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Name: In re D.C.
Case #: D068146
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/17/2015

ICWA notice requirements were triggered when the adoptive father claimed tribal membership. Parents appealed the jurisdiction and disposition orders, and challenged the court’s finding that ICWA did not apply. The juvenile court had found that ICWA did not apply because the minor children had been adopted by the parents. If C.C. had been the minors’ biological father, ICWA notice would have been required due to C.C.’s claimed ancestry. The appellate court found that ICWA notice was required here even though the minors had no biological Indian ancestry. C.C. had informed the Department that he is or may be a member of a tribe. That disclosure was sufficient to trigger ICWA’s notice requirement because it suggested that the minors may be members of an Indian tribe as well. Nothing in the record indicated that the tribes involved categorically exclude adoptive children from membership. It is the tribe’s prerogative to determine membership criteria and decide who meets it. The relevant question is not whether the evidence currently supports a finding that the minors are Indian children, but rather whether the evidence triggers the notice requirement of ICWA so that the tribes themselves may make that determination. Remand for proper ICWA notice was required.