Baby Veronica, the 3-year-old whose adoption case has ignited a firestorm of controversy, should be taken from her biological father and permanently returned the couple who has been fighting to adopt her since birth, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
After a lengthy legal battle that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Baby Veronica is expected to be removed from father Dusten Brown's care and returned to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who took care of her for her the first two years of her life.
Shortly after Veronica was born in September 2009, her biological mother handed her over to the Capobiancos. The mother and Brown were not married, and Brown had given up his parental rights at the time. The Capobiancos filed adoption papers and settled down to raise the baby in their hometown of James Island, S.C.
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Four months later, Brown, who is part Cherokee, filed for custody claiming that he was entitled to his parental rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which makes adoptions by people outside the tribe very difficult.
The South Carolina Supreme Court agreed with Brown, and Veronica was placed with him in Oklahoma in December 2011, according to the Washington Post.
The Capobiancos countered and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply
to the case and said a court should decide who gets custody of Baby Veronica. Brown filed adoption papers in his home state of Oklahoma soon after.
But on Wednesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered the Capobianco's adoption to be finalized, claiming that they are the only party seeking to adopt the girl in the state.
"We are thrilled that after 18 long months, our daughter finally will be coming home," Matt and Melanie Capobianco said in a statement. "We look forward to seeing Veronica’s smiling face in the coming days and will do everything in our power to make her homecoming as smooth as possible. We also want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout this ordeal. Our prayers have been answered."
Brown's lawyers are reportedly trying to find a way to appeal the decision, and said their client "is not going to give up the fight."
The ruling also outraged the National Congress of American Indians.
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"We are witnessing the final steps in a forced removal
of a Native child from her father, her family, and her Native community," the organization said in a statement on its website. "There is no scenario in which the best interests of this three year old child will be served by removing her from her loving father and family raising her in Oklahoma."
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