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South Carolina Court Orders Baby Veronica Returned To Adoptive Parents

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Photo of Baby Veronica, who is now three years old. Photo of Baby Veronica, who is now three years old.
Image of Dusten Brown. Image of Dusten Brown.
Photo of Matt and Melanie Capobianco. Photo of Matt and Melanie Capobianco.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a couple who's trying to adopt a Cherokee girl from Oklahoma.

Now, her biological father, in Oklahoma, has five days to make his next move, and he said he's not letting go.

Dusten and his wife Robin Brown issued the following statement:

"We are outraged that the South Carolina Supreme Court would order the adoption of our child finalized without a proper hearing to determine what is in Veronica's best interests. This child has been back with her family for 19 months and to tear her away from us, the family she loves and the only family she knows or remembers, would be devastating to her. This is an Oklahoma child and her placement should not be considered by a court in South Carolina. We have contacted our U.S. Senator and encourage each of you to do the same, in order to help us keep Veronica in her home, which is a safe, loving and nurturing environment. We will never give up the fight to raise our daughter."

The court ruled three to two in favor of Matt and Melanie Capobianco. The ruling fast tracks the couple's adoption of the girl, but the two justices who disagreed Wednesday are asking, "What's in the child's best interest?"

"Now that I've got her, I'm fighting for every bit of it to stay with me," said Veronica Brown's biological father, Dusten Brown.

Brown never knew that fight would resurface so quickly. His attorney said Brown is deeply disappointed now that the South Carolina Supreme Court has cleared the path for the Capobiancos to adopt Veronica.

"That's going to devastate her," Dusten said. "She has seen pictures of the adoptive couple and she knows that that is her in the picture, but she doesn't know who they are."

6/25/2013: Related Story: Supreme Court Rules Indian Child Welfare Act Does Not Apply In Adoption Case

Matt and Melanie Capobianco raised Veronica for two years and tried to adopt her, but Brown fought to get her back under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The federal law tries to keep tribal children with tribal families. Veronica was returned to her biological father in Oklahoma more than 18 months ago.

When the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices ruled the law doesn't apply to this case, because Brown never had custody of the child in the first place.

They kicked it back to South Carolina, where the justices ordered the prompt approval and finalization of the Capobiancos adoption of Veronica.

Once finalized, the order says custody of Veronica shall be transferred to the Capobiancos.

But Brown has five days to file a rehearing request and had already filed his own adoption papers in Oklahoma.

"It seems absurd that a biological parent would be filing to adopt their own child, but that was something that was directly mentioned in the U.S. Supreme Court decision," said Chrissi Ross Nimmo, of the Cherokee Nation.

It's unclear where the Oklahoma proceedings will go, but Brown's attorney in South Carolina said he's worried about the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says states have to respect the judicial proceedings of every other state.

7/2/2013: Father Of 'Baby Veronica' Talks About Supreme Court Decision

Read the South Carolina Supreme Court's order.

The Capobiancos said in a statement Wednesday, "We are thrilled that after 18 long months, our daughter finally will be coming home. 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."

As for Veronica's biological mother, she is siding with the Capobiancos:

I am just over the moon by this news," she said. "All I've ever wanted was to give Veronica a life with Matt and Melanie, a life I could not provide for her. It has torn at my heart every day that she has been apart from them, and I have missed being a part of their life over the past 18 months. I am anxious to see her again as soon as possible after she settles in back home in South Carolina.

The Cherokee Nation released a statement Wednesday afternoon, condemning the South Carolina court's decision:

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.

The Cherokee Nation vowed to keep fighting on Dusten Brown's behalf. 

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