Baby Veronica

My husband Bryan wrote:

The Baby Veronica case is a hot-button issue, and I wanted to share some thoughts. (Disclaimer: I am not a member of the adoption triad, but have learned much from making CLOSURE and reading countless stories of adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents) I look at the Baby Veronica case and see just another example of an adoptee being tossed around without any say, and that makes me sad. I also see another example of the birth father’s voice (Dusten, in this case) being lost, and not given any value. If I could say one thing to the Capobianco’s (Veronica’s adoptive parents) I’d tell them to give up now. Give custody of Veronica to Dusten, and rebuild your trust with him so you may still play a role in Veronica’s life. My heart goes out to the Capobianco’s as well, as I’m sure the love and bond they feel towards Veronica is stronger than most of us could imagine. However – they don’t seem to be thinking in the long term right now. When Veronica is no longer just an adorable 4 year old, and instead a curious and inquisitive 17 year old girl, what are they going to tell her about her story? They won’t be able to fall back on a trite narrative of abandonment and how they “saved” her from foster care, being an orphan, etc. How will she feel when she discovers that her biological father FOUGHT for her for four years, even going to jail to defend his right to keep her? And that he had an equally loving family wanting to play a role in her life, and could have provided with everything she needed? As a young adult someday, is it possible Veronica may view her adoption as unnecessary, and totally avoidable by the Capobianco’s? There’s a lot of talk right now about Veronica’s “best interest”, but best interests can look different for a 4 year old and a 17 year old.

I’m learning that people in positions of privilege don’t often realize they have privilege until someone without points it out. Birthfather (Dusten) and adoptee (Veronica) are clearly in positions without power or privilege. The adoptive couple has complete privilege in the eyes of this case as they are wealthy, “healthy,” successful, “courageous,” Caucasian adoptive parents. The birthmother has jockeyed herself into more of a position of power b/c of her vulnerable position. People empathize with her, and view her as a disadvantaged person who endured a hard pregnancy and made the difficult decision for adoption. Until the world takes notice and listens to those without the societal power, the same tired narrative will continue.

I think it’s a beautiful thing that the birthmother in this case was able to choose a family that she felt to be best qualified at the time, and that the family has valued her from the start. I’m happy to know that the Capobianco’s love and cherish Veronica as a human being. However, the bottom line of this inhumane game of tug-of-war is not about the relationship between the birthmother and the adoptive family. It’s not about the care that the Capobianco’s have shown as her parents thus far. Juggling Veronica’s precious life around does not have anything to do with the troubled relationship between birth mom and birth dad and how that factors in to who should parent the child. This case is not about the mismanagement of the Nightlight Christian Agency who chose to terminate Dusten’s rights prematurely and bypass ICWA without doing their due diligence. This is about the one person who cannot speak for herself – Veronica. This is the rub that irks many adoptees. Everyone else is doing the talking for young adoptees as babies and children obviously cannot yet speak. Clearly, a four year old cannot understand the complexities, and advocate for herself at this time. In wondering what could remedy this, I feel that listening to those who are without privilege – first – may offer new perspective.

I’m troubled by the lack of respect that the birthfather has been shown. I can’t help but wonder if he was a Caucasian middle/upper class man would his narrative be the same? I bet the media coverage would be rolling with titles like; BREAKING NEWS: Biological father served our country, jailed fighting for his daughter.

I also think it’s worth noting that the Indian Child Welfare Act has been put in place for a reason. It is important that we acknowledge this rather than try to scoot past this law like it’s a nuisance for adoptive couples who want a child so badly and on their time frame.

43 thoughts on “Baby Veronica

  1. Dana says:

    I don’t think most infant adoption is beautiful. I think breaking families apart is a tragedy. If the family all got killed in a tornado except for the baby and then the baby is adopted by a loving, healthy family and grows up fine, OK, that’s almost beautiful (yet still a tragedy), but that’s not most of what infant adoption is in the United States. I’m tired of seeing people pussyfoot around this issue and give infant-adopters the benefit of the doubt. They don’t deserve it. This woman already lost custody of her two older kids and was paying child support and she didn’t want to have to do that again. Considering that from Dusten’s end the relationship had been going fine, and that they were engaged before she got pregnant, and she knew he was doing OK and that she’d qualify for some military benefits, my guess is she found a new guy while he was gone. Not commendable in any sense, and her actions were not actions of beauty or love but of selfishness.

