Challenges to law could redefine Native American foster care, adoptions

PHOENIX – Gilbert resident Mimi Condon calls the struggle to make her oldest son part of her family her “39-month labor.”

That’s how long it took to adopt David because he’s a Native American and the Condons are not – which meant the 40-year-old Indian Child Welfare Act came into play during the adoption, adding layers of complexity to the process.

The Condons did not set out to adopt Native American children, but three of their four adopted kids – David, now 11, Tommy, 7, and Isaac, 4 – are Native American. Condon tries to keep them connected to their roots, but said she adopted the boys to get them out of foster care and into a loving home.

“We didn’t want them to have that extra step,” Condon said. “We wanted them to stay with us.”

The Indian Child Welfare Act requires that Native American children be placed in Native American foster or adoptive homes, where possible, to maintain their heritage and identity.

The law is being challenged with increasing regularity in courts and by special-interest groups who contend it prioritizes race over a child’s best interest. Read more

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