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Battle over custody of Native American child continues

Texas readers may be interested to know that the biological father of Baby X was extradited to South Carolina. Authorities have become convinced that he's disobeying a court order that allows the adoptive parents to visit the four-year-old as she prepares to transition back to their home in this long running child custody dispute.

Baby X's father gave up his parental rights before she was born. The child was adopted through an arrangement between her biological mother and a couple in South Carolina. Her biological father, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, later came forward and fought for his parental rights using the Indian Child Welfare Act. The ICWA was intended to keep Indian children in Indian homes. The case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and during the summer, the majority of the justices ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act didn't apply in this case because the biological father never had physical or legal custody of his daughter.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, the natural father has refused to turn Baby X over to her adoptive parents or, it appears, cooperate with court-ordered transition plans. South Carolina issued a warrant in August against the man citing custodial interference. The father's attorney claims that efforts have been made to accommodate the adoptive parents during the appeals process. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has issued an emergency stay that will temporarily keep the baby in her natural father's care.

Custody issues may be emotional, and this is especially true in cases where a biological parent is unaware that a child has been adopted. It may be in the best interests of the child to allow a family law attorney to ascertain whether or not a natural parent's rights were ignored. If there is an issue that can be litigated, an attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement that allows the child to be in the best possible home environment.

Source: CNN, "Oklahoma orders extradition of birth father in native american custody battle", Christopher Laible and Randi Kaye, September 05, 2013

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