Dr Phil: Adoption Birth Parents’ Rights Under Indian Child Welfare Act


Dr. Phil: Chrissi Nimmo, Assistant Attorney General Of The Cherokee Nation

After Matt and Melanie described how they lost Veronica to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), they went backstage because they could not stand to be in the same room as Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, who was involved in the case and the one that led the charge to take Veronica back.

Dr. Phil: Chrissi Nemo Defends Birth Father

Dr Phil: Adoption Birth Parents' Rights Under Indian Child Welfare Act

Chrissi Nimmo, assistant attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, explained ICWA.


Chrissi Nimmo wanted to be clear that she did not represent the birth father in the case, only the tribe and the children tied to it—it was nothing personal against Matt and Melanie. There was never a question of their ability to parent a child.

Chrissi also wanted to be clear that Veronica’s birth mother and father were to be married, but the birth mother cut off all contact with the father, who was never made aware that the adoption was taking place until he was served adoption papers. He immediately thereafter sought custody of his daughter.

Dr. Phil: Chrissie Nemo Explains Indian Child Welfare Act

Chrissi Nimmo felt totally justified in pursuing this case. In both the regular law and in ICWA, it is required by law to have both parents consent filed formally in court, which never happened. The case would have just as likely been pursued by a non-Indian man than by an Indian man.


Troy Dunn saw the law as racist, but Chrissi said that the law does not have to do with race, but political affiliation. The Cherokee Nation is a separate entity from the United States—a government and nation all on its own. How much Indian blood she has is not the issue here.

Dr. Phil: Veronica’s Birth Mother Writes In

The birth mother wrote a letter to tell everyone how she felt. She said that she felt very secure giving Veronica to Matt and Melanie. She also said the birth father was not even that involved with the Cherokee Nation to begin with. However, Melanie said that all the legal channels that should have been navigated to make this adoption official were totally ignored, which is why this case happened.


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