"Native American Culture Matters!" The National Indian Child Welfare Association recently concluded its 35th annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. Photo: NICWA
Law | Opinion

Mary Annette Pember: The Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families





What does the Indian Child Welfare Act mean for families? Independent journalist Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa shares her experience with the 1978 law:
To this day, I have no idea what made me call my tribal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) office back in January 2005. “No, there are no children who need homes,” the worker told me. She noted, however, that Bo, a distant cousin of mine, had given birth to a boy a few months ago. She said a white couple I had met took him home from the hospital and were in the process of adopting him.

I thought it strange that a couple that had several adopted children would take another, especially an infant. I knew they were several years older than I, so I decided to investigate.

What I learned changed my family forever.

My husband John and I had first looked into adopting a child from my tribe in 1998. We had all but forgotten about the inquiry when my tribal ICWA worker contacted me close to four years later in 2002 with the news that a 2-year-old girl (also Bo’s child), was available for adoption. The girl was named Lena; she lived with foster parents in the state of Washington, where Bo’s family had relocated from Wisconsin.

Read More on the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: How the Indian Child Welfare Act Preserves and Strengthens American Indian Families (Indian Country Media Network 6/22)