48 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 37: 1 2017]
they were moved six times before being placed with the non-Indian couple, E.C. and C.C., in
1991.274 A year later, the children were placed with an Indian family, but that only lasted nine
days before they were returned to E.C. and C.C.275 Therapists who met with the children
emphasized their need for permanent family bonds, particularly one special-needs child.276 After
another year of searching, the tribe was unable to locate an Indian family willing to adopt the
three, but E.C. and C.C. were willing, and nobody disputed their fitness.277
In its adoption proceeding, the trial court received evidence from both lay and expert
witnesses, all of whom testified that the couple were providing for the children’s physical,
emotional, and intellectual needs, but who disagreed as to whether they were providing for the
children’s “cultural needs.”278 E.C. and C.C. attended powwows and tribal story-tellings, and
even arranged a Chippewa naming ceremony for one child,279 and the court found that, in any
event, the most important thing was for the children to find stable and secure homes.280 In
affirming the trial court, the court of appeal noted that the Indian foster home in which the
children had previously been placed “was unwilling to make any long-term commitment to the
children,” whereas E.C. and C.C. “have a successful track record with the children and are at
present both willing to assume and capable of meeting the children's needs for a permanent and
274 Id. at 359.
275 Id. at 359–60.
276 Id. at 365.
278 Id. at 365.
279 Id. at 361.
280 Matter of Custody of S.E.G., 507 N.W.2d 872, 883 (Minn. Ct. App. 1993)..