| || |
Supreme Court to hear Indian Child Welfare Act case next week
April 12, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear an adoption case next Tuesday that could result in some changes to the way the Indian Child Welfare Act is interpreted.
At issue is the custody of a three-year-old girl named Veronica, who is currently in the custody of her biological father, Dusten Brown, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
Four years ago Brown had a brief affair with Christy Maldonado, a Hispanic American, and Maldonado became pregnant. In an interview with The Post and Courier in January 2012, Maldonado explained that Brown told her he would not help her out financially during the pregnancy unless they got married and that he stopped contacting her in her final trimester.
According to a friend of the court brief filed by Maldonado's attorney, when Maldonado asked if he would rather pay child support or give up his rights, Brown texted her that he wanted to give up his parental rights. In a brief filed by his attorneys, Brown said that he did not know Maldonado was considering placing the child for adoption and thought he was giving up his rights to his child's mother.
Maldonado, who has two older children to support, placed the baby for adoption with Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a South Carolina couple, after her birth in September 2009. Maldonado said the child had American Indian as well as Hispanic and Caucasian heritage, but her attorney spelled Brown's first name wrong and gave an incorrect month and year of birth when he contacted the Cherokee tribe. Based on that incorrect information, the Cherokee tribe replied that they could not find a record for Brown and Veronica did not appear to be an Indian child under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which protects Indian families.
Brown was served with papers stating that he "was not contesting the adoption" just before he was due to deploy to Iraq. Brown immediately contacted a JAG lawyer and has been fighting the adoption ever since.
A court ordered her returned to Brown on December 31, 2011 after ruling that the Indian Child Welfare Act wasn't correctly followed in this case. The Capobiancos are appealing the decision, arguing that Veronica was never part of an Indian family as the child of unmarried parents and that, under South Carolina state law, Brown had no standing to object to the adoption because he failed to support Maldonado during her pregnancy.
There are a lot of future cases that could be impacted here, particularly in a state like ours with a large American Indian population and families where one parent is Indian and the other is non-Indian. What do you think should happen here? Should the Indian Child Welfare Act or state law apply?
Post a Comment
News, Blogs & Events Web