Judge Paul G. Cassell – Navajo Nation v. LDS Family Services – Motion to Dismiss Granted
NAVAJO NATION, Plaintiff, vs. LDS FAMILY SERVICES, Defendant.
Case No. 2:06cv00909
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89913
December 12, 2006
During her pregnancy, Sarah Ashley Ziska contacted LDS Family Services about possibly placing her unborn child for adoption. Ms. Ziska eventually informed Family Services the probable father of her unborn child was of Navajo ancestry. Because no one had registered with the Utah Putative Father Registry with regard to Ms. Ziska’s unborn child, Family Services proceeded with the adoption process.
On February 14, 2005, Ms. Ziska gave birth to a baby girl. On February 25, 2005, Ms. Ziska voluntarily relinquished her parental rights to the child in front of a Utah state court judge. The Utah state courts have continued to preside over the adoption proceedings.
In this case, the Navajo Nation challenges the adoption procedures used by LDS Family Services. Specifically, the Navajo Nation requested the court to determine if the federal Indian Child and Welfare Act applies when a natural Native American father is unable to establish his paternity under state law, and if it creates a private right of action for the Navajo Nation.
The Court ruled that the Navajo Nation did not demonstrate the state court proceeding provided an inadequate forum to hear the claims raised in its petition. The court, therefore, held that it is necessary to abstain from this matter.
LDS Family Services’ Motion to Dismiss granted.