A Native American couple is suing Minnesota's department of human services, attorney general, and a commissioner with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, saying the requirement to tell their tribe about their baby violates their right to due process and equal protection. The state law, imposed in 1997, is intended to keep Native American children with Native American families. "We know that the children who grow up outside of their culture suffer greatly,” says one advocate who has counseled such individuals. "The grief is loss of identity. Nonnative homes cannot give an adopted Indian child their culture." But Mark Fiddler, the unidentified couple's attorney and a Chippewa, tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune that they "have the right to make these choices," and that Native American parents "are the only parents in the state that have that duty to notify."
Federal law prohibits racial discrimination in adoption except in the case of Native American children, and Fiddler says this is the first lawsuit he's aware of that challenges notification requirements. If the parents aborted the child, they would not have to notify, but by choosing to have the baby and not notify they are considered guilty of fraud and the child could be placed in another adopted home. (The baby, born in April, is currently living with the adoptive parents the biological ones chose.) The Indian Child Welfare Act, meanwhile, could make it more difficult for parents outside a tribe to adopt a Native American child in order "to protect the best interest of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families," reports Fox 23. (Remember the Baby Veronica saga?)