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Monday, April 21, 2014

Alaska Supreme Court considers whether Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl applies to State-initiated child protection proceedings

In June 2013, the Alaska Supreme Court held in Native Village of Tununak v. Dep’t of Health & Soc. Servs (Tununak I)
that ICWA implicitly mandates that good cause to deviate from ICWA’s
adoptive placement preferences must be proven by clear and convincing
evidence, rather than a mere preponderance of the evidence. That opinion
is here.

Four days later, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  The adoptive parents in Tununak I
asked the Alaska Supreme Court to revise its ruling in light of it,
based on their argument that ICWA’s placement preferences do not apply
in cases where no other party has formally sought to adopt the child.
This argument would extend the Baby Girl decision beyond the realm of voluntary private adoptions like the one at issue in Baby Girl
and apply it to state-initiated child protection proceedings involving
the removal of a Native child from her custodial parent by state
authorities.



The parties and the Native Village of Kotzebue, acting as amicus
curiae, filed the following supplemental briefs on the issue in November
2013:

Appellee State of Alaska’s is here:  Tununak – Supplemental Brief of Appellee State of Alaska

Appellees H.S. and K.S.’s (the adoptive couple) is here:  Tununak – Supplemental Brief of Appellees H.S. and K.S. – adoptive couple

Appellant Village of Tununak’s is here:  Tununak – Appellant Village of Tununak’s Supplemental Brief

Amicus Curiae Native Village of Kotzebue’s, prepared by NARF, is here:  Tununak – Brief of Amicus Curiae Native Village of Kotzebue

Oral argument before the Alaska Supreme Court was held on January 14, 2014, and can be viewed here.



2014011176-12.mp3

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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