Share “Baby Veronica's Father, Native American...”

Politics

NewsOK | BLOGS

Baby Veronica's Father, Native American Groups Express Outrage

by Chris Casteel Published: July 18, 2013

Dusten Brown, the Cherokee father of the three-year-old girl at the center of a custody dispute that wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court, expressed outrage Thursday that the South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered the child to be returned to the South Carolina couple that raised her for the first year and a half of her life.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that a federal law meant to keep Indian families intact did not apply to Brown’s claim for the girl. Acting on that ruling, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled narrowly on Wednesday that the adoption should be finalized for the couple in that state.
The Brown family, of Nowata, released this statement through the Cherokee Nation:
“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 National Congress of American Indians said Thursday, “We are witnessing the final steps in a forced removal of a Native child from her father, her family, and her Native community.
“NCAI is astounded and alarmed that the South Carolina Supreme Court has issued an order to transfer Veronica, the daughter of Dusten Brown, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, to the adoptive couple and doing so without holding a hearing to determine the best interests of the child.
“There is no scenario in which the best interests of this three year old child will be served by removing her from her loving father and family raising her in Oklahoma. Mr. Brown pursued his right to care for his biological daughter since the moment he learned of the adoption. A removal of the child will be extremely traumatic for her and is clearly not in her best interest.“

And the National Indian Child Welfare Association said, “NICWA shares the outrage reverberating through Indian Country today.
“It is incomprehensible that, in its decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court took the added measure of forbidding the state Family Court from holding hearings to determine what is in Veronica’s best interest. By opting to remand the case to the Family Court for the sole purpose of finalizing the adoption, South Carolina has failed to act in a manner consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
“While the Indian Child Welfare Act was not overturned and still stands as law, the decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court yesterday sends a chilling message. Like other Americans, American Indians rely on the integrity of the judicial system to protect our children. Now our faith in that system is shaken. Since the earliest contact, non-Indians have seen fit to take whatever they covet from Indian people. The sad truth is that this decision is one more chapter in that shameful history.
“NICWA is reaching out to Congress to strengthen ICWA compliance and close loopholes so that the forced removal of Indian children from loving homes will never happen again. The Brown family and the Cherokee Nation continue to have our unwavering support as they pursue legal remedies to South Carolina’s unjust decision.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Uganda 'gay' trial dismissed due to lack of evidence
  2. 2
    News 9: Train Slams Into Stalled Car In NW OKC
  3. 3
    KOCO: Oklahoma City cellphone users could pay more for 911 calls
  4. 4
    'La Bamba' Star Elizabeth Pena Died from Alcohol Abuse
  5. 5
    Texas’ Joe Wickline suing Oklahoma State
+ show more