Baby Veronica, the Cherokee child caught in a custody battle that has garnered national attention, has been handed over to her adoptive parents.
The custody exchange was made around 7:30 Monday night at the Cherokee Marshal's building, just steps from the home that has recently housed Dusten Brown, Veronica's biological father, and his wife, according to Cherokee County undersheriff Jason Chennault.
The Browns watched from the house's front window as a deputy and marshal led the 4-year-old girl to the nearby building, having said goodbye from behind closed doors.
Supporters of the Cherokee family stood outside the home signs in hand in the hours prior to Veronica's transfer, prompted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court's lifting of the emergency stay in the case earlier in the day.
That order was made shortly after custody negotiations broke down between the Capobiancos and Dusten Brown.
“Baby Veronica,” who has been under the care of Nowata man and Cherokee Nation member Dusten Brown for the past two years, was handed over to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the South Carolina couple Veronica lived with for her first two years of life.
Veronica was initially returned to Brown under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled inapplicable to the adoption case.
Capobianco spokeswoman Jessica Munday released a statement on behalf of the couple Monday not long after the order:
“With today's decision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Capobianco family's long legal nightmare finally has come to an end. Matt and Melanie cannot wait to bring Veronica home and begin the healing process as a reunited family. Their hope now is that the Brown family and Cherokee Nation will return Veronica peacefully and voluntarily, rather than following through with their previous threats to continue to ignore court orders and place Veronica in a dangerous and traumatic situation.”
Munday's words were soon followed by Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree's, who defended the authority of the Cherokee Nation court system:
“This order, just like any other order from a foreign jurisdiction needs to be filed for domestication with the Cherokee Nation District Court. There is a conflicting Cherokee Nation order concerning a Cherokee Nation citizen on Cherokee Nation land. We are a sovereign nation with a valid and historic court system. As Attorney General, I will require that our court system be honored and respected. I took an oath when assuming this office to uphold the laws and constitution of the Cherokee Nation and the United States. Nowhere in that oath is it required that I defend the laws of South Carolina.”
Dusten Brown's attorney Clark Brewster also responded to the court's decision, saying;
“Dusten tried in every way to reason with the Capobiancos and their legal team of Washington DC, and local lawyers. We have spent the past 5 days trying to forge an agreement, to no avail. Although the Oklahoma Supreme Court today dissolved it's Order staying enforcement of the ruling of Judge Delapp we will confer with Dusten about his remaining legal options and vigorously pursue Veronica's right to have her best interests be the paramount consideration.”