For the first few moments of her life, Veronica was with her birth mother.
For the next two years, she was with her adoptive parents.
And for the last week, the toddler has been with her biological father, over 1,000 miles away from the only home she'd ever known.
It's been a long, complicated journey for young Veronica -- one made possible by a federal law meant "to protect the best interests of Indian children" that, in the process, has tugged at the heartstrings of all involved.
The story began in 2009, when Veronica's biological mother and father, Dusten Brown, signed a legal document agreeing to put the girl up for adoption. Brown's attorney, Shannon Jones, says that her client signed the waiver but didn't quite understand it.
Soon after the girl was born, Brown -- a U.S. Army soldier -- headed off on a 1-year deployment.
It was then that the baby moved on as well, to the Charleston, South Carolina, home of Matt and Melanie Capobianco.
It was an open adoption, family friend Jessica Munday said. That meant the girl's birth mother could and did maintain a relationship with the girl.It's a pretty unusual case, in that birth fathers rarely win in adoption revocations. One really important fact to note by all of those who decry the removal of the child after two years with her adoptive parents -- those parents have known since she was 4 months old that the birth father was seeking to reverse the adoption. I expect they were playing the delay game, which, as I posted here, usually benefits the adoptive parent in possession. Now the adoptive parents are saying they will appeal, and the benefit of delay belongs to the birth father. . . .
But Brown, the biological father, wasn't on board. Four months after Veronica's birth, he began legal proceedings seeking custody of her.
"My client has been fighting for custody of his daughter since shortly after her birth," Shannon Jones, Brown's Charleston-based lawyer, said by e-mail. "He loves this child with all his heart."
Brown appeared to win that battle late last year. On New Year's Eve, he arrived in South Carolina, picked up Veronica from her adoptive parents, and headed west to his home in Oklahoma.