Oklahoma man loses U.S. Supreme Court Case

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June 28, 2013


By Megan Busse

OKLAHOMA CITY,Oklahoma:An Oklahoma man has lost a U.S. Supreme Court Case that would have automatically given him custody of his daughter based on his Indian heritage.

The case was brought by the girl’s adopted parents who lost custody of the girl daughter in 2011. The couple live in South Carolina. They legally adopted the girl in 2009 and had an open adoption arrangement, where the birth mother was still able to contact the family and receive updates on her daughter. The girl’s biological father is a member of the Cherokee nation. He originally gave up his rights to the child, but claims at the time, he assumed her biological mother was going to raise her.[1]

The biological father was awarded custody by a family court in South Carolina based on the Indian Child Welfare Act, which aims to “"promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and Indian families by the establishment of minimum federal standards to prevent the arbitrary removal of Indian children from their families and tribes and to ensure that measures which prevent the breakup of Indian families are followed in child custody proceedings."[1]

However the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the act does not necessarily apply to this case because the biological father did not have custody of the girl, legally or physically, at the time she was adopted. The case now returns to the South Carolina courts to determine who will get custody of the girl.[2]