Baby Veronica: Bio Father to be Extradited to SC

By: 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.

Case Background:

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.

Image via YouTube

Erika Watts

About the Author

Erika WattsErika Watts is a former teacher, now stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for WebProNews. When she isn’t busy navigating parenthood and writing, she enjoys watching college sports and reading. Follow Erika on Twitter @erikawatts83, Pinterest or

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  • Toto

    The girl should be with her dad. That couple appears to have no conscience. It’s not your freaking kid!!!!! The child is going to grow up to hate them for what they are doing to her dad. They care more about themselves than the child. Yeah I went through some similar crap with my 4 year old daughter.

    • Jojo44

      What gets me is why anyone could think yanking this kid around like that is a good idea. Not sure the dad should have sued for custody after giving her up but now that she’s been with him a year the adoptive parents should probably just be the bigger person and think about if moving her across the country again (and dealing with more of this in the future) is the best thing.


    hasn’t this baby been thru enough already? people need to be more understanding of the situation. don’t we try to keep parents and babies together? besides that this child is part native american,we need to understand that her people have been cheated by the government for years, now we want to deny her heritage?

    • Sue

      This sounds like a tennis match and she is the ball. The male donor signed off on her after she was born. He did not want anything to do with her. The birth mother for whatever reason put her up for adoption. I am sure that must have been a very difficult decision for her. This child is part Cherokee, The Cherokee Nation was not advised of her pending adoption. Some one dropped the ball on that one. I am sure it was not the adoptive parents. That should have been left up to the birth parents, or the adoption agency. This child was adopted. Return her to her adoptive parents. END OF STORY.

      • Eve

        “Mother testified that she knew “from the beginning” that Father was a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and that she deemed this information “important” throughout the adoption process. Further, she testified she knew that if the Cherokee Nation were alerted to Baby Girl’s status as an Indian child, “some things were going to come into effect, but she wasn’t for sure what.” Mother reported Father’s Indian heritage on the Nightlight Agency’s adoption form and testified she made Father’s Indian heritage known to Appellants and every agency involved in the adoption. However, it appears that there were some efforts to conceal his Indian status. In fact, the pre-placement form reflects Mother’s reluctance to share this information:
        Initially the birth mother did not wish to identify the father, said she wanted to keep things low-key as possible for the [Appellants], because he’s registered in the Cherokee tribe. It was determined that naming him would be detrimental to the adoption.”

        “Adoptive Mother testified that, because they hired an attorney to specifically inquire about the baby’s Cherokee Indian status, ‘when she was born, we were under the impression that she was not Cherokee.’” But, “Adoptive Mother testified that the Nightlight Agency’s pre-placement report was ‘probably . . . something I read and didn’t think twice about it.’”

    • Amy

      I respect the Native American culture and their rights but here is the thing. He never registered with the tribe until he wanted to get his daughter back. The tribes shouldn’t be defending this guy. He never cared about his Native American culture. If he did he would of registered with the tribe long before he had this child. He gave his full parental rights. He said do what you want with the child cause I don’t care. If he did care he wouldn’t have signed the papers. For him to say he didn’t understand what he was signing is complete BS. If you don’t understand the papers you don’t need to sign. Also here is the thing about the law. It applies only to PURE NATIVE AMERICAN children and children born on the reservations. Veronica is only part Native American and she was never born on the reservations. All he cares about is himself and all he wants is control.

      • Eve

        That is far from the truth, Dusten Brown has been a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation since he was a child.

  • Anne D Pavlos

    Erika Watts, author of this article “Baby Veronica: Bio Father to be Extradited to SC”, I must question your intent in publishing this article.

    You have placed the following statement in your article:
    “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.”

    I must wonder if you even know that Mr. Brown was deployed in Iraq a the time of the text, and had simply responded to a text request for money from his child’s birth-mother that he was unable to send any. Veronica had not yet been born when this texting took place.

    You also don’t seem to realize that Mr. Brown was met at his door by a process server upon his return from Iraq; Veronica was 3 months old at the time. Mr. Brown signed papers believing them to give custody of Veronica to her birth-mother, but then realized what they truly were and tried to take them back. He was threatened by the process server with arrest.

    His first legal appeal for custody of his child took place when Veronica was 4 months old.

    And why did you not mention that Veronica’s birth mother admitted in court that she falsified information about Mr. Brown in order to expedite Veronica’s adoption to her friends?

    Ms. Watts,
    In the publishing of this article, you have omitted known facts? Why?
    Did you simply fail to do appropriate research?
    Or were you trying to passively slant public opinion onto the side of the prospective adoptive parents?

    • Jojo44

      Read dude it said up there that he didn’t realize he was signing the kid up for adoption…anyway he was fine with giving up rights, so its moot. Anyone else doesn’t get the same consideration, only because he’s Cherokee. Not that I think the kid should definitely go back, just saying (below).

    • Erika Watts

      This is intended to be a brief article outlining the progress and background of the case. The links go into more detail on some of the events mentioned, plus there was originally a mention of Brown not understanding what he was signing. At your request, however, I’ve updated to include a quote Brown gave in an interview explaining his side in more detail.

    • James Darby

      It seems cut and dry to me. Brown signed over parental rights. Who signs papers without reading them?

      Also that law should apply to Native Americans, and this girl is far more Hispanic than Native American.

      Bureau of Indian Affairs states person must be at least 1/4 to qualify for any type of affiliation.

