OKLAHOMA CITY – A South Carolina couple who vowed last month to not leave Oklahoma unless they went home with a 4-year-old Cherokee Indian girl they have been trying to adopt since her birth were given custody of the girl Monday night after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said it didn’t have jurisdiction over the child.
“She’s safely in her parents’ arms,” said Jessica Munday, a spokeswoman for Matt and Melanie Capobianco, of Charleston, S.C.
Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Amanda Clinton confirmed that Veronica was handed over to the Capobiancos hours after the Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved a temporary court order leaving the child with her father and his family. Until the Monday night transfer, the Cherokee Nation had insisted the girl would remain with the tribe.
The Capobiancos and the girl’s biological father, Dusten Brown, had fought for years over custody of the girl. The dispute has raised questions about jurisdictions, tribal sovereignty and a federal law meant to help keep American Indian tribes together.
Veronica, whose biological father is a member of the Cherokee Nation and whose biological mother in not American Indian, had lived with the Capobiancos from birth until she was 27 months old, when Brown was awarded custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision later went against Brown, and a South Carolina court finalized the Capobiancos’ adoption of the girl earlier this year. Brown had then turned to Oklahoma’s courts.