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Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 05:00 PM


This is the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a legal battle that has entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.

When producer Tim Howard first read about this case, it struck him as a sad but seemingly straightforward custody dispute. But, as he started talking to lawyers and historians and the families involved in the case, it became clear that it was much more than that. Because Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl challenges parts of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, this case puts one little girl at the center of a storm of legal intricacies, Native American tribal culture, and heart-wrenching personal stakes.

UPDATE: The Supreme Court has made its ruling in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. Hear our update at the end of this episode.

Background and Reporting from a range of different perspectives

"Couple forced to give up daughter"
An introductory article by Allyson Bird, for the Charleston, SC Post and Courier

Comprehensive coverage of the case by the Charleston Post and Courier

"Supreme Court Takes on Indian Child Welfare Act in Baby Veronica Case" 
A report for Indian Country Today by Suzette Brewer, who has also written a two-part series on the case.

"Supreme Court hears Indian child custody case"
Tulsa World article by Michael Overall which includes Dusten Brown's account of his break-up with Veronica's mother, and his understanding about his custodial rights. Plus photos of Dusten, Veronica, and Dusten's wife Robin in their Oklahoma home.

Randi Kaye's report for CNN on the background of the case, and interviews with Melanie and Matt Capobianco: "Video: Adoption custody battle for Veronica"

Nina Totenberg’s report for NPR: "Adoption Case Brings Rare Family Law Dispute To High Court"

Reporting by NPR's Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters on current ICWA violations in South Dakota.

Dr. Phil's coverage: "Adoption Controversy: Battle over Baby Veronica"

Analysis and Editorials

Op-ed by Veronica's birth mom, Christy Maldonado, in the Washington Post: "Baby Veronica belongs with her adoptive parents"

Colorlines report "The Cherokee Nation’s Baby Girl Goes on Trial:"

Americans remain dangerously uninformed about the basics of tribal sovereignty, and what it means for the relationship between the United States and Native tribes and nations.

The Weekly Standard's Ethan Epstein argues that ICWA is "being used to tear [families] apart]: "Mistreating Native American Children"

Andrew Cohen considers the trickier legal aspects of the case for the Atlantic in "Indian Affairs, Adoption, and Race: The Baby Veronica Case Comes to Washington:"

A little girl is at the heart of a big case at the Supreme Court next week, a racially-tinged fight over Native American rights and state custody laws.

Marcia Zug's breakdown of the case (Marica Zug is an associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina School of Law who she specializes in family and American Indian law) "Doing What’s Best for the Tribe" for Slate:

Two-year-old “Baby Veronica” was ripped from the only home she’s known. The court made the right decision.  

Marcia Zug for the Michigan Law Review: "Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: Two-and-a-Half WAys To Destroy Indian Law"

From Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies: "The Constitutional Flaws of the Indian Child Welfare Act"

Rapid City Journal columnist David Rooks poses a set of tough questions about ICWA: "ROOKS: Questions unasked, unanswered"

From Johnston Moore, an adoptive father of six children, three of whom are part Indian. (Moore is director and co-founder of Home Forever, and a founding member of the Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children & Families. NewsOK): "Some different talking points about Indian Child Welfare Act"

Editorial coverage from The New York Times:

"A Wrenching Adoption Case"

"Adoptive Parents vs. Tribal Rights"

Contemporary, Historic, and Legal Source Materials

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) Blog

Audio from the oral arguments in the Supreme Court

Official website for ICWA (the federal Indian Child Welfare Act)

1974 Hearings Before the Subcommitee on Indian Affairs "on problems that American Indian families face in raising their children and how these problems are affected by federal action or inaction." PDF

The National Indian Child Welfare Association


The First Nations Repatriation Institute, which works with and does advocacy for adoptees


Tim Howard


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Comments [188]

Noah from Denver

When Dustin talks about the last time he spoke with Veronica, you can hear that hes trying to keep in his tears. If you think that this wouldn't make you that sad, its basically the same as if your Mom, Dad, or Children died. Countless nights of tossing and turning, not being able to go to sleep. And wetting the bed with your tears.

Feb. 05 2018 02:19 PM

What a nightmare. IMO she should have stayed with her biological father. It was bad enough that she was separated from her environment at about 2 years old, but it's much worse to do it again at the age of 4. The truth is, he was conned out of signing his rights off as a parent in the first place, add to the fact that her adoptive parents are now strangers and the trauma of experiencing that at 4 could likely stick as opposed to when she was 2.

Sep. 05 2016 09:43 AM

I find extremely annoying that they used the word Indian to describe Native Americans throughout the entire episode. Christopher Columbus made the mistake of thinking he landed in India, so he started calling Native Americans, Indians, and it's like we just said, "Alright, we know it's a mistake but let's continue to use the wrong term".

Jul. 26 2016 02:58 PM
Matthew from San Jose, CA

The father clearly made efforts as soon as he realized he signed adiption papers, not the maternal custody papers he thought he was signing.

The father filed for custody less than one week of signing the papers. He clearly did not understand the intent of the papers he signed.

At 4 months old, he was clearly advocating his desire for custody and disagreement with adoption.

The father was lied to by the mother.

The adoptive parents chose to neglect the clear wishes of a loving father at 4 mo and fouggt for 16 mo before the court ordered release of custody.

This shouldn't even be a Native American issue. Any biological father caught in this sad predicament should have a right to raise his child. Custody of the child should have been immediately given to the father when the child was 4 mo.

Personally, I can't ever imagine being an adoptive parent and keeping a child away from its biological parent unless I knew that being in the custody of the parent put the child's welfare in serious danger, which is not the case here.

