by Sam Spence
Broken Home: The Save Veronica Story originally ran as a cover story on September 26, 2012.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday that it would hear the case appealed from the South Carolina Supreme Court regarding a Charleston couple and their custody of their adopted three-year old baby Veronica. In late 2011, James Island residents Matt and Melanie Capobianco were ordered by the South Carolina Supreme Court to turn over the child, who was two-years old at the time, after the court ruled a 1978 law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, took precedence over state law.
The court's decision to grant the petition of certiorari in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, as the case will be known, gives the Capobiancos a final opportunity to regain custody of Veronica, who now lives with her birth father, Dusten Brown, in Oklahoma and goes by Ronnie. The court has heard just one other case concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act in its history, but that case primarily dealt with a tribal court's jurisdiction over an adoption in question.
The 142-page petition filed by the lawyers representing the Capobiancos asked the court to interpret the ICWA, specifically on the question of "whether a non-custodial parent can invoke the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978," writes SCOTUSblog.org, "to block an adoption voluntarily and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent under state law." Also in question is how the law defines "parent." In Adoptive Couple, Veronica's birth father did not file for custody until after hearing news that the her mother arranged to have the Capobiancos adopt the baby girl at birth.
The case is one of three cases accepted Friday to be put on the Supreme Court docket to be heard later this year.