Adopting a Native American baby is different than other domestic adoptions because it is regulated by federal law. Native American adoption laws became unique in 1978 with the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which allowed the sovereign states to regulate the adoption of their tribal members. One of the Act's most influential provisions regards a Native American child's right to know of his or her cultural origins and to maintain an active relationship with his or her Native heritage.
Adopting a Native American baby became an exception to the rule after nearly a decade of the federal government removing Native American children from their families in their best interest, which at the time meant being raised by Caucasians who were thought to "know best." While the Indian Adoption Project was being facilitated by the government between 1958 and 1967, about a quarter of all Native American children were adopted out of their families and were raised with the intent to replace as much of their heritage with that of more "proper" breeding.
This dark past in American adoption history has contributed greatly to the current laws today and prospective parents of a Native American child can expect the extra work that one may find with an international adoption. An open adoption may also be suggested to adoptive parents for the sake of the child, as the couple may need a source for educating the child of his or her tribe's religious beliefs, social activities and cultural traditions. There are many Native American youth clubs that would be great resources for this as well.