Suzette Brewer
Veronica, 3, at the home of her biological father Dusten Brown in Nowata, Oklahoma.

Some Disturbing Facts About Baby Veronica's Birth Mother

Suzette Brewer

It was the end of a long, bizarre week in which the ongoing battle between Dusten Brown and Matt and Melanie Capobianco became even more contentious with accusations of bad faith, court orders and competing media interviews, capped off by the dramatic issuance of a felony arrest warrant. Late Friday night, as word of the warrant began gaining traction, Lori Alvino McGill, attorney for Veronica's birth mother, went on the Facebook page Standing Our Ground for Veronica Brown to argue with supporters for the Brown family.

In heated exchanges laced with name-calling and bad spelling, Ms. McGill again publicly excoriated Dusten Brown and vociferously defended her client's actions in turning her infant daughter over to Matt and Melanie Capobianco in September 2009.

“...Y'all should ask Dusten aka Dustin why his name is spelled 'Dustin Dale Brown' on a public court order requiring him to pay delinquent child support to yet another woman, for yet another illegimate [sic] child that he spawned,” she wrote. “The fact is that every court to have looked at this case has rejected the idea that Dusten was trying to do the right thing but was misled by his pregnant girlfriend....”

“And, FYI, absentee impregnanters [sic] are not entitled,” she later posted, “to information about the childcare plans made by the women whom they have knocked up. This has been the law for decades.”

A return to the facts. The only two children Dusten Brown has, according to his ex-wife, Rachel Reichert, is Kelsey Brown, who was born two years after they were married in 2001, and Veronica, whose biological mother was Brown's ex-fiance. And it is a matter of court record that, in spite of the recent rulings against Dusten Brown, her client, Christy Maldonado, was never found to be credible in any of the court proceedings in South Carolina.

“It is rather unseemly for an officer of the court to be on Facebook at that hour—or any hour—arguing the facts on behalf of her 'client' who is not a party in this case,” observed a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who works on Capitol Hill. “The serious practicing attorneys I know would never bother with that kind of thing. It's just not appropriate. But it is pure comic gold. You can't make this stuff up.”

Humor aside, the recent emergence of McGill as “a voice” for Veronica's birth mother, who has never spoken publicly save for a heavily-edited opinion piece for the Washington Post in June to advocate for the Capobiancos, has begun to raise questions about Maldonado herself. Over the years, Brown has never gone on the record about his ex-fiance and has never publicly spoken ill of his daughter's biological mother.

But a review of court documents in Oklahoma and in interviews with those who knew Maldonado prior to and during her engagement and pregnancy with Dusten Brown, reveal a portrait of a woman with a history of turmoil in her relationships, featuring restraining orders, lawsuits, Court Appointed Special Advocates and ongoing custody and child support disputes with her two older childrens' father.

“All along, she has been painted by the adoption team as this saintly, Thomas Kinkade-hued single mother who was raising two kids and selflessly gave her child to an infertile couple,” says a former friend. “That's been the narrative. But the reality is that it's common knowledge in Bartlesville that Christy Maldonado does not have custody of her two other kids. They are living with their paternal grandmother in Oklahoma. She's actually the one who pays child support and has visitation.”

Additionally, Indian Country Today Media Network has learned that Maldonado did not, in fact, receive any compensation for birth expenses from the Capobiancos. The birth of Veronica came at the expense of the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma via the state's Medicaid program, SoonerCare.

In 2008, the year that she became pregnant with Veronica, Maldonado claimed $1,800 a month in income on a child support worksheet and had been working as a cashier at one of the Osage Nation casinos at the time of her pregnancy. As a full-time employee, she would have had access to health insurance through the tribe; or, alternatively, because Dusten Brown is a tribal member, she could also have received maternal health care at one of Oklahoma's tribal Indian Health Service facilities. Brown even encouraged her to have their baby at a military health facility.

Adoption attorneys also point out that many health plans provide for adoptive couples in covering the medical expenses for the birth mother and child, so the Capobiancos could have also used their own health insurance to help pay some of the costs for prenatal care, labor and delivery.

