Yesterday The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced their decision on the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl case which involves adoption (Obviously), father’s rights, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
You can find :
- An overview of the case here.
- A brief synopsis of the ruling here.
- More in depth information about each part of the ruling here, here, and here
As well as ya know from google, The supreme court’s website, and places like SCOTUSblog.
Here you will find facts, but also my WTF reactions and snark, first however, a disclaimer. I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a constitutional expert, hell I’m not even an expert on this case. What I am is an interested person who knows a fair bit about adoption (practice, policy, and ya know experience), has read all 60+ pages of the SCOTUS decision (Majority opinion, concurring opinions, and dissenting opinions), and has average to above average reading comprehension. Is it possible I’m misinterpreting some part of the legalese? Sure. Do I care? At this point, no. At this point I”m too WTMFF to care…also this is your warning I use expletives.
My WTF begins on page 2 of the “Syllabus” I hadn’t even reached the first page of the Opinion of the Court yet and already I had to take a break. ”1. Assuming for the sake of argument that Biological Father is a “parent” under ICWA…” Assuming for the sake of argument???? Why are we assuming this for the sake of argument? He took a DNA test. What do we need Maury to exclaim “You are the father!” before it’s fact? We later find out that they feel it has to be assumed because South Carolina and Oklahoma are both states where fathers don’t have many if any rights. Oh joy. So even though science says he’s the father, ICWA classifies him as a parent, his state and the one where the adoption petition was filed don’t recognize him as a parent with any rights. WELL FUCK YOU OK & SC FUCK YOU.
Then the justices start playing the “lets show you how well we can read the dictionary/many dictionaries” game. They go to great lengths to define words like “continued” and still they can’t agree on any one definition. They also spend quite a bit of time defining “break up” and “family” They (the majority) come to the conclusion that there is no “family” to “break up” since the biological father failed to financially support the mother through her pregnancy and thus there was never any custody to “continue”. They coin the term “in utero abandonment” (or maybe it’s been used before but it’s new to me). Ok sure the guy was a douche for not supporting the mother of his unborn child, but thats grounds for not having parental rights? In South Carolina it is. So again i say FUCK YOU SOUTH CAROLINA.
Justice Thomas gets the most hearty WTMFF of the reading when he asserts that Birth Father (which we can argue about if that’s even the right title for him (yet)) “…relinquished his parental rights via a text message to Birth Mother,” say it with me y’all WTMFF! Legally binding relinquishments via text? Thats up to the supreme court’s standards? It’s not up to the ICWA standards according to Justice Sotomayor in her dissent says,
Any voluntary consent Birth Father gave to Baby Girl’s adoption would have been invalid unless written and executed before a judge and would have been revocable up to the time a final decree of adoption was entered.
The adoption has never been finalized and the father got a lawyer and filed to contest the adoption the day after he found out an adoption was occurring! When his ex-girlfriend texted him and asked if he’d rather pay child support or relinquish. She didn’t tell him she was placing the child for adoption in fact according to the decision she didn’t decide that until after and may have even been prompted by her ex-boyfriend’s lack of desire to pay child support. So yes he did say via text he’d rather relinquish than pay child support if the child’s mother was going to raise her (not saying he’s a flawless guy but his lack of desire to pay child support really is the least WTF part of this case). HOWEVER he was never told his other option would have been to raise his daughter nor was he told that if he relinquished strangers would be raising his daughter.
It’s noted that the adopting couple supported the mother financially during her pregnancy and that they were in the delivery room, adopting father even cut the cord. To this I say BIG FUCKING DEAL. Paying expenses during a pregnancy does not mean you’re entitled to the baby. Decisions are theoretical until baby is actually born if it was the mom who’d changed her mind after birth would SCOTUS say “but you let them in the delivery room the chosen dad even cut the cord YOU HAVE TO RELINQUISH YOU SAID YOU WOULD” I should hope not (although that hope may be misplaced).
Which also leads me to the point Justice Thomas makes in his concurring opinion that the Indian Commerce Clause does not apply (see his opinion for more info on why it comes up this is already too long) in part because commerce means “…interchange of any thing; trade; traffick…The term “commerce” did not include…let alone noneconomic activity such as adoption of children” to which I say Oh really Justice Thomas? Oh really? Can yo have it both ways? He’s not the father because he didn’t step up financially. They are the parents because they did…and yet it’s a noneconomic activity? Actually adoption is a multimillion (billion?) dollar industry so ya bet your ass it’s an economic activity. And I’d not be hard pressed at all to find those would would also categorize it as “trafficking”
The majority also talk about how if the father gets to raise his daughter it might discourage people from adoption Indian Children THAT’S THE POINT OF ICWA to facilitate Indian Children to be raised by their parents, their families, or other Indian families before resorting to being raised by non Indian families. My outrage at the majority for being dismayed that ICWA might actually do what it’s meant to do is I (like to) believe between the lines of the dissenting opinions.
As I said this is getting too long (too late) but there are also several remarks throughout the majority and concurring opinions which are racist. I was looking for a softer word, but lets call a spade a spade. ”…classified as an Indian because she is 1.2% (3/256) Cherokee…”, “it is undisputed that, had Baby Girl not been 3/256 Cherokee…”, “…solely because an ancestor–even a remote one–was an Indian.”, “ICWA trump card”
In conclusion WTMFF SCOTUS! WTF Indeed.