What if the birth mother is enrolled in a Native American tribe, will ICWA prevent her from being able to place her child up for adoption?

If a potential birthmother is enrolled in an Native American or Native Alaskan tribe, the tribe would have to agree to the placement if the birthmother plans to place the child with adoptive parents who are not members of the tribe.

Each tribe handles this situation differently. Some tribes will only approve placements within the tribe, other tribes will agree to a placement outside of the tribe if the potential birthmother requests it. Sometimes if the tribe agrees to a placement with adoptive parents who are not tribal members, they may still insist that the family register the child with the tribe, and may even mandate that they attend tribal events, such as powwows.

In any case, the placement may not proceed until the tribe has been notified. It is up to the tribe to determine if the child is an Indian child. If they claim jurisdiction, it is up to the tribe whether or not the adoption may proceed.

IAC supports tribal sovereignty. In cases where the tribe allows a placement with a non-tribal family, we encourage adoptive families to keep close ties with their child's tribe and Native heritage as part of an open adoption.