by Sam Spence
Broken Home: The Save Veronica Story originally ran as a cover story on September 26, 2012.
Ten months after Matt and Melanie Capobianco were ordered by a Charleston family court judge to turn over their two-year old adopted daughter Veronica to her Native American birth father, the couple has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. With a writ of certiorari filed Friday, the Capobiancos are hoping to regain custody of the now-three-year old toddler, who now goes by the name Ronnie and lives 1,200 miles away from the Holy City in Oklahoma with her father, Dusten Brown.
Veronica was ordered to be given up under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a 1978 law designed to preserve Native American families, which orders children of Native American heritage be raised by blood relatives or, if that isn't possible, by a member of his or her tribe. The S.C. Supreme Court said in its 3-2 decision to uphold the lower court's ruling that it did so with "a heavy heart" and that the court couldn't assume that being in the custody of her father would result in any harm, therefore they could not rule to terminate the father's rights to custody. The adoptive parents argued Brown gave up custody of Veronica when he originally left the child with her birth mother before deploying to Iraq.
The Capobiancos will be represented by SCOTUS veteran Lisa Blatt, who has won 29 of the 30 cases she has argued before the court, and Indian Child Welfare Act Law Center founder Mark Fiddler. The petition now goes before the nation's highest court, which will decide whether or not it will take up the case. Since the Indian Child Welfare Act's adoption, the court has only heard one case having to do with the law, though many have petitioned.