Approval: Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary
Original Date: September 1, 1991
Revised Date: September 12, 2016
Policy Review: June 30, 2020
To follow the federal and state Indian Child Welfare Acts when an Indian child becomes legally free and the permanent plan is adoption. The worker encourages tribal involvement and continued cultural connections for the Indian child up to the adoption.
This policy applies to Division of Children and Family Services staff.
RCW 13.38 Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA)
25 U.S.C. § 1913 (c) (d) Parental rights; Voluntary termination of parental rights or adoptive placement; withdrawal of consent; return of custody
25 U.S.C § 1917 Tribal affiliation information and other information for protection of rights from tribal relationships; application of subject of adoptive placement; disclosure by court
The caseworker will:
- Follow CA Practices and Procedures Adoption policy.
- Confirm the inquiry and verification process to determine if the Indian child inquiry has been completed. Follow CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 3 Inquiry and Verification.
- Consult with an Indian child’s tribe throughout the adoption process if a child is a member or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe and the tribe is involved in case planning.
- Make efforts to enroll a legally free Indian child in the child’s tribe if eligible before initiating the adoption process, if not already enrolled. Enrollment as a tribal member can help with possible access to services and education supports and may assist in the goal of keeping the child connected to the child’s tribal heritage.
- If a child is a member but not eligible for enrollment, the worker will contact tribal enrollment and ask for a letter of certified degree of Indian blood or descendancy which can help with possible access to medical and educational resources. If the tribe agrees to write a letter, provide it to the adoptive family.
- Follow CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 6 Casework Activities for Court Proceedings if a parent withdraws a voluntary consent to relinquishment at any time before entry of the adoption decree. 25 U.S.C. § 1913.
- Follow CA Practices and Procedures Adoption Support policy to determine if an Indian child who is being adopted through the state or tribal court (including customary adoption) is eligible for adoption support. If the child is eligible, inform the pre-adoptive and adoptive families if different, and assist them in the application process.
- Document all contacts with the child’s tribe in FamLink.
- Placement of Legally Free Indian Children
- Keep the child’s tribe informed of progress in seeking adoption placement and pursue tribal placement recommendations.
- Follow CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 7 Indian Child Placement Preferences and Relative search when a legally free Indian child is in out-of-home care and needs a permanent placement.
- Follow federal 25 U.S.C. 1915 (a) and state RCW 13.38.180 (3)(a–e) ICWA adoptive placement preferences, and any applicable tribal MOU unless the child’s tribe identifies a different order of preference.
- Consider a child’s input on placement within the placement preferences when the child is of sufficient age and maturity, and able to express a knowledgeable and reasoned opinion.
- Consult with the Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC) when the child’s tribe:
- Has intervened and requests or agrees to a CA case staffing.
- Has not intervened and is not involved.
- Follow CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 10 LICWAC. Provide the child’s tribe all adoptive home studies of homes under consideration for placement of the child. Obtain a release of information from the prospective adoptive parents to allow full disclosure of the adoptive home study to the tribe if the child’s tribe has not intervened as a party to the case. Follow CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 4 Disclosure of confidential records/Information to Tribes.
- Coordinate with the child’s tribe, and provide the prospective adoptive parents with information on the child’s background.
- When needed, provide instruction or arrange for instruction of the prospective adoptive parents about:
- How to meet the child’s needs.
- How to help the child adjust to the adoptive placement.
- Services Following Placement of Legally Free Indian Children
- Actively involve the child’s tribe in adoption decision making when CA has care and custody of an Indian child following termination of parental rights.
- Until the child is adopted, follow CA Practices and Procedures for:
- Contact the child’s tribe to discuss and plan how to involve the tribe(s) in the monthly visits and to assure:
- Promotion of the child’s relationship with the tribe.
- All other placement conditions and commitments are met.
- When a child or the family is having difficulty adjusting to the adoptive placement involve a qualified professional to assist in overcoming adjustment problems prior to adoption finalization.
- Follow CA Practices and Procedures Adoption Process and complete the Post Placement Report DSHS 27-107 when a child is in an adoptive placement for at least three months and prior to his or her adoption finalization. When completing the report:
- Invite the child’s tribal designee, when known, to participate.
- Invite Indian children age 12 and older to participate.
- Provide a copy to the child’s tribe if requested by the tribe prior to adoption finalization.
- If the child’s tribe has not intervened as a party in the adoption proceeding and wants a copy of the report, obtain a release of information signed by the adoptive parents or a court order authorizing the release of information. See CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 4 Disclosure of Confidential Records/Information to Tribes.
- If the tribe consents to the adoption include the tribe’s written consent to adoption in the case file and upload in FamLink.
- If the tribe objects to the adoption, coordinate with the tribe in a detailed case plan review. If the caseworker and his or her supervisor agree with the adoption, despite the tribe’s objection:
- Document the basis for the determination in a case note.
- Request a written notice of objection from the tribe and refer the case for consideration to the regional administrator.
- Include the tribe’s written notice of objection to the adoption and recommendation for case planning and placement in the case file.
- Releasing Records of an Adopted Indian Child
- The CA adoption worker must provide the tribe with a copy of the Indian child’s original birth certificate prior to the entry of a final adoption decree.
- If the child’s tribe has intervened as a party in the adoption proceedings, the CA adoption worker must provide the tribe a copy of the final adoption decree, and other records of the proceeding as requested and releasable under RCW 26.33.
- The CA Public Disclosure unit will disclose releasable records when receiving a request from the tribe.
- The CA Public Disclosure unit conducts an adoption records search when receiving a written request from an adopted person having reason to believe he or she is Indian. If the records verify the person is adopted complete all of the following:
- Provides the person with the information on which court entered the final decree of adoption.
- Provides copies of information contained in the archived record that indicate the child’s Indian status and tribal affiliation. Without a court order, however, CA may not provide the names or other identifying information about the birth parents.
- Refers the person to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.
- Disrupted or Dissolved Adoption
When CA receives information that the placement for a child from foster care is at risk, or has resulted in either a disrupted or dissolved adoption, the CA caseworker will:
- Contact the CA headquarters adoption program manager when notified of a dissolved adoption to help determine if the child has any tribal affiliation, and if ICWA applies.
- Follow all requirements of the state and federal ICWA, which includes providing notice to the child’s tribe of the new custody proceeding that will occur as a result of either a disrupted or dissolved adoption that involves an Indian child.
- Follow CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 6 Casework Activities for Court Proceedings.
- Follow CA Practices and Procedures Adoption policy.
- Post Placement Report DSHS 27-107 located on the CA intranet
- FamLink Adoption Quick Help Guides located on the CA Knowledge Web
- Washington State Tribes and Children's Administration's Local Memorandum's of Understanding