When little Veronica comes home to her adoptive parents on James Island, Matt and Melanie Capobianco won’t be the only people rejoicing. Far from it.
During the agonizing custody battle between her biological father in Oklahoma and the Capobiancos, Veronica won people’s hearts. She will return as a beloved child of the Lowcountry.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina Wednesday ruled that Veronica should be the Capobiancos’ adopted child — just as the couple, and Veronica’s biological mother, had planned from before her birth three and a half years ago.
That decision reversed the court’s earlier decision, which sent Veronica to Oklahoma to live with her biological father, Dusten Brown. The court had based that decision on a law intended to prevent native American children from being separated from their biological families.
The courts have dealt with Veronica according to the law, as is their obligation. But this is also about the feelings of a small child.
Surely, Veronica will experience some confusion and sadness when she says goodbye to Oklahoma. But hopefully the Lowcountry’s wide embrace, combined with the Capobianco’s deep love for her, will help Veronica make a smooth transition here. And hopefully Mr. Brown, with whom Veronica has lived for 18 months, will eventually be comforted that the child he and his wife love and want to keep is well-loved here, too.
Her biological mother, Christy Maldonado, has said she chose the Capobiancos as her child’s parents and feels strongly that she belongs with them.
Mr. Brown’s lawyers are looking for ways to challenge the court’s decision. So is the Cherokee Nation, which issued a statement saying it would be in the child’s best interest to stay with Mr. Brown.
But it’s difficult to see how Veronica would benefit from more court battles. It’s time for her to become Veronica Capobianco legally, to settle into her bedroom, make friends in the neighborhood and bond with her parents once again.
In Oklahoma, Veronica is known as Little Star and has been exposed to the native American culture. She likely will want to learn more about her heritage as she gets older, and that’s appropriate. But for now, she has some catching up to do on her James Island world.
The Supreme Court ruling is scheduled to become final in five days, then Charleston County Family Court will finalize the adoption.
After that the Family Court will order her return.
All five “parents” — her biological mother, her biological father and his wife, and the Capobiancos, can show their love for Veronica by cooperating to ensure that she experiences their loving support during this transition.