Wyoming Supreme Court Applies Adoptive Couple Case in Termination Proceedings


We note that Appellant does not provide any discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. In any event, however, we would agree with the reasoning of the Supreme Court and conclude that it applies with equal, if not greater, force in the present case. In this case, Appellant has not asserted that he has any Native American heritage that would qualify ARW as an “Indian child” under the ICWA. Rather, he claims that ARW “might be” an “Indian child” because ARW’s mother is “half Apache.” ARW’s mother, however, relinquished her parental responsibilities to Appellees soon after ARW’s birth, and she allowed them to exercise her custody and visitation rights after she was divorced from Appellant. Further, ARW’s mother consented to termination of her parental rights in the adoption proceedings. Accordingly, as in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the “breakup” of an Indian family would not be precipitated by the termination of Appellant’s parental rights. We find no error in the district court’s conclusion that the ICWA did not apply to the termination proceedings.


One thought on “Wyoming Supreme Court Applies Adoptive Couple Case in Termination Proceedings

  1. Helen Nowlin February 20, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    What is missing here? The Wyoming court seems to move off topic, since even a hint a child or parent has Indian blood deserves further research (for due diligence). The court just seems to move on, stating the ICWA doesn’t apply…because the mother gave up her parental rights. It does appear the mother was married at one time to “the appellant” and she gave up her parental rights after the divorce. At what point then does a father who otherwise hasn’t given up his rights demonstrate interest in a child? The general premise the law doesn’t presume illegitimacy still is good law. It appears we may be on a course that is intent to avoid application of the ICWA. After all, the state adoption systems have always had a hint of being less than legitimate, sometimes more than at other times!

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