Riverside, CA asked in Adoption, Family Law and Native American Law for California

Q: I had a question about being adopted outside a Indian tribe or family

I was adopted in 1997 outside my Indian family and the social worker who took me knew I was and still allowed me to be taken away to be put in foster care. How can I go about suing the city .

2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
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A: The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) provides protections for Native American children in adoption and foster care situations. If your case violated ICWA, you may have a basis for legal action against the city or agency involved. Thoroughly document the circumstances and consult with experts familiar with ICWA issues.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Family Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), there are specific guidelines for the placement of Native American children in foster or adoptive homes, prioritizing their placement within Native American communities. If these guidelines were not followed, there might be grounds for a lawsuit. To sue the city or the relevant agency, you would typically need to prove that the agency acted negligently or in violation of the law. Before initiating a lawsuit, it's important to file a government claim with the city within six months of discovering the potential violation. If the city denies the claim or fails to respond within 45 days, you can then proceed with a lawsuit. However, due to the potential complexity of ICWA cases and associated state laws, consulting with an attorney knowledgeable about ICWA is essential. They can guide you through the process and evaluate the merits of your potential case.

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