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Raymond W. Godwin, the Greenville, South Carolina-based attorney for the Capobiancos and for another adoptive couple in South Carolina who are also illegally holding an Indian child from Oklahoma

Second Indian Infant Whisked to South Carolina for Quickie Adoption

Suzette Brewer
8/13/13

As Dusten Brown posted bail in a Sequoyah County, Oklahoma courtroom yesterday afternoon on a federal warrant for his arrest for "custodial interference" in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, Indian Country Today Media Network has learned that yet another Indian child from Oklahoma has been illegally placed for adoption in South Carolina.

RELATED: Baby Veronica's Father Accused of 'Custodial Interference' Felony

'Custodial Interference': Dusten Brown Turns Himself In

Dusten Brown Released After Posting $10K Bond

Baby Deseray, an infant girl who was born on May 13 of this year, has been confirmed as eligible for the protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act, because her mother is a member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Currently, the infant is living illegally with another pre-adoptive couple in South Carolina with no custody order in place and no signed Interstate Custody for the Placement of Children (ICPC) application on file with the State of Oklahoma.

In his petition, the baby's biological father, Jeremy Simmons, who is non-Indian, has been supported by the infant's biological Indian grandmother in seeking to return his daughter back to Oklahoma to his custody.

The South Carolina attorney who handled the adoption is Raymond W. Godwin, who was also the original adoption attorney for Matt and Melanie Capobianco in their adoption of Veronica Brown in 2009. Godwin's office did not respond by deadline on this story. Adoption attorneys across the country said that the new adoption illustrates an emerging pattern in the adoption of Indian children in the United States.

"The ICPC is a binding compact in all 50 states that creates an agreed upon way of handling the interstate transfer of children of adoption and foster care," explains Tulsa attorney Mike Nomura, who has handled all ICPC applications for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services since 1998. "Though I cannot speak about the specifics of this case, I can say that [at the time of the transfer of the child out of Oklahoma], no one was aware that she was subject to ICWA."

Nomura said he has handled thousands of ICPC applications over the years and that it is the obligation of his office to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws regarding interstate adoptions. Under Section 10, subsection 40.6 of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act, Nomura says that all attempts to find a placement for Indian children must be exhausted and in compliance before removal from a jurisdiction.

Indian Country Today Media Network contacted Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin's office to comment to the new adoption case and the implications for Oklahoma's Indian children. She did not respond.

According to Charles Tripp, attorney general for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the tribal attorneys were caught off guard in late May when they received notice from the ICPC office in Tulsa that another Oklahoma child had been unlawfully removed to South Carolina.

"She was already gone and out of the state before we even received notice," said Tripp. "The adoptive couple paid their money and took off with the kid without the required approval of either the State of Oklahoma or the Absentee Shawnee."

Tripp said that the child is currently residing with another adoptive couple without any kind of court order for custody. As attorney general of the child's tribe, he told ICTMN that he will be retaining counsel in South Carolina and going to court there to put a stop to what he calls the "human trafficking of our tribal children in South Carolina."

Significant to this case, the placement of Baby Deseray took place at the end of May, a full month before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Adoptive Couple.

"This new situation with Baby Deseray says two things," said Tripp. "First, people are mistakenly reading the decision in Adoptive Couple to say that if you want to adopt a child, go to South Carolina—there you have safe haven. And second, I want to make it clear that I am in complete disagreement with the Supreme Court's ruling last June. Especially with Roberts and Thomas, because they should have recused themselves as adoptive parents, which I and many others believe hindered their ability to read and interpret the law in a manner that is unbiased and impartial."

Tripp also said that the current trend in adopting Native American children in the U.S. carries with it the patina of colonial "missionary mentality."

"It's 'Oh, look what I did to help the poor Indians,'" said Tripp. "It's like they're going to the Third World without actually having to go overseas to get their kids. But ICWA is law for a reason, and we are not in need of their 'help.'"

Shannon Jones, the South Carolina family lawyer who represented Dusten Brown, told ICTMN that she was not surprised that Godwin has pushed through yet another adoption out of Oklahoma.

"It's very disturbing to hear that Mr. Godwin and his adoption team are at it again," said Jones. "It is these players in the industry who created and profited from these sad situations. Maybe now that another case has surfaced, maybe these [adoptions of Indian children] will stop."

