Texas Court Strikes Down ICWA Adoption Law

By Laurel Morales
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2018 - 8:45am

A federal judge in Texas on Oct. 4 struck down the landmark law that regulates adoptions of Native American children.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor found that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment in adoption proceedings.

A year ago a non-Native American couple with two biological children sued for the right to adopt a Navajo-Cherokee toddler they had fostered for more than a year.

The decades-old federal law gives adoption preference to biological family members, other members of the child’s tribe, and other Native American families. It was enacted at a time when children had been taken from their tribes and families at staggering rates. 

The court’s decision stunned Native American rights advocates, who say it could have a destructive impact on tribal sovereignty.