Lacie Lowry, News on 6
CHARLESTON, South Carolina – A South Carolina judge Tuesday threw out the transition plan for Baby Veronica and ordered her Oklahoma family to immediately hand the girl over to her adoptive parents.
The judge said Veronica’s father skipped a mandatory meeting.
But Dusten Brown is at National Guard training in Iowa, and the Oklahoma National Guard confirms it wouldn’t make an exception and let him leave for any legal matters involving Veronica.
Veronica’s adoptive parents – Matt and Melanie Capobianco, of South Carolina – raised Veronica for two years before Brown gained custody.
Their adoption of Veronica has been finalized in South Carolina and they were scheduled to meet with Veronica and Brown on Sunday.
Brown and his daughter were a no-show and the Cherokee Nation says all parties knew of Brown’s mandatory training.
We asked an expert to weigh-in on what abrupt changes can do to a child.
“Cases such as these really lose sight of the fact that we’re dealing with 4-year-old child who has attachments to many people,” said therapist Cathy Chalmers.
Chalmers said cases like Baby Veronica’s are a lightning rod for issues like adoption and the historical trauma of Indians.
“The more the parties become polarized and divided, the harder it is to set aside personal needs and desires,” she said.
Chalmers didn’t write the transition plan, but was recommended as a resource for Dusten Brown. She’s also Cherokee.
She’s not allowed to talk about Veronica’s case, but she’s seen several cases just like Veronica’s, where a transition plan is thrown out and a child immediately transferred.
Chalmers said that’s when a child suffers.
“Abrupt change says to the child, ‘Where I came from wasn’t okay or I wouldn’t have been taken away from it,'” Chalmers said. “What brings them comfort, the routines, the rituals of their day-to-day life sometimes get lost in all the politics that are involved in a polarized court ruling.”
Cherokee Nation’s Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo issued the following statement:
It is disgusting to insinuate criminal misconduct or wrongdoing on Dusten’s behalf. He is in another state for mandatory National Guard training, which all parties and the court have known for a least two weeks. It is physically and legally impossible for Dusten to comply with the current order. This is another ploy to paint Dusten as the “bad guy.” It is especially appalling while he is serving his country. Legal steps have been taken by the Capobiancos to enforce the order in Oklahoma, and legal challenges will no doubt follow. To manufacture this media frenzy is unnecessary and harmful to all involved.
Brown returns from training on August 21.
The Oklahoma National Guard offered this statement Tuesday:
“The Oklahoma National Guard will not interject at this time in the legal matters of Baby Veronica and her natural father, Oklahoma Army National Guard Specialist Dusten Brown, who is attending military training in another state until August 21st. While we respect the request by Judge Martin to help enforce his order yesterday, we believe it inappropriate for the Oklahoma National Guard to take action in this matter until such time as it has been fully litigated by all parties. There are other legal mechanisms immediately available to the state of South Carolina to enforce the court’s order that have nothing to do with the National Guard or Specialist Brown’s military service.”
It’s unclear what happens next with Veronica, who is with her grandparents and step-mom in Oklahoma.