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Tribal Customary Adoption

Many tribal people say that there is no word for adoption in their language - that is, the practice of terminating parental rights. While traditionally, adoption has been practiced in most tribal communities through ceremony, in tribes did not practice termination of parental rights. Tribal customary adoption is the transfer of custody of a child to adoptive parents without terminating the rights of the birth parents.The practice of 'mainstream' adoption became considered a negative thing due through the historical events of forced assimilation policies; adoption became a tool to break up Indian families and culture. The old way of finding a permanent family through traditional/customary adoption is now being recognized as an important permanency option. A new law in California, the first of its kind in the United States, will allow traditional forms of adoption practiced by Tribes to be recognized by California courts. The law allows, at the Tribe’s option, for Tribal customary adoption to be included as an alternative permanent plan to family reunification throughout the dependency case. The law also provides that when the juvenile court finds that full faith and credit will be extended to the Tribe’s Tribal customary adoption order, the juvenile court will issue a State court order of adoption. It also permits an Indian child who is the subject of a Tribal customary adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance program benefits.

Tribal Customary Adoption Resources:

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