The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

September 23, 2013

Cherokee child handed over to adoptive parents

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Munday was not sure when the Capobiancos planned to return to South Carolina with Veronica but said she felt they were now free to do that at any time. She said Veronica has spent some time with the couple recently and did remember them.

"It was smooth. There wasn't any danger. ... Hopefully everyone can focus on healing now," Munday said.

Veronica's biological mother, who is not Native American, was pregnant when she put the child up for adoption. Veronica lived with the Capobiancos from birth until she was 27 months old, when Brown was awarded custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision later went against Brown, and a South Carolina court finalized the Capobiancos' adoption of her earlier this year. Brown had then turned to Oklahoma's courts for relief.

When the Oklahoma Supreme Court bowed out, it left in place a South Carolina court order validating the Capobiancos' adoption and a Cherokee Nation tribal court directive that said the girl could remain with family members of Brown's while he was undergoing National Guard training.

The Oklahoma court did not explain its decision to lift its stay Monday.

Brown and his family claim the Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that the child be raised within the Cherokee Nation. The law was passed in 1978 with the intent of reducing the high rates of Native American children being adopted by non-Native American families.

A South Carolina court cited the law when it awarded custody of Veronica to Brown in 2011, but the U.S. Supreme Court this year said the law did not apply because he had been absent from the child's life.

"The legal system has failed this child and American Indians as well. Our prayers are with everyone concerned, but most of all with Veronica," Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, said in a written statement Monday night.

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