SC Cherokee Adoption War: Blame Indian Child Welfare Act

Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted a little girl through the legal adoption process in South Carolina. Two years into raising her (in what is reported to be a sound, loving home) the child was legally removed from them by the biological father. In as yucky a custody battle as the adoption world has seen in some time, the child stayed with the father for a year as lawyers played ping-pong with her life.  The birth mother did not want the child removed from her adoptive family.

cherokee

Learn more about the Cherokee Nation in this book.

The birth father, Dusten Brown, won temporary custody solely because he is Cherokee Indian. He fought for his right to raise the child based on the Indian Child Welfare Act which says that American Indian children should not be adopted by non-Indian adoptive or foster parents.

This case ruffled my headdress for several reasons. First, I am 1/4 Cherokee on my birth father’s side. I did not discover this fact until I found my birth father when I was 30-years-old.  My birth father wanted nothing to do with my birth mother once he knew she was pregnant. In fact, he tried to convince her to have an abortion. So no matter what the law suggests, I would not have been better off with my Cherokee blood relatives simply because they were Indian.

The second thing about this case that makes me see red is the whole premise of the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The idea that a child is better off with its own race, creed, or  nationality is outdated and ridiculous in a country of mixed marriages, mixed race adoptions, and international adoption. The Indian Child Welfare Act claims that Indians should stay with Indians whenever possible.

I know that the Cherokee Nation lost everything when white men tricked, cheated, and stole it from them. A travesty on which we built a country.  I am also aware that poverty among Cherokees in 1978, when the Indian Welfare Act came to be, was astronomical.  Just as in most poverty-ridden communities, relinquishment of children was on the rise and Native Americans did not want to lose their heritage (children) to outsiders.

Sound familiar?  Every third-world country from which US citizens adopt, suffers the same stolen heritage. However, we allow and encourage these adoptions without restrictions of race, color or tribe.  American Indian children should have the same opportunities, rights and rules as other children adopted in the United States. Period.

UPDATE- Please take a look at the comments on this case. Seems the birth father was in the picture from the start and not from the age of one, as the news reports suggest.  So I agree that the father’s rights were violated. However, NOT due to his being Indian. See comments for more and thanks readers for setting me straight on the bigger picture.

What do you think? Look forward to your comments!
Blessings for forever homes free from bias, abuse and unwarranted separations,

Vicki-lynn

22 responses to “SC Cherokee Adoption War: Blame Indian Child Welfare Act

  1. Margaret LyBurtus

    It is proven a child does best with their natural family and this child is happy where she is with her family.

  2. This “adoption” was and is not legal, but instead makes a mockery of the adoption system. The father (regardless of ethnic background) wants to raise his daughter, and has from the beginning. The mother, would-be adoptive parents, and courts can’t seem to wrap their brains about that simple fact: That this child is *not* in need of an adoptive family, making any adoption *unneeded and illegal*. Instead the a-parents are painted as saints, instead of the baby buyers they are, while they (the Capobiancos) smear the father every chance they get. They father is in the National Guard, serving his country, and the a-parents even try to use that to their advantage, trying to wrench the child away while he is away on duty. Make no mistake, the adoption system is big business. The C’s sunk a lot of money into this and they want what they bought.

    • Valerie… I completely agree with your last sentence, “sunk a lot of money into this and they want what they bought.” Speaking as someone who knows personally what it feels like to have her niece “sold away” , I can tell you this is the worst heartache I never even could have imagined. Please read our story at LOVEFORGRACE . ORG CHILDREN ARE NOT FOR SALE AND ADOPTION IS FOR CHILDREN WITHOUT HOMES, NOT HOMES WITHOUT CHILDREN !!!!!

  3. Fathers and children have rights, not just mothers. The adoption was contested by the father as soon as he learned of it. The child is content in a loving home with her biological relatives. I hope if you had a biological child you would do everything possible to keep the child with you. Listen to the adoptees, being adopted is a rough road to hoe. It’s hard to believe that people are so pro-adoption they can’t see that this child belongs with her family. Why you would want to rip her from her natural family just so people that paid for her could get her back. JHorrid!

  4. The fact that he had to invoke the ICWA at all is a sad testament to the adoption-crazed society we live in. The MOMENT he said no, I do not wish for my child to be adopted, the Capo’s should have walked away. But they instead choose to try to strip a man of his right to parent his own child and proceed with an adoption that is not wanted nor necessary.

