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4 myths about the ICWA and adopting a Native American child

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act to protect the interests of Native American children in adoption and child welfare proceedings. Many people believe that the ICWA is no longer required or is outdated. However, if you want to adopt a child with a Native American heritage, you will want to know how this law can affect your adoption.

Here are some of the misleading myths you may have heard that should be dispelled:

Myth: The ICWA applies to all children who identify as Native American.

Truth: The ICWA only covers a child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.

Myth: The ICWA is based on race.

Truth: Actually, this legislation came about due to the political status of tribes, not because of race. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld these laws for 200 years, because Native Americans have different legal protections.

Myth: The ICWA ignores what is in the best interest of the child over the interest of the tribe.

Truth: According to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, "ICWA is designed to promote the best interest and unique needs of the Indian child." To do so, the law embodies processes and principles according to internationally accepted standards of child welfare practice.

Myth: The ICWA is no longer relevant.

Truth: Children are more likely to be removed from Native American families as a first resort, rather than offering family support interventions. It is important to keep Native American children connected to their families and culture, if possible.

Native American children can be adopted and do need stable homes. However, there are more hurdles to cross when adopting a child who falls under the ICWA. When considering this vital act, it is important to have a legal advocate who can help you meet the qualifications for a child to join your family.

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