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Baby Veronica: Cherokee Father Appeals To Senators To Keep Daughter [Video]

Baby Veronica’s Cherokee father Dusten Brown will fight to keep his almost 4-year-old daughter at home in Oklahoma despite a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that he must surrender the child to the white Charleston couple that wants to adopt her.

But the Browns aren’t giving up the custody battle. According to Tulsa World, baby Veronica’s father is now asking for help from Oklahoma’s US senators.

In a statement from Dusten Brown and his wife Robin, the couple said:

“This child has been back with her family for 19 months, and to tear her away from us, the family she loves and the only family she knows or remembers, would be devastating to her.

“This is an Oklahoma child, and her placement should not be considered by a court in South Carolina.”

At the time of writing, Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn haven’t yet commented.

According to a KTUL report, baby Veronica’s birth father and the Cherokee Nation have five days to file for a rehearing in state court. Brown has already filed litigation earlier this month to move the case back to Oklahoma.

However, the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is just one of the Native American advocacy groups that has spoken out on the case:

“[T]he decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court yesterday sends a chilling message. Like other Americans, American Indians rely on the integrity of the judicial system to protect our children. Now our faith in that system is shaken. Since the earliest contact, non-Indians have seen fit to take whatever they covet from Indian people. The sad truth is that this decision is one more chapter in that shameful history.”

As I previously reported, the case is a complicated one. I have a longer discussion that you can read by clicking right here.

A very short version is that Dusten Brown surrendered his father’s rights before the baby was born, apparently not understanding that the mother then intended to give up the baby for adoption to Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

The couple was there to receive baby Veronica at birth and raised her for the first 27 months of life. When Brown found out that the child had been removed from her community in Oklahoma, he took the fight to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

There he argued that the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) didn’t allow a white couple to take a Cherokee child if the natural father wanted custody. The state agreed and returned baby Veronica to Dusten Brown and his wife in Oklahoma, where they have been caring for the child ever since.

However, biological mother Christinna Maldonado wouldn’t give her consent to Brown to adopt his own child. She has said she will give consent only to the Capobiancos.

In June, the US Supreme Court said that the ICWA didn’t apply and that the case had to go back to the South Carolina Supreme Court — which has now ruled that Brown has no rights and that the adoption by the Capobiancos should be expedited to get her back to that family as soon as possible.

The Cherokee Nation and other Native American groups are outraged that a Cherokee child desired by her Cherokee father should be removed far from her community to be placed with an unrelated white couple in South Carolina.

Dusten Brown still has his daughter for the time being, but he now appears to have very little or no recourse under federal or South Carolina law.

Therefore, he must make a last-ditch effort to continue the fight in Oklahoma.

As it stands, Tulsa World said that baby Veronica could be removed from the Cherokee father’s home as soon as next week.

[still photo by trekandshoot via Shutterstock]

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13 Responses to “Baby Veronica: Cherokee Father Appeals To Senators To Keep Daughter [Video]”

  1. Suzi Satterfield Simola

    This is a big huge mess. She should never have been sent back to him in the first place because *he gave up his rights.* Period. Now that they've already made this into a bigger mess than it should have been made into, the kid's going to lose either way. She'd be better off with whichever family can afford her therapy. :-(

  2. Lena Theresa South Williams

    She doesn't need therapy if she stays with her father! She is in a stable and loving home with not only her father but her SISTER! Who is going through hell at the thought losing her. If these people want to be parents so bad there are plenty of children lengering in foster care. But they spent lots of $$$$$ on this kid and that's what it really about.

  3. Shirley Sanders Rice

    He ligitimately signed his parental rights away before leaving the country. He's the one that tore her away from the only family she ever knew for two years. Why does he keep saying he's the only family she knows???

  4. Clare Palmatier

    First of all no one can sign away parental rights before a baby is born. And he never provided informed consent at all. Informed consent would mean agreeing to Veronica being placed for adoption with the Capobiancos. I've never heard anyone say the Browns are the "only family Veronica's ever known". Obviously the Capobiancos raised her for 26 months (granted it was against his will but she was in their home). Verronica's family in Oklahoma are not the only family she has ever known but they are certainly the only family she remembers in addition to being her biological family. Dusty is not the only soldier to have this happen either. Imagine our own grandfathers coming home from WWII to find half their kids sold into the adoption industry? What a way to treat those who keep us safe. It's truely Orwellian. The Capobiancos situation is sad. They should have been able to trust their lawyers and agency to be honest with them and obtain INFORMED consent from both parents. But it is not Veronica's job to make them less sad, and most certainly not at the cost of her liberty for the next fourteen years.

  5. Gayle Loveland

    —After 27 MONTHS of being raised by a loving family, this guy not only TAKES her away without any preparation, but REFUSED to allow the parents to even VISIT her—this is NO FATHER—I'm just afraid he may HURT her, just so the couple can't have their daughter back—-this guy's NEVER had his supposed "daughter's" best interest at heart….

  6. Dev Brown

    Clare Palmatier Dusten testified in court that the only way he would provide and support for the birth mother while she was pregnant or the child was if the mother agreed to marry him. That is basically extortion. He also signed a consent to adopt form stating he would not contest the adoption when Veronica was 4 months old.

    Here is his testimony:
    Father later claimed he would not have "given up" his parental rights had he known Mother planned to place the baby for adoption. However, during Father's cross- examination the following exchange took place:
    Q. But you were prepared to sign all your rights and responsibilities away to this child just so as long as the mother was taking care of the child?
    A. That's correct.
    Q. And you would not be responsible in any way for the child support or anything else as far as the child's concerned?
    A. Correct.
    Q. That's correct? Is that conducive to being a father?
    A. I don't believe so.

    http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/opinions/HTMLFiles/SC/27148.pdf

  7. Alison Price

    Get that kid out of Oklahoma. The sooner the better.

  8. Alison Price

    I agree Gayle. I'm afraid for Veronica. Hope the Nowata police have their finger on the situation, they definitely know him from previous arrest (s?) "Loving family" hardly. I think we can forget any adult like transition at this point.

  9. Kathy Fry Lippmann

    I can't find any background info on this. Men are so naive when it comes to legal situations and their children and their rights. Did he really think he was just giving his ex sole custody and never ever realized she had any intentions of giving her up for adoption? Mothers have 6 months or more to change their minds about adoption so why can't this guy be given HIS OWN CHILD back to him. She seems happy and well cared for so just leave her be!

  10. Tina Thomas

    The only point of reference case here should be the Baby Richard case. However this child has been with her bio father this long and is in a stable home. Why move her after all this time? I think it's about the money. Take the kid to the reservation and Indian law will prevail.