There is a huge case here in Oklahoma right now that has literally had me in tears followed by anger at the whole system. The case I am speaking of
is the Baby Veronica custody battle. She really isn't a baby any longer, but is now 4 years old and is currently living with her biological
father's parents who were awarded guardianship by the Cherokee Nation.
Let me back up and give some background on the case and why it should be so important to all men, be they fathers or not. I am starting to find that
this is only one sad story among many and it is a frightening trend that has mainly slipped under the radar until now, at least as far as I have seen.
Keep Veronica Home
September 2009 - Veronica was born in Oklahoma and taken to South Carolina without her father’s knowledge.
January 2010 – Six days prior to leaving for the Iraq War, father signs what he believes are documents granting full custody to birth mother
Christina Maldanado. Immediately after signing, Brown is informed by attorneys for the prospective adoptive couple that Maldanado has also signed away
parental rights and Veronica has been living in South Carolina. This is the first time Brown learns his daughter is out of state.
January 2010 – One day later, father approaches JAG officer on military base to fight for custody of Veronica. Dusten Brown deploys to Iraq five
January 2010 – November 2010 – Dusten Brown spends 11 months in combat in Iraq with his Army unit. Brown earns several medals for his bravery in
June 2011 – Brown receives an honorable discharge from the Army, but continues to serve his country in an Army National Guard reserve unit.
December 2011 – South Carolina family court finds Veronica’s interests are best served with her father. Veronica returns with her family to
July 2012 – The South Carolina Supreme Court upholds the custody decision by South Carolina family court.
January - U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal from the pre-adoptive parents.
April - U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case.
June 25 - U.S. Supreme Court rules the Indian Child Welfare Act doesn't apply to Dusten, but also doesn’t preclude other family members from
gaining custody of Veronica under ICWA. The court ruling did not state that the pre-adoptive parents regain custody. SCOTUS sends case back to lower
courts for a rehearing of Veronica’s best interests.
July 17 – Without a hearing of Veronica’s best interests, South Carolina Supreme Court rules that Brown’s rights be terminated and the adoption
finalized by family court. This is a curious reversal, since the court previously found, based on the same evidence, that Veronica was best suited to
live with her biological father, Dusten Brown.
July 22 – Brown departs for 30 days mandatory military training with his National Guard unit. South Carolina courts do not consider this when
ordering Veronica be taken from her family to South Carolina.
July 31 - South Carolina family court finalizes the adoption and orders Veronica sent away from her home and the only family she knows.
Mods note- I know this is a large block of copied text, but I hope you
will allow it to stay. It is the most condensed version of events I have found on this complicated case. Thanks.
To finish up on that list of events, the South Carolina court has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Brown now since he has failed to turn over his
daughter to the Capobiancos who were the pre-adoptive parents. He has posted bond and now they are under a gag order while the Cherokee Tribal
council has their professionals speaking with Veronica.
Mr. Brown had filed for custody as soon as he learned of the adoption and realized what he signed was not the agreed upon removal of parental rights,
but in fact adoption paperwork. Now let's not throw in the towel here for a few reasons. 1 being that in Cherokee culture, it is not uncommon to
allow family members to raise children, 2 being that he trusted that she was going to raise their child and 3 being that he was basically tricked into
signing the paperwork, something that I am finding is not that uncommon. The Capobiancos had baby Veronica until she was 2 years old even after the
initial court ruling that she be returned to her father when she was 4 months of age. She has been living with her biological father, his fiancée,
and their children for the last 2 years, as well as having formed bonds with her paternal grandparents and half sister from Brown's ex-wife.
More info is now starting to come forward about Veronica's birthmother and her motivations in the adoption. The first link I am going to supply is
biased since it is coming from the tribe, but if true, it's pretty telling about why the birth mother wanted the adoption to go through so badly.
She had even informed the adoption agency and the Capobiancos that if Dusten Brown found out, he would fight for custody.
Some Disturbing Facts about Veronica's Birth
Over the years, Brown has never gone on the record about his ex-fiance and has never publicly spoken ill of his daughter's biological mother. But
a review of court documents in Oklahoma and in interviews with those who knew Maldonado prior to and during her engagement and pregnancy with Dusten
Brown, reveal a portrait of a woman with a history of turmoil in her relationships, featuring restraining orders, lawsuits, Court Appointed Special
Advocates and ongoing custody and child support disputes with her two older childrens' father.
“She told me she 'had a plan (for getting out of debt),'” he said at the time. “But I didn't know that the plan was to put Veronica up for
adoption. I offered to give her everything I had, but she didn't want it.”
So what they are claiming is that Maldanado, Veronica's birth mother, was basically hiding the adoption from Brown in order to gather enough money
from the Capobiancos to pay off her debts, then adopt her out to them to avoid her having to pay any more in child support for another child. Brown,
on the other hand, has been fighting since day one to gain custody of his daughter once he found out about Maldanado's plan to adopt her out. By his
accounts, he and his family both tried to support Maldanado throughout the pregnancy, but she refused to speak to them. He was initially trying to
speed up their wedding date so that Maldanado and Veronica would both be taken care of by the VA if he died in Iraq, but that is when she cut him off
and pushed for him to terminate his rights. In finally gave in to her requests because he thought that was going to be the best thing for Veronica
since he was about to be deployed for a year.
I know I am being biased here, but I am so flippin mad about this whole thing. When did adoption become about finding children for infertile couples,
instead of being about finding loving homes for children who don't have one? I have friends on all different sides of the adoption issue, ones that
have been adopted, ones that have adopted, and ones that gave their little ones up for adoption, so I am very ok with legal adoptions that are for the
right reasons, but to rip a child from their real parents who obviously want them, love them, and are capable of raising them is just wrong.