    There are over 100,000 kids in permanent foster care in the United States. They can’t ever go home again. No one cares about them. There are too many pregnant women to bully nicely with admonitions that they’ll be bad mothers due to their poverty or lack of schooling. Too many cute China dolls to import from Asia. It’s sick. Biological parents take whatever Nature gives them and they learn to cope with it, even in the face of extreme disability. Adopters for the most part think they are entitled to a perfect kid, first time and every time, and they don’t want some little mess like the parents changing their minds. Oh how *pedestrian*.

    And Mr. Capobianco *cut Veronica’s cord*. That is CREEPY. That’s how bad it gets in infant adoption. They can’t even give the mother time to meet her baby and come to terms with what she is doing–they have to make it all about THEM. She’s just their vessel to bring “their” baby into the world. Nothing more.

    Over 80 percent of “open adoptions” close in their first year. The largest demographic opposing unsealing original birth certificates for adoptees is the adopters. Adoption is not beautiful. It has nothing to do with love or caring. It’s all gimme, gimme, gimme cause I got the money.

    Even some foster parents are pathetic in that way. The state’s paying them. That’s what it’s all about for too many of them.

    We owe America’s kids much better than this.


  2. Priscilla Stone Sharp says:

    Dusten Brown is Veronica’s father – no prefix or qualification is necessary. He always was her father, always will be, and no piece of paper or possession will ever change that. If, God forbid, he loses custody of his beloved child, it won’t matter. Mark my words, she will remember her Daddy, will miss him and will be back as soon as she can get away.


  3. angelatucker says:

    Thanks for your comment, Dana.

    I hear you on many points. As some of my previous blogs suggest – I do not think “adoption is beautiful” across the board. I think adoption is complicated. In the instances of domestic adoptions where a birthmom is making a choice for adoption before the birth, I think it’s beautiful when she can choose a family who respects her, values the baby’s life and can acknowledge the tragedy inherent within the situation.

    You certainly bring up some good food for thought. Thanks!


  4. eagoodlife says:

    When Veronica grows up she will find discussions like this in abundance, she will know she was fought over by adults who should have known better, cared more for her rights and her welfare.Adoption is nver beautiful, it always begins with loss and trauma.


  5. Priscilla Stone Sharp says:

    Dana~ The Capobiancos were in the delivery room because the mother, Christy Maldonado, had sold the privilege to them for over $10,000 in cash and gifts given directly to her and her other children before the birth, a violation of SC (and probably Federal law). In addition, she was receiving free medical care through Sooner care and probably did not disclose this income on her application for medical care or tax returns. What’s even worse, she deliberately cut Dusten and his parents out of her life. Alice and Tommy Brown were delighted that Dusten’s fiancée was expecting their grandchild. Alice started knitting traditional Cherokee baby items and gathering other gifts for her grand baby, and were heartbroken when Christy abruptly broke the engagement and cut off communications with no explanation. And, before you jump to conclusions, no, Dusten was not an abusive man. There is absolutely nothing in Dusten’s history to indicate that; indeed, it is Christy whose life has been fraught with domestic troubles and restraining orders and she has lost custody of her other two children to their father(s) (I am hazy about how many men she has had children with).
    The most crushing blow to Dusten was to learn later that she had gone so far as to put “no report” orders at the hospital so that if he or any of his family called to inquire whether Christy was there, they would be lied to and told no. Dusten was confused and hurt, but decided to give Christy her space; since he was being deployed to Iraq, there wasn’t much he could do anyway. He had no idea what she had already done – sold his baby to the Capobiancos – and as soon as he found out, immediately took steps to get his daughter back and has not backed down ever since.
    I don’t often support fathers; unfortunately, many of them really are “deadbeat dads,” but I immediately recognized in Dusten a truly caring, sincere, if naive and too trusting, man who loves his children and always was willing to assume the title and responsibilities of father. Every one of us should look at Dusten as our son, brother, grandson and ask ourselves how we would feel if it was one of our family who was going through this. He should be celebrated and encouraged. The baby sellers picked the wrong man to mess with, that’s for sure!


