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Photo of Professionals at McCoy Fatula, APC

Foster parents battle Native Americans in a family law dispute

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2017 | Family Law

Many California families include fostered or adopted children. In fact, many foster parents become legal guardians or adoptive parents of their foster children. A current situation in another state has erupted into a contentious family law battle over a child of Native American heritage.

The couple are parents of 10 children, two of whom are foster children. Recently, a 4-year-old child’s biological mother agreed to allow the foster parents to apply for legal guardianship. Following that decision, events unfolded that have left the foster father questioning the rationality of federal laws he says are antiquated and unfair.

In 1978, the federal government passed a law meant to help Native Americans preserve their heritage. This law requires Native American children being placed in foster or adoptive homes to be placed with extended relatives of the same heritage or non-family member Native American persons over any non-Native American home. At the time the law was enacted, as many as 35 percent of Native American children being removed from their own homes were placed with non-Native American families.

Those who support the foster parents’ position say the Indian Child Welfare Act does not take children’s best interests into consideration. A similar case is pending in California regarding a 6-year-old girl forced to leave her foster family to live with Native American relatives in another state. A decision as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to hear that case is expected in the near future. A family law attorney can aggressively advocate on behalf of any parent facing similar legal problems.

Source:, “Family fights to keep tribe from taking child“, Shelly Schultz, Jan. 6, 2017

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