    The fact that fathers have so few rights should be a cause for concern for all of us. If you have sons, grandsons, nephews, any young men in your life that you care about, you and they should be worried. Because this could very easily be then fighting for their child. Every child had two parents…if one wants to step up and BE parent, we should be doing all we can to support that, not tear it apart.

    Your bio-father walked away from you, and that’s tragic. I’m sorry for that, I truly am. But this is a father who is doing all he can to be this girl’s daddy…don’t strip her of that because yours didn’t do the same. We are not talking about a third-world, starving orphan; we are not talking about an abused or neglected child. We are talking about a little girl who is in absolutely NO NEED of adoption and is thriving and happy with her family. Why tear her away from that?

    Whether you feel it or not, biology DOES matter. Any child should have a right to be raised within his or her own family, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. And I’m not talking circumstances such as a rich white couple want to buy themselves a baby. We need to stand up Dusten and fathers everywhere, so that this sort of unethical practice stops. We complain and bemoan the fact that too few fathers step up and care for their kids…so let’s make sure they have the RIGHT to when they do.

    • Lillie… Seeing your passion, it would be a great honor to me if you would visit my blog at LoveForGrace . Org and read our story of how my niece and sister were victims of this disgusting thing called UNJUST ADOPTION. I am living this nightmare day after day and it happens everyday, I didn’t know that until it happened to us….

  5. What Margaret said perfectly. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  6. Gaye Tannenbaum

    Volumes have been written on genetic mirroring and how adoptees feel about their transracial/transcultural adoptions. Those adopted from Korea are especially vocal – they are numerous and have found their collective voice.

    The Indian Child Welfare Act was put in place to prevent authorities from raiding the tribe for its children – its future. The culture, the language, the religion, the traditions – all in danger of being lost as the next generations were taken from their tribes in an effort to “kill the Indian, save the man”.

    In poorer countries, parents lose their children due to fraud, coercion and outright kidnapping. There are cases where the kidnappers were tried and convicted and the child was located. Located, but not returned to her family because she was “legally” adopted.

    This isn’t just about one child.

  7. Having adopted an older child at age five knowing at the time that the birth father was in jail but did want to raise her I ran the risk of losing her but we adopted her any way…fast forward to her at 21 and her call to me to help her find her birth roots which I did and lo and behold she has Native American roots on both sides which we did not know. both of her birth grandmothers were Native American. We knew about her being Hispanic and Caucasian. Well, she left the family and has lived in the birth relatives neighborhood ever since we reunited them. She has four children by a man her birth father raised.
    We ran the risk of losing her when we adopted her…we lost her when she was old enough to choose.
    We are in contact at times and she does call us mom and dad and act like she cares but our reality is all I know and it says that birth roots are strong and must factor into the adoption triangle equation.
    Love her and always will, but my struggles have been painful since she left the area…now I am in a good place. It isn’t about race, it’s about where we all find our place.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, and your pain, but most of all, thank you for respecting and loving her, enough to help her find her own place early in her life.

      I think the most damaging and hurtful part about adoption for everyone involved is all the efforts undertaken to legally and practically deny adopted people knowledge and truth about their own selves and their history and origins. This is a fundamenta right that everyone else is entitled to, except adopted people. No adopted child ever consented to being denied their own truth.

  8. Vicki-Lynn- your post made it sound as if Dusten came into the picture when Veronica was two. That’s not the case. The adoptive parents knew that there was a question about the father being Native American and that he may cause problems with the adoption. The mother denied the father the chance to support her and their child through the pregnancy and did not tell him that she planned to place her for adoption. In SC if a father does not provide financial support during the pregnancy- he doesn’t have rights to custody. That’s the first issue here-that there are not uniform NATIONAL paternity registries and clear and concise laws regarding notifying the putative father(although they were engage at conception the mother broke the engagement) Second, Dusten thought he was signing full custody to the MOTHER not to adoptive parents when he was served the day before deployment to Iraq. He immediately filed a stay and gave his parents POA to act on his behalf in the custody battle while he served his country. Veronica was 4 months and the adoption was never finalized. The adoptive parents should not have taken custody in the first place- they knew there were problems with the adoption- and the SC supreme court indicated that in their first brief. Second, should birthparents’ signatures on relinquishment papers not have a humane period of time to change their minds? If it were 30 days-for example- his surrender would have been invalidated the following day. The adoptive parents should not have fought the custody. Adoption is supposed to be about finding a home for a child who has none- not filling the arms of a waiting family. We need to use this case and others like it to affect change in adoption laws so that they become federal and the industry can’t use state laws to make adoption easier for the agency. A mother should never sign relinquishment papers prior to birth or with in the week after birth. A national registry for fathers should be available. If a stay of adoption happens in one state- an agency shouldn’t be able to encourage a mom to give birth in another to make it harder for the father to stop an adoption. ICWA was the only recourse Dusten had in this case to stop the adoption. Hundreds of other fathers didn’t have these options and lost their children. Lets not argue amongst ourselves- lets put our words and voices to the public to inform them that adoption laws need to change- we need to take money out of the adoption industry and make adoption about giving children homes. JMHO.

