My, how times have change, eh BIA?

These quotes are from the written statement accompanied the oral testimony of BIA Acting Deputy Commissioner Raymond V. Butler, who was Blackfeet Indian.

“The circumstances of some of the children in the category established under (c) present additional problems. One example is the children who are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and who have never lived on a reservation or in an Indian community and, so far as can be seen, are themselves identified with their non-Indian heritage. Delays in establishing tribal membership and possible intervention by a tribe to which they have no ties, could be of great disservice to these children.”

“Family members, whether extended or nuclear-family, may not always be the placement of preference. Many relatives do not wish to take on additional child rearing responsibilities, some do not wish to have the interference by the natural parents which almost always results. The child’s ‘best interest’ should be the compelling reason for the selection of a placement.’”

“Aside from the appropriateness of including such restrictions in Federal legislation, there are certain problems about some of the preferences as stated. In 103(b)(5) ‘Any foster home run by an Indian family’ does not provide any safeguards as to the character and stability of the family and their standing in the community, two characteristics that are extremely important to a foster child’s development.”

“Sec. 102(c). This would require every placement by a parent to be executed by a Judge. Many parents are capable of making placements of their children without the invasion of privacy by a Court. In States where adoptive agreements may be made by natural parent and adoptive parent before filing the adoption petition, this provision would require treatment for Indian parents, to be different from that of others and raises questions of discrimination.”

“(2) This would seem to imply that all Indian-licensed foster homes would have first preference for any child — how would competing claims be settled?”

“A placement may be ‘invalid or legally defective’ yet its continuance could be essential for the child’s well-being.”

“Sec. 3. The declaration of policy seems an instance of Federal-government imposed standards on Indian tribes. It also seems to assume that a single set of standards is applicable to all Indian tribes. Rather, there is a great variation amend the tribes as to desirable standards. A primary concern amend many Indian tribes is to set their own standards.”

“Of course concern is the apparent inclusion in the scope of the Act of child placement by parents. Intervention in child placement by a Court or other government body, in the absence of established child abuse, neglect, abandonment, or delinquent acts by the child is generally considered an invasion of family privacy.”

– Johnston Moore

Johnston Moore is co-founder and Executive Director of Home Forever, which advocates for permanency and justice for children in the foster care system. He and his wife Terri have adopted seven children from Los Angeles County foster care, including their two sons who were nearly taken away from them against their wishes because they are 1/16 Native American.