Baby Veronica seems to be sweeping headlines across the nation as the most loved child in America, right now. She is 3 years old, a Cherokee decent, and has one heck of an impression on people around her. In her short time so far, this charming young girl has been thrown through the ring of custody disputes longer than there has been peace. Not to mention she has been between South Carolina and Oklahoma. And you thought your ex living across town was bad.
Dusten Brown, the girls Native American father, has been trying for the past 19 months to gain custody of Veronica over her adopted parents, Melanie and Matt Capobianco of Charleston, SC. The Capobianco’s raised her for two years and have been trying to adopt Veronica since she was born in 2009.
Brown had never met the child, but legal proceedings started after he found out about the adoption. Dustin gained custody of Baby Veronica and has had her in his possession for the past 19 months when a Cherokee Nation court ruled in his favor following the 1978 federal Indian Child Welfare Act. The act gives favor to a Native American child to live with their extended family or other Native Americans to conserve tribal rituals and traditions over non-Native American people.
In June it was ruled by the US Supreme Court that the Indian Child Welfare Act does not hold constitution in this matter. Brown played no physical role in Veronica’s life prior to and following birth. Veronica’s mother, who has no affiliation with the Cherokee Nation, received no support in monetary or emotional means after refusing Brown’s marriage proposal. Veronica has been living with Brown’s parents and Robin Brown, his wife as they were appointed as temporary guardians. Brown was attending training for the Oklahoma National Guard in Iowa.
In 2011 the US Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina should have jurisdiction on who can adopt the child. The Capobianco adoption was finalized on July 31 and a transition plan was approved to gradually reintroduced Victoria to the Capobiancos. Dustin Brown was then charged with custodial interference for failing to bring Victoria to a court ordered meeting on August 4 resulting with issuing a warrant for Brown’s arrest on Saturday from South Carolina authorities.
According to Sherriff Ron Lockhart, Brown turned himself into authorities in Sequoyah County around 10 am. Brown had appeared in front of a judge but refused extradition to South Carolina without a warrant from the governor. The fugitive bond was set at $10,000, which Brown paid, and has another court date set in 30 days.
Jessica Munday, the Capobiancos’ spokeswoman states, “After 19 long months of trying this case in local family courts, state courts and the US Supreme Court, Brown has determined yet again his intent to continue to drag this unfortunate situation out further.” After federal assistance was called on, Matt Capobianco also shared, “Our daughter has been kidnapped, and I expect the situation to be treated as such.”