Veronica’s adoption case remains in the state Supreme Court, but those who want to see the 2-year-old girl returned to her adoptive parents on James Island continue to push for changes to the law that separated the family.
This week a newly formed group called the Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families traveled to Washington to lobby lawmakers for amendments. The group asked members of Congress to make changes to the 30-year-old Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law designed to preserve Native American families.
A Charleston family court judge ordered that James Island residents Matt and Melanie Capobianco turn over Veronica to her biological father on New Year’s Eve under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Capobiancos connected with Veronica’s birth mother in Oklahoma in 2009 after seven failed in vitro fertilization attempts.
Four months passed between Veronica’s birth and the day her father, Oklahoma resident Dusten Brown, filed for paternity and custody. Brown is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation.
Melanie Capobianco, a developmental psychologist, spoke about research into the law, according to close friend and “Save Veronica” organizer Jessica Munday. Capobianco and her husband remain under a gag order barring them from discussing their case.
“I think it’s important to recognize that Melanie would make the effort to go to Washington, D.C., to advocate for amendments to the law that essentially took her daughter from her,” Munday said. “Even if these amendments are made, it’s not going to have any impact on their actual case. It’s already in the court system and being ruled upon.”
The S.C. Supreme Court heard Veronica’s adoption case in April. The high court has yet to issue a ruling.
The Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families held a briefing Thursday in the Senate wing of the Capitol Visitor Center, a room with space for 60 people. Munday said 100 people showed up, including legislative staff members, adoption experts and representatives from the Cherokee Nation.
Thursday the coalition visited congressional offices. Sean Smith, communications director for U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said his colleagues plan to share information with the National Resources Subcommittee and the House Adoption Caucus.
“We’ll continue working with all three of those parties to find a solution,” Smith said.
Amendments proposed by the coalition include giving fit parents the right to choose guardians or adoptive parents without concern for heritage, clarifying that the Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply to family court disputes and limiting a parent’s right to revoke an adoption and the court’s ability to vacate an adoption.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ allysonjbird.