Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a law passed by Congress in 1978 to help preserve Indian families and culture. It provides enhanced procedural protections to stop the wrongful removal of Indian children from their homes, and to ensure that when Indian children are removed, they are placed in culturally appropriate homes whenever possible.
ICWA provides flexibility to protect the best interests of Indian children. It gives birth parents the right to place their children with families of their choosing. The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) lawyers have developed effective procedures to comply with the ICWA and work in conjunction with birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoption agencies to promote voluntary Indian adoptions.
There are over 5,000 case opinions interpreting the ICWA. By far, the most significant violations of the ICWA in adoption cases occur because agencies and attorneys fail to apply the ICWA and its heightened consent requirements. This law is simply too complex for an agency, adoptive parents, or tribes to handle without legal advice.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs, with input from AAAA, has recently issued new regulations that apply in adoption proceedings in the United States.