In re T.S.W.

276 P.3d 133 (2012)

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In re T.S.W.

Kansas Supreme Court
276 P.3d 133 (2012)

Facts

D.R.W., a non-Indian woman, was pregnant with T.R.W. T.R.W. was entitled to the protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) because his birth father, J.A.L, was a member of the Cherokee Nation (the nation). D.R.W. decided to place T.R.W. for adoption with the services of Adoption Centre of Kansas, Inc. (the agency). The mother preferred to place T.R.W. with non-Native adoptive parents. The nation presented the agency with the names of potential adoptive parents who were members of the nation. After T.R.W. was born, the agency filed a petition to terminate the rights of D.R.W. and J.A.L. J.A.L. objected to the termination of his rights and informed the court that though he was incarcerated, his mother could raise T.R.W. D.R.W. objected to placement with J.A.L.’s family, so the agency did not consider the family for placement. The nation moved to intervene in the proceedings. Because J.A.L. objected to T.R.W.’s adoption, the potential adoptive parents withdrew themselves from consideration for placement because they wanted to avoid litigation. D.R.W. chose a non-Native family to adopt T.R.W. The nation provided names of about 20 potential adoptive families who were members of the nation, but D.R.W. did not consider placement with them. The court placed T.R.W. with the non-Native adoptive parents on a temporary, pre-adoptive basis and terminated J.A.L.’s parental rights. In deciding that good cause existed to deviate from the hierarchy, the court found that J.A.L.’s family was not considered for placement because of D.R.W.’s preference; there was no evidence that the mother disqualified the nation’s recommended potential adoptive families on legal or practical grounds; and D.R.W. would withdraw her consent to the adoption if T.R.W. were placed with nation members. The adoption was granted to the non-Native adoptive parents. The nation appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that good cause existed to deviate from the hierarchy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moritz, J.)

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