University of Denver

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

IAALS Intern

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. The case presented the issue of whether the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a law meant to minimize the involuntary removal of Native American children from their homes and tribes, precluded a young girl's adoption by non-Native American parents. The Court sided with the adoptive parents, finding that the young girl's biological father explicitly gave up parental rights before her birth. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito reasoned that the ICWA exists to prevent Native American families from “breaking up,” but does not stand to “create . . . parental rights for unwed fathers where no such rights would otherwise exist.” However, the Court declined to decide the permanent placement of the girl and remanded the decision to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Katherine Kirk is a third year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to