CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The SC Supreme Court has ordered that a Native American girl will return to her adoptive parents on James Island.
The decision was handed out on Wednesday to give custody of the girl named Veronica to a James Island couple who adopted her rather than her biological father, Dusten Brown, who currently has custody of the child.
In a 3 to 2 vote, the court ordered that Veronica's adoption to Matt and Melanie Capobianco be finalized, and terminated Brown's parental rights. The ruling has been sent to the South Carolina Family Court. You can read the ruling here.
"We are thrilled that after 18 long months, our daughter finally will be coming home," read a statement released by Matt and Melanie Capobianco."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."
There is a 5-day window for Brown and his representation to seek a re-hearing.
In June, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law doesn't require that Veronica stay with Brown, but also doesn't give her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, immediate custody of the now 3-year-old child.
The Capobiancos, of James Island, had lost in South Carolina courts before the nation's highest court ruled the Indian Child Welfare Act didn't apply because the biological father never had custody of the child and abandoned her before birth.
"We aren't happy and won't give up," said Amanda Clinton a spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation on Wednesday.
Brown had filed to adopt the child in Oklahoma earlier this month.
The Cherokee Nation released the following statement on Wednesday:
We are outraged and saddened that the South Carolina Supreme Court would order the transfer of this child without a hearing to determine what is in her best interests, particularly in light of the fact that this very same court previously found "we cannot say that Baby Girl's best interests are not served by the grant of custody to Father, as Appellants have not presented evidence that Baby Girl would not be safe, loved, and cared for if raised by Father and his family."
Dusten Brown is a fit, loving parent and Veronica is, as the court previously defined, "safe, loved, and cared for." That should be enough.