Indian Child Welfare Act Panel to be Held at University of South Carolina School of Law
April 11, 2013
Victoria Middleton
Executive Director,

Dr. Marcia Zug
Professor, University of
South Carolina School of

Chief Bill Harris
Catawba Indian Nation
(803) 366-4792

Nicole Adams
National Indian Child
Welfare Association
O (503) 222-4044 ext. 133
C (503)754-0466

Columbia, SC—The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs is hosting a town-hall style
educational panel discussion on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) at the University of South Carolina-School of Law’s Auditorium on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 10:00am until 12:30pm. Media are invited to attend starting at 10:00am. The event is free and open to the public.
Panelists will give testimonies regarding their personal experiences with the Act, explaining the need for the Act and its significance to Native American Indian people. Panelists include: Dr. Marcia Zug-USC Law School, Chief Bill Harris-Catawba Indian Nation, Ms. Susan Dunn-ACLU-SC, Ms. Linda Love-Catawba Indian Nation, Ms. Jacqueline Davis-Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and others.
ICWA was enacted in 1978 by Congress in direct response to state adoption policies that were draining Indian tribes of their future citizens. The Act gives states guidance regarding adoption and custody issues of Federally Recognized Native American Indians allowing for Tribal and family intervention to keep children within their culture and communities when possible.

The Supreme Court will hear the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl on April 16, 2013 which involves a South Carolina couple seeking review of a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in an attempt to force Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, to give his daughter Veronica up for adoption. Mr. Brown, who is now raising Veronica at their home in Oklahoma, has prevailed in every court that has considered this matter, including the South Carolina Family Court and the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs-Native American Affairs Initiative serves as the State’s official Native American Affairs agency working with Native American Indians to address issues of poverty and socio-economic deprivation through collaboration with government and private partners.

For more information about the event, please contact:
Marcy L. Hayden, Native American Affairs Coordinator, SC Commission for Minority Affairs
(803) 832-8169 or (803) 402-2336 

Terminating a parent’s rights or taking his consent and relinquishment without a pending adoption primarily occurs  in DSS cases. The Court approving a Consent and Relinquishment or terminating a parent’s rights without a pending adoption is rare in private actions. The person would have had to have done something  egregious to warrant a Court terminating his rights without a pending adoption.

Please note that a reading of the termination statutes seems to indicate that a person’s rights could be terminated under statutory prescribed conditions regardless of whether an adoption is pending or not. We must remember that the Court has a great deal of discretion in applying those statutes; and at least in Horry County, the Court will generally not terminate a parent’s rights without someone ready to adopt.

The Termination of Parental Rights statutes are Section 63-7-2510 throught 63-7-2620 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended.

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a minor under the age of fourteen years, Birth Father, and the Cherokee Nation is a great view of how the South Carolina Supreme Court interprets ICWA and how ICWA meshes with South Carolina adoption law. Enjoy!

In addition to following South Carolina Termination of Parental Right Statutes under Section 63-7-2570 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended, or the Notification Statute under Section 63-9-730 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended to terminate an Indian parent’s rights, the petitioners must follow the requirements of the ICWA.

Specifically, the petitioners must "satisfy the court that active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and that these efforts have proved unsuccessful." 25 U.S.C. Section 1912(d).


No termination of parental rights may be ordered in such proceeding in the absence of a determination, supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.

25 U.S.C Section 1912(f).

I have never helped a family adopt an Indian child. Without good cause shown, I probably never will. Cumbersome and uncertain is all I can say.