      There is a slight stipulation that also declares them a member of a recognized tribe, but the fact that Brown has less Native blood than me I question how and when he became a member of the Cherokee Nation. Based on Veronica’s percentage Cherokee Dusten would have to be 1/16 Cherokee or his great-great grandparent was full Cherokee.

      • Eve

        Dusten Brown has been a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation since he was a child

        • James Darby

          If true then I remove my questioning his Cherokee heritage. Still doesn’t excuse the fact he gave up his rights willingly. His not understanding what that meant isn’t a viable excuse in my mind.

        • carol

          I read that he denied Indian race for military purposes, and considered himself Caucasian.?? At one time, American Indians were not given high security clearances in the Military, I think it was “enemy combatant” or something????? What is the term ???

  • carol

    The child was not wanted by either of her bio-parents. The S.C. couple have legally adopted her at birth. The bio-mom agreed to this. The bio-dad didn’t care or either did not care to be financially responsible. OK, he was in Iraq. Do you think he is mentally prepared to care for her with all the mental problems (ptsd) our troops are having? Maybe he is still in “fight” mode. My heart goes out to ALL of our Native American Indians for their plight !! It seems that our American Indian population has little to offer economically or educationally. Many Indian families are destitute. I think Veronica would be better off with the SC couple that have loved her & raised since birth. Her bio-dad has had her for a year. This is against the legal law and the moral law. Return Veronica to SC.

  • Cherokee

    This child is 1/3 as much Cherokee as I am. I have been on the Cherokee rolls all my life. But this is not about being Cherokee. This is about two people who already had 3 children between them. Brown had one (and had been, at one point, $11,000 in arrears on child support on her) and Maldanado had two. They were not married, but they irresponsibly created yet another baby. I’m pretty sure they knew how to prevent it, but they were not that responsible which tells me a lot about their character. They split, the father told the mother she could have custody as he didn’t want to pay child support, so the mother put the baby up for adoption. At that point, I don’t really care who her ancestors were. She was a baby in need of a good home, and a couple of responsible people adopted the baby and gave her a stable home. Then the biological dad discovers that instead of living in poverty with her single mom and two half siblings, she is with an affluent family. What kind of man would prefer that his daughter be raised at a poverty level with her mother instead of having a comfortable life with advantages? All I can figure out is that he’s a control freak, and somebody (the mother) did something (put the baby he’d given her custody of up for adoption) without his express permission. If he’d gone at this another way, the adoptive family would probably have been only too happy to allow him to be part of her life. He’s destroyed all that now.

  • Rose Bud

    Brown is a DUNCE, & a criminal for not returning Veronica. He wanted nothing to do with her and knowingly signed over his parental rights!! Those BS excuses don’t fly. You understand what you’re signing when it comes to your child, or you get someone to help you understand. After he ripped “his” child from the only parents she’d known, he very well may have fallen in love (in the parental sense) with his daughter. But a loving parent would not have torn her from her home and not allowed her or her REAL parents have any contact whatsoever. He’s a selfish, control freak, narcissist. And the whole thing about the Cherokee tribe is bullshit. A “tribe” has more say than the woman who birthed the child? This is so f***ing oudated! I’m not diminishing their plight, but its cut and dry… he GAVE UP HIS RIGHTS, her own MOTHER found a loving couple who adored her, and she was LEGALLY adopted! They are her parents!! Now, he needs to hand her over to her parents, take responsiblity for his actions, and beg forgiveness from her adoptive REAL parents that they are not as selfish and uncaring as he was & allow him some visitation!!

    • Chenise


    • James Blunt

      My grandparents have said that from day one. Amen!

  • p funchess

    To all those who state that Baby V is not “Indian enough:”
    Citizenship is determined by Nation and they oftentimes have differing regulations. The Cherokees, like the Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Seminoles, use the Dawes Roll (that the U S Government foisted upon them). The Cherokees do not use “how much” Indian a person is for tribe membership, but if ancestor(s) on the Dawes Roll.
    One has to trace to a direct line ancestor on the turn of the last century Dawes Roll…even if you are a full blood Indian from one of these tribes, if your ancestors were not on the Dawes, then you cannot enroll. Many who have citizenship in these tribes are a lot MORE Indian (like my husband who is “officially” 1/56 but is actually closer to 1/4 or 1/8th) but cannot claim more.
    AND FYI- Hispanic is not a race but a culture. Hispanics in the USA are mostly Americas Indian and white, oftentimes with a some black. In Spain (also Hispanic culture), they are mostly white. In Cuba (also Hispanic culture), they are usually Americas Indians, white, and black….same in Puerto Rico. South America varies by country but again mixed Amercias Indians, white, and black. (Many of the OK Indian tribes were from the South and they took in escaped slaves / were slaveholders / intermarried so oftentimes part black too. )
    The natural mother says she is Hispanic: therefore she is mixed Americas Indian and white with some black possible.
    SOOO Baby V. herself would then be mostly Americas Indian and white, and probably some black.

  • Toni

    Will her adoptive parents expose her to both of her rich and beautiful heritages and culture’s? one thing is true, unlike children of slavery she wont have to search hard to find out where she comes from! We are still ripping our children from the arms of their families, has anyone try to see if other family members would raise her? Kids of parents of “means” have turned out just like kids who may be poor. Check out child “stars”! A child is know by his doings good or bad! this is a Bible fact, so having money has nothing to do with her having a better upbringing, it will provide better things but her adoptive parents love, support and raising her with morals and values and living right before her will help her grow and develop into a beautiful and amazing girl and woman!