Baby Veronica: Bio Father to be Extradited to SCBy: Erika Watts - September 8, 2013
Dusten Brown, the biological father of the 3-year-old toddler who is known as Baby Veronica, filed for a second appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday asking it to block Veronica’s return to her adoptive family. Brown was ordered to turn over Baby Veronica, who has been with him since the end of 2011, to her adoptive parents in July. Brown hasn’t yet complied with the order, and now the governor of Oklahoma has ordered him to be extradited to South Carolina where he may face felony charges of custodial interference.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed the extradition order after she said it had become clear that “Dusten Brown is not acting in good faith” by not following an order that allowed the adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, to visit Baby Veronica while the transfer was to gradually take place. Fallin said in a statement that Brown “is acting in open violation of both Oklahoma and South Carolina courts, which have granted custody of Veronica to the Capobianco’s.”
Brown was arrested and released on bail last week and will return to court on October 3 for his extradition hearing. Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart called Brown’s bail “very unusual,” saying that most people arrested on extradition charges stay in jail until the hearing. “I’ve never seen this before,” Lockhart said, but considering how many twists and turns the Baby Veronica case has taken, nothing that happens from here on out should be too surprising.
The child was with the Capobiancos from the time she was born until they were ordered to turn over Baby Veronic shortly after she turned two. Brown, who had previously told the birth mother that he didn’t want to support the unborn child in a text message, signed papers a few months after the child was born relinquishing his parental rights. Brown didn’t expect for the child to be put up for adoption, however, and later filed for custody of Baby Veronica. “I thought [the birth mother] wanted full custody, but that I would still be a part of my child’s life,” Brown said in an interview. “I was going to war. I didn’t know what was going to happen in Iraq, or even if I was going to come back home alive. So I texted her back and said okay.”
As Brown and Baby Veronica are part Cherokee, the Cherokee Nation intervened on their behalf. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) law states that the tribe be notified of pending adoptions involving children with Indian blood. This never happened, however, since the birth mother misspelled Brown’s name and Baby Veronica was listed as Hispanic. Because of the ICWA, the Charleston County Family Court denied the Capobianco’s adoption request and ordered Baby Veronica to go to her biological father. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually heard appeals from the Copobiancos and said the ICWA didn’t apply to Baby Veronica’s case.
The Baby Veronica place has many people split on whether Baby Veronica belongs with her biological family or the adoptive parents. Unless the Oklahoma Supreme Court hears Brown’s latest appeal and finds for him, which seems unlikely, the Capobiancos should be reunited with Baby Veronica soon.