Dusten Brown holds Veronica in his attorney's office in Charleston after taking custody of her December 31, 2011. (Provided by Dusten Brown via The Post and Courier)

Supreme Court Agrees to Consider 'Baby Veronica' Case

ICTMN Staff
1/4/13

On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review the 'Baby Veronica' adoption case.

The custody case pertains to a 3-year-old Cherokee girl born in Oklahoma in 2009 to an unwed couple, the non-Native Christina Maldonado and Dusten Brown, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. Without the father’s consent, Maldonado agreed to pre-adoptive placement. When Brown learned of the adoption, he immediately sought custody of Veronica, who was living with the adoptive couple, South Carolina residents Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

On December 28, 2011, the South Carolina Appellate Court ruled the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) trumped state law. On New Year’s Eve, Brown took his daughter home to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a neighboring city of the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation.

The Capobiancos requested the state’s supreme court reconsider the case, and on July 26, the court upheld Veronica’s return, noting the family has “a deeply embedded relationship” with its heritage. On August 23, the court denied the couple’s appeal for a rehearing.

The attorney of the adoptive parents submitted a 142-page petition in October arguing the Supreme Court justices should rehear the case to clarify how the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act should be interpreted, according a White House blog.

“At issue in the case is the definition of ‘parent’ under the federal law, including whether that includes an unwed father who only belatedly claimed parental rights,” the blog states.

The highly publicized custody battle has been hotly debated on CNN and the Dr. Phil Show, which the National Indian Child Welfare Association criticized as heavily slanted toward the Capobiancos’ recounting of the situation and misrepresenting of both her loving, biological father and the ICWA.

An Indian adoption case testing the strength of the ICWA has been reviewed only once previously by the highest court. In 1989, the US. Supreme Court sided with Mississippi’s Choctaw tribe, which challenged an adoption of twins. In a recent TV interview with Charlie Rose, Justice Antonin Scalia said that case has been the most challenging decision he has made in his more than two decades of serving on the Supreme Court.

“I found that very hard. But that’s what the law said, without a doubt,” Justice Scalia said.

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Dusten Brown has no heart here... I can't believe he had the nerve to go after a couple who lovingly had the baby for first 2 and half years of her life only to take her away thanks to your stupid Cherokee law!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
If the petitioning parent had been a white woman, then the matter would have been quickly resolved in favor of the petitioning parent. However, this is a red man who is seeking custody of his child so his chances are slim and none with Slim having left town. The US Supreme Court may do the right thing in a case that has been adjudicated ad nauseum but one never knows.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I think she should be with her biological father. It would be different if he were found to be unfit. A child, no matter their ethnic heritage, should always be with their biological family if there are no risks to the child. I think the adoptive parents need to do what is right by this little girl. He looks like he really loves her.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
this is a very personal issue to me . if the natural father has come forward to raise his daughter and the law has upheld his rights let it stand as that . indian children need to be raised as such even with mixed blood to understand who they are

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
To the person who called this stupid Cherokee law .,....this is federal law!!! For hundreds of years native children have been removed from their parents...

