Here. This is an unpublished termination of parental rights out of the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Here is the concurrence in its entirety::
With a backdrop of historical trauma and a high number of Indian children being removed from their families and tribes by nontribal agencies, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). See Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 32-37, 109 S. Ct. 1597, 1599-1602 (1989) (detailing the background for ICWA). Government must meet a high bar to terminate a parent’s parental rights in any case. ICWA and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act require an even higher standard to terminate parental rights to an Indian child: proof beyond a reasonable doubt that returning the children to the parent will likely result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child. 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) (2016) (ICWA); Minn. Stat. § 260.771, subd. 6(a) (2016)
Scant attention was given to this high standard during trial. This is troubling. Only one witness was asked to opine on the ultimate question of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And, as the majority points out, that witness equivocated. And even after this court remanded the case to the district court, asking the court to directly address this question, the district court did not elaborate on the critical issue. It simply amended the findings to state that “[c]ontinued custody of [the children] by [mother and father] is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the Children.”
I expect more when it comes to termination of parental rights for Indian children. We all should.
Yet I concur with the majority’s decision despite my view that, based on the nature of the expert testimony, this is a close case. I concur because the majority is correct that when we dive deep into the record we see children who suffered serious emotional damage with no realistic path to a different future with their parents. I concur because the tribe was unwilling to accept a transfer of jurisdiction to tribal court. I concur because the tribe supports termination of parental rights. And, most fundamentally, I concur because these children, like all children, deserve a permanent home, without additional delay.
But I remain concerned. In a state in which out-of-home placement for Indian children far exceeds the percentage for any other group of children, we need greater diligence in adhering to the high standards dictated by ICWA and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act.