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Fri Nov 8, 2019, 05:40 AM

Court to rehear law on adoptions of Native American children

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A federal appeals court announced Thursday that it will take a second look at an emotionally fraught lawsuit governing the adoption of Native American children.

In August, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. It was a defeat for non-Indian families in multiple states who had adopted or sought to adopt American Indian children.

On Thursday, the New Orleans-based court said a majority of its active judges have voted to re-hear the case. It means Native American tribes and the federal government will again have to defend the law, which they say is critical to protect and preserve Native American culture and families.

A hearing date has not been set.

The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the law are Chad and Jennifer Brackeen, a Texas couple who fostered a baby eligible for membership in both the Navajo and Cherokee tribes. The boy's parents voluntarily terminated their parental rights and the Brackeens petitioned to adopt him. After legal battles, they were able to keep him when a placement with a Navajo family fell through. They hope to adopt his younger half-sister, according to briefs.

Other plaintiffs include Jason and Danielle Clifford of Minnesota, who were unable to adopt a child who lived with them after having been shuttled among foster homes. "The Cliffords' family was literally torn apart," their attorney told the appeals court judges during arguments in March.

https://www.chron.com/news/texas/article/Court-to-rehear-law-on-adoptions-of-Native-14817251.php

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