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Nationwide adoption dispute finally comes to a close

Parents who go through the adoption process are making a serious commitment. After completing background checks and all the paperwork necessary to complete an adoption, it's typically clear that the couple is committed to being attentive and loving parents. Unfortunately, certain legal troubles can complicate the adoption process.

One couple made the decision to adopt an infant from a mother who waived her parental rights. The adoption appeared to be completed without a hitch, but problems arose. Based on a claim under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, the girl's biological father sought to regain custody. After more than two years in her adoptive parents' home, a court ruled that the child should be returned to her biological father.

The Indian Child Welfare Act is designed to keep Native American children from being adopted outside of tribes. According to reports, the girl is part Cherokee, so her heritage is what caused the law to be invoked.

Of course, the adoptive parents sought to retain custody in accord with their adoption order. Interestingly enough, this case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ultimately, the case was decided in the adoptive parents’ favor, largely because the biological father was absent from the girl's life.

After the biological father initial failed to adhere to the court's order, the girl was finally returned to her adoptive parents.

Of course, this adoption experience is not the norm. Still, this story illustrates the importance of making sure all the details of an adoption check out. Ensuring that both biological parents have waived their parental rights is critical. Without the assurance that an adoption order is sound, couples may have to worry about legal challenges down the road.

Source: The Associated Press, "Cherokee child in custody dispute handed over to adoptive parents," Sept. 24, 2013

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