Tribal Customary Adoption
This landmark legislation, the first of its kind in the United States, will allow traditional forms of adoption practiced by tribes to be recognized by California courts as an addition to the permanency options available.
On October 11, 2009, just in time for Indigenous People’s Day, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 1325, which allows “tribal customary adoption” for American Indian children in foster care. This law will go into effect on July 1, 2010.
In an effort to meet the permanency needs of dependent Indian children, consistent with tribal culture, California enacted AB 1325. Effective July 1, 2010, this statute adds to state law “tribal customary adoption” as a permanency option for a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court and eligible under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). It defines tribal customary adoption as an adoption which occurs under the customs, laws or traditions of child’s tribe. Termination of parental rights (TPR) is not required to effect the tribal customary adoption. While tribal customary adoption is unique, it is intended to be a seamless integration into the current process of conventional adoption. Aligned with the state’s existing concurrent planning policies, when applicable, it allows, at the tribe’s option, for tribal customary adoption to be included as an alternative permanent plan to family reunification throughout the dependency case.