Tribal Customary Adoption

Effective July 1st, 2010 Assembly Bill 1325 (Cook; Stats. 2009, ch.287) established a new permanency option for Indian children who are dependents of the California Courts. Dependent Indian children who are unable to reunify with their parents may now, at the option of their tribe, be eligible for adoption by and through the laws, traditions and customs of the child's tribe without requiring termination of the parental rights of the child's biological parents. Below you will find the following information: (1) links to the legislation; (2) a summary of the legislative requirements; (3) the rules of court and forms implementing the legislation; (4) contact information for drafters of the legislation; (4) other helpful resources; and (5) a short survey on tribal customary adoption cases.

 Legislation text There have also been some minor technical amendments to the bill, which you can find here.

Judicial branch report to the legislature concerning tribal customary adoption

Legislative Requirements
AB 1325 places certain requirements on social workers and judicial officers in all dependency cases involving an Indian Child Welfare Act eligible child who is in foster care to consult with the child's tribe about whether Tribal Customary Adoption is an appropriate permanent plan should the family be unable to reunify. These requirements and how to proceed if a child's tribe selects tribal customary adoption as the child's permanent plan are addressed in detail in the documents below, and in particular in All County Letter 10-47 issued by the California Department of Social Services.

There are also specific reporting requirements in the Child Welfare Services Case Management System (CWS/CMS) concerning Tribal Customary Adoption. An explanation of those requirements is found at page 33 of ACL 10-47.

Rules and Forms
To see the California Rules of Court which have been amended to implement Tribal Customary Adoption:.

  • Rule 5.502 Definitions and use of terms
  • Rule 5.690 General conduct of a disposition hearing
  • Rule 5.708 General review hearing requirements
  • Rule 5.715 Twelve-month permanency hearing
  • Rule 5.720 Eighteen-month permanency review hearing
  • Rule 5.722 Twenty-four month subsequent permanency review hearing
  • Rule 5.725 Selection of a permanent plan
  • Rule 5.726 Prospective adoptive parent designation
  • Rule 5.727 Proposed removal
  • Rule 5.728 Emergency removal
  • Rule 5.730 Adoption
  • Rule 5.740 Hearings subsequent to a permanent plan


Judicial Council forms which have been amended to implement Tribal Customary Adoption.


Legislative Drafters' Contact Information
If you are a tribal representative looking for more information on what the tribe's responsibilities are in finalizing a tribal customary adoption, you can find more information here or you may contact the drafters of the Tribal Customary Adoption bill.

Other Resources
Frequently Asked Questions About Tribal Customary Adoption

Report to the Judicial Council from the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee concerning Tribal Customary Adoption

California State Department of Social Services ACL 10-47 dated October 27, 2010

California State Department of Social Services ACL-10-17 dated March 24, 2010 Concerning Tribal Customary Adoption

California Department of Social Services ICWA resources

Tribal STAR: Customary Adoption

Report to the Legislature on Tribal Customary Adoption as required by Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.24(f) (December 2012)

If you have any questions about tribal customary adoption, please contact Ann Gilmour.