Fellow blogger TDAXP recently sent me a link to an NPR article regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act being scrutinized in a US Supreme Court case. I have written about the ICWA before, and I was of course very interested in following up on any recent cases.
The case being heard in the US Supreme Court has to do with little Veronica Capobianco. The biological mother (Christy Maldonado - Hispanic descent) had been engaged to the biological father (Dusten Brown - Cherokee) when she became pregnant with Melanie. The engagement ended, Mr. Brown provided no financial assistance for the care of pregnancy and offered no promise of future financial support. In addition to this, Mr. Brown texted Ms. Maldonado and said he wanted to give up his parental rights.
Little Veronica was given up for adoption and the Capobianco family has provided a loving, safe, and stable home for her since infancy.
|Image from NPR Article|
The trouble came when Mr. Brown challenged the adoption in court. He claims that he had wanted to turn over his rights to Ms. Maldonado; not allow the child to be given up and raised by another family.
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Brown had no rights under the state law. However, federal law trumps state law. Since the ICWA is a federal regulation, Mr. Brown is being given the opportunity to challenge custody at the US Supreme Court level. If Mr. Brown succeeds, he will in effect rip Veronica from the arms of her loving family – especially upsetting since he basically abandoned her and has never contributed to her wellbeing.
This case is so disturbing to me on multiple levels. I am sickened at the thought of anyone who had basically abandoned their birth child being given a second chance when a loving and safe home had already been established. I have heard that Mr. Brown has several other children he cares for without incident; but just because he’s a (possibly) good father to those children now does not mean he should be able to take Veronica and devastate the adoptive family. I am also upset about the ICWA being used – this child was not raised as an Indian, is only half Indian decent, never lived on a Reservation, and yet the ICWA is being invoked.
This case is, sadly, a good example at showing how the ICWA reduces people to the status of property.
In the NPR article written by Nina Totenberg, the adoptive parents’ lawyer Ms. Lisa Blatt is cited as summarizing the situation by saying:
“The court’s decision in this case is going to apply to other absentee Indian fathers who have impregnated non-Indian women. These women will be rendered “second-class citizens” with “inferior rights,” [and] you’re basically relegating the child […] to a piece of property with a sign that says, ‘Indian, keep off, do not disturb.’” --- Emotions Run High as Supreme Court Hears Adoption Case
If anyone has anything else to add, please feel free to comment.
- Miss Nurse