by conferring upon sovereign tribal nations the right to be involved in the adoption process of their citizens. Tribes were free to employ "community-based services and community-based knowledge" in deciding on the placement of children.

ICWA, however, has little do with the legal or cultural attachment of a child to a tribal community, and everything to do with a biological attachment to a racial group, Timothy Sandefur, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, says.

The Goldwater Institute has intervened in a number of ICWA cases including this most recent one in Arizona.

"If you have the right blood cells in your veins, then ICWA applies a separate and substandard set of rules that makes it harder to protect you from abuse and neglect, and harder to find you an adoptive home," Sanderfur says.

In 2014 an infant identified as A.D. in court documents was born to a member of the Gila River Indian Community. Both A.D. and her mother tested positive for amphetamines and opiates and the Arizona Department of Child Services ordered the child placed her current non-native foster parents.

Sarah and Jeremy H., according to the court documents, moved to adopt A.D in Arizona state court in June 2015. But despite repeated failures to find a suitable tribal family for A.D., the Gila River Indian Community blocked the adoption claiming tribal court jurisdiction through ICWA.

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Gila River Indian Community's argument, but broader concerns about the authority of ICWA remain. The act's departure from standard adoption law has exposed Native American children to parents who have systemically physically and sexually abused them, Sandefur says.

Laws that govern foster care for children of all other races, by contrast, require "reasonable efforts" be made to reunite children and parents, but draw the line at trying to return kids to homes where they have experienced "systemic abuse."

One example was the case of Shayla H. Under the ICWA requirement she was returned to a sexually abusive father—a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe—only to be removed a month later after further incidences of sexual abuse.

In Minnesota, three siblings were removed and returned to their alcoholic parents so many times child services workers stopped keeping track of the number of days removed at 500.

At the behest of the North Dakota Spirit Lake tribe, Laurynn Whiteshield and her twin sister, were taken from a non-native foster family and placed with her Native American grandfather and a step-grandmother charged eight times with child abuse.

A little more than a month later the step-grandmother was charged with murdering Laurynn Whiteshield.

The most recent Arizona case, Sandefur says, was a narrow victory decided on more technical and procedural grounds. The Goldwater Institute has brought a class action suit in federal court on behalf of off-reservation Indian children subject to ICWA to broaden its impact.

The case is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

The goal, Sandefur says, is not to strike down the entire law or undermine the authority of Indian tribes.

"It [ICWA] needs to be amended," he says, "with the principle in mind that all Indian children are citizens of the United States entitled to equal protection of the laws, and that means no separate rules based on biology."

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  1. The land of the Native Americans is gone forever. Their way of living can never be brought back. Reservations are an outdated and terrible system that need to be simply gotten rid of. Does this make me an evil colonialist? Sure.

    We actually had a Native American Vice President, Charles Curtis, who grew up on a reservation and spoke Kaw, was a full-blown member of a tribe. (He was technically probably only around 1/4 Native American) He thought the best way forward for the Native Americans was to abolish reservations and integrate into American society as well. This is probably why modern historians and progressives ignore him when talking about the history of oppressed minorities in this country.

    1. Abolishing reservations would require the drawing of official property lines, and I’ve been assured that’s against the Native’s culture, you cisheteroreverseculturalappropationshitlord.

      1. Not really. According to federal documents readily available on-line, land commonly known as an “Indian reservation” is land owned by the People of the United States with rare exception and U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” residing on said land are merely renters.

  2. South Asians Hardest Hit.

  3. CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

  4. Careful, Christian — The linked article says The Goodsky children have cycled in and out of foster homes so often that social workers wrote “more than 500 days” on court papers that indicated the length of time in foster care.

    That’s quite different from your assertion.

  5. At the time of ICWA’s passage, removal of Native American children from their homes was “truly an epidemic that threatened native American children and their families,” David E. Simmons, Government Affairs Director for the National Indian Child Welfare Association, tells Reason.

    I hardly think that such events represented an “epidemic”. Besides the seemingly never ending preference for misusing the word “epidemic” when the person means to say “a lot” or “bunch o’ times”, the fact is that some of those children were removed from seriously abusive environments. Laws that purport to solve a problem end up creating TWO new problems: one, the problem that is the fact that the OLD problem itself is not solved; and TWO, a brand new problem. In this case, problem one is that the ICWA does not really solve the root cause of spurious removals and the new second problem is that children who would be much better off with a new and loving family are taken by force and delivered to either total strangers or to abusive parents. That’s how laws work.

