'This Is About a Child's Best Interest': Native American Tribe Responds to Family Who Claimed Infant Girl Was Taken Under Indian Child Welfare Act
The Tulalip Tribes hold that Alyssa and Kyle Olsen "violated" the 4-month-old's privacy and confidentiality
A Native American tribe is speaking out against a Washington family who claimed that a 4-month-old girl was taken from them under the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Alyssa and Kyle Olsen, of Renton, Washington, said the little girl was removed from their home earlier this month, just weeks after she arrived with the understanding the family would adopt her. However, officials of the Tulalip Tribes hold that the key issue is not the ICWA, but the rights of the child’s biological parents.
“The applicable law in this case is Tulalip Tribal law, not the Indian Child Welfare Act,” spokesperson said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.
“Prior to Tulalip Tribes’ involvement, the father had been denied any opportunity to decide on the future and well-being of his biological child.”
“The temporary placement family were not adoptive parents and had no legal ties to the child.”
The Olsen’s story came to light after a similar situation occurred in California when a six-year-old foster child, Lexi, was taken from a family under the ICWA – Lexi is 1/64th Choctaw.
The Tulalip Tribes hold that the Olsen’s case is not the same as that of the California family and “the facts of this matter have been contorted in an attempted to piggyback off the attention that has fallen on the California case.”
Alyssa previously told PEOPLE that the infant’s birth mother signed away her parental rights, but the birth father hadn’t. She said the adoption agency contacted the father, and his tribe interceded, taking legal action to get the child back.
“We received a call a week and a half before they showed up at our front door letting us know that there was a possibility she would be re-located,’ Alyssa said. “However, we had zero follow-up after that until they showed up at our front door.”
Officials with the Tulalip Tribes said that the key issue in the Olsen’s case is that “both parents should have the right to due process and should have an opportunity to participate in court proceedings.”
“And for the Tulalip Tribes, this matter was never about politics. This was about a child’s best interest. Specifically, about a child’s right to know her family and to not be deprived of her connection to her extended family and tribal community.”
The statement continues: “We are disheartened that the child in question has been subjected to this type of media scrutiny and has had her rights to privacy or confidentiality violated by this family.”
• Reporting by LINDSAY KIMBLE