In a 3-to-2 decision, South Carolina’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Native child whose case went to the US Supreme Court will be placed back with the white family that sought to adopt her.
In its ruling, the US Supreme Court held that Dusten Brown, and his daughter, Baby Veronica—who are both citizens of the Cherokee Nation—were essentially not protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act. As such, the case was bounced back to the South Carolina court. After the ruling, Brown ironically attempted to adopt his own daughter in Oklahoma, since the high court didn’t recognize his rights as a parent. But Oklahoma declined to hear the petition, claiming that South Carolina retained exclusive jurisdiction of the case, since that was where the potential adoptive parents resided.
The South Carolina court agreed Wednesday to terminate Brown’s parental rights, ruling against him and Cherokee Nation. The ruling means that Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the white couple that sought to adopt Veronica, will now regain custody and finalize the adoption.
In their dissenting opinion, two of the justices drew attention to the fact that although Veronica was temporarily placed in pre-adoptive care with the Copabiancos, she was placed with her birth father while still a baby. Just a couple of months shy of age four, she’s now being taken from her father in what the justices are calling “an abrupt transfer,” that is not necessarily in Veronica’s best interest.
Brown does have five days to petition for a rehearing, though it remains unclear what legal avenues he may have left to pursue.