Veronica Brown pets the animals at the home of her biological father, Dusten Brown, in Oklahoma.

Baby Veronica's Birth Mother Finally Speaks Out About Court Case

Suzette Brewer
7/15/13

After years of silence surrounding the failed attempt to put up her biological child for adoption, Christy Maldonado finally went public with an editorial on custodial placement in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in Friday's Washington Post. By rehashing outdated talking points, Maldonado has reanimated her position as the central figure in a case that has pitted Veronica's biological father, Dusten Brown, against a pre-adoptive couple in an epic crucible over race, class, tribal membership and father's rights.

Following the United States Supreme Court ruling last month, which held that a specific section of the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply, but the rest of the Act remained intact and in force, attorneys for Dusten Brown in both Oklahoma and South Carolina moved swiftly and decisively to follow the directions and guidance of what the court did—and did not—elaborate on in their decision to remand the case back to the lower courts for further review.

Meanwhile, the Capobianco's camp, continuing a pattern of behavior prior to the Supreme Court hearing, again released court records regarding the juvenile matter to Andrew Knapp, a reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier, though requests to release the same records to Indian Country Today Media Network were denied by the South Carolina Supreme Court because the case is sealed under state law.

But since the contents of the documents are now in the public sphere, it appears that events unfolded quickly after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on June 25. On July 1, Brown and his wife, Robin, jointly filed for custody, adoption and guardianship in Nowata County, Oklahoma. The following day, his parents, Tommy and Alice Brown also filed a motion with the District Court of the Cherokee Nation as a certified adoptive placement preference of their granddaughter, in the event that Brown's parental rights are terminated.

Under the law, however, the Indian Child Welfare Act is still applicable in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and must be followed regarding adoptive placement preference with either family members or fellow tribal members in the event a parent is found unfit or their rights are terminated, according to Indian law experts.

Beating the Capobiancos to the punch, on Wednesday, July 3, Brown's attorneys in South Carolina also filed a motion to remand the case back down to the family court in Charleston for a fulsome review and evaluation of all parties and current conditions. They argue that Veronica has been with her “fit and loving” biological father and her stepmother as part of an intact family for the last 18 months, therefore necessitating an updated determination of the “best interest” doctrine commonly used throughout the United States.

Also at issue is whether or not South Carolina should retain jurisdiction at this juncture in the case, considering that Veronica, her biological father and stepmother, her grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, healthcare providers, et al, are domiciled in Oklahoma. The Capobiancos are the only parties in the case who live in South Carolina. Therefore, experts say it beggars belief that a South Carolina Court could even make a best interest custodial placement there, since the entire family and all the relevant experts reside in another jurisdiction, which would exact an enormous logistical and financial burden on all of the parties.

Bringing up the rear, the Capobiancos closed out the first week of July by filing a motion for immediate judgment with the South Carolina Supreme Court on Friday, July 5, which means in plain English that Dusten Brown's rights would be immediately terminated, and Veronica would be transferred back to the pre-adoptive couple. In anticipation of such a ruling, the Capobiancos have offered a “transition plan” to the court in which they would move to Oklahoma to assist with Veronica's transition back to South Carolina.

Legal experts, however, say that because the case has likely reverted back to a “best interest analysis,” it would be highly unusual that the court would strip Brown's custody without a comprehensive and thorough review of all the evidence accrued since Veronica left South Carolina in December 2011.

Which brings the subject back to Maldonado's editorial in Friday's Washington Post. In her prose, she returned yet again to the infamous “text message” in which she claimed Dusten Brown “renounced” his parental rights, disregarding not only the fact that parental rights cannot be terminated via text message (even though Brown has repeatedly asserted that was never his intent), but also that that specific text message was ruled inadmissible.

Judge Deborah Malphrus refused to admit it into evidence unless the phone and the entire conversation was produced. Subsequently, the phone, which had been locked away in a safe, mysteriously went “missing” the next day at court. And along with it, the full transcript of what actually transpired between Maldonado and Brown.

Therefore, say family law experts, the “text message” that was used against Brown is without context and is therefore irrelevant to the current situation on the ground and further court proceedings that are no doubt getting ready to happen—whether they occur in South Carolina or are ceded to Oklahoma.

