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]