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Child custody dispute over adoption of Cherokee baby

Whether a child is born to parents of a married couple or an unmarried couple, issues about who has the child when can arise. Child custody disputes are common among parents who never married or are divorced. Usually an agreement was previously formed, but due to current issues, the plan needs to be adjusted. Regarding unmarried parents, sometimes one parent is not significantly involved, but if that parent decides to become involved in the child's life later on, this can open up several disputes, which could lead to trial.

Many people consider adoption a blessing. A mother who put her child up for adoption is now having the adoption objected to by the child's father. The father of the child is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and his objection is based on the fact that the adoptive parents are not Native Americans. The Indian Child Welfare Act generally bars these types of adoptions, even when the mother of the child claims that the father relinquished his parental rights by failing to provide financial support during her pregnancy.

The judge determined that under state law, the adoption would have been upheld, but under the Indian Child Welfare Act, the law required that the child be transferred to the biological father. The Act was passed so that the Indian community and culture are preserved, and the rights of children born of Native American heritage are protected.

This case not only weighs the conflicts between state custody laws and the federal law, but it also shows the different levels of child custody. Disputes surrounding custody, even if it is adoption, can be lengthy and will most definitely impact a child's life, if not handled appropriately.

Married, divorced or unwed, determining child custody and even adoption are very emotional and complicated. Both parents need to determine what is best for their child, but sometimes what the court determines is best for the child is not always what a parent thinks is the best.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Supreme Court to hear child custody fight; at crux is law on tribal rights," Warren Richey, April 15, 2013.

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