COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's highest court has ruled that an Indian child who's at the center of a custody suit that went to the U.S. Supreme Court should be returned to the Charleston-area couple seeking to adopt her.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 3-2 that Matt and Melanie Capobianco are the only party properly seeking to adopt the girl in South Carolina and ordered a Family Court to finalize the couple's adoption.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that South Carolina courts should decide who gets to adopt the 3-year-old named Veronica. South Carolina courts originally said the federal Indian Child Welfare Act favored her living with her father and Dusten Brown took custody in 2011.
Earlier this month, the girl's biological father filed to adopt the child in Oklahoma.
The Cherokee Nation released the following statement about the court's ruling:
We are outraged and saddened that the South Carolina Supreme Court would order the transfer of this child without a hearing to determine what is in her best interests, particularly in light of the fact that this very same court previously found “we cannot say that Baby Girl's best interests are not served by the grant of custody to Father, as Appellants have not presented evidence that Baby Girl would not be safe, loved, and cared for if raised by Father and his family.”
Dusten Brown is a fit, loving parent and Veronica is, as the court previously defined, “safe, loved, and cared for." That should be enough.
The Capobianco family released this statement:
“We are thrilled that after 18 long months, our daughter finally will be coming home. We look forward to seeing Veronica’s smiling face in the coming days and will do everything in our power to make her homecoming as smooth as possible. We also want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout this ordeal. Our prayers have been answered.”
Statement from Veronica's birth mother:
"I am just over the moon by this news. All I’ve ever wanted was to give Veronica a life with Matt and Melanie, a life I could not provide for her. It has torn at my heart every day that she has been apart from them, and I have missed being a part of their life over the past 18 months. I am anxious to see her again as soon as possible after she settles in back home in South Carolina.”
Dusten Brown released this statement:
We are outraged that the South Carolina Supreme Court would order the adoption of our child finalized without a proper hearing to determine what is in Veronica’s best interests. This child has been back with her family for 19 months and to tear her away from us, the family she loves and the only family she knows or remembers, would be devastating to her. This is an Oklahoma child and her placement should not be considered by a court in South Carolina. We have contacted our U.S. Senator and encourage each of you to do the same, in order to help us keep Veronica in her home, which is a safe, loving and nurturing environment. We will never give up the fight to raise our daughter.