Birth Mother Blog

Know Your Adoption Rights Under the Indian Child Welfare Act

By Brendan Finegan

When you choose adoption, there are an abundance of rules you’ll have to navigate. For Native Americans, did you know that you have adoption rights that are protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)? This law was established to empower you with adoption choices after you’ve received pregnant help. Staying informed with all the legal details and purposes can be a lot, though.

With a little bit of assistance, Adoption Choices of Missouri will be able to set you on the path to  a successful adoption process. You deserve to know how you can have an adoption plan that will give you the best adoption experience. Understanding your Missouri adoption rights under ICWA is a critical part of adoption in Missouri. Take a look at why the ICWA is important and your adoption rights as a Native American.

Why the ICWA is Crucial to Adoption

The ICWA was created to assist with the fair removal and placement of Native American and Alaskan Native children. Before the ICWA was enacted in 1978, there was a large number of Native American and Alaskan Native being separated from their communities. Even when there were willing and adequate relatives for these children, they were placed away from their extended family. The ICWA was designed to set minimum requirements for the adoptive placement of Native American children. This way, Native American and Alaskan Native children will have a better chance of staying within their tribal communities.

How Does the ICWA Affect Your Adoption 

If ICWA applies to you, there will be custody proceedings to decide what adoptive home your child will go to. ICWA allows your extended family to be involved, giving you more power to determine what home your child goes to. Caseworkers are required to involve you and the tribe of your child. ICWA is designed to work for you and your child’s best interests during your Missouri adoption.

What Qualifies You For ICWA During Your Adoption

ICWA was created to give you and your child the greatest chance of success during the adoption process. If there are circumstances that you feel will prevent you from giving your child the best life possible, you may qualify for ICWA. ICWA will be able to set your child up with proper housing and nutritional needs while also keeping you involved in where they go. Its goal is to fulfill your needs while giving your child to a family that’s right for them.

What Are Your Adoption Rights Under ICWA

You will have the right to an attorney throughout the custody hearings— if you can’t afford one, the court will appoint an attorney for you. You will not have to navigate the custody hearings on your own during the adoption process. For the custody hearings, you can request that they be transferred to a tribal court. Once it’s determined that ICWA applies to you, you can request an additional 20 days to prepare for the custody hearings.

Can You Challenge an Adoption Under ICWA

If you are unsatisfied with the placement of your child, you’re allowed to challenge where they go. It is your right to feel comfortable with where your child is going. Under ICWA, you’re able to have more say on where your child can’t go. You can invalidate the placement of your child by petitioning any court that can hear your challenge. It is your right to challenge the adoptive placement of your child.

Can You Still Maintain Parental Rights With Adoption

ICWA protects your ability to have contact with your child even after the adoption process. Your child will be able to maintain relations with you, their extended family, and the tribal community. Your parental rights do not have to be fully terminated under ICWA, which allows your child to keep their tribal culture and tradition. Your child can still keep the culture of your tribe in their life.

Keep Your Adoption Rights Strong

The power of knowledge will allow you to proceed with adoption agencies near you confidently. Adoption Choices of Missouri understands the battles that come with adoption in Missouri. We want you to have a clear grasp of what your rights are under ICWA. Without it, you’d have no say in where your child would be placed and would be unable to challenge their placement. Go forward with the ability to have an impactful and powerful adoption process.