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nitrat's picture
nitrat
Submitted by nitrat on
I am a retired child welfare worker & supervisor in South Carolina. I am so upset by the railroading of Dusten Brown, particularly since the case was returned from the US supreme court. That the SC supreme court ordered the SC Circuit family court to terminate his parental rights concurrent with approving adoption by the Boeing couple is PROOF that there is no evidence that Brown's parental rights had been terminated by himself (a frequent meme by the Boeing couple - I call them the Boeing couple because I believe his connection to Boeing is the reason that the Low Country SC media has been so prejudiced in this case.) or any court any where. This is so different from how TPRs are handled when SCDSS has custody of a child and Dusten Brown is just as entitled to a REAL TPR hearing as anyone who loses a child due to abuse or neglect. The SC supreme court has denied that. In my opinion, Brown's attorney made a mistake in not fighting this case on the basis of the lack of legal TPR. There was a case in the mid-west in the 90s that is very similar in many aspects - except the applicability of ICWA - to this case. The child was returned to the bio father in that case and the precedent was established that the child of a parent who has not been legally TPRed cannot be adopted. This child needs to be with the biological parent who wants her, not the Boeing baby buyers. BTW, there is widespread disregard of ICPC. I am aware of Texas willy nilly sending children to SC to be adopted and SCDSS never knowing about it until they get reports of the child being abused/neglected by the adoptive placement. Private adoption COMPANIES are bad for children. I see this adoption attorney Godwin is in Greenville, SC. That is where the adoption company that was bringing Texas kids to SC was located (before my retirement). The Greenville area is the hotbed for social conservative/Christian Right movements in SC.

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
This just gets better doesn't it people! ANOTHER native child stolen & laws ignored because of people with MONEY! What is going on here! South Carolina, I am boycotting your state for your arrogant & flagrant flaunting of law violations that relate to native children. Indian people everywhere, I urge each of you to start a boycott TODAY if you haven't already! I refuse to spend another cent vacationing in a place that ignores OUR people & the laws that are SUPPOSED to protect our most helpless citizens: Our children! BOYCOTT South Carolina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Boycott!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Idle No More, let's march for a cause that affects ALL our people & our future generations!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let the marches & boycotts start NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Al Bru
Al Bru
Submitted by Al Bru on
why dose south ca do this? cant they go to the UN since us has been doing this for hunder of year they dont even obn thir laws they have a web father right.com try that what about native american right lawer but they dint help the last time. the bbc and germen love natives maybe they can do somethin. take it to the United Nation on kiddapping

jana.snake13's picture
jana.snake13
Submitted by jana.snake13 on
We are the family of baby deseray.. We were blindsided by the adoption as was the biological father..As soon as we found out, we contacted the biological father and the Absentee Shawnee Tribe..We are very saddened by the situation and have always supported the biological father. We are looking forward to having Deseray home and THATS THE MOST AND ONLY IMPORTANT THING WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT...

nitrat's picture
nitrat
Submitted by nitrat on
To Desaray's family: Please read my earlier comment and don't make the same mistake that I feel Dusten Brown's lawyer made. The most important fact, if you cannot get your case transferred from SC, is not the ICWA. The most important thing is the legal responsibility of a SC family court to provide for an actual TPR (termination of parental rights) hearing where evidence can be presented and the case actually adjudicated. Dusten never got this opportunity. If he had, Antonin Scalia and that sorry bunch would not have had the chance to turn this into yet another step in their anti-minority agenda. Like everything his party does, he/they care more about ideology than people. That is NOT what our country is about.

