Supreme Court to hear arguments in Baby Veronica case

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Family Law on Monday, March 25, 2013.

For the first time in 14 years, the U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to rule on whether the Indian Child Welfare Act can stop an adoption, even if that adoption was granted by the custodial parent and done in accordance with state law. The ruling is expected to set precedent to future ICWA cases.

In this case, at hand is whether or not a non-custodial parent can invoke the ICWA in order to block an adoption from taking place. The ICWA was created in 1978 in order to stop the practice of taking Indian children from their biological parents and putting them up for adoption. The act gives the Native American tribal courts jurisdiction over cases where the child lives on a reservation, is the resident of a reservation or is a ward of the tribe.

The adoption case goes back to December 2008 when a white woman and a member of the Cherokee Nation became engaged. A month after the engagement, the woman found out she was pregnant. At the time her fiancé was serving in the Army. Due to her pregnancy, he wanted to move the wedding date up. Due to the increased pressure to marry, the woman decided to call off the engagement and began the process of placing the unborn baby up for adoption.

A white couple — who were in the delivery room at the time of the birth — ended up adopting the baby girl. The mother signed over all parental rights.

However, when the father found out about the adoption and that he had waived his 30-day waiting period he requested a stay of the adoption.

In September 2011 the case went before a family law judge who ruled in favor of the biological father. The ruling stated the ICWA trumped state law. By April 2012, the case was before the state’s Supreme Court. Again, the ruling was in favor of the ICWA — and that if the biological father did not consent to the adoption — the little girl would be placed with him.

The case is now expected to go before the Supreme Court on April 16. The case, officially called Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl, is more commonly known as the Baby Veronica case.

Source: Yahoo! News, “Supreme Court’s upcoming child-custody decision: The Baby Veronica case,” Abigail Perkiss, March 4, 2013

  • Adoption falls under the umbrella term of family law. Our firm handles many types of family law cases, including those where a father is trying to maintain or establish his rights as a father. To learn more, visit our St. Louis family law page.

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