I have previously written about the adoption case of Baby Veronica. In this case, a South Carolina court ordered a child to be taken from her prospective adoptive parents’ home and to be placed in her biological father’s home even though the father had abandoned the child and consented to the adoption. The court’s logic was that, because the child’s father was a member of the Cherokee tribe – and so Baby Veronica was a member of the Cherokee tribe – the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) applied. Accordingly, the South Carolina trial court concluded, the prospective adoptive parents failed to prove that the adoption (i) was both in the child’s best interests and (ii) did not infringe on the rights of the Indian tribe. The South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.
I wrote in July 2012 that the South Carolina Supreme Court should not have applied the ICWA because the father had abandoned the child, voluntarily waived his parental rights, and consented to the adoption. I also wrote that the case likely would have been decided differently by Florida courts.