Here is the opinion for In re Jane Doe.
Jane Doe appeals from an order terminating her parental rights to her son, TSD. Because TSD is an “Indian child” as that term is defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act, the magistrate court was required to make findings in addition to those required by Idaho law. Among other findings, the Department of Health and Welfare (“DHW”) was required to satisfy the court that it made “active efforts” to “prevent the breakup of the Indian family.” On appeal, Doe argues that the magistrate court erred in finding that DHW made such efforts and erred in failing to make that finding by clear and convincing evidence.
25 U.S.C. section 1912(d) requires that a party seeking termination of parental rights with respect to an Indian child “shall satisfy” the court that active efforts to prevent the breakup of the family have been made, not that the party show by clear and convincing evidence that such efforts have been made. The magistrate court stated that it was satisfied that DHW made active efforts to prevent the breakup of the family. In doing so, it made the finding required by 25 U.S.C. section 1912(d).
Here is the opinion in In re S.H.E.
The record demonstrates that DSS actively attempted to reunify the family. The services provided to Father, in conjunction with DSS’s considerable efforts to help Mother1 and Mother2, satisfy the “active efforts” requirement under ICWA. Accordingly, the circuit court did not err in finding, beyond a reasonable doubt, that reasonable and active efforts were made to reunify the family.
(we’ll post a pdf of the original when we get it):
Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl Cert Petition
No 12-__ Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl REDACTED
(1) Whether a non-custodial parent can invoke ICWA to block an adoption voluntarily and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent under state law.
(2) Whether ICWA defines “parent” in 25 U.S.C. § 1903(9) to include an unwed biological father who has not complied with state law rules to attain legal status as a parent.
Lower court decision here
Here is the opinion:
Adoptive Couple v Cherokee Nation
We do not take lightly the grave interests at stake in this case. However, we are constrained by the law and convinced by the facts that the transfer of custody to Father was required under the law. Adoptive Couple are ideal parents who have exhibited the ability to provide a loving family environment for Baby Girl. Thus, it is with a heavy heart that we affirm the family court order. Because this case involves an Indian child, the ICWA applies and confers conclusive custodial preference to the Indian parent. All of the rest of our determinations flow from this reality. While we have the highest respect for the deeply felt opinions expressed by the dissent, we simply see this case as one in which the dictates of federal Indian law supersede state law where the adoption and custody of an Indian child is at issue. Father did not consent to Baby Girl’s adoption, and we cannot say beyond a reasonable doubt that custody by him would result in serious emotional or physical harm to Baby Girl. Thus, under the federal standard we cannot terminate Father’s parental rights. For these reasons, we affirm the family court’s denial of the adoption decree and transfer of custody to Father.
News coverage here.
Active efforts determinations are difficult in light of the terrible fact patterns judges see in these cases. We should expect to see many more of these cases in many states, especially Alaska, where there appears to be divergent views.