A preschooler at the heart of a custody battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court has been ordered to be placed with the adoptive parents who cared for her early in her life.
Native American allies of the biological father — who abandoned the pregnant mother but is now fighting for the child — are expected to file a petition for a rehearing Monday.
However, the July 17 ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court says the adoption of “Baby Veronica” should be finalized quickly, so she can rejoin the adoptive couple who supported the child’s unwed mother during pregnancy and raised the child for 27 months.
The custody fight over the child went to the U.S. Supreme Court after the biological father, Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, sought custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
In its 5-4 ruling on June 25, the high court said ICWA was intended to keep Indian families together, not be a way for an absentee father to belatedly assert his paternal rights and disrupt an almost-completed adoption. It added that the South Carolina court has jurisdiction of the case.
Adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who live near Charleston, were pleased with the South Carolina court decision.
However, a legal official with the Cherokee Nation said they would be filing a petition for the case to be reheard in Oklahoma Monday.
The child, who turns 4 in September, has lived with Mr. Brown and his new wife in Oklahoma for 19 months.
Veronica’s birth mother, Christina Maldonado, supported the adoption by the Capobiancos, as she handpicked the couple and has an open-adoption relationship with them. She said Mr. Brown chose to give up his parental rights so he wouldn’t have to pay child support, and South Carolina law didn’t require his consent for adoption.