  6. Truth Hurts says:

    Father later claimed he would not have “given up” his parental rights had he known Mother planned to place the baby for adoption. However, during Father’s cross- examination the following exchange took place:
    Q. But you were prepared to sign all your rights and responsibilities away to this child just so as long as the mother was taking care of the child?
    A. That’s correct.
    Q. And you would not be responsible in any way for the child support or anything else as far as the child’s concerned?
    A. Correct.
    Q. That’s correct? Is that conducive to being a father?
    A. I don’t believe so.


  7. Truth Hurts says:

    “Father made no meaningful effort to establish a relationship with Baby Girl when there was ample opportunity for him to do so. To the contrary, he avoided any rights and responsibilities to the child. As noted, on repeated occasions, Father expressed his willingness to sign away his parental rights.53 Moreover, while Father was in Iraq until December 2010, Father failed to request visitation until he was deposed in this case. At the time of his request, Baby Girl was twenty-two months old, and Father had returned from active duty seven months earlier.54”


  8. Truth Hurts says:

    I especially like that he was so in tune with being Indian, he just forgot he was for 4 months…

    “Father’s complaint initially alleged that “[n]either parent nor the children [sic] have [sic] Native American blood. Therefore the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act . . . do[es] not apply.” The complaint was amended on April 19, 2010, to allege “[b]oth the father and the child have Native American blood. Therefore the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act . . . do[es] apply.”


  9. ⚓Candice Barnhart (@CandiceBarnhart) says:

    Just to add some balance to this conversation. Veronica is a multi-racial child. Her mother did NOT sell the rights to have this child to the Capobiancos. The adoption process has been legal. If you can find any written proof that it is illegal, I am sure it would be all over the media now. The real media, not the propaganda machine coming from the CN in OK. Dusten clearly loves this child, but you all seem to be forgetting, NONE of this would be taking place had he done his duty as a father from the day she was born. He was not forced to relinquish this child, he was not forced to avoid supporting her emotionally and financially. You can blame the birth mother all you want, but he could have done more. I was a single military parent for my entire service. It was not easy, but it was a choice I made to secure a better life for my child and me. Dusten could have at least offered to make her his dependent in DEERs, he could have not sent a text to the birth mom saying he was just going to give up his ‘rites’. He could have insisted on not signing anything other than an a legal agreement for physical and legal custody of the child that did not relinquish his rights to her. Maybe he was confused, but he had already signed contracts before, many, because that is standard when you join the Armed Forces. Not only that, he was already in legal contract to provide child support for his older child, so he should have known full well to read the fine print before signing anything. He had JAG lawyers available to him to help him distinguish the facts of what he was signing. I am hoping for a positive outcome for all. BUT to slap the face and treat the parents of Veronica who were there the day she was born and have never wavered in their love or commitment to this child is WRONG! I am sure there are adoption nightmares out there and I do believe there needs to be adoption reform, but that reform needs to be for ALL American children, not just Native American ones, especially when those children are multi-racial. ICWA needs to be reformed or replaced with a better law for all. Adoption is not always a horrible thing. There are plenty of children who have thrived because of adoption. There are plenty of people having babies that no one wants, so the need is there. Unfortunately in this case, the birthmother didn’t feel she could raise this child alone. She knew her relationship with Brown was over and when he declined to support the child, what was she to do? He may have not made the choice to walk away from his relationship with the birth mother, but he made the choice to walk away from Veronica. Yes, he did have a change of heart, but to take her away from the only family she knew and with no transition after over 27 months is selfish. He abandoned her from day one. What kind of message does that send? The desires of the parent should never come before the needs of the child and what this child needed was love and stability which were both provided by her mom and dad the Capobiancos. Dusten Brown failed this child in the beginning. i do believe he should have the opportunity to be in her life, but I believe his actions throughout the whole process have proven to be selfish. He has denied Veronica from seeing anyone involved wiht her first 27 months of life. His wife says it is ‘not safe for them to go home’ to the child. HORRIBLE. No one is going to try and rip her away illegally. They wanted a safe transitition for her. Robin Brown is just showing she is not capable of understanding what it means to be a mother yet by her immature and opportunistic character. I hope that the families can come to a resolution where everyone who loves Veronica can be in her life, but she needs to be back with her parents. Dusten Brown agreed to abide by the courts’ decisions and apparently he decided that only works for him when they rule in his favor. He openly violates a court order and exploits his military uniform to garner sympathy and support. It is disgraceful. Everyone should be honored for the service they provide to this country, but they should not be given a free pass when it comes to respecting and following the law.


