Adoption Triad

October 21, 2014

View past editions of Adoption Triad


This month's Adoption Triad focuses on Tribal customary adoptions. According to the former National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes, many Tribes don't have a word for adoption that encompasses the practice of terminating parental rights. A customary adoption is an adoption that occurs under the customs, laws, or traditions of a child's Tribe that gives a child a new legally recognized permanent parent while still retaining the legal rights of birth parents, relatives, and other significant people in the child's kinship network. Custody of a child is transferred to adoptive parents without terminating the rights of the birth parent, and the process is considered to be binding by the Tribe. Find resources below to learn more about customary adoption, and explore this year's National Adoption Month initiative to find ways to support connections between siblings before and after adoption.

  1. View an example of a Tribal customary adoption law and find information on a California law that allows traditional forms of Tribal adoption to be recognized by California courts in addition to other permanency options.
  2. Review the Michigan Department of Human Services' Native American Glossary (PDF - 196 KB), which defines the concept of "Best Interests of the Indian Child" and how it relates to the best interests of the child's Tribe. The definition addresses the importance of maintaining the Indian child's familial and Tribal connections, including connections with siblings, as well as understanding the damage caused by loss of identity for Indian children.
  3. Promote and support sibling connections for children and youth in foster care by visiting the National Adoption Month (NAM) 2014 website. The NAM website offers a variety of audience-specific resources to help professionals partner with children, youth, families, and each other to find permanent homes for the over 102,000 children and youth in foster care who are waiting for adoption.


Phyllis Charles
Child Welfare Program Manager - Adoption
Child Welfare Information Gateway

Adoption Triad is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (, a service of the Children's Bureau/ACF/HHS ( It provides adoption professionals with practical information to help them identify, recruit, train, and retain families for children and youth, and provides resources on all aspects of adoption for members of the adoption triad: birth parents, adopted people, and adoptive parents.


Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at

Adoption Triad ACF Footer