Charleston adoption case appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Veronica Capobianco

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A ruling that sends a Native American girl back to Oklahoma from her adoptive South Carolina family is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court agreed in July that two-year-old Veronica Capobianco should be returned to her biological father, a member of the Cherokee tribe. It was the court's first decision weighing state adoption law against the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.

"It was crushing, it was brutal," said Matt Capobianco. "When they ruled against're kidding me? I don't believe it. I didn't want to believe it."

Washington, D.C., attorney Lisa Blatt has joined the legal team representing the adoptive family from the Charleston area, Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

The Capobiancos say they will not stop fighting.

The state Supreme Court ruled that federal law gave custodial preference to the girl's father. A state Family Court judge awarded custody of the child to the biological father last year and she was taken back to Oklahoma.

The couple says they had high hopes at the April hearing in Columbia but the court sided with Veronica's birth father and a federal law that says she must live with him because she's part Cherokee Indian.

The Capobiancos are not allowed to have any contact with Veronica, who turns three years old this Saturday. They say they'll spend the day with family.

"Concentrate on the positive and knowing that she's such a strong independent, funny happy little girl," said Matt.

It's been more than nine months since Veronica was ordered to live with her birth father in Oklahoma. The Capobiancos admit there are fears she may not be the same little girl they raised for two years.

"I don't know how we could expect that this hasn't affected her in some way," said Melanie. "We will do whatever it takes, to do any kind if transition or something like that, using experts if we have to."

And they refuse to abandon the hope that Veronica is one day coming back.

"This is{} her home. she lives here," said Matt. She may not be here right now, but when she comes home I want her to see all her stuff."

The Capobiancos have 90 days to petition the US Supreme Court. If their appeal is heard, at the earliest, the hearing would take place early next year.

*The Associated Press, Eric Egan and Sandra Ecklund contributed to this report.