User uShare Login | Register
Login
Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.


30° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options

RADAR LOCATION

TEMPERATURE LOCATION

Freezing rain switching to snow Sunday evening through Monday.

 

KELOLAND.com | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!

 

Inside The Indian Child Welfare Act

February 27, 2005, 10:00 PM by Whitney Beem

We teach our children not to judge based on the color of a person's skin or where they come from. But that's just what a Minnesota judge will have to do when it comes to deciding the future of Christian Hofer. He's the four year old boy who was born to a Native American mother and raised by a white couple. Here's the interview with the man who helped write the the law that's at the heart of this high profile custody battle.

You'd would never know by just looking at four-year-old Christian that he's in the middle of a legal tug-of-war. Juanita Good Bird, Christian's birth mother, signed away her parental rights to him two years ago, stating in the documents Shannon and Bonnie Hofer would be good parents for her son. The problem is even though the termination was done by Good Bird's attorney, it wasn't done in front of a judge. That leaves a loophole for Good Bird to ask for him back.

Abourezk says, "They should have gone through the tribal court and got tribal court permission for adoption, then if later on, the mom said I want to chance my mind tribal court would say 'Too late, you shouldn't be allowed to do that.'"

Jim Abourezk is a former U-S Senator and co-author of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, a federal law that he says continues to send a clear message about tribal adoptions. Abourezk says, "It basically says before you can adopt an Indian child, you have to go through the tribal courts will decide whether or not the adoption will go through."

It's a 28-year-old law that's creating new wounds for the Hofers. Abourezk says "The tribe has the right or law to stop adoptions if they see too many Indian children being taken out of the tribe."

Abourezk grew up on the Rosebud reservation. He says research shows removing a child from the reservation can life-long effects.

He says, "They grow up thinking they are white. Then they go to school somewhere and get hit with the fact they are Indian. There is racism involved."

While some might question the quality of reservation life for a child like Christian, Abourezk says research has found the loss of his culture could hurt even more.

Abourezk says, "We found also that even if a mother is an alcoholic and an Indian mother that the child is probably better off with that mother, than being taken away and put into a white culture that they are not used to."

That said, he's also quick to add that while ICWA doesn't prohibit the Hofers from adopting Christian, it does say the state should exhaust all efforts to place the child in a proper Native American home first. Abourezk says, "The whole thing is a tragedy on both sides, I hope the courts are wise on determining their decision."

He's also grateful it's a decision he doesn't have to make. "The mother changed her mind and wants him back the parents have grown to love this child and had him for two years, the only home he ever really knew."

Both sides are due back in a Minnesota courtroom on March 14th, where the judge is being asked to reconsider his earlier decision not to terminate Good Bird's rights. If the judge does not change his mind, Christian could go back to his birth mom. The four-year-old is currently living with the Hofers.

Previous Story

Next Story




Sponsored
Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

You may also like

Dominic Fischer Found Dead During Search

12/17/2014 12:07 PM

Searchers discovered the body of Dominic Fischer in a field on Wednesday.

Full Story
Alexis Vanbochove Has Passed Away

12/17/2014 10:47 AM

According to her family, 4-year-old Alexis Vanbochove passed away early Wednesday morning.

Full Story
Grain Bin Collapses In Britton

12/14/2014 5:55 PM

A grain bin in Britton, SD collapsed this afternoon. No one was injured.

Full Story
Rapid City Police Search For Three Men Following Violent Home Invasion

12/17/2014 8:20 PM

Rapid City Police are searching for three suspects after a violent home invasion Wednesday afternoon.

Full Story
Man Missing After Vehicle Slides Into Ditch

12/16/2014 9:50 PM

Dominic Fischer was one of three people in a vehicle that slid into a ditch due to bad road and weather conditions, several miles north east of M...

Full Story


Events