But, shortly after she became pregnant, Maldonado disappeared and declined any contact with Brown or his parents, all of whom testified in court that they had tried numerous times to reach out to help her, despite her claims to the contrary.

Maldonado had battled her ex-common law husband, Joshua Thompson, in court since their divorce in 2006, which was filed by Thompson as the petitioner. Since that time, the two have fought over custody and child support too many times to count.

In 2008, she reconnected with Dusten Brown though she had stayed with him off and on since her separation from Thompson, according to former friends. Although she was working, Maldonado was behind on her mortgage and other bills; she had been through yet another expensive, bruising legal battle with her ex, and she had been ordered to pay him $252 a month in child support and 63 percent of their children's medical expenses.

Brown, who had known Maldonado since they were both in high school, offered to help her get out of debt. In an interview last March, Brown told ICTMN that he knew she was stressed about money and said that he had saved about $7,500 and had offered to give all of it to her to pull out of her financial downward spiral. But she refused.

“She told me she 'had a plan,'” he said at the time. “But I didn't know that the plan was to put Veronica up for adoption. I offered to give her everything I had, but she didn't want it.”

Later, in 2009, friends noticed that the old Honda Civic that Maldonado had been driving courtesy of a family member who was making her car payments for her, was suddenly traded in for a large SUV that she began driving around Bartlesville. Additionally, she had mysteriously regained her financial equilibrium and was able to get caught up on her mortgage.

“Christy Maldonado is a piece of work,” said one insider. “Dusten's life in the military requires a lot of responsibility and time away from families and it comes with a lot of strings. She couldn't handle that and took it personally, like he was blowing her off. But he was working and she didn't like the demands of his job. So when she got pregnant, she had no intention of keeping the baby because the reality is that she didn't want to pay more child support and fight over another kid. And he blindly believed that she would never do something like this. But the irony is that here she is fighting over another kid and would rather seem him go to jail than have custody of Veronica.”

In court testimony, Matt Capobianco admitted on the stand in South Carolina that he and his wife had given Maldonado money, which accounts for the record time in which Maldonado pulled out of her financial chaos. Under Oklahoma law, however, there is a $1,000 limit to what birth mothers can be paid. Any more than that requires court approval, according to an Oklahoma adoption attorney. Those in the adoption industry say the state limit is often ignored when a desperate couple is seeking the assistance and cooperation of a birth mother who may be in financial straights.

The Capobiancos also testified that they paid for Maldonado's attorney fees and bought Christmas gifts for her and her two other children in 2009, as well as covering her airfare and expenses to travel to and from court hearings in South Carolina for trial. On the stand, Melanie Capobianco said that she and her husband had spent between “$30,000 to $40,000” for Veronica's adoption. But those expenses are now two years out of date, though no formal audit has ever taken place regarding the expenditures and receivables on either side. It is widely acknowledged, however, that the appellate and Supreme Court practitioners and their staffs worked pro bono for both parties in Adoptive Couple.

Additionally, it is unclear whether Maldonado claimed any of the funds or gifts she received from the Capobiancos or any of their supporters in the last four years as income, which may be taxable under IRS laws.

Last month, Maldonado, with a group of nine other women, filed a federal lawsuit in South Carolina seeking to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act because of its “race-based” placement preferences. The litigation could have profound negative outcomes for Indian tribes across the country, including the Osage, from whom Maldonado has also benefited as an employee.

Officials for the Osage Nation of Oklahoma could not be reached for comment regarding Ms. Maldonado's extracurricular activities in filing anti-Indian litigation with far-reaching consequences.

For Maldonado, however, there is one bright spot.

McGill, in her midnight chat with Brown's supporters on Facebook, helpfully pointed out the she is working pro bono on Maldonado's behalf.

