Anger Erupts Across Indian Country Over Baby Veronica Ruling
Within minutes of yesterday's ruling by the South Carolina State Supreme Court ordering the Family Court in Charleston to finalize the adoption of Veronica Brown to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, Indian tribes and organizations from coast to coast began registering their anger and outrage at the decision which left no room for a "best interest" determination for the child's custodial placement.
Starting with the Cherokee Nation, who angrily vowed that the case is "not over," the tribe issued an immediate statement saying, "We are outraged and saddened that the South Carolina Supreme Court would order the transfer of this child without a hearing to determine what is in her best interests, particularly in light of the fact that this very same court previously found 'we cannot say that Baby Girl's best interests are not served by the grant of custody to Father, as Appellants have not presented evidence that Baby Girl would not be safe, loved, and cared for if raised by Father and his family.'”
National Indian organizations quickly followed suit, including the National Indian Child Welfare Association, who called the decision "stunning." Today, the Association issued the following statement:
"The National Indian Child Welfare Association shares the outrage reverberating through Indian country today. It is incomprehensible that, in its decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court took the added measure of forbidding the state Family Court from holding hearings to determine what is in Veronica’s best interest. By opting to remand the case to the Family Court for the sole purpose of finalizing the adoption, South Carolina has failed to act in a manner consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision."
The Washington, D.C.-based National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) also joined in the growing chorus of fury over the termination of Dusten Brown's parental rights and removal of his biological daughter from his custody.
“We are witnessing the final steps in a forced removal of a Native child from her father, her family, and her Native community," read the statement. "NCAI is astounded and alarmed that the South Carolina Supreme Court has issued an order to transfer Veronica, the daughter of Dusten Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, to the adoptive couple and doing so without holding a hearing to determine the best interests of the child. There is no scenario in which the best interests of this three year old child will be served by removing her from her loving father and family raising her in Oklahoma. Mr. Brown pursued his right to care for his biological daughter since the moment he learned of the adoption. A removal of the child will be extremely traumatic for her and is clearly not in her best interest."
Although at the present moment, it is unclear as to what, if any, legal strategies are on the table, both the Brown family and the Cherokee Nation are being joined by teams of lawyers from across the country to determine next steps.
Just moments ago, the Dusten Brown and his wife, Robin, issued the following statement:
"We are outraged that the South Carolina Supreme Court would order the adoption of our daughter finalized without a proper hearing to determine what is in Veronica’s best interests. This child has been back with her family for 19 months and to tear her away from us, the family she loves and the only family she knows or remembers, would be devastating to her," the statement reads. "This is an Oklahoma child and her placement should not be considered by a court in South Carolina. We have contacted our U.S. Senator and encourage each of you to do the same, in order to help us keep Veronica in her home, which is a safe, loving and nurturing environment. We will never give up the fight to raise our daughter."
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.