WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The nation’s largest constituent group of adoption attorneys, law professors and judges submitted a 45-page response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law established in 1978. The BIA announced earlier this year its attempt to amend the federal law. The AAAA’s formal response outlines a series of concerns the organization has with the BIA’s proposed amendments. The response, submitted to the U.S. Department of Interior, points out constitutional issues, as well as concerns addressing the Department’s possible violation of its statutory authority to develop such regulations.
The ICWA applies to any child who is either a member or eligible to be a member of a federally recognized tribe where a custody determination is being made. While the BIA and other proponents of the federal law are focused on bolstering its applicability, AAAA expressed grave concerns with the BIA’s latest attempt to alter the federal law stating, “they are contrary to the best interests of Indian children, Indian parents, and will only foster increased litigation and constitutional challenges”.
The BIA has issued a deadline of May 19 for all public comments related to the proposed changes to the ICWA. AAAA’s response, authored by more than a half dozen adoption experts on behalf of the organization, outlines how the BIA lacks statutory authority to promulgate the proposed changes, some of which state that the best interest of a child standard need not be considered when state courts make custody determinations.
AAAA’s response describes how Congress did not grant the Department of Interior authority to exercise supervision over state and tribal courts or for them to legislate matters as it relates to custody cases involving Indian children. The response also emphasizes serious concerns about the lack of constitutionality regarding the proposed regulations related to equal protections, state rights, due process, and the civil rights of birth parents and children.
The final public hearing, after a series of hearings held between April 22 and May 14 by the BIA, will be held at the Marriott Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Thursday, May 14. The hearing is open to the public.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ADOPTION ATTORNEYS
The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA) is the nation’s largest organization represented by attorneys, judges and law professors who are dedicated to enhancing and improving the practice of adoption law. AAAA’s mission is to support the rights of children to live in safe, permanent homes with loving families, to ensure appropriate consideration of the interests of all parties to adoptions, and to assist in the orderly and legal process of adoption. Fellows of the AAAA are by invitation only and represent adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption agencies and others involved in adoptions and they must maintain their practice according to the highest standards of professionalism, competence and ethics. AAAA supports the protection and security of children by affirming the right of individuals and couples: to adopt children, to serve as foster parents, and to become legal parents of children born through the use of assisted reproductive technology, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, race, color, age, religion, national origin, political belief, or disability. To learn more about the AAAA, visit www.adoptionattorneys.org. To follow AAAA on social media, visit https://www.facebook.com/AdoptionAcademy and on Twitter @AdoptionAcademy.