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Supreme Court ruling in Baby Veronica case didn’t end the adoption dispute

Posted Sep 16, 2013 11:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Corrected: A Supreme Court ruling in June for the adoptive parents of the child known as Baby Veronica hasn’t ended the legal dispute over her custody.

Baby Veronica just turned 4, and she is living with her father despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Washington Post reports. According to the Tulsa World, she spent the first two years of her life with her prospective adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of Charleston, S.C., and the second two years on tribal land with her stepmom and biological dad, Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation living in Oklahoma.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Indian Child Welfare Act, designed to preserve American Indian families, did not apply because Brown had abandoned Baby Veronica before birth and never had custody of the child. Brown renounced his parental rights in a text message after the biological mother asked if he would prefer to pay child support or give up his parental rights. He claims he intended only to give custody to the birth mother.

Since then, South Carolina’s top court has ruled that the Capobiancos’ adoption of Veronica should be granted. Brown sought custody in Oklahoma courts; two lower courts ruled against him, but last week the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a temporary stay that leaves the child in Oklahoma, the Tulsa World says. Meanwhile a Cherokee Nation court awarded temporary custody of Veronica to Brown’s wife and parents while Brown was at National Guard training. And Brown faces an Oct. 3 hearing to determine whether he should be extradited to South Carolina to face a charge that he failed to cooperate with court orders.

The Capobiancos have been in Oklahoma since mid-August and have had court-ordered visits with Veronica.

Says the Post, “It seems likely that another trip through the federal courts is in the future.”

Corrected on Sept. 29 to state that the Capobiancos were prospective adoptive parents the first two years of Baby Veronica's life.

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