While I began this series to address the various issues of adoption, I have been asked to comment on the Veronica Brown case. To be blunt... I have been avoiding addressing it. Mostly because I break into a frothing rage when ever I just think about that case! However, it is indeed a perfect example of the conversations we need to be having about adoption. The fact it has played out in public in all its glory make it an excellent case to talk about.
The case of poor little Veronica came to my attention 2 years ago. I saw a clip on the news about it. The story was that this little girl had been "adopted" in a manner that was done illegally, based on several issues which had included the Indian Child Welfare Act. The proper papers were not signed, the father had not been notified, had not signed over his rights. Those issues, especially in regards to the ICWA, had led to South Carolina overturning this attempted adoption and returning the child to her father.
I remembered thinking at the time.... "This is gross!". I wasn't just talking about the case itself, but how the Capabianco's invited the press in, to shove camera's in this little girls face and to show just how "horrible" it was that this child was being torn away from them. I thought their behavior was beyond despicable. Their attempt to traumatize this little girl for the sake of their own interests sickened me. I understood their sorrow but this little girl was not theirs, never should have been and should have been given back to her father when she was 4 months old. The fact they deliberately delayed her return spoke to me about their fitness... they didn't care if they harmed this child. I sighed with relief to see this child going home with her dad and figured that would be the end of the case.
Of course, now we all know, to our horror, how wrong THAT belief was!
The case came back up on my radar again this summer, when I saw that the Supreme Court had overturned that decision regarding the ICWA, and South Carolina, for no rational reason, approved the adoption to the Capabianco's and ordered her back into the custody of people she hadn't seen in 2 years, who she no longer even remembered. I was dumbfounded. Just what the HELL was going on here?
This time, I decided to investigate the case. I looked up the two Facebook pages involving this case: Save Veronica Rose (Ran by the Capabianco's PR people) and Standing our ground for Veronica Brown, ran independently by those who supported Veronica's father, Dustin Brown. However, there was just too much mudslinging and contradictory case quotes that the whole affair wasn't clear. I decided instead to pull up copies of the initial decision by South Carolina, complete with court transcripts (Thanks to a friend of mine with access to Lexus Nexus) as well as the Supreme court decision. I spent days reading through it all and when I was done, I was just as dumbfounded.
The initial South Carolina ruling stated that Christy Maldonado, the birth mother, was not a credible witness. She had deliberately vanished from Dustin's life, even though they were engaged. She had accepted payments for the purchase of a child from the Capabianco's far in excess of what Oklahoma allows. She deliberately cut the father out her life, refusing to allow him into the hospital for the birth. She refused his offers to marry him as well as his offers for child support. She refused to inform Dustin about the location of his child. Even more, she refused to inform him that she was placing the child for adoption. All of this done, apparently, on the suggestion of the attorney for the adoption agency in a bid for the court so they could say the father had abandoned the mother and child.
The Capabiano's had been paired with Christy through Nightlight after they were deemed ineligible to adopt publicly. They had been at the hospital when Christy gave birth. They were well aware, from what Christy told them, that the father would not consent to adoption. They filed the paperwork in South Carolina to adopt 3 days after Veronica was born, even though state law states that a child must be physically in the state prior to filing adoption paperwork and they admitted in court that they stayed in Oklahoma for 7 days after her birth.
It was also found during the court hearing that Christy had deliberately falsified the paperwork regarding the adoption of Indian Children for both the ICWA and the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children by giving the wrong name and birth-date for Dustin, even though she was well aware of the correct information. This was done so that the Cherokee nation would not realize that father and child were members of the Cherokee nation... therefore protected from having a child placed for adoption without the Nations consent. It was also clear that the adoption attorney DID know the correct information and chose to not correct it.
When Dustin finally found out where his child was, when she was four months old, he was given a single paper to sign, giving Christy sole custody of the child while he was deployed. When he discovered it could be taken as him giving Christy permission to place the child for adoption, he tried to rip up the paper, but the attorney told him he would have Dustin arrested if he did. Dustin immediately sought legal aid and began his fight.