    • Thanks for posting this :The adoptive parents knew that there was a question about the father being Native American and that he may cause problems with the adoption. The mother denied the father the chance to support her and their child through the pregnancy and did not tell him that she planned to place her for adoption. In SC if a father does not provide financial support during the pregnancy- he doesn’t have rights to custody.”
      All of the reports I read made it sound like the birthfather showed up long past the adoption date. I agree that the adoption should have been put on pause if that is the case. However, I disagree with shuffling the kid back and forth. Yes, it should always be in the interest of the child. No, this case should not have been fought based on ethnicity, but based on paternal rights if he did indeed step forward right away and had a solid, strong ability to raise the child. V.L.

      • Not to mention, the adoption agency deliberately misspelled the father’s name and gave a wrong DOB when they presented the proposed transport of Veronica from OK in interstate adoption. If they had been forthright and truthful from the beginning, the Cherokee Tribe and the State of OK would have forbidden the transfer. All of this was going on behind Dusten’s back while he was serving in Iraq. As soon as he found out, he took immediate steps to contest the adoption. And he won. IMO, his attorneys were mistaken to pin all of this legal arguments on ICWA. He had many more compelling reasons to contest the proposed adoption; that was just the most obvious. #keepveronicahome

      • V.L., yes, the mainstream media/TV have been misleading about this case and exclude many facts. For a more complete timeline, visit: http://www.nicwa.org/BabyVeronica/
        They also have several other useful links about this case, with fact-checks.

        You can find out more background from http://www.keepveronicahome.com

        For the latest updates and news, you can also check: https://www.facebook.com/StandingOurGroundForVeronicaBrown.

        Briefly, she was living with her pre-adoptive parents, the SC couple for her first 2 years of life. During most of that time, the SC couple were fighting to push the adoption through, although her father strongly contested the adoption. He eventually gained custody. She’s been living with her father, step-mom, with extended relatives and half-sister close by for 19 mths, and she looks adorable and happy. Last week, the courts just finalized her adoption, and have insisted that she be moved back to SC immediately, knowing that her father is away on active-duty for 2 more weeks.

        Civil rights lawsuits have been filed over how Veronica’s case has been handled by our legal system.

        I agree with you, children shouldn’t be shuttled back and forth. Right now, she’s with her biofamily. We fear that if she’s forced to go to SC, she may never see her paternal biofamily again. With a finalized adoption, she has no legal rights to her biofamily, her factual birth information, or her origins, for the rest of her life. Please read this article about Veronica’s situation from a group of women who were also adopted:
        1) http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2013/07/with-sad-hearts-lost-daughters-welcome.html
        2) http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2013/08/baby-veronica-what-adoption-does-to.html

        You can learn about adopted people’s unequal rights here:

        http://www.prlog.org/12187664-national-adoptee-rights-group-travels-to-atlanta-georgia-to-free-original-birth-certificates.html

        Believe me, I know this case is heart-wrenching. I feel horrible for Veronica. She is losing her rights to her own truth, history, and her original family’s love. As an adopted person myself, I find this disturbing.

  9. Adoption is for children who need a home. The money & marketing in adoption create an environment for unethical practices.

