What is ICWA, and Why Is It Important?

November 24, 2021

By Adoption Choices of Florida

What is ICWA, and Why Is It Important?

The Indian Child Welfare Act, also known as the ICWA, is a very important part of the adoption law you may need to know about. If you or your partner are of Native American descent and have a membership with a tribe, this legislation may apply to you. Luckily, you have your adoption team at Adoption Choices of Florida by your side, ready to help you through the Florida adoption process. We will help you understand if and how this legislation may apply to you and your baby.

ICWA: Indian Child Welfare Act

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is supposed to legally protect the stability of Native American children while preserving Native American tribal legacy. Due to the colonization of native land, many tribes and individuals have been displaced since the colonies began. Due to racial bias and bigotry, many Native American families have been under more scrutiny by social services than families of white, European descendants.

As such, many Native American children were placed with families who knew little to nothing about their Native American heritage and background. This means they are unable to learn about their heritage while also being taken from their families. This legislation is meant to protect these children from this and preserve their Native American heritage.

Legal Things To Be Aware Of Involving ICWA

However, this legislation does not always do what it is meant to and can sometimes backfire. This Act applies to anyone who is somehow connected to a tribe and is of Native descent. While meant to be of good intentions, some court processes have been halted due to the use of this legislation to claim some sort of rights to the child involved. This is why it is good to know about this Act upfront and be sure your caseworker examines if this applies to you and your child.

This Act allows a person of the tribe to which the child belongs to have priority consideration in the Florida adoption process as an adoptive parent. There is nothing wrong with this unless it disrupts the end of the process after the child has bonded with their prospective adoptive parents, which the birth mother has picked out. Of course, no matter what, the birth mother has veto power and can defend their choice in adoptive parents if necessary. This is why your baby adoption agency has legal counsel ready to help you through the Florida adoption process.

Pros of the ICWA

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is not bad at all. It is meant to support and aid Native American communities, Native American children, and birth mothers of Native American descent. It can be very important in maintaining Native cultural heritage by placing Native American children up for adoption with families of a similar background to teach and guide them.

If You Are Placing Your Child Up For Adoption With A Non-Native Family in Florida

If you are placing your child up for adoption with a non-native family, it may be helpful to make sure your child and their adoptive family stay in contact with the tribe you or the child’s father has membership with. This way, your child can still learn about their Native American heritage and culture.

Florida Private Adoption Agreement

You can also aid in your child’s education of their Native American heritage and culture by staying in touch with your child and their family if that is something you would be interested in. If this is the case, I would recommend choosing an open or semi-open adoption agreement. If you would rather not have future contact or visitation with your child and their adoptive family, you should choose a closed adoption agreement.

Birth Mother Rights: Adoption and Birth Plan

Regardless of the ICWA’s impact on your adoption, you are still the boss in this situation. As the birth mother, you have rights that your adoption agency and caseworker will defend, including your adoption agreement, as mentioned above, your birth plan, having the final say in who will be raising your child, and the use of private services through your agency. Your birth plan includes how and where you wish to give birth, who will be with you while you deliver, and when you will hand off the baby to their adoptive family.

As a birth mother, you have the right to decide who will raise your child. This means you can decide whether you want a family with kids, whether you want a heterosexual or a homosexual couple, or even whether you would like a single parent raising your baby. Your caseworker can help you wade through agency profiles of prospective adoptive families.

The final thing to note is that you have the right to a variety of private adoption services and aid through your agency. This includes medical, financial, housing, counseling, as well as legal aid. If the ICWA applies to you, Adoption Choices of Florida will be by your side, helping you understand the law while defending your rights. If you believe the ICWA may apply to you and your child, we’d love to chat and welcome you to our family; call us today.

If you are a pregnant woman in Florida considering adoption and have any questions or concerns about the adoption process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. For more information on adoption, visit us at Adoption Choices of Florida or call us at: (833) 352-3678 or text us at 904-559-1251