The whole case is very complicated and involved and it would take me months to break the whole thing down. Lets just say that it was obvious that this adoption was done in a way that was both illegally and unethical.
The Supreme court however, ruled that the ICWA did not apply in parts of this case, as Dustin never "had custody" of Veronica. They did however rule that other parts of the law DID apply. They kicked it down to South Carolina, expecting them to hold to the law. South Carolina didn't. By the courts decision, even if Dustin could not have his child, the child was supposed to be placed with another biological relative within the Cherokee tribe, such as his grandparents. Matter in fact, South Carolina didn't even follow their OWN laws which stated the child needed to have a "best interest" hearing. The first one, done with the Original South Carolina decision, favored Dustin over the Capabiano's.
I pulled up both Oklahoma's and South Carolina's laws regarding adoption. I was left horrified and scratching my head. Most of the laws on the books were not followed. And yet.... here we were... with the Capabiano's getting custody.
How did this HAPPEN??
Simply put..... Money, Power, Politics and non-enforcement of the law.
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children should have stopped this case cold. Why didn't it? Because while that law is on the books, there is no enforcement of that law. In some states, there isn't even a penalty for violating it.
Its not even a misdemeanor. Parents who share custody of children are well familiar with how this law is not enforced... they deal with it every day when the other parent takes off to another state and they can't get law enforcement to do a thing about it.
Lets face it... power, money and politics decided this case. I found it odd from the beginning with the Supreme Court... wasn't it interesting that this case just HAPPENED to get picked up by the Supreme Court "just in time"? Was it a surprise that Justice Roberts is the one who wanted to champion this case into the court? I began to wonder. The dirt came up.... the adoption of Justice Robert's kids was pretty darn shady itself. Irish Kids who are not allowed to be adopted out of Ireland.. so the adoption was actually finalized in South America. Not to mention the fact that the attorney for Christy (and supposedly paid for by the Capabianco's) was Lori Alvino McGill... who just HAPPENED to have clerked for Justice Roberts... who just HAPPENED to attend her wedding. Who just HAPPENED to talk to Justice Roberts about this... who just HAPPENED to be the deciding vote to rule against Veronica and Dustin.
UM.... what? I thought that was considered Unethical behavior to not recuse himself from a case where he had personal ties as well as a personal interest? Huh... I guess not!
How about the fact that the South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, had received a rather large campaign donation from.. who else? The Capabiano's. Who just HAPPENED to be personal friends with... you guessed it... the Oklahoma governor, Mary Fallin. Both of whom are working their way up the Republican ranks.
The case in Oklahoma Supreme court was headed by a judge.... who just HAPPENED to be placed in office by... wait for it.... Mary Fallin. The judge also voted against Veronica and Dustin, even though his decision was in direct conflict with Oklahoma's own laws on adoption.
Then South Carolina pressed charges for custodial interference against Dustin for not showing up in court when everyone, including the court, was well aware he was in Iowa at MANDATORY National Guard training... something the court had been aware of for MONTHS. And of course..... Mary Fallon signed the extradition warrant.
The law was on Dustin's side. Trust me... I read all the documents and had a few lawyer friends double check. The cards were completely stacked against him however, not by law, but by political connections. When multiple courts defy their own laws... what chance did Veronica and Dustin have?
This was a case that should have never happened to begin with. But its proof positive that the courts and the states have no interest in enforcing laws meant to protect children from human trafficking and illegal adoption.
This case should scare the crap out of anyone. A clear case of corruption in the courts and government. It didn't matter that paperwork was not correctly filed out or even turned in. It didn't matter that people lied and conspired to evade the law. It didn't matter that people outright BROKE the law. Money and politics spoke. End of story.
I was already pissed over this case. Dustin and Veronica got screwed by a court system meant to protect them. Then to find out that the Capabianco's are suing Dustin for legal bills they didn't even PAY? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!
Not only did they steal this man's child, they are so vicious and malicious they are going to sue him? Who the HELL ever GAVE these people a child?? Then just today, Governor Haley decided to drop the charges against Dustin... sort of. She is no longer demanding he be extradited, but said if he ever sets foot in South Carolina again, he will be thrown in jail. So much for that whole line of bull shit the Capabianco's spouted when they stole her last week about having him come visit Veronica and keeping him in her life, huh? Nice.