  10. Truth Hurts says:

    It should be noted that after 4 years of litigation, NOTHING supports this allegation of baby buying. Furthermore, neither Brown nor the Cherokee Nation ever attempted to litigate on it or even mention it. In short, it is a bald-faced lie that when Brown supporters are asked to produce evidence, they go strangely silent, which is markedly different from their normal histrionics.


  11. Priscilla Sharp says:

    And that phone and transcript mysteriously disappeared when ordered by the judge to be brought into evidence.
    In no state in the country can a father relinquish parental rights by text message. These text messages WERE NOT EVIDENCE at trial because the attorney for the Adoptive Couple would not produce the phone that showed Birth Mother’s messages to father, instead they attempted to introduce photocopies, even though the cell phone was allegedly in a safe at the office of the Guardian Ad Litem’s attorney. The Family Court did not consider these text messages as evidence.
    The Family Court repeatedly stated that it did “not find birth mother’s testimony credible.” – Family Court Bench Ruling, United States Supreme Court Brief


  12. Priscilla Sharp says:

    And anything from the Capobiancos and their PR machine is not biased??? As we are beginning to learn, this has been orchestrated from the beginning by the Capobiancos, and the lies and nasty smear campaign, despite a gag order, are being revealed. Indian Country Today is the only news network that is brave enough to find and tell the truth … for now.


  13. ⚓Candice Barnhart (@CandiceBarnhart) says:

    Priscilla, I am not asking you to rely on any information provided by them. I do believe in the Capobiancos and their ‘PR machine’ is a group of parents who in their own spare time spread the word because they believe in this family and for no other reason. I would suggest you rely on actualy court documentation. If you do that and not look at either side, then you would see that this case was fully litigated and that the SCOTUS said ICWA DOES NOT APPLY to this case. That was the foundation of Dusten Brown’s argument. If you remove the foundation, you see that he has no legal right to stand on and emotionally he did what was best for him, not Veronica. She needed stability and he pulled that out from under her with NO TRANSITION time with her family. He wants everything on HIS terms. He has never been willing to meet in the middle before this mediation began without being the puppet master or actually the puppet for CNO. It is disturbing. His love for this child should outweigh his actions and so far his love for himself has been front and center.


  14. Priscilla Sharp says:

    In court testimony, Matt Capobianco admitted on the stand in South Carolina that he and his wife had given Maldonado money, which accounts for the record time in which Maldonado pulled out of her financial chaos. Under Oklahoma law, however, there is a $1,000 limit to what birth mothers can be paid. Any more than that requires court approval, according to an Oklahoma adoption attorney. Those in the adoption industry say the state limit is often ignored when a desperate couple is seeking the assistance and cooperation of a birth mother who may be in financial straights.

    The Capobiancos also testified that they paid for Maldonado’s attorney fees and bought Christmas gifts for her and her two other children in 2009, as well as covering her airfare and expenses to travel to and from court hearings in South Carolina for trial. On the stand, Melanie Capobianco said that she and her husband had spent between “$30,000 to $40,000” for Veronica’s adoption. But those expenses are now two years out of date, though no formal audit has ever taken place regarding the expenditures and receivables on either side. It is widely acknowledged, however, that the appellate and Supreme Court practitioners and their staffs worked pro bono for both parties in Adoptive Couple.