Additionally, it ignores the South Carolina's Supreme Court's written finding that both she and the Capobiancos twisted the facts and the strained the limits of truth to fit their legal strategy in attempting to terminate Dusten Brown's parental rights to push the adoption through without his approval or consent. Finally, it is a miraculous recovery of her memory of events that she could not seem to recall, based on her own previous court-recorded testimony.

“The optics of this case are very clear,” says one legal scholar who asked not to be identified because the case is ongoing. “This is a mother who very early on decided that she did not want this child. So it strains the imagination that this entitles her to abrogate the father's parental rights to his daughter simply because of her personal issues with him. At some point, this case has to be about what's in Veronica's best interest, and unfortunately, it's become about winning.”

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deebrks2's picture
deebrks2
Submitted by deebrks2 on
This is so ridiculous even if the biological mother didn't want this child that is her choice but ICWA was started to protect Native families from having children taken the way I see it these pre-adoptive couple have no right to this child and if raising a native child is status to this couple then they don't care about this child anyway her heritage and her culture well be lost she well grow up not feeling like she belongs in either world or treated like she belongs if these judges and lawyers would read the history of how the native americans have been treated through history or if they think they know well they don't Native American people have survived and our children and their children well to as long as this child doesn't slip through the system if this happens it well be open doors for more native children to be taken away. where I live state social workers and tribal social workers work together which is a mistake but it's about the almighty dollar taking children out of home placing them in foster care gets them the federal grants to buy and sell children everyday title IV-E tribes getting money through the state to have children in foster homes were still in yesterday times the ICWA has been revised since the original act was put on paper I knew Joe Delacruz and Goldie Denney and they had a hand in getting ICWA for the protection of native families and their children but it's turned out to be a tool to still use tactics to steal our children wake up

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
in the first place, i do NOT see what business the 'supreme' court has in the business of overriding the decision of laws of a sovereign nation, i.e. the cherokee nation....secondly, i dont understand why the capobiancos are fighting so hard to retain a non-white child they have no legal, binding ties to...this whole mess is just mind boggling...make it real simple...give the child back to her cherokee biological father and extended family and stop the madness....aiahninchi ohoyo

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
I have a few words to say in this matter. The South Carolina group of folks are grasping at straws & show just the sort of spirit they are possessed of: An evil spirit that does not like to be told they are wrong & absolutely do NOT need any children at all. This birth mother is shameful in what she is trying to pull off. I hope all here who read this commentary will start shunning her & everyone else who is trying to steal this little one of the people away from her father who loves her so very, very much. Shunning & banishments may not be a modern or PC thing to do my friends, but the ancient ways of our many people STILL hold precedence to many of us here; especially we elders. Let's join together my many friends across Indian Country & pray to the Great Spirit & His great Army of Light to intercede here & let all that needs to happen for this little one to remain with her loving father & paternal relations who love this child with no end. We do NOT sell our children for ANY amount of money my friends! They are wakan to we First Nations people! Only an evil person would try to pull what this birth mother & those evil ones in South Carolina have been trying to do! EVIL to the core; ALL of them! Let the shunning & banishment begin! Hoa!

Hui Mei's picture
Hui Mei
Submitted by Hui Mei on
I think the mother had heard that one could make money by adopting a baby out. She knew that she would be able to get a huge lump sum from a well to do couple seeking adoption vs monthly child support of a smaller amount and the responsibility of raising a child. I believe she, the Capobiancos and their lawyers intended to take this child from the father from the beginning. This woman Christy, thought she was smart enough to make money by "producing" a baby and selling the baby. Otherwise, she wouldn't have been so quick to cut the father out of her life. It's just not how relationships work. That's my opinion anyway. Babies should not be produced for sale. And bio fathers should have a say in adoption matters.

IdgieThreadgoode's picture
IdgieThreadgoode
Submitted by IdgieThreadgoode on
Ms. Brewer, it is interesting that you don't feel confined to the facts. Nowhere has it been stated that a phone mysteriously went missing. Nor did the South Carolina Supreme Court find that the Capobiancos twisted the facts. In fact, the South Carolina Supreme Court actually held that the Capobiancos did nothing wrong, that the Court was confined by its interpretation of ICWA - an interpretation which they are now free of thanks to the United States Supreme Court. You should be applauded for your delightful imagination.
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