In a landmark adoption ruling three months ago, the Supreme Court decided that the Indian Child Welfare Act didn’t apply to keeping a young Cherokee girl named Veronica with her biological father, Dusten Brown. But it remained unclear whether that meant Veronica would be turned over to the white couple that wanted to adopt her.
After bouncing the case back to South Carolina, there have been several developments. Most recently, Brown was involved in secret negotiations with the adoptive couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, but was barred from talking about the case because of a gag order. Those negotiations never worked out, however. Federal marshals took Veronica, who is four years old now, from Cherokee tribal headquarters in Tahlequah, Okla., on Monday night.
Suzette Brewer, who’s been detailing developments in the case for Indian Country Today, explains what a loss this has been for Cherokee Nation, as well as for the Brown family:
Exhausted and left with few options other than jail time and the loss of his military career and pension, [Dusten Brown] discussed her peaceful transfer with his family, legal team and tribal officials. He and his wife, Robin, packed a few bags for Veronica, who had just turned four years old last week. Before the family gathered to say their last goodbyes, Tommy Brown, Veronica’s grandfather, began suffering chest pains and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The Capobiancos have previously said they will allow Veronica to keep her ties to her nation–but are not obligated by any agreement to do so.