Michigan COA Opinion On ICWA, MIFPA and Adoptive Couple


Big case out of Michigan’s Court of Appeals on an adoption with a very complicated fact pattern. The case was argued by MSU Law/ILPC alum Karrie Wichtman. The case held that MIFPA’s placement preferences in an adoption hold, even while ICWA’s failed under Adoptive Couple. It should also be noted that this was the analysis Jack Trope & Addie Smith followed in their article on Adoptive Couple and state ICWA laws.

MIFPA differs from ICWA in that it does not give a preference to eligible parties over ineligible parties. Rather, MIFPA requires that, absent good cause, the adoptive placement must be either with a member of the child’s extended family, a member of the Indian child’s tribe, or an Indian family, in that “order of preference.” MCL 712B.23(2). The record demonstrates that the Arbutantes have no familial connection to KMN; they are not connected to the Tribe, and they are not an Indian family. Therefore, absent a good cause finding, MIFPA precluded the trial court from placing KMN with the Arbutantes.


Unfortunately, the COA did not reinstate the abuse and neglect petition that started the case in the first place, leaving the child in legal limbo.

Video | This entry was posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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