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Just as I thought & many others as well. This gal is a disgrace & a piece of work. Shameful is what she is. If she is an Osage tribal member she should be thrown off the rolls & lose her job for all the lies she has been telling.

nokomis's picture
Submitted by nokomis on
"Some disturbing facts" is correct and wondering why ICTMN continues to post this innocent child's picture in all it's opinion pieces? This is a difficult situation all around and as one reader commented, "How much trauma does Veronica need to endure before someone stands up and says enough? This child should have never been put in this position. She has been the victim here all along. On December 31, 2011, an innocent child was put into a pick-up truck and driven away from her mommy and daddy. Her mental state was ignored, when pulled away from the adoptive parents. If the birth father cared, he would have made the transition easier for all. He would have allowed the adoptive parent's visitation. Therefore, any media that encourages outrage is only going to put Veronica and everyone involved in danger. This isn't good for anyone. For everyone's sake, we need a peaceful ending to this travesty. This isn't about selling newspapers. This is about returning a little girl back to her home and to her legal parents."

azpark's picture
Submitted by azpark on
Shame on you ICT for dragging this girl through the mud. Everything you say may be true but none of it is relevant to the case. It just sounds like cheap payback.

hesutu's picture
Submitted by hesutu on
Fantastic investigative reporting. Congratulations on a job well done. The "Dustin Dale Brown" finding is quite amazing. This is a large country and many people have the same name, as any competent attorney or other legal professional readily knows. The surname Brown is one of the most common surnames in North America. Just a very small amount of research shows that there is a Dustin Dale Brown in West Virginia who was arrested in May for destruction of property at age 19. We also find another Dustin Dale Brown who purchased a $106,667 property in 2011 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We also find another Dustin Dale Brown, age 25, of Perry Missouri who was arrested for driving without a license when he was 20. There are Dustin D Browns in Bastrop Louisiana (age 38), Cameron Wisconsin (age 54), Wentzville Missouri (age 34), Moonville Missouri (age 40), Temecula California (age 37), Defiance Missouri (age 33), Neoga, Illinois (age 30), Lauderdale, Minnesota (age 30), Zion, Illinois (age 31), Santa Clara, California (age 29), and on and on and on - at least 37 Dustin D Browns nationally. None of these are Dusten, and Dusten never goes by Dustin. Those are all different people. Yet this attorney not only submitted the wrong name in the first place, but, knowing perfectly well that she is using the wrong name, she has gone and tried to pull up some random Dustin and claim that Dusten is that guy. Wow, this is almost as bad as those banks foreclosing and emptying houses they didn't even hold title to. Except that was a bunch of random idiots that didn't know what they were doing, in this case the attorney has spent a few years now trying to destroy Dusten's life, prancing about in harmony with the PR agent who is continually spewing forth article placements and internet comments attacking Dusten's characters calling him every name in the book - including deadbeat dad, which is amazing since this research has shown that the mother is actually a deadbeat mother who was a bad enough mother that a judge ordered her kids taken away. Judges don't take kids away from the mother lightly either, there is always some real problem. Wonder what it was. In any case, it is a cynical and malicious lie these people have been imposing on Dusten, and these creeps have even attained the collusion of justices on the Supreme Court who have gotten their hands filthied with the muck that is this attack Dusten in particular, and lately, our people and our tribal sovereignty. No competent attorney would get the id mixed up and start pushing forth a false connection with some other person. This is a malicious attempt to pull a fast one on the public. Washington DC insider Attorney Lori Alvino McGill, good personal family friend of US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, should be censored and disbarred for such unethical shenanigans. John Roberts should be investigated to find out why he did not recuse himself from a case spearheaded by a close friend, and impeached if any irregularities are found. We simply can not have corruption in the highest court.

