Supreme Court Rules for Indian Girl's Adopted Parents
Lower court had returned Veronica to Cherokee dad
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2013 12:31 PM CDT
This October 2011 photo provided by Melanie Capobianco shows her adoptive daughter Veronica trick-or-treating, in Charleston, SC.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Melanie Capobianco)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court sided with a South Carolina couple today in a contentious adoption battle. Matt and Melanie Capobianco cared for baby Veronica since birth, until a family court ordered her returned to her biological father, Dusten Brown, at the end of 2011 when she had just turned 2; the state's highest court upheld the ruling. Brown is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and he argued that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 gave him the right to take custody of his daughter. (The act was meant to put a halt to practices that had separated Native American children from their families, Reuters notes.)

The Supreme Court threw out the lower court's ruling today in a 5-4 vote. That ruling would allow "a biological Indian father [to] abandon his child in utero and refuse any support for the birth mother ... and then play his ICWA trump card at the eleventh hour to override the mother's decision and the child's best interests," wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion. The Capobiancos were not granted an adoption, however; the case was returned to the South Carolina state courts. Tulsa World offers some background on the case: Veronica's unwed mother placed her for adoption and Brown voluntarily surrendered his custody rights four months after her adoption, in return for not having to pay child support. But he says he was tricked into doing so, and did not know the baby had already been adopted until he signed away his rights.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Jun 25, 2013 3:31 PM CDT
Isn't this the same newser that stopped reader contributed stories because of the quality/inaccuracies? This article doesn't reflect the actual story very well.
Jun 25, 2013 2:59 PM CDT
It's me, the broken record. We need to examine our attitudes toward innocent little humans because we deal with them like personal property. We do it at both ends of the age spectrum, treating children and the elderly as not human and not possessed of rights. So we start as rag dolls in a tug of war and we end up warehoused in bloodless long term care facilities not in existence for their residents but for the family members who stuff them away there. If a child is profoundly retarded most of us have no problem with parents who turn it over to an institution: is it unfair to expect parents to love their children unconditionally no matter how the bargain works out? I digressed. I know.
Jun 25, 2013 1:53 PM CDT
"Supreme Court Rules for Indian Girl's Adopted Parents" Uh, Evan, you have some fact check issue with this headline and synopsis. The Capobiancos are not the adopted parents. You even mentioned that fact in your synopsis. Then you have this: "Brown is a member of the Cherokee Nation" There are serious questions about that. He has an infinitesimal amount of Indian blood, which was pointed out in the Court's oral session . Dusten Brown was attempting to use the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 in an attempt to get back a child he gave up (reportedly by text message), didn't pay a dollar in support for and never saw and who believes the Capobiancos are her parents. Anyway, you usually do an excellent job of getting the pertinent facts into your synopsis, and verifying their veracity, so it is surprising to see this level of inaccuracy. I'm sure it's just a momentary lapse. Take care and thanks for your good work.