This page contains information on the State of Alaska Cultural Adoption Packet and Tribal Court Adoption Orders. For information on petitioning for adoption in state court, click here.
As a Tribe, you have the decision whether to document tribal adoptions using either the Cultural Adoption Packet provided by the Alaska’s Health Analytics & Vital Records (formerly the Bureau of Vital Statistics) or your own tribal court orders.
What are the differences between the cultural adoption packet and a Tribal Court adoption order?
Whether your Tribe decides to use the Cultural Adoption Packet or issue its own tribal court adoption order, it will always be important to follow your Tribe’s written or customary laws, to hold a hearing by the council or court, to give advance notice to all important parties, and to give everyone a chance to be heard.
This flowchart will help you visualize the tribal court adoption process:
ALSC’s Adoption Hearing Checklist for Cultural Adoptions and Tribal Court Adoptions includes best practices for ensuring due process for all parties involved in an adoption hearing. It can be found below and in the Resources to the right of the page.
Cultural Adoption Packet
In this process, after holding a council meeting on the adoption, the Tribe fills out the Cultural Adoption Packet and submits the original documents to the Alaska’s Health Analytics & Vital Records to obtain a new birth certificate. The Cultural Adoption Packet can be found on the Alaska’s Health Analytics & Vital Records office page.
For legal purposes, the adoptive parents, and in some cases the Tribe, will
need certified copies of the original paperwork, which can be obtained from Alaska’s Health Analytics & Vital Records for $30 per copy. Without
documented tribal permission to share the Cultural Adoption records, Health Analytics & Vital Records will not provide copies of the paperwork to the adoptive parent, child, or any other agency. Requests for certified records and tribal permission to share the records must be given on tribal letterhead, and be accompanied by a copy of the ID of the tribal official signing the letter.
A template cover letter to the state for processing the cultural adoption, and
giving permission to share records with the child and adoptive parents in the future, is here.
A template cover letter seeking certified copies of cultural adoption paperwork from the state, and giving permission to share records with the child and adoptive parents in the future, is here.
Tribal Court Adoptions
Your Tribe may instead choose to issue its own tribal court adoption order after holding a hearing.
If a Tribe is submitting a tribal court adoption order to get a new birth certificate, it does NOT need to complete the cultural adoption packet.
A sample tribal court adoption order can be downloaded below:
Once the Tribe has finished the adoption process and issues an order it can either:
- send the order to Alaska’s Health Analytics & Vital Records office (formerly the Bureau of Vital Statistics)
- Instructions for how to get a new birth certificate from Health Analytics & Vital Records after issuing a Tribal Court Adoption Order
- petition the state court for recognition if no new birth certificate is needed, or
- do nothing if the family can get what it needs with the tribal adoption order
Interested in reading more about the duty of states to give Full Faith and Credit to tribal court adoption orders? Read the Kaltag case.