Family hopeful Supreme Court will bring Veronica home
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- The South Carolina Supreme Court has heard Veronica's case. Now, those involved, including her adoptive parents, play the waiting game.
"It was a whirlwind," said Melanie Capobianco. "We'll see, the justices had lots of good questions and that's all we'll say."
The Capobiancos say they have hope. They spoke about the emotions and anxiety leading up to the hearing.
"Absolutely (there are feelings of anxiety), very much so," Capobianco said. "But if we didn't have that it'd be kind of crazy. We're just very hopeful."
Veronica, who was raised for two years by Matt and Melanie Capobianco on James Island, was removed from their home and taken to Oklahoma by her biological father in January. The couple was finalizing the adoption, but because of the Indian Child Welfare Act she was allowed to be taken from their home. The law says American Indian children, Veronica is part Cherokee, must live with fellow Native Americans.
Now, the Capobiancos have rested their faith on another law, the Existing Indian Family Doctrine.
"They say that when an American Indian child is not removed from an existing American Indian family, like Veronica, she was adopted, the process started at birth. Then, this federal law does not apply," said family formation attorney Stephanie Brinkley.
Because Veronica was with her adoptive parents since birth, the appellate court could rule the Indian Child Welfare Act cannot be used. Brinkley says other Southeastern states have made similar rulings. Though it's likely no decision will come down soon.
"Especially in a situation like this that's good," Brinkley said. "You want the judges to take their time and really think about it. This is a little girl. This is a family, so there's a lot more emotion involved."
The court will likely review the case for a few months and could make its decision by early June. Veronica's birth mother initially agreed to put her up for adoption. At that time, the girl's father, Dusten Brown, reportedly waived his parental rights. Brown attended Tuesday's hearing but declined to comment on the process. He left the building clearly hurried, and flanked by attorneys from the Cherokee Nation.
Dozens more stood outside the hearing Tuesday showing support for the Capobianco family and opposition to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Check back with ABC News 4 as we continue to develop this story.