Paula Burton
Paula Burton
Submitted by Paula Burton on
My support for Veronica Rose and her father is more on the side of equal rights. The father should have the same rights to raise his children as women but the laws are not equal women have fought for special rights not equal. At birth the father is presumed responsible for the financial support of his child why is it that he is not presumed to have the rights that these responsibilities give? All this time we have been given the picture of a loving mom who cant afford to raise three children alone and it turns out she was in a financial hole because she wanted to be a dead beat mom (are you aware that statistically there are more dead beat moms than dead beat dads?) so she sold that beautiful child to a pair who have shown time and time again they are unfit to be given the rights to a dead rat let alone a live child. They want to "save" her and no doubt medicate her when she turns out not to spend her life thanking them like they want her to do. This is child abuse they want to perpetrate and if they are told they can do what they want to do to her the abuse can only escalate.

curtj's picture
Submitted by curtj on
Where are the so called Indigenous leaders while this is going on. "Feathering their pockets" some where else. If you notice, no Indigenous leaders ever say anything in support of Indigenous issues, content to hold their hands out and receive money in exchange for saying nothing about stolen lands and resources affecting their Tribes. They are too used to holding their hands out for money in exchange for allowing thieves to come in and steal their lands and resources, without one iota of thought about their own Tribes kicking the thieves off their lands and developing those resources themselves. They have no thoughts about going to the United Nations and seeking reparations for resources and lands stolen already. So much for our Indigenous leaders.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
In all honestly, everyone involved in this case is terrible. The bonds children form with their families at an early age are very very important to their development. Tearing a child from one house to another is extremely damaging. First of all, adoption creates a lasting impact, even when it goes well. But, on top of that, taking a little girl away from the only family she has known at the age of two is just cruel. Barring abuse, that shouldn't happen. A child that age doesn't have the capacity to understand- all she would have known was that she couldn't see her mother and father anymore. And yes, after two years of growing up with them- they would have been her mom and dad in her mind. Then... to make matters worse, she gets two years of bonding with another family- only to be pulled away from them. It's not right. If the father cares about what is best for the child, he will leave this be and visit her regularly in her new home. He will stay a part of her life as her biological father, and will allow her to have her other family as well- not as a matter of social justice, but simply in the best interest of helping the child form healthy attachment bonds without further disruption.

Veronica McNiff's picture
Veronica McNiff
Submitted by Veronica McNiff on
This child, Veronica, is better off with loving adoptive parents.

Kyle's picture
Submitted by Kyle on
This is just another example of injustice in the so called justice system. Unless this guy is a ex murderer or ex drug dealer there is no way this beautiful lil girl should be taken away from her biological father. I don't give a damn what anyone says. This couple that keeps pursuing for custody should be a damn shame of themselves. They are plenty of children out there for their asses to adopt. But they wanna pursue this child probably out of plain spite imo. People in this world do this type shit all the time ( Evil behavior). This childs mother was probably a low life that wanted to be free of the burden of her child. But the courts no matter what always side with women in these issues. Always paint them out to be something that some of them are not. It's a stacked deck for a man when going to custody court to pursue anything!

Haven's picture
Submitted by Haven on
What a slanted piece of "journalism". Neither of Veronica's biological parents were admirable, neither made mature or careful decisions - it was a perfect storm. Thankfully, ONE of them understood that Veronica deserved better. Any attempt to paint Dusten/Dustin as an angel and eager father is an outright lie. What's laughable is that while attempting to portray Maldonado as a terrible person, one must question WHY saintly Dustin was so deeply involved and desired to marry her? Let's face it, they're both screw ups and that sweet baby (who barely has a drop of native blood) is with the right parents. Hopefully she can grow up without any additional media attention.

Julianna's picture
Submitted by Julianna on
Both parents of this poor little girl are trash. She would be much better off with the couple who has been trying to adopt her. What a shame... if this child has any chance of becoming a responsible, functioning adult, it won't be by being raised by these scum.

