Cherokee Child: Baby Veronica Goes Back to SC

    September 24, 2013

The years-long case involving the adoption of a Cherokee child finally seems to have an ending. Baby Veronica, as the 4-year-old child is commonly referred to, is back with her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. The Capobiancos are thrilled to have their daughter back in their arms and are heading back to their home in Charleston, South Carolina. Baby Veronica lived with her biological father, Dusten Brown, since the end of 2011.

“She’s safely in her parents’ arms,” said Jessica Munday, a spokeswoman for the Capobiancos. “It was smooth. There wasn’t any danger. Hopefully everyone can focus on healing now,” said Munday. The Capobiancos have been waiting to get Baby Veronica back since July, when the United States Supreme Court said that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) law used by Brown to get custody of his daughter didn’t apply.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted an emergency stay for the Cherokee child to remain with her father at the end of August, but the stay is now dissolved. According to Tulsa World, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office received the court order at 5 p.m. to transfer Veronica over to the Capobianocs, and Veronica was with them within two and a half hours.

“The court order was directed to us, so we served it,” undersheriff Jason Chennault said. “We gave the Browns time to say goodbye and pack some things for Veronica, some clothes and things.”

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said that the transfer of Veronica was difficult on Brown, but that everything went peacefully. Hembree also said that the case, which has went on for years, isn’t over and that more appeals may be filed. “We will assess our legal options in the morning,” Hembree said. “Is this over? I would say not.”

This case has been particularly divisive, as most people are firmly pro-biological father or pro-adoptive parents.

Baby Veronica was given up for adoption by her mother when she was born, and lived with the Capobiancos for more than two years. Veronica’s father, Dusten Brown, signed away his parental rights just as he was about to be shipped off for the Iraq War. Brown said that he didn’t know that his daughter was going to be given up for adoption when he signed the papers and fought to get her back for more than two years.

Veronica was turned over to him because of an issue with the ICWA. Brown is a member of Cherokee Nation, and according to the ICWA law, the Cherokee Nation must be notified of adoptions, which never happened. After Brown took custody of Veronica, the Capobiancos began fighting to get her back and eventually won after the U.S. Supreme Court said that the ICWA law didn’t apply since Veronica’s biological mother is Hispanic.

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