In re Adoption of T.A.W.

In June 2013, C.B.(mother) married R.B. (stepfather). C.B. and R.B. filed a petition for termination of parental rights as to C.W. (biological father) and adoption later that month of T.A.W., C.B.'s biological child and an "Indian child" under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), and the Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA). C.W. was non-Indian, but C.B. was, and an enrolled member of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. C.W. had been incarcerated at the time of the termination petition on charges relating to drug abuse and domestic violence. C.W.'s parental rights were ultimately terminated. In reaching its decision, the trial court found that ICWA applied to the termination proceedings and that ICWA's requirements were met beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court did not require C.B. and R.B. to prove that active efforts were undertaken to remedy C.W.'s parental deficiencies prior to terminating his parental rights and made no finding to that effect. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding: (1) ICWA and WICWA protected non-Indian and Indian parents alike; (2) the trial court erred by not making an active efforts finding; (3) the United States Supreme Court's decision in "Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl," (133 S. Ct. 2552 (2013)), was factually distinguishable; and (4) WICWA had no abandonment exception. C.B. and R.B. appealed. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' decision and remanded this case to the trial court so that it could reconsider the termination petition in light of those holdings. View "In re Adoption of T.A.W." on Justia Law