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
It is my understanding that Dusten Brown was unaware of the actions of the mother, and I see nothing wrong with a father wanting to be father. Society frowns on those that abandon their children and Child Protective Services take children away from their families for years at a time before returning them with feelings for the foster families that have "a deeply embedded relationship." t is about whats best for the child and if Mr. Brown is able to provide all the basic necessities that the adoptive parents were providing, then I say Veronica should be with her biological father. Indian Child Welfare Act or not.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
How can you say this man has no heart. Women who do not inform the father they are pregnant and send their OWN child off to strangers without giving the father a chance to be a parent is heartless.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
We all know why this law was enacted!!!! Way too many native children were flat out taken away and placed elsewhere. They had no history, roots, family or tribe to support them. Many felt lost when they became adults and didn't know why. I am sorry but a tribe is important in a childs life. Native families are close. Why in the hell do white people alway think they are better or know more than a native? I will tell you, I am white but raised around many different tribes in the 13 western states. I fought for this law, also. I had many friends that suffered horribly because they felt left out, felt alone, felt sad when they were placed in the white world. My kids were raised by me in the white world but ALWAY kept in contact with their family and tribe and with their dad and aunts and uncles. They have roots in that nation. Kids are taught things daily from native parents. Just because the white world doesn't think those things are important, believe me they are. From the first breath to the last they are native. You bet, I want this to go to court. I want the truth out there so whites and others understand the reason for this law. Many babies and children were taken away from single moms or were given up without input from the biological father and that is wrong. I have boycotted Dr. Phil's show since the showing of this mess and felt Dr. Phil had no idea what the hell he was talking about when it comes to natives. They love their children!!!! What the hell is wrong with people? This childs dad should be in her life!!!!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Dustin Brown HAS a heart and a child of his own. How dare you! This is the exact reason for the law! To PROTECT native children from what has happened to this sweet child!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Dusten Brown has every right to have his child and raise her in the Cherokee tradition. It is nice that there are people who take in children when needed but in this case where the biological father wants his child back and raise her in the tradition of his family, especially since she was taken without his consent, It should be granted. What most people don't understand with the Native culture is that the whole family including and up to grandparents play a very important role in raising the child. This man is not going to be alone in raising her. She will be showered with loving caring parents. It's society that thinks they can do better just because they think their way is better. Do you think it would be the same if it were a puerto rican or Jewish or german.. NO because society has stigmatized Native Americans as poor illiterate beings, Which is just the opposite.. There are more Native American groups that support the Go green projects, taking care of our Earth to preserve what we have and prevent further destruction. Charity groups are head by a lot of Native Americans as well as a sober lifestyle for those who have addictions. Family and culture are very strong in the Native American populations Ihave had the plasure to work closely with. She is his flesh and blood. It doesn't get any closer than that. Put yourself in his shoes. If someone took your baby without your consent, wouldn't you fight to get him/her back?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I stand behind Dusten on this, he had no say in it but the baby is still his either way you look at it. If those judges rule in the other family's favor than I will lose all faith in the justice system because they are a bunch of crooks. The father and the baby are both Cherokee so leave Dusten and the baby alone and let them live in their Native ways. The US Supreme Court should do the right thing and let the baby live with her biological father and not with some random white family that knows nothing about Native Cherokee culture.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Veronica is Dusten Brown's daughter. He loves her and has fought for her. If I am not mistaken, some of the delay was due to his being in the military as well as not finding out Veronica's mother was even pregnant. I hope he succeeds in his case.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
To the commenter who said Mr. Brown has no heart and "has the nerve..." The article said he never gave consent for the adoption, was unaware, and when he found out about the child he immediately filed to have the child placed with him. The article does not say he took 2 1/2 or 3 years. The article says the appellate court granted him custody approximately 2 years after she was born. If that's the appellate court, then obviously he filed suit and a trial dragged on at the lower court level. THEN the case went through the appellate court process and then finally Mr. Brown was awarded custody. How about the couple has no heart to challenge the ruling, when the father of the child was originally not informed and did not give consent for the child to be adopted.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Why say anything if you are posting "Anonymous"? Keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. You don't know him. He has his daughter back and that is what is right. If the mother was a woman she should have told him that he was going to be a father and let him decide if he wanted custody of his child. No thanks needed for Native Law. You are an intruder here so shut up.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
He didn't want the child, then had her taken from the safety of the only home she's known. It's child abuse.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Look at that baby girl, she favors her father. I am so sorry the biological mother did not identify the baby as part native. The ICWA is a law for a good reason. To the adoptive parents: spend your money to adopt a non-Indian child. Stop putting this child and her biological father in the court system. The decision to return the child to her Indian father will not be reversed. You are only adding to the heartache you experienced when the truth about the child's true ethnicity was revealed. Indian children belong with an Indian family.

anonomys's picture
anonomys
Submitted by anonomys on
Mr. Brown had every right to take Veronica. The adoptive parents should let her go and be allowed to have supervised visitation rights. The law is the law.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Dustin Brown is not Native American, he is Caucasian. This is obvious. Therefore, the federal law does not apply in this case.
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