A friend sent this and I wanted to share! If you are thinking of opening your adoption and know the state you were born, the INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT can be used to petition the courts and judge to get your tribal information:
One section of the ICWA is of particular interest to adoptees. Section 1951b states "Upon the request of the adopted Indian child over the age of eighteen, the adoptive or foster parents of an Indian child, or an Indian tribe, the Secretary shall disclose such information as may be necessary for the enrollment of an Indian child in the tribe in which the child may be eligible for enrollment or for determining any rights or benefits associated with that membership. Where the documents relating to such child contain an affidavit from the biological parent or parents requesting anonymity, the Secretary shall certify to the Indian child's tribe, where the information warrants, that the child's parentage and other circumstances of birth entitle the child to enrollment under the criteria established by such tribe."
Essentially this section directs the State to give adult adoptees of Native American heritage who request it, their birth information, so that they may enroll in their tribes. The section does allow for birthparents to file a veto, but even then the adoptee is entitled to tribal notification so that they may process their tribal rights and privileges. You can read the entire ICWA on the Web (use google search).
There are a few problem areas with using the ICWA. Many adoptees are of enough Native American blood to qualify for enrollment in their tribes, but there is nothing documented that verifies that information. Before a judge will open a file under ICWA s/he will often demand some sort of proof that the adoptee is NA at all, proof that most adoptees will simply not have. But in other instances, the agency that handled the adoption, or the court file itself, will contain notations that you, the adoptee, do have NA ancestry.
If you have received non-ID from a source that states this, include a copy with your court petition. You will also need to include a copy of the ICWA in order to make the judge's work easier and predispose him/her to wanting to help you. If you have any information at all that you are even the smallest bit Native American, you should use the ICWA in your petition. Include affidavits from family members (adoptive and birth) who have told you that you have Native American blood, as well as any 'official' agency or other documents to support your claims. Remember that most tribes have small blood quantum requirements, and you should not feel guilty about using the ICWA. The intent of this law is to ensure that those of us who are entitled to tribal membership by birthright, have the *choice* to join our Native American communities.
[ADOPTEES: please contact the adoption agency, if you know who it was, or ask your adoptive parents what they were told and ask them to request the entire adoption record in the state you were adopted. WHY?? Since your adoptive parents signed papers to adopt you - they have a right to request a copy of your file and adoption records. If you are 18, you are an adult and can petition the courts. The Indian Adoption Projects was a secretive measure to assimilate children and change us - but it doesn't work - you are still Indian, no matter where you were raised... Indian Blood is loud... Contact me if you need to know the laws in your state and contact NICWA and request all the information they have to help adoptees... Trace]
National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
Portland, Oregon 97239
Telephone: (503) 222-4044
Fax: (503) 222-4007
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