The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the return of a Cherokee Nation girl adopted by a South Carolina family to her father in Bartlesville.
The justices returned the order Thursday in a case that apparently for the first time weighed state adoption law against the Indian Child Welfare Act.
In a 3-2 decision, the justices said the act confers custodial preference to the child's father, a member of the Cherokee tribe.
"We're very pleased with the results," Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said. "This is a victory not only for the Cherokee baby and her father, but for all of Indian Country. The Cherokee Nation has done a great job to ensure the Indian Child Welfare Act is enforced to preserve Indian families."
Veronica was taken from her adoptive parents on December 31, 2011 when a South Carolina family court judge ruled the Indian Child Welfare Act trumped their adoption.
She had been adopted by Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who appealed the Family Court decision to the Supreme Court. The court heard arguments from both sides on April 17, 2012.
The attorney for Dusten Brown, the girl's father, tells the News On 6 the child is home, she is happy and thriving since returning to Oklahoma at the first of the year.
The attorney says the court's decision exonerates Dusten Brown. Adding that Mr. Brown is a loving father and dedicated war veteran.
The Cherokee Nation says it will not release the identity of the father and child.
"We respect the father and child's right to privacy," Hembree said. "It's our hope that the adoptive parents do not pursue the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court."
The Capobianco's have 15 days to ask the South Carolina court for a rehearing and if they do, the father's attorney says they will have 15 days to file a response.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.