COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the return to of a Native American girl adopted by a South Carolina family to her father in Oklahoma.
"They lost a child. she's out there. They've been refused any contact with her," said Jessica Munday, a close friend of the Capobiancos.
The justices returned the order Thursday in a case that apparently for the first time weighed state adoption law against the Indian Child Welfare Act.
In a 3-2 decision, the justices said the act confers custodial preference to the child's father, a member of the Cherokee tribe. A Family Court in South Carolina late last year ordered 2-year-old Veronica returned to her father in Oklahoma.
She had been adopted by Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who live on James Island and who appealed the Family Court decision to the Supreme Court.
Veronica's birth father bases his argument on the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act, a 1978 law that was created to help preserve Native American culture and keep families together. In Veronica's case, the Capobiancos said her birth father signed a waiver allowing the adoption before Veronica's birth. They said he never met Veronica until he won custody and picked her up 7 months ago.