John Adleman
John Adleman
Submitted by John Adleman on
Per these facts I feel Dusten should go after Christy Maldonado's initial Oklahoma attorney for negligence civilly and criminally if possible particularly considering this is the same attorney that was involved in that case. Mother's attorney forwarded this information to Cherokee Nation in a letter dated August 21, 2009. The letter also stated Father was believed to be an enrolled member and inquired whether the tribe would consider Baby Girl to be an "Indian Child" under ICWA. However, in the letter, Father's first name "Dusten" was misspelled "Dustin," and his date of birth was not accurate. Based on that incorrect information, Cherokee Nation replied in a letter dated September 3, 2009, that the unborn baby could not be traced to tribal records and therefore would not be considered an "Indian Child." However, Cherokee Nation's letter also stated, "This determination is based on the above listed information exactly as provided by you. Any incorrect or omitted family documentation could invalidate this determination." Mother testified she told her attorney the letter from Cherokee Nation was wrong and that Father was an enrolled member of the tribe; however, Mother admitted she did not know Father's correct birth date.[38] Appellants were required to receive consent from the State of Oklahoma pursuant to the Oklahoma Interstate Compact on Placement of Children ("ICPC") as a prerequisite to removing Baby Girl from that state. Mother signed the necessary documentation, which reported Baby Girl's ethnicity as "Hispanic" instead of "Native American." After Baby Girl was discharged from the hospital, Appellants remained in Oklahoma with Baby Girl for approximately eight days until they received ICPC approval, at which point they took Baby Girl to South Carolina. According to the testimony of Tiffany Dunaway, a Child Welfare Specialist with the Cherokee Nation, had the Cherokee Nation known about Baby Girl's Native American heritage, Appellants would not have been able to remove Baby Girl from Oklahoma.8 Meanwhile, in January 2010, the Cherokee Nation first identified Father as a registered member and determined that Baby Girl was an "Indian Child," as defined under the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq. (the "ICWA"). It is not apparent from the Record when Appellants were made aware of this change, but on March 30, 2010, Appellants amended their South Carolina pleadings to acknowledge Father's membership in the Cherokee Nation. Accordingly, on April 7, 2010, the Cherokee Nation filed a Notice of Intervention in the South Carolina action.12

SacredHorseGhost's picture
SacredHorseGhost
Submitted by SacredHorseGhost on
To the family of baby Desaray, know that the Absentee Shawnee Tribe is going to do everything in its power to get your baby back here to Oklahoma as quickly as possible. Desaray was illegally placed in SC, no ICPC was done, and no notice to the tribe was given. We will fight the good fight for this case. That's all I can say right now, but know we are actively working on this case and are taking this very seriously. God bless your family.

John Adleman
John Adleman
Submitted by John Adleman on
To Deseray's family. I am profoundly sorry for what these people have done to you, and your precious child. It's utterly disgraceful that people are still employing the same deceitful tactics today to circumvent god given rights. I hope, and will back up any attempts to regain your family member in any way that I can. Just take comfort if you can in knowing that there are good people in the world who will stand and fight injustice and corruption with you.

jana.snake13's picture
jana.snake13
Submitted by jana.snake13 on
Sacredhorseghost, if you don't mind me asking, are you affiliated w/the Shawnee tribe? I know the tribe is working to get baby desirei home. Home with her bio father who is not Shawnee. But like I said before both families MAIN and ONLY concern is getting desirei back to family.. at this time we ask for our privacy. I've taken a big step posting on here but we want to be left alone n not drug thru the mud like veronica family has been! Thank you to every one for it support...

SacredHorseGhost's picture
SacredHorseGhost
Submitted by SacredHorseGhost on
@jana.snake13: I am somewhat affiliated with the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, and like you, have taken a big leap posting. But I wanted to make it clear to your family that the tribe is fighting for Deseray to be returned to Oklahoma. We don't take too kindly to human trafficking of our tribal children. I understand your need for privacy, and the tribe will respect your wishes. It would be nice to hear from you by calling the tribe whenever you have the intent of going public. You have no idea how many supporters your family already has just based on this article alone. Good luck, and God bless.

jana.snake13's picture
jana.snake13
Submitted by jana.snake13 on
@sacredghosthorse, thank you for your support. at this time we are still not readyoption to go public..after seeing what the media n ppl have said about veronica's family's, we don't want to be bashed or harassed.. my mom, the child's biological indian grandmother has been incontact with the tribe since day one of us finding out about adoption.. we have not contacted the tribe since june. just waiting to see what happens.. they don't tell us much b/c they cant...

John Brown
John Brown
Submitted by John Brown on
The staff at Indian Country and Suzette Brewer really deserve to be commended for their coverage of these cases. They are currently the only news source in the United States that consistently reports correct facts in these stories tells them honestly in a way that doesn't cover up the crimes that have been commited against these parents and children and how much damage it has done, not only to them but to our society. Thank you Indian Country for your commitment to journalism, which unfortunately is apparently rare these days. You deserve the Pulitzer for you coverage of these cases.
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