I can't do a damn thing to make this right..... mostly because using guillotines on people who richly deserve it is illegal in this country. Unfortunate really.
Now I worry about what they are going to do to that child. I REALLY worry about Veronica. From my own past experience, I know what its like to have bonded with a family as Veronica had done with her biological one... then be ripped away and given to strangers. I know the terrible pain of being separated from my sister... like Veronica has just been. I know the psychiatric issues it has caused me for life... and I was YOUNGER than her! Nor did I have camera's shoved in my face or forced to undergo interviews immediately afterwards by people like Dr. Phil. I have no doubt she will remember her removal as clearly as I remember my own. I also know that she is going to know all about this case much sooner than later. One look on the internet will give her all the information on her case. How is this little girl going to feel when she finds out these people who say they love her ripped her away from her biological family.. not because her dad was abusing her or did anything wrong.. but because they wanted her and paid for her and damn it, were going to get what they paid for! Will she hate them for it? Will she mourn for the family and culture she was denied? What price will Veronica play for this game of power, with her as a pawn? What happens if she ends up with RAD? Will these oh so fine people drug her and stick her someplace, where she will be endlessly told she should be oh so grateful for being "rescued" by some rich family and that her family really didn't want her? Will she become the defiant child I became? Will she run back to Dad as soon as she can? Or will she be torn by her love for her adoptive parents and her desire to have her Dad in her life?
I don't know the answers to those questions. I pray she will be okay. I don't want her having to deal with the burdens I dealt with.
I will say this should be a wake up call to us all. This was not an adoption.. it was human trafficking at its worst.
Its time for us to call for enforcement and regulations when it comes to adoption and human trafficking. This insanity can not go on. This was a violation of human rights as well as a violation of Fathers rights. Yes, I do think Fathers have rights! Also, a violation of sovereign indian rights. Its time to put teeth into the laws we DO have as well.
Sadly, Veronica's case is just one of many others. Take the case of Desirai Simmons. LIke Veronica, she is a Native American child born in Oklahoma. Like Veronica, she is another child who was smuggled to South Carolina without her nation being informed. Like Veronica, she is another child placed through NightLight adoption agency. Her father started fighting for his child when she was 2 DAYS OLD, after he received a frantic phone call from Desirai's maternal grandmother about the adoption. In Desirai's case, she is being adopted by a couple in their 60's who were refused public adoption. They left the state with Desirai without ANY paperwork from any court because "they got tired of waiting for attorneys to do it". In her case, Oklahoma sort of intervened... they ordered her returned to Oklahoma and placed (as Veronica should have been) with her tribe.
Desirai is still in South Carolina. Did you REALLY think after Veronica that she was going to be returned to her biological family and tribe, who wants her very much? You're joking, right? Its a reality... a sad one. She will not be returned. Even though it violates every law on the books, even though they have no papers of any kind. They have filed for adoption in South Carolina.. and given Veronica's case... they will get it. There will be no charges for custodial interference. There will be no charges for kidnapping. There will be no extradition. Apparently, if you make it to South Carolina with a baby, no matter how illegally taken, its yours.
What gets me in these cases is not just how illegal and unethical. Its not just the destruction of biological families when there is no need.
Its the idea that the purpose for adoption has CHANGED. The altruistic idea of adoption is to provide children whose parents either can't or chose not to provide them with a home with a decent one. Now the truth has come out..... especially for infant adoptions. Its not for the best interest of the child, but to provide a child to a couple that can not have one. I find that shift in focus important to recognize... and disgusting.
Providing a child with a home when none is available is ADOPTION. Running a business providing children to barren couples, often illegally, is HUMAN TRAFFICKING.
Its time for it to STOP. Its time for the people that run these agencies to be held accountable for their actions. Its time to recognize that laws are being broken.. and the people that break them need to be taken to task for it. Its time to stand up for the children that are pawns in this game. Its time to stand up for the best interest of the child. Because if we don't... who will? How many more Veronica's and Desirai's will we have???