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Native American father loses custody of child to adoptive parents

Children are often the most important aspect of a parent's life. From the time they are born till they are older with families of their own, many Minnesotans spend countless hours caring for and worrying about their children. When an unexpected life event occurs such as a divorce, it is no surprise that children are often caught in the middle of two sets of caregivers who love the child. Unfortunately, depending on the outcome of a child custody case, some parents may rarely see their children, while others have no say in the child's life and upbringing.

As an example of this, after going to the US Supreme Court, a Native American father may likely send his daughter back to her adoptive parents after a court ruling even though he has had custody of the child for several months.

The incident dates back to 2009 when the now three-year-old girl was conceived. At the time both of her parents were engaged, but prior to her birth, her mother broke off the engagement. The mother gave the father an ultimatum soon after of either paying child support or relinquishing his parental rights to the child. The father ultimately chose to give up his father's rights, but he changed his mind after he discovered that his ex fiancée gave their child up for adoption.

The child was adopted that year but was handed over to her biological father in 2011 after the father successfully filed suit seeking custody of a child he had never met. After appealing the decision, the adoptive parents took the case to the US Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled for the adoptive parents, opening the door for the adoptive parents to gain custody again, 18 months after the father was given custody. The Court ruled that the father, who was arguing that federal law gave him the right to custody based on his Indian heritage, held that the law did not protect him even though the mother never told him about her adoption plans..

As this case illustrates, child custody can often yield some dramatic results in court that may result in a child being pulled in two directions. Minnesota residents concerned about the outcome of a child custody case may find an attorney to be of aid.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Indian dad loses child custody case," Kate Irby, June 26, 2013

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