Racial Anxieties in Adoption: Reflections on Adoptive Couple, White Parenthood, and Constitutional Challenges to the ICWA

Addie C. Rolnick, University of Nevada, Las Vegas -- William S. Boyd School of Law
Kim Hai Pearson, Gonzaga University School of Law


The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is under fire from people who argue that it interferes with adoptions and violates the constitution by doing so. The current crop of lawsuits is an outgrowth of a 2012 case in which the Supreme Court heard its second-ever challenge to the law. While the Court sidestepped the most far-reaching anti-ICWA arguments, the majority opinion evidenced a deep skepticism about the law. This skepticism led the Court to narrow the law’s application so that it didn’t apply to the family involved, and it seemed to invite further challenges to the law.