In three weeks, more than 20,000 people in the Lowcountry and across the nation have signed a petition seeking to return a 2-year-old girl to her adoptive parents on James Island.

Their names arrived today in imposing, 350-page stacks at the offices of the governor and federal lawmakers, asking those leaders to "Save Veronica."

Matt and Melanie Capobianco tried in-vitro fertilization seven times before consulting an adoption attorney and connecting with their daughter's biological mother in Oklahoma. They developed a close relationship with the woman and adopted Veronica at birth in 2009.

Four months later, Veronica's biological father, a 30-year-old Oklahoma man named Dusten Brown, filed for paternity and custody after learning of the adoption. Brown is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation, and family court judge ruled in his favor under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law designed to preserve Native American families.

The judge ordered the Capobiancos to turn over Veronica in late December.

The couple brought their daughter to the downtown office of Brown's attorney on New Year's Eve. Brown and his parents drove back to Oklahoma that night, and the Capobiancos returned to an empty house.

The case now rests in the S.C. Supreme Court, where the Capobiancos filed their brief last week.

The "Save Veronica" petition aims to preserve the girl's rights and also to draw a fresh look at the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act that determined the outcome of her custody case.

Read more later at and also in tomorrow's newspaper.