Indian Children and Their Guardians ad Litem
One of the primary goals of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is to limit the influence or bias of state workers in decisions placing American Indian children out of their home and community. While this focus usually concerns state social workers, the officials who most often seek removal of a child, or the courts, the body that issues the orders and opinions, guardians ad litem (GALs) receive less attention. Despite this lack of attention, GALs exert a similar level of influence as state social workers. In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the role of the GAL was unusual but critical – the GAL, while officially appointed by the court, was handpicked by the adoptive parents. The role of the GAL remains understudied in the ICWA literature, though GALs continue to exert enormous influence in the courts. Unfortunately, many GALs throughout the nation subvert the national policy embodied by the ICWA by advocating against the implementation of the statute in case after case.
Fletcher, Matthew and Kathryn E. Fort. "Indian Children and Their Guardians ad Litem." Boston University Law Review Annex 95 (2013): 59-63. (Work published when author not on Michigan Law faculty.)