It seems to be the never-ending legal battle, and one that may certainly make Michigan parents think twice about adopting. Nonetheless, the worst part about the case, which has reached the U.S. Supreme Court and back, is that the case is a dispute over a young, 3-year-old girl. The little girl is in the middle of this heated adoption dispute between her adoptive parents and her biological father.
The girl’s father is a member of the Cherokee Nation. The girl’s mother, not a Native American, put her up for adoption, and the child’s adoptive parents raised the young girl until she was 2-years-old. The father started fighting for custody when he learned of the adoption, but the recent Supreme Court ruling stated that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply in this case. The Court sent the case back down for South Carolina courts to decide the custody issue.
South Carolina courts then awarded custody back to the adoptive parents at the end of July, but her parents still have not seen the little girl. It is believed that she is with her father and his family, but, due to a gag order still in place, her exact whereabouts are uncertain. Making matters more complicated, the Cherokee Nation court awarded custody to the girl’s father and his family.
Both parties recently attended court hearings at the tribal court and local district court in Oklahoma. A mediation agreement was reached and filed, but details of the agreement are sealed. The father’s lawyer is now asking that the visitation rights of the adoptive parents be suspended.
The nightmarish situation seems to have no good outcome. The hope is that both sides are still seriously considering the best interests of the young girl involved.
Adoption does not always involve children of Native American heritage and it does not always have to be so complicated, but parents do have ways to protect themselves from legal battles. Parents can consult with a Michigan adoption law firm that is experienced in the adoption process to feel assured that everything is completed accurately and to prevent future legal disputes.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “Adoptive parents can’t see Cherokee girl, lawyer says,” Aug. 26, 2013.