  10. Adoption is for children who need a home. The money creates an environment for unethical practices.

  11. A few comments;
    1) I hope that we can agree that adoption is about the children – that the children should always come first in any adoption. That no adoption should occur unless it’s in the best interest of the child who will be adopted.
    2) I’m sorry that it took decades for you to find out what/who you were born as. I’m glad that you seem settled with however your own life has transpired, at least for your own peace of mind, or at least I hope so. I don’t know enough about you or your story to comment more about your situation. I know adoption events can be very emotional and powerful for people who were adopted and this one is no exception, and you’re not the only adopted person affected.
    3) In Veronica’s case, it’s well-documented that the adoption was arranged without her father’s knowledge. When her father first learned about her pending adoption to genetic strangers when she was 4 mths old, at which point, he immediately fought to gain custody of his daughter and stop the pending adoption. After almost 2 yrs of battling, the courts gave him custody, because he was her father, was committed to raising her, had never approved of her pending adoption, and he was a fit father. He WANTED to raise her, he’s been COMMITTED to raising her since she was 4 mths old. There shouldn’t be a doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s been committed and loving.
    4) About the Indian Child Welfare Act, you fail to mention that it includes policies that are shared by communities, cultures, countries across the world. There is nothing bizarre about the ICWA’s policies that defy humanity. The most universally-accepted treaty on the general rights of the child, the UN CRC (http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx), states that children’s best interests should always be considered, children have a right to be cared by their own parents whenever possible, or if not, then relatives, or if not, then within their community, culture, heritage. They have a right to have their identities preserved to the extent possible. I’m sorry that your own adoption violated your own human rights to preserve your identity, or at least let you know your own identity. And not only does the ICWA recognize the UN CRC policies, it also recognizes the laws of biology and the genetic similarities between children and their original parents. I know, biology doesn’t mean the parents will be loving, fit parents, and in THOSE cases, yes children should be protected from their parents. But their is still no reason to doubt Mr. Brown’s fitness as a parent.
    5) There is no reason to deny her daughter her human rights to be raised by her biological, fit father, when her other biological parent doesn’t want to raise her. Irrespective of ICWA, that is the universally-accepted child-welfare practice. It just happens that ICWA agrees with universally-accepted child welfare policies. There are reasons why we have laws to punish kidnappers. Children wouldn’t be safe if any stranger could take a child away from their home and family.

  12. Vicki, the fact that all the reports you read made it seem like he just popped in the picture when she was 2 is because the Capobiancos have a PR machine spinning falsehoods that people are inclined to believe for reasons I’m not capable of understanding. These people kept her for 20+ months when they knew the adoption was in jeopardy, then demanded sympathy over having their bonded daughter ripped from their lives. Certainly a child should not be shuffled back and forth. Certainly, they should have relinquished her to father when she was 4 months old.

    At the end of the day, children who have homes should not be available for adoption whether they are Native American or not. Adoption should be reserved for children who need homes, not for couples who *want* children and can’t have them. Anything beyond that is about the would-be parents and not the child. And, that is against human nature, immoral, vile, wrong on every level.

  13. “This case ruffled my headdress for several reasons. First, I am 1/4 Cherokee on my birth father’s side. I did not discover this fact until I found my birth father when I was 30-years-old. My birth father wanted nothing to do with my birth mother once he knew she was pregnant. In fact, he tried to convince her to have an abortion. So no matter what the law suggests, I would not have been better off with my Cherokee blood relatives simply because they were Indian.”

    This sounds like you still have some unresolved issues from your life experience. What you have used from you life to compare to this wrongful situation doesn’t have any correlation. This birth father always wanted this child. The birth mother was deceptive in her efforts to do what she wanted to do. The adoption agency stood to gain a lot of money from this adoption and they set out to do it. The birth mother has engratiated herself to the adoptive family throughout this process which no doubt had something to do with what she received during her pregnancy. This is about money and an adoption that should never have happened in the first place.

    So my suggestion to you is to smooth your headdress and take some deep breaths then get some counseling for the rejection and abandonment you experienced from the adoption that happened to you. That abandonment and rejection is a real and living part of adoptees. You can get help and some healing but it takes work. I wish you the very best.

    • All adoptees have rejection issues. If they say otherwise, they are either in denial or lying.

      As far as this case, I did not know the birth father was in the picture from the start. Sounded from all the news reports that he arrived when she was one.
      Another readers suggests that the ‘wealthy’ adoptive parents had a lot of PR cash to help perpetuate their story. That being the case, this custody fight should be about his rights as a father, not his rights as an American Indian. Otherwise, every adoption in American should have to meet the same requirements. African Americans raise African Americans, Catholics raise Catholics etc. Basing any adoption on ethnicity is wrong. If he contested the adoption from the start, the biological father’s rights were violated. Again, not because he is Indian, because he is a Dad.

      Thanks for the comment, and for all the eye-opening comments today. I love when my reader’s teach me a thing or two.
      Vicki-lynn

  14. 1. “He signed his rights away.”