Tim's picture
Submitted by Tim on
Why is this referred to as a Cherokee case when the child in question is only1.2% out of 99% Native and both her and her father are basically 100% white? What a joke. This family is white, the adoptive parents are white, this is not a native vs white issue atall and should not be reported as such. It is even laughable to do so, and the Cherokee nation has such low standards if they consider this to be Cherokee. This is where blood quantum truly dos matter. and is needed. if we allow every tom dick and harry into our tribes, there would be n "real" natives left. It is the only thing helping to preserve us, along with our culture and ways, with so many people claiming native ancestry and fake family myths. Thank goodness the court ruled this as being NOT a a native issue and to low to be considered Native, as dusten brown only used the native law and his "nation" to benefit him and that he was a Cherokee when he needed the benefits, money and support.I doubt before that he really cared about the Cherokee nation. Also, the Cherokee nation is pretty much a whitemans tribe now, and it s really sad to see that they let everyone who has one ancestor 1000 years ago in. Yes it is about spirit and self identifying as Native and being one with our culture and supportive of our people, but WE have to draw a line at who is Native and who isn't, as if we get people like Dusten brown claiming he is native when he really isn't and isn't eligible for most legit tribes in north america, or status/blood quantum,our court systems, and laws protecting TRUE natives will never be able to help thoughs in need and the court will not be able to as it will be PACKED. As Native people, we need to stop trying to be everyone's friend sand not letting everyone and their dog into our tribes/nations., and we need to stop saying blood quantum does not matter when it very much does, especially in theses cases where thoughs who say they are aren't or are very very low percentage. Please keep the laws as is about blood quantum and most tribes following 1,2 and 1/4 as being max, and i hope they can get more strict ruling on metis cards aswell, as it will probably become like Cherokee nation soon, as there is no standard/blood quantum for that aswell, and everyone will claim it if they can. They need that soon! We need to enforce this. We also need to make it so only 1/2, 1/4, and full blooded Natives can be chiefs, etc and the people put in charge of support groups,organizations, protests, and, are all educated within and outside of reservation,are educated, have a broad opinion/view point, know our culture, traditions, language, etc 100%,and are in it to actually help our people, not just get money from or steal it from us, we need to create positive role models and decisions for our people and for future generations, and it is important we have adequate people representing us., who will help give people a positive outlook and opinion about us, this need to happen sooner then later, and can only with the help of TRUE natives And we need to make it extremely strict about who can join and who can,t and who can vote for the chiefs, should only be thoughs who live on reservation, as they know what it is needed for improvements and helping our society.

Tasha's picture
Submitted by Tasha on
Thats Not even the Lawyer that up at this hour saying things about this father!A Lawyer wouldn't do that! Come on ppl its for this News website to get YOU to read there dam article duhhh! Come on now! Some ppl r so gullible! America What is this country coming too,wake up and mind ur own problems stay out of other! Because I'm positive WE ALL have at least one That We could be fixing right now instead of reading this JuNK!

Kit's picture
Submitted by Kit on
The bio Dad should have gotten Veronica. The bio Mom did all of it behind his back. She was with Dustin longer then with the family who paid to adopt her. Give her back!!

No name given's picture
No name given
Submitted by No name given on
Why do I feel like this article was written by a high schooler? Is this your states idea of "investigative" journalism? Seriously, I felt like I was reading an article in the Hammond High golden bear! Barely serious storytelling for a very serious matter!

Linda Spalding's picture
Linda Spalding
Submitted by Linda Spalding on
Parent wantabes should be forced to take a psych exam and pass it before they are allowed to have kids. This is childish behavior. If the child will be loved give it to that parent, if not give it to a couple that wants it, will love it, and support it as well as nurture and provide help to achieve success in life.

dreamflyer's picture
Submitted by dreamflyer on
You can all say anything you want about this woman...but in the end....she did not get an abortion and kill this child ...that is saying something!!!

roberta lee's picture
roberta lee
Submitted by roberta lee on
She's a very pretty little girl ,just adorable , I can imagine the interest she would bring to all the parents (biological and non-biological) in raising her, I hope it all gets sorted out and not be too hurtful to any of those directly involved, in other words I hope it is a good compromise for all.

zoots's picture
Submitted by zoots on
How is this child native??Her father looks 100% white and her mother is either black or spanish.Why do people feel if they have one relative with some native in them that it makes them native.Trust me no tribe thinks of you that way at all!!!