Over the last four years, PEAR has been following the increasingly complicated custody case of “Baby Veronica.” As the story involved several states, the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act), a Supreme Court ruling, numerous other court rulings, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, and often erroneous coverage in the media, we suggest you read the history of this saga at https://www.facebook.com/StandingOurGroundForVeronicaBrown, http://keepveronicahome.com/index.php/my-daddy, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/story/baby-veronica, http://www.reformtalk.net/2012/01/06/adoptive-parent-entitlement-in-south-carolinacherokeeicwa-case-updated/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adoptive_Couple_v._Baby_Girl, and, for the adoptee perspective http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-baby-veronica-adoptees-20130925,0,1433838.story for deep background. Many other bloggers, from the adoption community and the Native American community, have also spoken up.
We believe this is a case of wrongful adoption of Veronica Brown by Matt and Melanie Capobianco. To summarize briefly, Nightlight Christian Adoptions (NCA) allowed this “open” adoption to proceed without the consent of the biological father, Dusten Brown. Furthermore, someone – whether the biological mother, her attorney Raymond Godwin (who is married to NCA’s director), and/or NCA is unknown to us - apparently deliberately falsified paperwork prior to the birth, misspelling Dusten’s name and using an incorrect birth date so that his Cherokee tribe would not be notified, which is a requirement for a child with Native American heritage. Had the tribe been contacted, the adoption could not have taken place.
The Capobiancos were permitted to raise Veronica until she was two. At that point, the court in South Carolina ruled that Dusten had not knowingly given up his parental rights. Veronica was given to him, as she should have been as soon as the adoption was contested. Yet the Capobiancos refused to accept that decision. Over the last two years, the Capobiancos have been relentless in their pursuit of this child. They took this case public, exposing Veronica’s privacy in perpetuity and using Dr. Phil and adoptee-locator Troy Dunn as part of their PR machine to sway public opinion and the courts in their favor. They have had Dusten arrested and are now suing him for legal fees that were provided to them pro bono, travel fees to cover the media/publicity appearances they made (which are normally paid by the media, such as Dr. Phil).
Not only have the Capobiancos done their utmost to procure this child through what we believe are fraudulent, deeply unethical means, but they, their adoption agency, and their lawyer have betrayed the basic concept of what adoption is meant to be: providing a family for a child who has none. Fortunately, Veronica’s case has garnered so much attention that she will be able to realize how her father fought to keep her, despite the machinations of the Capobiancos and their team. (For details, go to http://www.reformtalk.net/2013/09/23/spotlight-on-south-carolina-adoptions-and-nightlight-christian-adoptions/).
We are extremely disheartened that the courts in this country have allowed this adoption to take place. Numerous adoption laws have been broken. South Carolina and Oklahoma do not have open adoption regulations that can be enforced. Given the animosity the Capobiancos have shown toward Dusten, we sincerely doubt they will allow Veronica’s father to be a regular presence in her life, or that they will be speaking of him and his extended family (as well as the Cherokee Nation) with the respect and love he deserves.
We fear for Veronica’s mental and emotional health, as she has been removed from the home of her father, step-mother, step-sister, and many other relatives and friends, and taken thousands of miles away to live with a couple who has shown the utmost disdain for her family while claiming that their custody is in “her best interest.”
Most important, however, is that this child has rights of her own. Veronica has the right to be raised by a competent, loving biological family. Prospective adoptive parents, their adoption agencies, and their adoption attorneys should not be allowed to trample on a biological father’s (or mother’s) rights. They should not be allowed to encourage biological mothers to deliver in a state (especially one with lenient adoption regulations) that is not their legal residence. They should not take their private situations public. They should pay utmost care when preparing paperwork that determines a child’s future. They should not feel justified, with an overwhelming sense of entitlement, to another person’s child.
The tragedy of this case highlights the inequity between determined adoptive parents and the rights of the adoptees and their biological families.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.