CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - An attorney for a James Island couple says his clients are now the adoptive parents for a girl of Cherokee heritage.
Attorney James Thompson speaking on behalf of Matt and Melanie Capobianco announced that the couple are now the adoptive parents of 3-year-old Veronica following a hearing at Charleston Family Court on Wednesday where a judge finalized the adoption case.
"There are no winners when a almost 4-year-old child has been in this kind of legal limbo," Thompson said."But we're now looking to the future. Recognizing that we're looking forward to having Veronica back embraced by her adoptive parents, but also to continue to have the embrace of her birth family , her cultural family as well."
Lawyers did not give details of the transfer of Veronica due to a court gag order. Veronica currently resides with her biological father, Dusten Brown, in Oklahoma.
"Matt and Melanie are good people, but there are good people, people of good will on both sides of this issue," Thompson said."We now have to turn away from our respective positions and focus only on [Veronica], to transition her home."
Several American Indian groups also filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday arguing that a without a hearing to determine the best interests of Veronica, her due process had been violated. The groups also sought a restraining order to stop the adoption hearing in Charleston, but that request was denied.
The Capobiancos says Brown's request to delay their adoption process of Veronica should be scuttled. Brown says South Carolina justices misread the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling empowering a state court to finalize the girl's placement.
Brown's lawyer read a statement from her client on Wednesday stating,"I am her father and it is my job to protect her...to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, I want to say this, please for Veronica's sake, just stop...Stop and ask yourselves if you really believe this is best for her?"
The Capobiancos raised Veronica for two years and have sought to adopt her since birth.
State courts sent Veronica to live with Brown in Oklahoma in 2011. But earlier this year, South Carolina justices ordered a family court to finalize the Capobiancos' adoption.
The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes released the following statement on the federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday:
We stand today representing our five nations and joining with sovereign Indian nations across the United States and multiple national Native American organizations in support of the civil rights lawsuit filed in South Carolina on behalf of Veronica Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. On July 17, 2013, the South Carolina Supreme Court ignored the child's and the Brown family's right to due process when it ordered the finalization of Veronica's adoption by non-Indian parents and her removal from her biological Cherokee father and Cherokee family.
The South Carolina Supreme Court's order flies in the face of its previous determination and the U.S. Supreme Court. As elected leaders of sovereign tribal governments, we are outraged by the actions taken by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The reckless order to rush Veronica's adoption will negatively impact Native children and family preservation efforts nationwide. Most importantly, though, it will take a happy and well-adjusted child from the only family she knows: her father, sister, stepmother, extended family, tribe, community and culture.
A severe injustice has been committed to an innocent Cherokee child and her loving family in Oklahoma. The Brown family, including Veronica, deserves their due process. They do not deserve to have their lives forever transformed by the South Carolina judicial system without cause or consideration.
Indian children being removed from their families and homes is not a new story in Indian Country. Those dark days have reared their head again sadly in South Carolina. We will stand with Veronica, the Browns, and national tribal organizations fighting for fairness and justice."