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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???

Originally posted to ladijules on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 09:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Native American Netroots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Quick note (4+ / 0-)

    I've been following this case closely, especially in Native American news sources. The father's first name is spelled "Dusten".

    Given the subject, I'm queueing this to Native American Netroots.

  •  We need a baseline for adoption (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chun Yang, ladijules

    We have 50 states, each with their own laws about adoption.

    A man who doesn't want to lose a child to adoption must follow the laws for all 50 states, no matter where he personally lives.

    That is one of the reasons that so many adoption agencies have women "visit Utah". The laws are almost impossible to meet after your child is born there. And you need money, lots and lots of money.

    How hard could it be to have a 7 day waiting period between the birth of the child and signing adoption papers?
    The baby should be a resident of the state where the mother spent the majority of her pregnancy, and the courts there should not be allowed to shrug that off.
    Birth mothers and birth fathers should each be given a lawyer prior to releasing a child for adoption.

    With a baseline federal law the states would still be able to expand restrictions.

    And for GODS SAKES!! They need to quit advertising babies with pricetags on the internet.

  •  What a heartbreaking diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chun Yang, ladijules

    I followed the story a bit, but assumed that since it went the way it did, there were things I didn't know about. I didn't like the outcome, but figured legal decisions must have been at least weighed by a preponderance of the evidence.

    This is disgusting.

    I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

    by second gen on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 11:08:30 PM PDT

  •  I've been following this story too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pucklady, Chun Yang, ladijules

    as a part-Cherokee adoptee myself, it interested me greatly, but I've been too distressed by it to write about it.

    I just found your series, and posted more of where I come from in reading these things in your last diary

    I'm so grateful to you for writing these and giving us a chance to learn from each others' perspective.

  •  It's never been simply about the child. (0+ / 0-)

    You wrote:

    "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."

    Altruism is a myth, one most of us buy into because we've been taught that it's wrong to acknowledge, much less pursue, our own interests.

    Of course adoption, infant or otherwise, are about providing a child to those who cannot produce one or for other reasons. They always have been, whether to provide an heir, labor for the farm, a baby to cuddle or any one of the many reasons people have for adopting.  

    Let that not discourage you or distract you from exposing the reality you've described for too many contemporary adoptions.

    It's been suggested in the comments that a Federal law is required.  Be careful what you wish for.  Congress is firmly in the grip of the adoption industry.  You won't find justice there.  If it's to be found anywhere, it's in our state legislatures.

    If the transcrips the author has reviewed are available, it would be of great benefit if they were published here or elsewhere, so that the public need not rely on the spin-meisters on either side of this debate.

    Adoptive father

  •  Links to Court Documents for Veronica Brown (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The original SC Family Court ruling returning Veronica Brown to Dusten Brown:

    Original SC Supreme Court ruling reinforcing Judge Malphrus's decision:

    Blog containing the documentation from the Supreme Court case:

    •  Malphus Ruling (0+ / 0-)

      The ruling linked above was the original bench ruling which found that, in addition to the adoption being contrary to the ICWA, Dusten Brown was a thwarted father. Somewhere between this ruling and the written order that was issued in November 2011, that finding was removed by someone. The Capobianco's PR team says it was removed by Judge Malphrus' supervisor because Malphrus was a new judge. That sounds fishy to me though. The correct way to challenge a legal finding is on appeal and the finding had already been removed before the SCSC got to the case. In addition, Judge Kittridge, in his dissent to the decision to return Veronica to her father, talks about looking at the evidence "de novo". No "de novo" hearing was ever held though since "de novo" hearings involve testimony from relevant parties as if the case had never been heard in the first place. No court other than the family court tried by Judge Malphrus ever heard evidence or were in a position to judge the truthfulness of those testifying.

  •  thank you for the diary, jules (0+ / 0-)

    tipped and recced.

  •  More Links to Court Documents.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here is the SCSC Reversal:

    This decision allowed the SCFC to approve the adoption of Veronica by the Capobiancos.  I'm sure the SCFC decision is posted somewhere on-line and I'll keep looking for it, but have not seen it yet.

    Some additional information on the case:

  •  This is how culturally sensitive Veronica's (0+ / 0-)

    "adoptive family" are.  A picture of Veronica, a mixed race (Indian and Hispanic) child who could easily pass for black:

    This was taken before the adoption was approved and was posted on Matt Capobianco's Facebook page.  It's sort of like blackface, eh?  Perhaps this sort of information would have turned up if adequate home studies or best interest studies would have been completed, but the South Carolina court system rejected the ICWA requirements that SCOTUS still said held, as well as their own adoption laws.

    Melanie Capobianco is active with the group Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, which is intent on dismantling the Indian Child Welfare Act under the guise that they're going to free Native Americans from "victim-hood" by adopting NA children out to white families.  So, a woman who's just completed the shadiest adoption ever of a Cherokee child is going after the most important piece of NA legislation ever with her adoption industry cronies?  I'm sure that Veronica's heritage will be duly celebrated in the Capobianco household.

    •  RunDMC photo of Veronica (0+ / 0-)

      Did you screen capture this photo from Matt Capobianco's FB page yourself?
      You mention "This was taken before the adoption was approved and was posted on Matt Capobianco's Facebook page."
      But the photo on flickr says it was taken yesterday-I realize it could still be on his timeline....but wouldn't someone have to be friends with Matt C. to see this?

  •  Barren couples (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for writing such a thorough informative article.

    The 60 something Bixlers that kidnapped Deserai have four grown children. They are in no way barren nor have they been deprived of raising children. So why in the HECK would they want to adopt an infant? I'm 52 and I think they're insane. I would seriously question a 64 year old's grip on the reality that they are 10-17 years from death, NOT "of child bearing age". That man will be EIGHTY TWO when Deserai graduates from High School.

    One aspect that you did not really cover, that I find totally creepy is the push from the fundamentalist Christians and Mormons to grab up all these "poor little heathens" and raise them up for Jesus. It's recruiting. It's brainwashing and it's white egotism at it's worst.

    This should give everyone in America pause. If the Monied Republicans can buy children, what else are they buying and getting away with daily?

  •  Veronica Brown (0+ / 0-)

    Have you read the ruling where Judge Martin entered the transition plan into the record? He declared Veronica a "special needs" child because she was mixed race. If that was the only reason he had, he did it in direct contradiction of South Carolina DSS policy which allows such a finding only if a mixed race child is 6 years old or older.

    I wonder if the Capobiancos asked for such a finding in hopes of getting subsidies or if they have some other jacked up reason. I wonder if they are planning for how to pay for extensive therapy possibly necessitated by Veronica's possible rage, sadness and lack of true bond with them now that they have stolen her from her family. That poor baby was perfectly happy with her family and it hurts my heart to think she will have psychological issues forced on her by these selfish people:-(

    On a side note, are you able to post court documents here for the public to read. The only actual documents I have been able to find so far are Judge Malphrus' original bench ruling, Dusten Brown's, Alice Brown's  and Melanie Duncan (Capobianco)'s testimony and cross examination for Cristinna Maldonado as well as one of the rulings from Judge Martin who is the Judge who finalized Veronica's adoption with no best interests hearing.  

  •  Useful link with more Veronica-related documents.. (0+ / 0-)

    ...can be found here.

  •  Quick question (0+ / 0-)

    You said that the Capabianos had been deemed ineligible for public adoption, do you know why this was?

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