    TRUTH:

    “It is undisputed that the only consent document Father ever signed was a one-page ‘Acceptance of Service’ stating he was not contesting the adoption, which was purportedly presented for Father’s signature as a prerequisite to the service of a summons and complaint. Thus, Appellants did not follow the clear procedural directives of section 1913(a) in obtaining Father’s consent. Moreover, even if this ‘consent’ was valid under the statute, then Father’s subsequent legal campaign to obtain custody of Baby Girl has rendered any such consent withdrawn. Therefore, neither Father’s signature on the ‘Acceptance of Service’ document, nor his stated intentions to relinquish his rights, were effectual forms of voluntary consent under the ICWA.” – South Carolina Supreme Court There is a legal way to “sign away rights” for good reason, Dusten never came close to any legal relinquishment of parental rights.

    2. “He texted his rights away”

    TRUTH:

    In no state in the country can a father relinquish parental rights by text message. These text messages WERE NOT EVIDENCE at trial because the attorney for the Adoptive Couple would not produce the phone that showed Birth Mother’s messages to father, instead they attempted to introduce photocopies, even though the cell phone was allegedly in a safe at the office of the Guardian Ad Litem’s attorney. The Family Court did not consider these text messages as evidence.

    3. “He abandoned his daughter”

    TRUTH:

    “All attempts to contact Maldonado by Brown and his family members were refused by Maldonado. Shortly after the child’s birth, Brown’s family members purchased some items for the child and attempted to deliver them to Maldonado, but these were rejected. It was clear that Maldonado wanted to have Brown completely and permanently removed from her life and placing the child for adoption without his knowledge or consent would further this goal.” – Family Court “Father testified he asked friends and family if they had seen Mother because she would not reply to his text messages. His mother testified she attempted to contact Mother on several occasions and once left Mother a voice message before Baby Girl’s birth to tell Mother she had money and some gifts for the baby, including items she hand-knitted, but Mother never returned her telephone calls. Mother testified that none of Father’s family members contacted her regarding gifts for Baby Girl.” – Family Court The Family Court repeatedly stated that it did “not find birth mother’s testimony credible.” – Family Court Bench Ruling, United States Supreme Court Brief

    4. “It is in Veronica’s best interest to be adopted”

    TRUTH:

    The only findings based on evidence of Veronica’s best interests found that she should be with her father.

    “Brown is the father of another daughter. The undisputed testimony is that he is a loving and devoted father. Even Maldonado herself testified that he was a good father. There is no evidence to suggest that he would be anything other than an excellent parent to this child. . . . Brown has convinced me of his unwavering love for this child.” – Family Court

    “The family court order stated, ‘[w]hen parental rights and the best interests of the child are in conflict, the best interests of the child must prevail. However, in this case, I find no conflict between the two.’ Likewise, we cannot say that Baby Girl’s best interests are not served by the grant of custody to Father, as Appellants have not presented evidence that Baby Girl would not be safe, loved, and cared for if raised by Father and his family.” South Carolina Supreme Court

    “Plainly, the family court determined that there was no conflict between Father’s best interests and Baby Girl’s best interests.” – South Carolina Supreme Court

    5. “He’s not really ‘Indian’”

    TRUTH:

    Dusten Brown has been a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation since he was a child. Further, the South Carolina Supreme Court found true cultural ties to the Cherokee Nation:

    “The Record establishes that Father’s family has a deeply embedded relationship with the Cherokee Nation. For example, not only does the Record indicate that Father and his family are proud of their heritage and membership in the Wolf Clan, the home study performed on Father’s parents states the following:

    [Father's father] is Cherokee Indian. He grew up knowing he was Cherokee and being proud of who he was. [Father's parents] . . . prepare the following traditional foods in their home: grape dumplings, buckskin bread, Indian cornbread, Indian tacos, wild onions, fry bread, polk salad and deer meat. [Father's mother] state[d] she cooks these foods in her home on a regular basis and all of her children have eaten these items.

    [Father's parents] attend the Cherokee Holiday in Tahlequah, Oklahoma[,] when they can and do participate in eating traditional foods, viewing the arts and crafts and watching the traditional games. [Father's father] participates in voting in the Cherokee elections[,] . . . . took part in learning about the Cherokee culture when his children were in high school by learning to make Indian crafts and learning to play the drum[, and] . . . . is sometimes seen at the Nowata Indian Health Clinic but receives the majority of his health care from the Veterans hospital. He claims his family is from the Wolf Clan, and he has been to, as well as participated, in stomp dances.

