Attorney: South Carolina judiciary "confused" in Baby Veronica c - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Attorney: South Carolina judiciary "confused" with Baby Veronica case

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Tuesday a James Island couple will be face to face with the justices of the nation in a fight for custody of their adopted daughter we know as baby Veronica.

Attorneys involved in the case Adoptive Couple V. Baby Girl will have argue two things: if an unwed father fits the legal definition of a "parent" and if a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) can be used to block an adoption.

Veronica's biological father Dusten Brown is part of the Cherokee Nation and because the ICWA was supposedly written to preserve Native American culture, South Carolina courts agree Veronica should live in Oklahoma near her native roots. Even though the adoptive couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted her at birth and raised her for two years before that ruling.

While many in the Lowcountry only know about Veronica, ICWA affects thousands of people in custody battles every year across the country. If one or both Native American parents were to choose adoption, the tribe has this ICWA on their side, making legal adoptions to non-Indian homes complicated.

Last week the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys said the outcome could have been different in another state.

"With all due respect to the South Carolina judiciary I think they were very confused by the issues and if you review the decisions you'll see how they minimized the child's rights," adoption attorney Jay McCarthy said. "They don't seem to understand that ICWA gets statutory rights, it doesn't undermine the rights of parents and children and I think that perhaps that was not fully understood."

Because there are many interpretations of how ICWA can be used, attorneys say it's critical for future adoption references to clarify or redefine the law.

The United States Supreme Court hears 75-80 arguments every year, meaning those cases are less than 1% of the thousands applicants they receive.

Count on News 2 to bring you the updates from Washington D.C.

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