Baby Veronica's delayed return worries adoptive parents

Baby Veronica's delayed return worries adoptive parents

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The nerve-racking wait, a missed visitation and the possibility of law enforcement getting involved. Wednesday night,Veronica's adoptive parents opened up for the first time since they were awarded custody of the 3-year-old last week.

"I have almost told myself 'whenever something good happens to expect something bad to happen right after it,'" said Melanie Capobianco in the living room of her James Island home.

Pictures of Veronica hang from the refrigerator. Frames of the smiling child decorate the Capobiancos mantle.

The house is quiet. Matt and Melanie Capobianco haven't seen Veronica in 19 months. On Wednesday, a Charleston County family court judge ruled Veronica adoption's final to the James Island couple.

Leaving the courtroom that day, The Capobiancos believed they would be seeing Veronica that Sunday for the first of four visitation periods before she was surrendered to the couple by her biological father, Dusten Brown.

With adoption papers in hand, the couple waited for the girl and her biological father to show up.

"We were hopeful we would be seeing her," said Melanie. "We had a bad feeling but we were hopeful that everyone would agree. We brought some toys and pictures and things like that... the time was just rolling by."

"It's just sad," said her husband Matt. "The whole thing is just sad."

The beginning of Veronica's transfer back to South Carolina never began.

"What did this mean? Did this mean something bad was going to happen? Did they run away with her?" Melanie remembered asking herself.

She's still asking herself those questions today.

Veronica never left Oklahoma, where she's living with Brown. However, the child is in the care of Brown's wife, Robin, and his parents while he is away at military training for the Army National Guard.

He is scheduled to return from training on August 21.

A hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 15 at 3 p.m. at Charleston County Family Court to discuss pending motions, according to Amanda Clinton with Cherokee Nation. Clinton would not confirm what pending motion would be discussed.

Brown will not attend the hearing, as he will still be in training, Clinton said.

In a statement forwarded by his attorney, Brown urged the Capobiancos to 'just stop' in their attempts to bring Veronica back to South Carolina.

Since the couple didn't comply, Brown's attorney's plan to bring the custody battle to Oklahoma and Cherokee courts.

"We don't think it needs to be dragged out any further," said Melanie. "This is the end of the road."

But that road is getting rocky.

Both adoptive parents say Veronica is being "unlawfully being kept from us' and they have paperwork to prove it.

Matt says he hopes the transition plan may still become a reality for both parties involved. He says he doesn't want state or local law enforcement agencies to get involved in returning Veronica to his home. But if it comes to that, he won't be able to stop it.

Even though the custody battle for the 3-year-old has been heated, the Capobiancos say they still believe Brown and his family can have a place in Veronica's life once she is transferred.

"We hope in the future that there can be contact with all the people who love her can be a part of her life," said Melanie. "I'm open to that until the very end"

The court order to immediately return Veronica to the Capobiancos was sent to the Charleston County Solicitor's Office and the United States Attorney's Office earlier this week.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office said they received the order and are consulting with state and federal law enforcement to determine the most appropriate next steps.

Representatives with the Cherokee Nation say Brown is entitled to object to the "enforcement" of the adoption order in Oklahoma within 20 days.

The Capobiancos raised Veronica for two years before the SC Supreme Court ordered them to turn her over to Brown in January of 2011, citing the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Last month, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the law does not apply to this case. The SC Supreme Court then reconvened and ruled Veronica would be returned to the Capobiancos.

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