Welcome home, Veronica
The Lowcountry is ready to welcome Veronica Capobianco to her rightful home on James Island in the care of her loving adoptive parents.
It is time to move past the consternation stirred up by a long, contentious legal battle over her custody.
And it’s time for those who care about Veronica to look to a happy future, which hopefully will somehow involve her biological father.
One day she will understand how, when she was 27 months old, she was sent from her James Island home to Oklahoma.
One day she will understand how she was then moved from that second loving home back to where she started.
Perhaps she will realize that the confusion and disruptions she experienced were the ironic result of too many people loving her.
And who knows, maybe she will derive some satisfaction when she learns that, in the first four years of her life, she unwittingly helped establish a legal precedent that should prevent other children from going through a similar ordeal.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. summed it up: Granting Veronica’s biological father custody of her would mean that “a biological Indian father could abandon his child in utero and refuse any support for the birth mother — perhaps contributing to the mother’s decision to put the child up for adoption — and then could play his [Indian Child Welfare Act] trump card at the eleventh hour to override the mother’s decision and the child’s best interests.”
Dusten Brown tried to claim parental authority over Veronica because, as his offspring, she is 1.2 percent Cherokee and entitled to legal protections that come with membership in the tribe.
He was given custody when she was over 2 years old. But before doing that, he had already given up his parental rights and did not pay for her support.
The Indian Child Welfare Act has a worthy basis — to prevent Indian children from being taken from their homes and culture.
Mr. Brown’s attempts to invoke this law were something else altogether. Dusten Brown had never been a father to her when he invoked the law, and she had never been part of the Cherokee tribe.
But that doesn’t mean he didn’t really love her. And it doesn’t negate her Cherokee heritage. The parents — all of them — have tried unsuccessfully to work out an arrangement so that Veronica isn’t completely divorced from her Oklahoma connections. As the dust settles, it would be in her best interest for them to persist until they find a reasonable solution.
The legal wranglings are finished. It’s time for Veronica’s story to be about a happy childhood on James Island.