What Is ICWA and Why Is It Important?
Have you heard about the ICWA? The ICWA, also known as the Indian Child Welfare Act, is a very important piece of legislation that may affect you and your Arizona adoption process. Luckily, you have Adoption Choices of Arizona on your side to help you navigate the ICWA and how it may affect you.
What is the ICWA?
The Indian Child Welfare Act gives priority to Native American individuals belonging to the same tribe as birth parents or grandparents of the child in the Arizona adoption process. This aims to aid in the continuity of Native American cultural heritage and legacy that many have tried to diminish or stamp out in the past. In addition, this legislation was meant to support and defend the futures of Native American children and their families.
Who is Affected by the ICWA?
As a birth mother, if you or your partner are of Native American descent or have a membership to a tribe, the Indian Child Welfare Act could apply to you and your child. There is a chance this legislation could also apply to you if your parents or your partner’s parents fulfilled these requirements of tribal membership or heritage, as well. This means that anyone with the same tribal membership or Native American heritage is prioritized as an adoptive parent for your child. This does not mean they are automatically able to adopt your child. They would also have to be approved by you, the birth mother. Prospective adoptive parents also have to pass the home study approval process.
Does the ICWA Affect My Choice in My Child’s Adoptive Family?
If you are placing your child up for adoption in Arizona, no matter what, as the birth mother, you have the right to have the final decision on who shall adopt your baby. Your Phoenix adoption agency caseworker can provide prospective adoptive family profiles for you to look through. You can then interview any of the prospective adoptive families you are considering to get a better idea of who you wish to choose to raise and love your baby.
Does the ICWA Affect My Adoption Agreement Type and Future Visitation with My Child?
As a birth mother putting her baby up for adoption, you also have the right to see them in the future if you wish to. This does depend on the type of adoption agreement you wish to have with your child’s adoptive parents. A closed adoption agreement means you will not have any future contact with your child. Some birth mothers prefer this, but that does not mean you have to if you do not want to. A semi-open adoption agreement allows you to have some contact in the future with your child, including letters and updates between yourself and the child’s adoptive family. An open adoption agreement means you are able to be in almost constant contact, have visits, phone calls, facetime, letters, basically whatever you and the child’s adoptive parents have laid out in your agreement terms.
Does the ICWA Affect My Birth Plan?
No, the ICWA does not affect your birth plan. How you decide to give birth is up to you. This includes how you would like to deliver, who you wish to have in the delivery room with you, how much time you wish to have with your baby post-delivery before handing the baby off to their adoptive parents, as well as whether or not you would like to use pain medication during your delivery. Of course, any medication would be monitored by your OB/GYN, but the choice still lies with you, so long as your baby is alright with pain management during the delivery. It may also be helpful to include any post-delivery wishes in your birth plan, such as who you wish to stay with if you need physical or mental medical aid following the birth of your baby.
Adoption Choices of Arizona and the ICWA
Adoption Choices of Arizona knows about the ICWA and understands how important it is. If the ICWA applies to you, we wish to help you navigate your involvement with it. We only wish to help you and your baby have the best possible happy, healthy lives. Whether you need questions answered, legal aid, or anything else, we will be there for you. You are now a part of our Adoption Choices family, so know that we are here for you. Go to our website for more information on the ICWA and the Arizona private adoption process, as well as how to contact us if you have any more questions or concerns.
For adoption resources or to begin your adoption journey, birth parents can visit us at Adoption Choices of Arizona or call or text us at 1-480-900-5520. If you are a prospective adoptive family hoping to adopt a baby, please instead, visit us here!
Meet the author: Carly is a recent graduate of Connecticut College with a dual degree in Psychology and Italian Studies. Graduating Cum Laude with honors in both Psychology and Italian departments, Carly has a background in gender-related research through the Connecticut College Psychology Department and Honors Theses Program. When not trying to figure out life or working, Carly is reading historical fiction novels or playing with her black cat, Isabelle.