Last month, the court ruled that Baby Veronica, born to native Cherokee Indian parents who were unmarried, would be returned to her father’s custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Veronica’s father, Dusten Brown, initially surrendered his parental rights. He was also not financially involved in Christina Maldonado’s pregnancy. Maldonado decided to give Veronica up for adoption, and in 2009, the Capobianco’s unlawfully became Veronica’s adoptive parents.
Under the ICWA, the entire tribe has jurisdiction over the child’s future, not just the parents of the child. The Cherokee nation was not consulted in Veronica’s adoption, making it illegitimate.
Dusten Brown took legal action 4 months after his daughter’s birth, saying he did not consent to her adoption. In December 2011, Veronica was officially put into her father’s custody. The Capobiancos have been fighting for her to return to their custody ever since. They even started a website, named “Save Veronica,” to gather signatures and petition for their daugther’s return with grassroots support.
While many people strongly believe that the court has made the wrong decision for Baby Veronica’s well being, one article argues otherwise. Marcia Zug at Slate.com claims that the ICWA is not just a loophole in adoption law, but a very important political move that must be upheld. The United States has a long history of forcibly removing Native American children from their parents and their tribes, including through the Indian Adoption Act as recently as 1967.
The Capobiancos have 90 days to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court, but nothing is currently known about the couple’s plans for appeal.