By Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | azcentral.com
Native American children are being deprived of equal protection in foster-care placements and adoptions because federal law puts tribal supremacy ahead of the children’s best interests, a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.
The suit, filed by the Goldwater Institute in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, challenges portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act as it applies to Native American children living off-reservation.
The suit details the cases of two Arizona families, each of which has sought to adopt a child with Native American heritage only to have their plans stalled by provisions of the 37-year-old federal law.
“Alone among American children, their adoption and foster care placements are determined not in accord with their best interests but by their ethnicity, as a result of a well-intentioned but profoundly flawed and unconstitutional federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act,” the suit states.
Comments by Rose Law Group Partner Kaine Fisher:
“I think the existence of any policy or legislation that limits the pool of qualified parents is unfortunate. There are more than 17,000 removed children who still need to find need homes in this state alone. I can appreciate tribes wanting to preserve their culture and heritage, but at some point, pride has to be put aside so the question can be asked whether certain provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act are doing more harm than good.”