“…whoever welcomes a child like this…. welcomes Me.”
Native American Adoption
Christian adoption is a true blessing. Parents and children alike are brought together to grow and learn from one another. This process is not a simple one. Every adoption requires a great deal of time, patience and understanding of the legal system. This is never more true than with Native American adoption.
What Constitutes a Native American Adoption?
A Christian open adoption begins with a birth mother choosing parents for the baby she is carrying. Those prospective parents may have already gone through a home study and all of the necessary training and paperwork. However, there is still much work to be done. This is especially true if the child in question may have Native American heritage.
The adoption of a child with Native American heritage is usually carried out by that tribe. Many Native American nations prefer that children from within their tribe be raised by tribal members. This helps to keep the culture and traditions of the tribe alive and well. The Indian Child Welfare Act permits any tribe to intervene and facilitate adoptions if it is proven that child is descended from someone who is on the official tribal rolls.
How to Know if a Child is Native American?
This is much trickier than it seems. Many women believe they themselves or the father of the child have been descended from American Indians. This is often information that is passed down verbally from generation to generation. A woman may have even had a DNA test in order to learn if she has native ancestry. However, word-of-mouth or even blood tests do not determine if a person is or is not part of a specific Native American tribe.
The only way to prove or disprove Native American heritage is through tribal rolls. These rolls show the names of those individuals who have, at some point, been proven to be native. Unfortunately, many of these enrollments are incomplete. They have been lost over the years, leaving few names remaining.
Should the birth mother suspect the child is of Native American lineage, she must provide a name of the specific relative that may appear on the tribal rolls. She must then provide proof that the child is a descendant of that person.
What Happens Next?
The tribe in question will look for the name given by the birth mother. If the name is present on the list, the tribe will then ask for proof of relationship. Next, they will determine if the child will be added to the roll or not. Some tribes simply need to proof of relationship. Others need a specific percentage of native ancestry.
In most cases, the original name will never be found. Indeed, in many cases, the birth mother cannot even pinpoint a name of a precise relative. In the United States, many people are descended from Native Americans, but it is extremely rare for a child to be placed on an enrollment.