Hope, fear a part of Capobiancos' waiting game
JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) - For now, Matt and Melanie Capobianco wait, full of fear, but still holding to the slightest hope that their adoptive daughter's birth father will do what they say is right and what the state Supreme Court has ordered.
Inside the butterfly-adorned room filled with pictures of the first two years of Veronica's life, the crib is gone and in its place is a brand new big-girl bed, purchased just days after the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered the Capobiancos' adoption of 3-year-old Veronica to be finalized.
"We've been getting this ready since then. It's ready; it just needs Veronica in it," the Capobiancos said from their James Island home Wednesday afternoon.
But bringing Veronica back to the Lowcountry has been met with resistance from her biological father in Oklahoma.
"I feel like our daughter fell down a hole and we're diving down a hole chasing after her with all this craziness swirling around us and I'm trying to fight it all back to get our daughter," said Matt Capobianco.
"I just don't understand."
A family court judge ordered this week that Veronica be returned immediately after Dusten Brown, Veronica's birth father, and his representatives missed a court-ordered transition meeting in Charleston on Sunday.
Veronica was supposed to be there as well.
"It was hard to be there that day and wait. We had presents and toys," said Melanie Capobianco. "It was only going to be four hours, but it was going to be the first time we would see her in 19 months."
The last time the Capobiancos saw the girl they consider their daughter, she was being taken from their home on New Year's Eve 2011. Since then, they've waited.
Now, on the cusp of having the girl back in their home, in their arms and in their lives, they're playing another waiting game, watching as the courts of two states try to sort out what comes next.
"Right now we're just kind of worried and afraid, still feeling hopeful, but we're worried about what's going to happen in the future," said Melanie Capobianco.
For the Capobiancos, each court filing is a hurdle they must clear.
A recent hurdle was put before them just five hours before a South Carolina court ordered Veronica to be returned when the Cherokee Nation awarded temporary custody of Veronica to Dusten Brown's parents while he serves a month-long Army National Guard commitment.
Sunday's missed meeting started a new chain of events that now involve a solicitor in Charleston and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
And the James Island couple is worried about what may happen next.
"They've said in the press that law enforcement will have to pry her away from them," said Matt Capobianco. "That terrifies me. I don't want that to happen to her."
The Capobiancos describe the past 19 months as a roller coaster ride. Their greatest fear now is that the Browns will take Veronica and run -- a thought that never crossed their minds when they turned Veronica over to her biological father.
"Obviously, it was the hardest thing we ever had to do," said Matt Capobianco, looking back at what happened and the place they're in now. "When that order came out, we did expect they would abide by the law."
Lori Alvino McGill, one of the many attorneys involved in this case, said Dusten's new wife indicated that the Brown family would continue to defy the court orders that would send Veronica back to James Island.
Time is what the Capobiancos have battled for the last 19 months. Hope is what they hang on to. Love for their daughter is what sustains them as they wait for the next shoe to drop in the custody battle for Veronica.
The Capobiancos said they are still open to following the 7-day transition plan that involved Brown's being an active part of Veronica's move to James Island.
They said they would rather see law enforcement stay out of the matter.
"She's coming home. Let's be civil and let's have everyone be a part of her life," said Matt Capobianco.