Baby Veronica to Return to South Carolina - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Baby Veronica to Return to South Carolina

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Veronica with her birth father, Dusten Brown. Veronica with her birth father, Dusten Brown.
Veronica's adoptive parents, the Capobiancos. Veronica's adoptive parents, the Capobiancos.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that Baby Veronica must be returned to her adoptive parents.

The court's order nearly ends the saga between the South Caroline couple and Veronica's biological father, who lives in Oklahoma and tried to claim rights on the Indian Child Welfare Act.

"We are grateful. Grateful. Grateful. This is finally over," the Capobiancos said Wednesday. "She is coming home."

The family's spokesperson said the timeline on the transfer of Veronica will be done quickly -- likely within the next few weeks.

Lori Alvino McGill, the attorney for Veronica's birth mother, Christinna Maldonado, said she was thrilled at the court's decision, but had not yet spoken to Maldonado. She called the ruling "huge" and "gratifying."

The case has been remanded back to family court to be finalized. Veronica's birth father, Dusten Brown, and The Cherokee Nation will have five days to file for a rehearing in state court, or the adoption will be finalized.

"The family court shall promptly dispose of all such motions and matters so as to not delay the entry of the adoption and the return of baby Girl to the Adoptive Couple," the state Supreme Court writes.

According to court documents, Brown, in a motion to remand the case back to family court filed earlier this month, claimed jurisdiction of the case should be transferred to Oklahoma where Veronica has lived for 18 months, and cited her best interests because of her development over the last 18 months.

The Cherokee Nation issued a statement saying they are outraged by the 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 state Supreme Court said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June paved the way for the state courts to finalize the adoption. The ruling explains that having ICWA abandoned, the precedent turns to state law, which states that the father's consent for adoption was not required based on the specifics of the case.

"There is absolutely no need to compound any suffering that Baby Girl may experience through continued litigation. As it stands, Adoptive Couple is the only party who has a petition pending for the adoption of Baby Girl, and thus, theirs is the only application that should be considered at this stage," the ruling reads.

The Capobiancos have not had contact with Veronica since New Year's Eve 2011 when she was 27 months old.

The case began as Maldonado was working to finalize the adoption to the Capobiancos. The James Island couple went through the entire birth process with her in preparation of the adoption.

Then Brown pushed to retain his rights as father, citing ICWA, a federal law with which the state Supreme Court sided by a 3-2 margin, which sparked a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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