Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Late yesterday, Baby Veronica went home. Well, depending on what you call home. I previously wrote about this heartbreaking story. The little Cherokee toddler was returned to her white adoptive parents, despite the Indian Child Welfare Act supposedly precluding such adoptions out of the Native American community. I’m continually struck by the gendered discourse in this case. We have caricatures of the deadbeat dad, the saintly birth mother, and the martyred adoptive mother. We have the mother “fighting for her child” and the dad who “resists authority to turn over the child.” Dad’s failings have to do his refusal to satisfy the provider role initially via prenatal support. (His two years of actual parenting seems to be irrelevant). The real rub is the failure of any court to conduct a best interests hearing focusing on the adjustment, interactions, and welfare of the child. (I know he doesn’t have standing and so we will just rewind and pretend Baby V is still 2.) Instead, our assumptions about gender roles, race, and parental entitlements, biological or adoptive, are allowed to color the judgment, as they did in the Supreme Court.