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Standing Rock

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cherokee Nation court grants joint custody of Baby Veronica to biological father's wife and parents

Dusten Brown with Veronica in April. Courtesy

By MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer on Jul 22, 2013, at 11:52 AM  Updated on 7/22/13 at 5:06 PM

                            
UPDATE: A Cherokee Nation court has granted joint custody of Baby Veronica to the biological father's wife and the father's parents, a move that could pre-empt a South Carolina court's decision to bring the girl back to that state, tribal officials announced Monday.

The tribal court granted joint custody last week, just hours before the state Supreme Court of South Carolina issued its own ruling that Veronica should be returned to her adoptive parents in the suburbs of Charleston.

But the tribal court order was kept sealed until Monday, when the tribe formally asked the South Carolina court to reconsider its decision.

The father, Dusten Brown, left Monday for mandatory National Guard training, making it necessary to grant joint custody to his wife and parents, the tribe said.

In filing a petition for rehearing in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, also known as the “Baby Veronica” case, the Cherokee Nation asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to reconsider its July 17 order, which moved to terminate the parental rights of Dusten Brown and transfer Veronica to South Carolina without a hearing on her best interests, the tribe said.

Dusten Brown, an Iraq combat veteran and active member of the Army National Guard, has had custody of his nearly 4-year-old biological daughter since 2011.

“It is very troubling that the South Carolina Supreme Court would move to terminate the parental rights of a man who has proven to be nothing but a fit and loving father, without even holding a hearing to determine what is in his own child’s best interests,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

“What is best for Veronica has not even been considered by the court. We pray the South Carolina Supreme Court grants our request for a due process hearing to determine what is in this child’s best interests.”

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Veronica currently lives with her father in Nowata, an hour north of Tulsa.

He won custody in 2011 after arguing that under federal law his own Cherokee heritage gave him preference in a custody battle with an adoptive couple in South Carolina.

But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that decision last month, clearing the way for South Carolina courts to reconsider the case. Last week, the state Supreme Court decided to finalize the original adoption and bring Veronica back to South Carolina, without having a “best interest” hearing.

“The decision contributes to the long and sordid history of Native American children being removed from their families,” said Jacqueline Pata, executive director of NCAI, “without any consideration of their best interests.”

If the state court doesn't reconsider the case, then a family court in South Carolina could issue an order to transfer custody back to the adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

If that order comes, the Native American Rights Fund will ask a federal district court in South Carolina to block it, at least until state courts can have a “best interest” hearing.

“Two years ago, both the South Carolina Supreme Court and Family Courts held best interest hearings and determined that it was in Veronica’s best interest to be with her father and that he was fit parent,” said Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. “The legal system worked then, but it is being ignored now.”

Veronica will turn 4 in September. The Native American Rights Fund, the National Congress of American Indians and National Indian Child Welfare Association were joining forces to file a civil rights lawsuit on her behalf.

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Every. Day.

Every. Day.
adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Three Years already

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National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

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The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

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Customer Review

Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

Read this SERIES

Read this SERIES
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ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Our Fault? (no)

Leland at Goldwater Protest

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