Dusten Brown speaks for 1st time since handover of Veronica
TULSA, Okla. (WCIV) - For the first time since giving his biological daughter back to her adoptive parents, Dusten Brown issued a simple and direct statement to 4-year-old Veronica: "We cannot wait until we see you again."
It's been three days since Brown folded in the years-long custody battle and handed over his daughter after Oklahoma's Supreme Court lifted a stay that had allowed him to maintain custody of Veronica over the last 21 months.
Brown described the last few days without Veronica at their home as "more painful than words can describe."
"Veronica is my child, my flesh and blood, and I love her more than life itself," Brown said. "Mommy and Daddy love you and miss you so much."
The case seemingly came to a conclusion Monday night after seven weeks of talks between Brown and the adoptive couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, of James Island, ended and Veronica left the Tahlequah home to be escorted to the waiting Capobiancos.
Since leaving Oklahoma with Veronica, the trio has only released one photo and their current location is unknown. It is also unclear when they will return to the Lowcountry.
The epic custody battle began shortly after the Capobiancos started the adoption process with Christy Maldonado, Veronica's birth mother. A few months after Veronica's birth, Brown has repeatedly said he learned of the adoption and tried to stop it.
Maldonado and the Capobiancos argue that Brown signed away his parental rights when Maldonado was still six months pregnant. However, 27 months later Brown won custody of Veronica on an order from the South Carolina Supreme Court, who ruled that a federal law protecting Native American law applied to the case.
On Dec. 31, 2011, Veronica was removed from the Capobiancos' home and taken to Oklahoma, where Brown and his family reside. It is also the seat of power for the Cherokee Nation, one of the sides that has supported Brown emotionally and financially through the many courtrooms this case has been heard.
"I moved heaven and earth for two years to bring Veronica home to her family where she belongs. When I finally picked her up for the journey back to Oklahoma two years ago, we looked into each other's eyes and it was like we had always been together," Brown said Thursday evening.
The case was appealed by the Capobiancos all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices ruled in June in a 5-4 decision that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply to the case even though Brown and Veronica are of Cherokee descent because Brown never had contact with his daughter before she was removed from the James Island couple's home.
With ICWA being tossed from the case, it was sent back to South Carolina courts to re-assess the case and rule again.
Nearly two months ago, the Capobiancos were awarded custody by South Carolina courts but were not able to take Veronica until Monday night.
As a result of the long handover that was contested in several courts in Oklahoma, Brown still faces legal action. Next week, he will head back to court for an extradition hearing unless Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin can convince South Carolina to drop the charges.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's office has not confirmed or denied the request to drop the extradition charges, but said in a statement earlier this week that Haley was continuing to work with all parties involved.
There is also a contempt charge in Charleston that Brown faces as a result of the handover order he ignored. At the same time, Brown's attorneys have said they are also looking into other legal avenues to retake custody of Veronica.
"We will see you again," Brown said.