Arizona court rules against tribe in adoption case; Kaine Fisher, Rose Law Group Partner and Director of Family Law Dept., comments


By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services via Arizona Daily Star

Over the objections of a tribe, the state Court of Appeals has allowed a non-Indian family to adopt the child of a Native American mother.

In a unanimous decision, the judges said the trial court correctly considered all the issues, including the interests of the child, who had been with the adoptive family as a foster child since a week after she was born.

The ruling was hailed by the Goldwater Institute, which has been trying for years to void the Indian Child Welfare Act, which generally requires the fate of children with Indian blood to be determined by tribal courts.


Sure each side is going to attempt to use this ruling as a platform to promote their agenda.  But it should be noted this ruling is very narrowly focused and it appears the outcome was based upon specific language from the Act itself.  This case presents a unique set of facts in that the Gila River community waited until after the parent’s rights were severed to object to the placement.  If not for that procedural technicality my guess is that the preference provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act would have been applied.  In other words, I would strongly caution one to jump to the conclusion that this particular ruling signifies a pending death to the Act.

~ Kaine Fisher