Sunday, December 8, 2013

In re Baby Boy C. case brief

In re Baby Boy C. case brief summary
805 N.Y.S.2d 313 (2005)

Appellant, an Indian Tribe, sought review of an order from the Family Court, New York County (New York), which adopted the "existing Indian family" (EIF) exception to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C.S. § 1901 et seq., and then denied the Tribe's motion to intervene in an adoption proceeding. The family court directed the adoption in favor of respondent adoptive parents to proceed.

The child's mother was a member of the Tribe, and she and the father executed consents in Arizona for termination of their parental rights and to adoption by the qualified adoptive parents. The Tribe sought to intervene in the adoption proceeding. The family court denied intervention under the Act and adopted the judicially created EIF exception, based on its finding that the child was not part of an EIF. The family court determined that the EIF exception was necessary in order to uphold the constitutionality of the Act where the child and his family lacked significant ties to a particular tribe.


  • On appeal, the court held that the EIF exception was in direct conflict with the express language and purpose of the Act, as well as the rationale of the U.S. Supreme Court's judicial precedent. 
  • Accordingly, it declined to accept that exception as the law in New York. 
  • The court also held that although the Act was generally applicable to the proceeding, intervention by the Tribe was not expressly authorized in adoption proceedings as a matter of right under 25 U.S.C.S. § 1911(c). 
  • However, due to the Tribe's significant interest, permission to intervene was proper under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 1013.

The court reversed the order of the family court by holding that the EIF exception was not the applicable law of New York, and it granted the Tribe's motion to intervene in the proceeding. The matter was remanded for further proceedings.

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