Within hours of the announcement that HB-825 having been sent to Gov. Abbott for signing, a concerned grandmother was contacting Angel Eyes over Texas (AEovrT). Corrine Walker has not seen or heard any news of her 3 grandchildren in close to three years.
The Johnson family, originally from Minnesota had been living in Kansas for two and a half years before coming to Texas on vacation. Nolan was on disability and Bobbi was a stay at home mom who home schooled their three children: Kayla, Wolfgang, and Samira.
The family arrived in Texas just before Mother’s Day in 2011. A few days later both parents had to be hospitalized due to a reaction to chigger bites. The hospital unwilling to wait the 10-12 hours for family to arrive from out of state called CPS instead.
Bobbie only remained in the hospital three days. When she inquired with CPS she found out that instead of simply providing safe haven for the children, they had petitioned the court for temporary managing conservator-ship. Texas law allows law enforcement (or CPS) to provide safe haven for up to 5 days without having to take legal action.
To give you a better understanding please read the UFP News article Rick Webb did on the family for Christmas in 2013 and about a month later Doc Green’s interviewed Bobbie on ragingelephantsradio.com
Many aspects of this case raises many questions. Exactly how did Texas establish jurisdiction over children who were Kansas residents? They had only been in Texas only a few days, not 6 months as required by Texas law.
Then there is the issue of the parents signing over rights under duress. Last time I checked “coercion” is defined in Texas Penal Code. Add to that the indication that the parents waived their claim to Native American heritage under duress. Under IWCA rules, surrendering parental rights must be done in the presence of a Judge. In this case they were not.
The federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) provides standards of proof to remove a child from a parent or to terminate the parental rights of a parent if the child is a member of a Native American tribe, is eligible for membership in tribe, or is the biological child of a member of a tribe. ICWA also provides placement preferences to keep children who are members of Native American tribes connected to their tribes if they are removed from their parents. The standards of proof in ICWA are higher than those in parent-child relationship cases for children who are not members of Native American tribes.
HB 825 will require courts to conduct inquiries of any parties involved in a hearing to identify whether a child or a child’s family had a Native American heritage and to identify any Native American tribes with which the child may be associated during:
- full adversary hearings when a governmental entity takes possession of a child;
- status hearings after a child has been placed under the care of the Department of Family and Protective Services; and
- permanency hearings to determine placement of a child.
There is a number of other things that fall under IWCA not covered here. Do your research.
It is not certain rather or not Corrine will get her grandchildren back, but one thing is; any and all families with Native American Heritage should establish their link to their tribe as early as possible. In that manner they better protect their children under the IWCA.