The Iowa Supreme Court says the state’s rules involving the adoption of an Indian child are unconstitutional. The case involves a 20-year-old Sioux City woman who is a member of Tyme Maidu Indian tribe in California.
The woman gave birth to a baby girl in 2006, but already had two children and decided to give the new baby up for adoption. She found an Arizona couple that was not Native American to adopt the child. Officials from the tribe contested the placement with a non-Indian family under Iowa’s Indian Child Welfare Act.
The Iowa Supreme Court says the Iowa statute makes the rights of a tribe paramount to the rights of an Indian parent or child even where, as in this case, the parent who is the tribal member has no connection to the reservation and has not been deemed unfit to parent. The High Court says the Iowa statute is unconstitutional and is sending the case back to juvenile court where the issue is to be settled using the federal Indian Child Welfare Act rules.