Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment. Discussion »
Court cases involve real people with real lives. Sometimes the human element gets lost when there are no names attached to court cases. Such is the case in the US Supreme Court case named "Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl."
The Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl case gained enormous attention in Indian country because of the implications the case on the Indian Child Welfare Act, most commonly known as ICWA.
The story of Baby Girl really is a tragic case that should have never come as far as it has. Baby Girl, born to two unwed parents from Oklahoma, was turned over to a couple 700 miles away in South Carolina. Even though the South Carolina couple never adopted Baby Girl, she was sent to live with them through an arrangement with Baby Girl’s biological mother.
Baby Girl's father Dusten Brown was deployed to Iraq during the early part of her life. He is a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation. American Indian, who have been historically adopted out of their communities at disproportionate rates, are supposedly protected by the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Something went amiss in this when the biological mother failed to list the Baby Girl as American Indian and provided wrong information to the adoption agency relating to the American Indian citizenship of Dusten Brown.
After he returned from Iraq, where he received numerous medals for his service to the United States, Brown ended up winning custody of Baby Girl and was able to take her back to Oklahoma. There, he worked two jobs, to make sure his legal fees were paid.
The South Carolina couple made a public relations campaign out of the case. They ended up on Dr. Phil, who has no clue about the tragedy faced by American Indian children within the court system throughout the United States.
The case ends up at the United States Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision rendered on June 25, 2013, the court remands the case back to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Last week, the South Carolina Supreme Court orders "the immediate transfer of the child, no longer an infant or toddler, upon the filing of the family court's adoption order, without regard to whether such an abrupt transfer would be in the child's best interest."
The young girl in our Photo of the Week has been known as "Baby Girl" in a custody battle that made its way all the way to the US Supreme Court. Baby Girl, also known as Baby Veronica, is Veronica Brown. She turns four years old on September 15.
The photo is of Veronica and her father from Monday as he was leaving the Tulsa airport on his way to National Guard training. Quite obviously, it would not be in the best interests of Veronica if the South Carolina Supreme Court has its way.
You can find all the stories the Native News Network has followed this case
posted July 27, 2013 6:30 am edt