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How To Navigate The Indian Child Welfare Act As A Birth Parent 

By Anabel Sierra 

In the state of Texas, there is no shortage of cultures. Our state is one large melting pot of people with their own languages, heritages, and traditions. Native Americans are an example of such people in the state of Texas. If you are a birth parent that is of Native American lineage, then you have certain protections regarding adoption placements. Adoption Choices of Texas can and will help you as well so you are well-informed throughout the adoption process. Please join us to learn how to navigate the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as a birth parent. 

What Is The ICWA?

In short, the ICWA is a federal law that was put in place in 1978. This law applies to custody proceedings of a Native American child regardless of tribe/reservation’s location. These protections apply to children who are members of federally recognized tribes. In regards to placements, our agency makes sure that the adoptive family will reflect the unique values of Native American culture. 

Your Rights As A Birth Parent Concerning The ICWA 

If you are a birth parent who is voluntarily petitioning for placement of your child, you are entitled to several rights. Just like our policies with your adoption plan, you will not ever be pressured or coerced to choose adoption. We understand that putting your baby up for adoption can be a whirlwind, to say the least. Here are other rights that you have as a birth parent according to the ICWA: 

  • Birth parents have a right to counsel. According to the ICWA, if poverty is determined, then the parent or guardian has a right to counsel in any placement or termination proceeding. 
  • The right to sit at the counsel table. If you are the intervening party, you are allowed the same liberties to any party in a proceeding. That includes the right to sit at the counsel table, examine witnesses, and to be given copies of documents. 
  • The right to retract consent. As the birth parent who is petitioning, you have the right to retract your motion for placement. 

Now that you know your rights and how the ICWA works, we want to go over what adoption in Texas is like. 

The Adoption Process In Texas 

If you are choosing to place your baby up for adoption, then you are in the right place. As we mentioned before, you will have an adoption plan that you will create with the help of our adoption counselors. But, what exactly is included in this plan? Well, since everyone is different, your adoption plan will be catered to fit your exact needs. We offer financial assistance, housing, transportation, birth planning, and support counseling during and after your placement. We also have different adoption options that you may choose from. These options include: 

  • Open adoption – where you will meet one-on-one with the adoptive family and have the ability to maintain contact post-placement. With this option, you will be able to build a relationship with the adoptive family and be updated as your baby grows. 
  • Semi-open adoption – this is where all communication between you and the adoptive family is done through us. You will also still have the option to have updates concerning your baby, but not as often like open adoption. 
  • Closed adoption – this option is the most private that we offer. You and the adoptive parents will have no contact and you will not have any updates regarding your baby. While this choice is not the most common choice like open adoption, we understand that certain situations may call for it. We want to stress that regardless of the situation’s severity, you are not a bad parent for choosing this option. 

If you are a birth parent and English is not your first language, we can still help. We have bilingual adoption counselors to assist with “dar a mi bebe de adocion.” 

Our Adoption Agencies In Texas Are Here For You

As a birth parent who is putting your baby up for adoption, we understand that this may be a lot of information. However, we will be with you every step of the way so you will not be alone in this process. If you are worried that you may be too far for us to help, we assure you that you aren’t. We have an adoption agency in Austin, Dallas, and even Houston! If you still feel like those are too far, we can provide transportation to the closest center. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you do not need to worry. We want to make sure that you feel safe and your needs are met. Call or visit us today to learn more about child adoption.

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Serving Expectant Parents Statewide
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