‘Baby Veronica’ Handed Over to Adoptive Parents


On Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted the emergency stay in the custody dispute over a 4-year-old Cherokee girl known publicly as Baby Veronica, effectively giving her adoptive, non-Native parents custody and possibly bringing to a close a legal battle that has spanned years and raised questions about the adoption of Native American children by non-Native Americans and the role of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

As reported by CBS News, once the order was lifted Veronica was handed over to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a South Carolina couple that has been trying to adopt the child since her birth. The Capobiancos had been in settlement negotiations with Dusten Brown, Veronica’s father, but according to reports those negotiations broke down. As a result, the dispute went back to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which determined it did not have any jurisdiction over the child and dissolved the order that had kept her in the state with Brown.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court had issued an emergency stay after a South Carolina court ordered Brown to hand over the child to the Capobiancos. Brown and the Cherokee Nation argued there were irregularities in the adoption process, that it was undertaken without his full consent, and that the South Carolina court had failed to consider whether keeping Veronica with her biological father, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was in the child’s best interests.

After the stay was lifted and the child transferred to the Capobiancos, the National Indian Child Welfare Association issued a statement criticizing the decision. “The legal system has failed this child and American Indians as well. Our prayers are with everyone concerned, but most of all with Veronica,” said Terry Cross, the group’s executive director.

Although the Oklahoma Supreme Court has bowed out of the case and custody has been effectively transferred to the Capobiancos, Brown still faces extradition to South Carolina on a felony charge of custodial interference for originally refusing to deliver custody at the direction of the South Carolina court.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy

  • nansaki13

    Well at least its over once and for all and one can only hope the child has not been emotionally damaged by all this push and pull. She really ought to have a psychological eval soon to be sure separation disorder hasn’t set in.

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      It’s over and hopefull the family and this little girl will have the opportunity to get to know each other again.

  • http://www.parajuegos.info/ Para Juegos

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court I was very proud of it. There have been ruling the hearts.

  • LisaAnne

    This is a tragedy for a child who should never have been adopted in the first place. She has a family. Adoption is for children who do not have families willing or able to raise them. Obviously this is not the case here. Shame on the Capobiancos. They should have done the noble thing and allowed Veronica to be raised by her father. “Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.”
    Poor Veronica will be so resentful and I don’t understand how they can possibly believe that their love and showering of attention will change that.