    [H]is family had Indian land which was located in Pryor, Oklahoma and Cayuga, Oklahoma. He claims to have very traditional ties with his extended family and considers geneology [sic] a hobby by researching his Cherokee culture. [Father's parents] have many Native American items in their home. Decorative Native American pieces are scattered throughout their home in nearly every room.

    Thus, the Record demonstrates that Father and his family are well-positioned to introduce Baby Girl to her Indian heritage.”

    6. “He just wants her for money.”

    TRUTH:

    As all Cherokee Nation citizens know, we don’t get any money for “being Cherokee” or for having “Cherokee kids.” The only people who have made money in this case are the adoption agencies and attorneys.

    7. “Cherokee Nation paid Dusten’s legal expenses”

    TRUTH:

    Cherokee Nation has never spent a single a dime on attorney fees for Dusten Brown. He and his family used every extra dollar they had to pay for attorneys and after that was exhausted, Dusten’s amazing attorneys donated their time because they believed in him and believed that Veronica belonged with her father.

    8. “We didn’t know Veronica was Cherokee.”

    TRUTH:

    “Mother testified that she knew “from the beginning” that Father was a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and that she deemed this information “important” throughout the adoption process. Further, she testified she knew that if the Cherokee Nation were alerted to Baby Girl’s status as an Indian child, “some things were going to come into effect, but [she] wasn’t for [sic] sure what.” Mother reported Father’s Indian heritage on the Nightlight Agency’s adoption form and testified she made Father’s Indian heritage known to Appellants and every agency involved in the adoption. However, it appears that there were some efforts to conceal his Indian status. In fact, the pre-placement form reflects Mother’s reluctance to share this information:

    Initially the birth mother did not wish to identify the father, said she wanted to keep things low-key as possible for the [Appellants], because he’s registered in the Cherokee tribe. It was determined that naming him would be detrimental to the adoption.”

    “Adoptive Mother testified that, because they hired an attorney to specifically inquire about the baby’s Cherokee Indian status, ‘when she was born, we were under the impression that she was not Cherokee.’” But, “Adoptive Mother testified that the Nightlight Agency’s pre-placement report was ‘probably . . . something I read and didn’t think twice about it.’”

    9. “The Guardian Ad Litem supports the Adoption”

    TRUTH:

    The Family Court appointed a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) who has filed a brief in this Court that purports to be on behalf of Baby Girl and asserts that Baby Girl’s interests would be best served by awarding custody to petitioners. In fact, the GAL is not a neutral party. Although appointed by the Family Court, that court noted that the GAL and her attorney both “were unilaterally selected by [petitioners’] counsel”; the GAL had a continuing business relationship with petitioners’ attorney, with whom she had worked frequently in cases in 2009.

    In this case, although the GAL had performed a comprehensive home study of petitioners, she resisted repeated requests from Father’s attorney to conduct a home study of Father. When the GAL finally did conduct such a study, well over a year after her appointment and some five months after counsel’s request, she informed Father and his family that “she knew the adoptive couple prior to the child being placed in their home” and “had worked with them before the child had been placed”; that petitioners were a well-educated couple with a beautiful home, could afford to send Baby Girl to any private school that they chose and, when she was older, to any college she wanted; and that there was nothing that Baby Girl needed that petitioners could not buy for her.

    The GAL therefore told Father’s family that they “really need[ed] to get down on [their] knees and pray to God that [they] can make the right decision for this baby” (id. at 148), and they “needed to talk to God and pray about taking the child from the only family that she has known.” At trial, Father stated that the GAL treated him and his family as “a bunch of * * * rednecks that can’t * * * afford anything, that we’re not able to provide this child with proper education, schooling * * *. Pretty much that we weren’t fit to love this child and raise her.”

    The GAL’s initial report did not note Baby Girl’s Native American heritage because the GAL thought that was “not something * * * the courts need to take into consideration.” As for the GAL’s view of Native American culture, she stated that the advantages of having Native American heritage “include[ed] free lunches and free medical care and that they did have their little get togethers and their little dances.” Given the GAL’s obvious bias, respondents initially sought her removal.

    But rather than delay the proceedings, respondents ultimately withdrew this motion on the understanding that the Family Court would not consider either the GAL’s conclusion regarding Baby Girl’s best interests or the GAL’s custody recommendation. See Pet. Indeed, South Carolina law precludes a guardian ad litem in a private adoption from providing a custody recommendation unless one is requested by the court; no such request was made here. – United States Supreme Court Brief by Father

  15. Pingback: SC Cherokee Adoption War: Reader Comment on Father’s Rights | adoptionfind

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