The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901-63, applies to state custody proceedings involving an Indian child. A dozen state courts of last resort are openly and intractably divided on two critical questions involving the administration of ICWA in thousands of custody disputes each year:
(1) Whether a non-custodial parent can invoke ICWA to block an adoption voluntarily and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent under state law.
(2) Whether ICWA defines "parent" in 25 U.S.C. § 1903(9) to include an unwed biological father who has not complied with state law rules to attain legal status as a parent.