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What is the 'ICWA' in a Georgia adoption?


As many readers of this blog may have noted, an adoption in Georgia is not generally an easy or simple procedure. There are many factors to take into account, including the rights of biological parents, the notification of interested parties, meeting the requirements for adoption, and possibly things such as home studies and the like. Well, potential adoptive parents also need to be aware of certain federal laws that may also add complications to an adoption process.

One example of these types of laws is the federal 'Indian Child Welfare Act' (ICWA). This law was enacted in the 1970s when it was recognized that large numbers of children from Native American backgrounds were being separated from their nations and heritage by being placed with non-Native American parents. The idea behind the law is to give preference to placing Native American children with family members or other members of the child's tribe or nation.

Basically, the ICWA requires that certain actions be taken during an adoption process if a child is a member of a Native American tribe, or eligible for membership therein. Notification of the tribe in question, recognition of the possibility that the tribe could intervene, or documentation of the birth parent's wishes to waive rights under the ICWA may be necessary to complete an adoption of a Native American child.

This also points up the necessity of doing a comprehensive background check, if possible, of the child's biological parents, as there have been cases of adoptions being set aside due to failure to comply with the ICWA's requirements. Further, because of the great many Native American tribes and the considerable variance in how they determine eligibility for membership, there is no one way to deal with cases like these. In the end, Georgia residents thinking of adopting may wish to consider consulting an experienced family law attorney.

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