    1. It was actually. Children were taken against the parent’s will and sent to live with white families during the school year so they would adopt white culture. Children were also adopted out just to get them off the reservation and for no other apparent reason. That being said, my husband works for CPS and has dealt with tribes from time to time. They are very protective of their children- protective in the sense that they want them even if they don’t have a decent placement for them- and isn’t much CPS can do about it.

    2. As of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, there are no more “Indians” within the original meaning of the Constitution…only U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race!” Politicians have no Constitutional authority to pass any such race-based legislation entitled INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT. Same for Title 25-INDIANS…this faux common law is a political myth.

  6. “If you have the right blood cells in your veins, then ICWA applies a separate and substandard set of rules that makes it harder to protect you from abuse and neglect, and harder to find you an adoptive home,” Sanderfur says.

    Better that than have them raised by potentially “un-woke” white shit-lord parents. /sarc

  7. I was adopted shortly after birth through Roman Catholic Charities. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary placed with a white couple 2 weeks later. I’m not sore about that. Should they have handed me off to an American Indian tribe instead?

    When you put your baby up for adoption, which is MUCH better than than killing him, you have lost your rights to call that back. All is said and done at that point.

  8. Cultural appropriation is so bad now, we’re actually stealing their children.

    1. We’ve been stealing their children for centuries. I recall “white” schools for native americans where the children were beaten for speaking their native language or wearing native dress or decoration.

      That’s the abuse that was the impetus for the law in the first place.

      1. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families”

        They have certainly succeeded spectacularly.

        1. The Constitution makes for no provisions for politicians to enact any legislation based on ancestry/race including “Indian ancestry/race” and considering that as of The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, this whole “federal Indian programs” is a political fraud upon the Constitution.

      2. “I recall “white” schools for native americans where the children were beaten for speaking their native language or wearing native dress or decoration.”

        Perhaps you can give us some link or other evidence of this happening?

        1. Perhaps you can give us some link or other evidence of this happening?

          Are you fucking serious?

          Google the following:

          “Kill the Indian, and save the Man”

          “Native American boarding schools history”

          “Native American school abuse”

          (I’d put in links, but Reason’s servers were apparently installed in 1993.)

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ American_Indian_boarding_schools

        2. Politicians did such enactments without any Constitutional authority to do so.

      3. You ‘recall’ them?

        Damn, you’re old.

    2. The Comanche did this on regular basis. The Comanche were nomadic and mounted. Native Comanche women would not to come to term with their pregnancy under that duress with a regularity that would refresh the population. Instead, warriors would steal children between the ages 4 and 10, most notably Cynthia Ann Parker.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Ann_Parker

      1. Good on the Comanches for punching up

      2. They could have killed the children too. Progress?

      3. And then Cynthia became one of their greatest warrior chiefs and drove the invaders from the land.
        [as told in 10,000 teen adventure novels]

  9. I literally feel like I was at Wounded Knee.

    1. On which side?

      1. Both knees.

  10. I would be very surprised if the foster parents weren’t also born in the United States, making them Native Americans.

    1. Afrikaner immigrants are African-Americans.

  11. Again, ask the American Indians how that open borders thing worked out for them.

    1. What?

    2. If they acknowledged open borders it might have worked out much better for them. Too many American Indians consistently backed and fought for the wrong side, over and over again. Instigating, encouraging and openly tolerating massacres and atrocities against peaceful settlers with legitimate claims didn’t help either. “Hey let;s steal their shit, kill the men and rape and mutilate their bitches” is no way to peacefully coexist with the people who are offering you so many new opportunities in culture, trade and technology.

      1. You too, SIV, but it’s pretty much a given that you won’t learn a thing, cuck.

    3. “Again, ask the American Indians how that open borders thing worked out for them.”

      Uh, yeah, I’m sure there were borders, set one week by one tribe and the next by another
      Hint: before you make an ass of yourself again, read “Comanche Empire”. Perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll learn enough to realize how stupid you are. Perhaps.

  12. Cool. Now Madonna and Brangelina can adorn themselves with red babies and have themselves a household rainbow. Nice revenue stream for Arizona too. This is the way to compete with those Chinese baby factories. Free trade in babies.

  13. As former cabinet member James Watt opined (paraphrased), “Indian reservations are failed experiments in socialism.” So on we go, his welfare is my concern ?. he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother ?.

    And if it takes racism, so much the better. PUKE!

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