Court settles fight over custody of Cherokee girl
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Veronica's entire 4-year-old life has been lived at the center of a protracted custody dispute between her biological Native American father and a couple in South Carolina chosen as adoptive parents by her mother.
Now that the legal fight is over, the struggle to establish a normal existence for the young Cherokee girl begins.
Late on Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court declined to uphold a stay keeping Veronica with her father, Dusten Brown, and ordered that custody be turned over to Matt and Melanie Capobianco of Charleston.
The Capobiancos began the long journey back from Oklahoma to Veronica's new permanent home with the resolution of a yearslong battle involving questions of jurisdiction and tribal sovereignty in Native American and federal courts.
When they get home, their topmost priority should be making the stable life that Veronica has lacked in her first four years of life, experts say.
“The saga she's been through really seems to be this tragic tale of law and adults who talk about the best interest of the child but don't seem to be doing what's in the best interest of the child,” said Dr. Naranjan Karnik, a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry at Chicago's Rush University. “Kids always know when there's uncertainty in the air. To not know where your home is going to be is the most unsettling thing.”
Dr. Philip Fisher, a psychologist specializing in childhood trauma at the University of Oregon, agrees.
Fisher notes that children who have been in unsettled home environments, such as shuttling between different houses or families, can suffer. At 4 years old, traumatic changes can hamper development in the part of the brain that helps someone make good decisions, Fisher said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.