    Additionally, it is unclear whether Maldonado claimed any of the funds or gifts she received from the Capobiancos or any of their supporters in the last four years as income, which may be taxable under IRS laws.



  15. Kathy Johnson says:

    As an adoptee, I make it simple. Biological children belong with biological parents. Adoption should be considered only if that is totally impossible. The wound of being torn from your biological parents is deeper than you could ever know. No fancy upbringing, no unconditional love (?)……could overcome it. It is a daily hell for the child and natural parents; and the adoptive parents sooner or later. Let Veronica be where she belongs. #standingmygroundforVeronicaBrown


  16. Truth Hurts says:

    Some children are not “torn” from their biological parents. Some children are adopted because their biological parents didn’t step up how then should when they should have. That is most certainly the case with Dusten Brown. And although you were unhappy in your adoption, that does not mean all children are…


  17. Amyadoptee says:

    Please do not insult an adoptee. I wasn’t upset with adoption until I searched. I am extremely thankful for my adoptive family. Now with that being said, there is another child being taken from Oklahoma to South Carolina by the same agency. This child is also Native American child. I guess that is just bull too. Bringing in Troy Dunn to go upon tribal lands to steal a child is cool. I am sorry the C’s have violated every kind of human decency. The courts on three levels sided with Dusten Brown. Even Justice Scalia sided with Dusten.


  18. Priscilla Sharp says:

    These text messages WERE NOT EVIDENCE at trial because the attorney for the Adoptive Couple would not produce the phone that showed Birth Mother’s messages to father, instead they attempted to introduce photocopies, even though the cell phone was allegedly in a safe at the office of the Guardian Ad Litem’s attorney. The Family Court did not consider these text messages as evidence.


  19. Amy says:

    The post by this author is disturbing on so many levels. First, the author claims the birth father’s voice was lost. One must first actually be a father to have a voice. That is not only my personal opinion, but it is SC state law. Like it or not, SC has jurisdiction over this case. Mr. Brown gave up his parental rights because he did not want to be financially responsible for an unborn child (Veronica). Mr. Brown did not request visitation with Veronica until she was 22 months old, when he was deposed for the court case. Does that sound like a father? The following exchange is from court documents: “Father later claimed he would not have “given up” his parental rights had he known Mother planned to place the baby for adoption. However, during Father’s cross- examination the following exchange took place:
    Q. But you were prepared to sign all your rights and responsibilities away to this child just so as long as the mother was taking care of the child?
    A. That’s correct.
    Q. And you would not be responsible in any way for the child support or anything else as far as the child’s concerned?
    A. Correct.
    Q. That’s correct? Is that conducive to being a father?
    A. I don’t believe so.”
    Mr. Brown agreed that his actions were not conducive to being a father.

    The birth mother came up with a selfless plan to ensure her unborn child would have a loving home with parents who could provide for her. Veronica’s parents loved her before she was born and had never wavered – they were always there for her.

    The author also writes that he would encourage the Capobianco’s to “give up now”. Really….what parent gives up on their child? The Capobianco’s are her “real parents”. The Capobianco’s loved Veronica before she was born. Mr. Brown gave up on this child before she was born. 120 days after her birth he changed his mind. There are no “do-overs”. Who does that? No parent does that. I commend SC for recognizing “true parents”. One is not a parent just because they share DNA with a child. A parent is one who loves and supports a child emotionally and financially. Mr. Brown did neither. Bryan Tucker (author) are you a parent? I am a parent to 2 young children. I can never imagine a scenario in which one of my children were taken away from me at 2 ½ years old by mistake of law. I would enter the fight of my life for my child. There is no way in hell 19 months later I would “give up” on my child. True parents bond with their children before they are born, they love them unconditionally, they want them and they crave to be with their children – even when it is not convenient. The Capobianco’s did this and more! Vital bonds are made in the first 2 years of life and Veronica needs to be reunited with her parents. Mr. Brown never saw Veronica before he picked her up and took her away from the only parents she had ever known. This would be traumatic for any 2 ½ year old. Veronica deserves to be returned to the parents that loved her before she was born and continue to love and fight for her.

