Sunday, October 27, 2013

PEAR Statement on "Baby Veronica" Case

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,,,,, and, for the adoptee perspective,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

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.


Anonymous said...

I personally found this case heartbreaking. The little girl at the center is a person but the adoption attorney and the agency, along with her biological mother made her a commodity to be purchased at a high price, and then the couple who pursued her adoption turned her into a prize to be won. The only people who actually treated this child with unselfish love were her father and stepmother and her other extended family who supported him in his Solomon-like decision to put her needs above his own, and removed her as the prize in this game of human tug-of-war by letting her go.It is criminal how the other side were allowed to vilify him and demonize him, smearing his good name, and the good names of his family and the Cherokee Nation in the name of "saving" a child who never once needed saving from her biological family. It is even more sad that they were allowed to do this but if supporters of Dusten spoke up they were hit with a barrage of lies and written abuse. For some involved this was a case of not only her biological family being denied her but also her Indian heritage, and when this was pointed out, this truth was skewed and an entire culture ridiculed. This case was irregular from the start with the lies and manipulations and a couple who pursued an "at-risk" adoption with the single-mindedness of a deadly predator. And what is worse, now people involved want to dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act that should have protected Veronica rather than strengthening it so this cannot happen again. They cite that this is necessary in order to "save Indian children." But when asked why they only save the newborn Indian children while those who are older are left alone, they refuse to answer. So now that you know my feelings on the matter, what can we do to stop these predatory types of adoptions where the rights of fathers and other biological family are legally trampled by manipulation of the system?

Diane Reardon said...

Of course the Capobianco's won't allow Veronica to have a relationship with her daddy. That would destroy all of their "hard work" to get her away from her family. The problem with this whole thing is that, as a four year old, she will always remember her daddy and he will never be Matt Capobianco. And when she is old enough to do any research, she will find out exactly what the Capobiancos did to her family (again, not the Capobianco family) and she will be very angry. Almost every adult adoptee agrees that this will not end well for the Capobianos and the family they fought so hard for will go up in dust. They will grow old alone, while Veronica goes home to her true family - not the legislated one that was forced on her.