American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA) Submits Official Reply to Bureau of Indian Affairs in Response to Proposed ICWA Amendments

WASHINGTON–([1])–The nation’s largest constituent group of adoption attorneys, law
professors and judges submitted a 45-page
[2] to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) concerning the Indian
Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law established in 1978. The BIA
announced earlier this year its attempt to amend the federal law. The
AAAA’s formal response outlines a series of concerns the organization
has with the BIA’s proposed amendments. The response, submitted to the
U.S. Department of Interior, points out constitutional issues, as well
as concerns addressing the Department’s possible violation of its
statutory authority to develop such regulations.

The ICWA applies to any child who is either a member or eligible to be a
member of a federally recognized tribe where a custody determination is
being made. While the BIA and other proponents of the federal law are
focused on bolstering its applicability, AAAA expressed grave concerns
with the BIA’s latest attempt to alter the federal law stating, “they
are contrary to the best interests of Indian children, Indian parents,
and will only foster increased litigation and constitutional challenges”.

The BIA has issued a deadline of May 19 for all public comments related
to the proposed changes to the ICWA. AAAA’s response, authored by more
than a half dozen adoption experts on behalf of the organization,
outlines how the BIA lacks statutory authority to promulgate the
proposed changes, some of which state that the best interest of a child
standard need not be considered when state courts make custody

AAAA’s response describes how Congress did not grant the Department of
Interior authority to exercise supervision over state and tribal courts
or for them to legislate matters as it relates to custody cases
involving Indian children. The response also emphasizes serious concerns
about the lack of constitutionality regarding the proposed regulations
related to equal protections, state rights, due process, and the civil
rights of birth parents and children.

The final public hearing, after a series of hearings held between April
22 and May 14 by the BIA, will be held at the Marriott Southern Hills in
Tulsa, Oklahoma on Thursday, May 14. The hearing is open to the public.


The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA) is the nation’s
largest organization represented by attorneys, judges and law professors
who are dedicated to enhancing and improving the practice of adoption
law. AAAA’s mission is to support the rights of children to live in
safe, permanent homes with loving families, to ensure appropriate
consideration of the interests of all parties to adoptions, and to
assist in the orderly and legal process of adoption. Fellows of the AAAA
are by invitation only and represent adoptive parents, birth parents,
adoption agencies and others involved in adoptions and they must
maintain their practice according to the highest standards of
professionalism, competence and ethics. AAAA supports the protection and
security of children by affirming the right of individuals and couples:
to adopt children, to serve as foster parents, and to become legal
parents of children born through the use of assisted reproductive
technology, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or
expression, marital status, race, color, age, religion, national origin,
political belief, or disability. To learn more about the AAAA, visit[3].
To follow AAAA on social media, visit[4]
and on Twitter @AdoptionAcademy.


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  2. ^ 45-page response (
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