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
August 13, 2013

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

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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."



nitrat's picture
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