    If Veronica were to stay with Mr. Brown, she would not have the opportunity to have all that love her in her life. If she is returned to her true parents, she will have the opportunity for all that love her to be in her life.

    Yes, Veronica will grow up. I speculate that her parents will find a way to gently tell her about this whole scenario before she learns to google. She will learn of the fight for her and how so many love her. She will have the opportunity to be loved by many when she is returned to her parents, the Capobianco’s. This legal battle will be a huge part of Veronica’s life.

    As we write comments and make judgments in this case, it is important to stick to the facts. Veronica will read these comments one day. She does not need to read the nastiness in some of the comments posted on the internet.

    I hope and pray Veronica will soon be reunited with her true parents who have put her best interest first from the beginning!


  20. bryanatucker says:

    Amy – sorry my words were so disturbing for you, but after reading your post I’d encourage you to read Angela’s previous post on ownership and parenting. I think we need to hear from more people like myself about this case, who aren’t parents. It’s precisely why in the court of law, when choosing a jury, the potential jury members who do not demonstrate the ability to be impartial are eliminated. I think in this case, if I was a parent, that would cloud my judgement. I’m not denying any bonding the C’s may have towards Veronica, and vice versa. it’s tragic V was pulled from them after two years, but in that case I believe it wasn’t too late to do the right thing. Of course it didn’t have to be two years, it could have been much much earlier when D first came forward to fight for her, but the C’s chose to prolong that fight. My words were simply to consider Veronica’s voice, who as an adoptee is often overlooked (just listen to the many adult adoptees who speak of their own frustration). Being adopted is something that has a lifelong affect on a person, and I question why you even mentioned that Veronica staying with Dusten means she would “not have the opportunity to have all that love”? How are you in a position to make that call? By saying that you’re implying that V is not being cared for right now with D, his wife, and his parents. Back to me being a parent. I would hope to God that if I were in the C’s shoes, that I would have acted differently. If I had raised a child with my wife for four months and then the birthfather came forward with that information, I would hope that we would have seriously considered what we’d done and if we’d done it right (and if the agency had done it right), and if his story checked out. If it did check out, then it’s never too late to do the right thing, and with a mutual respect between D and the C’s I think V could grow up knowing both families. That’s where the ownership thing comes in. And that’s what I meant in my comment about them “giving up now.” I think there still is a chance for V to stay with D, and for the C’s to rebuild trust with D to stay in V’s life, which is truly the best thing for V (to have both sides in her life). I’m not painting D as any saint here, as he’s made mistakes as well (not allowing a smooth transition for V or letting her see the C’s), and I think both sides are at fault with having this strong sense of ownership over this child. On that final note, I think if one side has more of a right to custody of V than the other, it’s D – and I think that’s in V’s best interest as well.


  21. Marsha Crane says:

    “Additionally, Indian Country Today Media Network has learned that Maldonado did not, in fact, receive any compensation for birth expenses from the Capobiancos. The birth of Veronica came at the expense of the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma via the state’s Medicaid program, SoonerCare”

    She still recieved money from the Capobiancos, which she testified to on cross examination. She claimed not to remember how much. The Capobiancos spent 30-40 and none of that went to medical expenses.


  22. becca says:

    Amy so, Veronica’s father doesn’t love her. Can you seriously say that with the amount of effort he to get her back? You realize that Veronica has a big sister who she’s very close too now. She and her sister are being denied the right to grow up together. And they now each other. Okay so Dustin and his issues. But the point is in a world of deadbeat dads he was willing to step up and care for his kid. Shouldn’t we be encouraging this? The C’s were never fully honest and upfront with this guy.

    Veronica also has grandparents who are adore her. Her Grandfather apparently had a heartache when she was taken. Don’t you think the grandparents should have been given the choice to adopt- their grandchild first before people with no biological tie.

    Poor Veronica and her big sister denied the right to be with each other.


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