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Creating Connection, Culture, Community and Resources for Tribal Foster Youth

Customary Adoption

Tribal STAR is pleased to announce the new Customary Adoption Resource on our website!

With permission from the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians we are providing up-to-date information about Customary Adoption.

This landmark legislation, the first of its kind in the United States, will allow traditional forms of adoption practiced by tribes to be recognized by California courts as an addition to the permanency options available.

On October 11, 2009, just in time for Indigenous People’s Day, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 1325, which allows “tribal customary adoption” for American Indian children in foster care. This law will go into effect on July 1, 2010.

In an effort to meet the permanency needs of dependent Indian children, consistent with tribal culture, California enacted AB 1325. Effective July 1, 2010, this statute adds to state law “tribal customary adoption” as a permanency option for a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court and eligible under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). It defines tribal customary adoption as an adoption which occurs under the customs, laws or traditions of child’s tribe. Termination of parental rights (TPR) is not required to effect the tribal customary adoption. While tribal customary adoption is unique, it is intended to be a seamless integration into the current process of conventional adoption. Aligned with the state’s existing concurrent planning policies, when applicable, it allows, at the tribe’s option, for tribal customary adoption to be included as an alternative permanent plan to family reunification throughout the dependency case.

On this website you will find:

· Fact Sheet for County Social Workers (Draft)

· Fact Sheet for Tribal ICWA Social Workers (Draft)

· Sample 1 TCAO – Tribal Customary Adoption Order

· Sample 2 TCAO – Tribal Customary Adoption Order

· Frequently Asked Questions &Talking Points

· All County Letter 03/24/10

· All County Letter AB1325 DRAFT

· All County Letter 10-47: Implementation Of Tribal Customary Adoption – Assembly Bill 1325 (Chapter 287, Statutes of 2009) DRAFT

· All County Letter 10-47: Implementation Of Tribal Customary Adoption – Assembly Bill 1325 (Chapter 287, Statutes of 2009) October 27, 2010

All County Information Notice I-91-10 (November 16, 2010)
Adoptions Approval Process – Revisions To The Application For Adoption Of A Child (AD 521) Form Criminal History Question

· Recent Power Point: Customary Adoption, A Culturally Appropriate Option for Tribes and Indian Families

· Training & Training Resources:
If you have any questions regarding Customary Adoption workshops , please contact Nicolle Larkins, Policy Consultant, Permanency Policy Bureau, at (916) 657-3751 or by email at

Soboba girls on horseback
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Cultural Center

Useful Web Links:

· Administrative Office of the Courts: The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is the staff agency of the Judicial Council, which has policy-making authority over the state court system.

· Tribal Projects Unit: Two CFCC projects helped pave the way for this new unit. One was the Native American Community Justice Project, designed to enhance and improve the administration of justice for Native American victims of family violence. The other was the Indian Child Welfare Act Initiative, designed to improve compliance with federal and state laws that promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families. Both of these projects partner with Native American communities to identify needs related to family violence and ICWA.
Administrative Office of the Courts Tribal Projects Unit

· CILS (California Indian Legal Services):
California Indian Legal Services (CILS) is the first Indian-controlled law firm organized to provide specialized legal representation to Indians and Indian tribes. CILS provides free or low-cost representation on those matters that fall within the priorities (see below) set by our Board of Trustees.
Eureka office 324 F Street, Eureka, CA 95501
Phone (707) 443-8397, or toll-free (800) 347-2402


· Kimberly Cluff
Forman & Associates
4340 Redwood Hwy Ste F228, San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone (415) 491-2310

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and the Dave Thomas Foundation have developed a national clearinghouse for tribal adoption issues.


Dave Thomas Foundation

·Child Welfare Info: Resources and information on adoptions and customary adoptions within Native American communities, including State and local examples.

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