LB - Terry Marxen Chevrolet-Cadillac

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Milestones | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS |
Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : latest news : local August 29, 2016

10/1/2013 10:33:00 AM
Veronica Brown transferred to adoptive parents
Supreme Court rules Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply, Brown back with adoptive parents as of Sept. 23
Katherine Locke

OKLAHOMA CITY - An American Indian child was removed from her father's home on Sept. 23 and placed with her adoptive non-native parents in a move widely criticized by Native American groups who see the decision as one in a long struggle of removing Indian children from their homes.

The decision seems to bring to an end a tumultuous case that worked its way through courts in South Carolina and Oklahoma and went as high as the United States Supreme Court.

The little girl, Veronica Brown was at the center of the case between her biological father, Dusten Brown, a Cherokee, her birth mother and the South Carolina couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, her adoptive parents.

Veronica's father was estranged from Christinna Maldonado, her birth mother, at the time of Veronica's birth. He did not have custody of Veronica before the South Carolina court, after 18 months with the Capobiancos, ordered her transfer to Brown because of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Brown contested the adoption under the ICWA and won his case in trial court and on appeal with the state supreme court. However, he lost his case with the United States Supreme Court when a majority of the justices said the ICWA did not apply. When the case was returned to the South Carolina courts in July, the state court finalized Veronica's adoption and ordered her transfer to the Capobiancos.

After challenges in Oklahoma by Brown, which included a stay of transfer by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the stay was lifted on Sept. 23 after the court decided it did not have jurisdiction in the case. U.S. Marshalls removed Veronica from her father's home that evening.

Dusten and his wife Robin Brown released a statement a few days after the transfer recalling the instant connection he had with his daughter when he first picked his daughter up two years ago.

"We looked into each other's eyes and it was like we had always been together. That bond was instantaneous, and nothing can break it. Veronica is my child, my flesh and blood, and I love her more than life itself," Brown said in a statement.

He added that the last few days without his daughter in his home had been extremely painful.

"We are heartbroken at the loss of our daughter," the statement read. "I moved heaven and earth for two years to bring Veronica home to her family where she belongs."

The Cherokee Nation officials said they used every legal option to keep the family together, but in the end, they had to obey the law. They said they do not argue with the concept of adoption, however, they would like to see and will advocate for a greater understanding of, and adherence to, laws by the courts and adoption agencies to ensure that tragedies like this one are not repeated.

"There is no word for goodbye in the Cherokee language. We say dodadagohv'I - we will see each other again," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "History is repeating itself, as a Native American child is being forcibly relocated to South Carolina against the will of her father and her tribe."

Other Native American groups echoed those comments seeing this decision as another in a long line where the rights and best interests of the child were not taken into account.

"Our hearts are heavy at this course of events," said Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, in a statement. "The legal system has failed this child and American Indians, as well."

The transfer the case drew the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, who called on the relevant state, federal and tribal authorities in the U.S. to take all necessary measures to ensure the well-being and human rights of Veronica.

"I encourage the United States to work with indigenous peoples, state authorities and other interested parties to investigate the current state of affairs relating to the practices of foster care and adoption of indigenous children, and to develop procedures for ensuring that the rights of these children are adequately protected," Anaya said.

In the end, while national groups have sued for the protection of Veronica's rights, most are left with the memory of a long struggle that Baker said has had the same outcome today as it has over decades.

"Once again, a Native American is being told where to live," Baker said. "Once again, a Native family is being torn apart. And once again, a young Indian girl will not awaken in the home of her elders."

The Browns' final message to their daughter read, "And to our daughter, Veronica-Mommy and Daddy love you and miss you so much, and we cannot wait until we see you again. We will see you again."

    Recently Commented     Most Viewed
Mapmaker continues quest to document indigenous cultures
New documentary focuses on Native American veterans on Navajo Nation
Letter to the editor: Where do children learn to speak fluent Navajo?
Delegate Edmund Yazzie continues work for Thoreau, N.M. clinic
Pirates of the Navajo Nation under attack

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1300 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Flagstaff, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Submission links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

Find It Opinions Features Submit Extras Other Publications
Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Milestones | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS | Site Map
LB - Northland Motorsports

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Navajo-Hopi Observer is the information source for the Navajo and Hopi Nations and Winslow area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Navajo-Hopi Observer Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the site's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Navajo-Hopi Observer Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved