Opinion: ICWA tears children from their families

Note: Lisa Morris is the administrator for the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare and is a member of the anti-Indian and anti-sovereignty group Citizens Equal Rights Alliance.

"At 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, Patrick and Virgina Swartz of Van Buren County, Ark., were getting their two girls ready for bed. The 10-year-old twins already were in pajamas when police suddenly arrived. Brandishing a court order, they took the frightened girls and drove them 60 miles to the home of an elderly relative. The girls couldn't even tell their friends good-bye.

By all accounts, the Swartz's, owners of an Arkansas trucking company, took good care of the girls. In October 2002, the birth mother, Virginia's fourth cousin, had arranged for them to adopt the twins. However, another relative with four of the twins' siblings began custody action. With the support of the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation, she won.

Neither the birth mother, the Swartzes NOR the relative are Indian. So why was this tribe from Arizona involved?

Because the twins' natural father is Indian. And although he has “undisputedly abandoned the children,” his status as an enrolled member of the tribe makes him “relevant to this case,” the Arkansas Court of Appeals declared.

This gave the tribe jurisdiction under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The tribe wanted the twins placed with the siblings, “irrespective of the fact that other full and half-siblings are scattered among several other states,” according to the court.

Again, why take children from the only safe, nuclear family they'd ever had? "

Get the Story:
Lisa Morris: Law could tear children from a ‘tribe' they love (The Grand Forks Herald 3/29)

Relevant Links:
National Indian Child Welfare Association - http://www.nicwa.org

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