Jul. 09 2016 03:22 AM
Lula m from Srq fl

The capobianco's are now suing the biological father & Cherokee tribe for millions in compensation. Can't they just be happy to have Veronica back? Brown should NEVER have signed his rights away, or signed ANYTHING w/ out having an attorney look at it to explain every detail the document.

Apr. 03 2016 09:14 PM
Daveyne Totten from Middlebury, VT

Was disappointed that the second half of this podcast was just blank. It's an intriguing story & I was looking forward to hearing it all :(

Dec. 19 2015 05:28 AM
HBurnham from Los Angeles

I tried to listen to the update at the beginning of Ally's Choice, but it didn't appear to be anywhere within that piece. Is there another link to the update?

Dec. 18 2015 12:45 PM
Deborah from California

This mess is entirely the responsibility of the social service workers involved. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is an important effort to correct past travesties in child welfare cases. Every social worker is aware of ICWA. Every responsible and ethical social worker determines at the very beginning of a case whether or not ICWA applies. That this case was allowed to proceed as it did is a nightmare for all parties. But the responsibility for it remains with the social worker who chose to ignore what the law requires.

Dec. 18 2015 11:03 AM

I'd like to see an update to this story. In Wikipedia,, it says that the child was finally returned to the Capobiancos in late 2013.

Aug. 05 2015 02:21 PM
Monica Atkinson from New York

To me this case is easy. The child has biological family who is able and willing to raise her. The child never needed to be adopted. The rest (how it happened)is secondary. The courts SHOULD HAVE found a legal way to protect the child's rights to know and be raised in her own family.
I can not even imagine how this child, yanked from a loving environment of her OWN family first at birth, then again at 4 y old must feel. Try to imagine it's you, your little sister, your child. Separated by cruel strangers who decided they "wanted her more."
I am worried that the child must have translated what has happened to her into "my daddy abandoned me"& "my family doesn't love me anymore." What sadness this child must feel. How can she even function on daily basis? How confused must she be. How will she react when she learns the truth that her father never gave her up?
I don't understand the adoptive parents at all. If I found out the birth mother lied to me about the father being not interested I would have given the child back immediately.

Jul. 07 2015 09:10 PM
Toni R Sinclair from Florida

Wow! All of these situations where children are taken from the only homes they've ever known is absolutely saddening! In Veronica's case, her biological father should not have been able to take her back. He is a complete stranger to his daughter, and he signed the adoption papers.. he shouldn't be able to "undo" that. I would be devastated as her adoptive parents. The law was set in place to prevent indian families from being broken up, this is a completely different case. The father willingly left previously, and Veronica now legally has a new family.

Jan. 12 2015 08:52 PM
Brent A Snavely from Paris, Michigan

"Indian Adoption Project", redux.

Dec. 19 2014 03:36 PM

The DSHS/CPS have been in the business of taking kids from loving parents for a long time. It is shocking just to look at the number of homes where kids were taken away due to conditions like parents using a legal medicine (marijuana) or because their homes were "dirty".

Yet, you have millions of homes in America where kids are abused and law enforcement look the other way, like when my friend called the cops on my neighbor who was holding his kid up by the arm in the air, beating him and yelling...

One more issue we need to fix is making it so adoption agencies/CPS do not get money for each child they can take out of a home. Just like the commercialized prison systems, this too needs fixing.

Oct. 30 2014 02:48 PM
Anna Chaucer

The little girl should have stayed with her adoptive parents in the first place. ICWA was designed to prevent the breakup of families, which is exactly what has happened here. the biological father does seem to love the little girl, though, and it is an open adoption, so he has the right to know her and see her, but not rip her away from the only family she's ever known.I agree that exceptions should be outlined for ICWA, to maintain the intent of the law.

Oct. 27 2014 06:54 PM
Lyra K. Christie

I think that in this situation, it was wrong to take Veronica away from the adoptive couple. I do agree that Native American tribes should be kept together, but this situation is different. The biological father signed off on the adoption papers, and it should not be okay for him to be able to change his mind once he signed those papers, whether he is a Cherokee or not. If a child is forcefully taken away from people they love, it is emotionally scarring, often for life. The father should have been allowed rights to see his daughter, but the adoptive parents should have maintained custody.

Oct. 20 2014 10:21 PM
Milo C Rousseau from Florida

This really is such a complicated case with tons of pressure from both sides. I do think this was an instance where ICWA shouldn't have applied, and I'm glad that's what the Supreme Court ruled. I really didn't expect the biological father to have such a strong attachment to Veronica. You definitely can't paint him out to be the bad guy in all this, even though he didn't have the right to take back his child. I wish that the final ruling of the Supreme Court had been more definitive, but at the same time, I don't think anybody would really be ready for all of the repercussions that would follow.

Oct. 20 2014 09:21 PM
Toni J. Wilde from Oviedo, Florida

I believe that the child should have stayed with the adoptive parents in the first place. Even though the father wanted his daughter back when she was four months old, that isn't fair for the adoptive parents or the child. If the child's mother gave her up for adoption then the father should have agreed with that since he didn't want anything to do with her in the first place. Especially now that the little girl is two and was stripped away from her parents, that is just ridiculous and should have never happened. I hope the little girl's adoptive parents get their rights to their child back.

Oct. 18 2014 11:54 AM

It is tough to think that as this girl matures she will think that it was better to be with an adoptive couple than her own flesh and blood father. Unless of course the father is a very poor caregiver which after listening to the story does not seem to be the case. The father seems to be doing just fine taking care of and loving this little girl.

Sep. 10 2014 11:33 AM
Tajson from DenmarkHolland

There's many perspectives, angles and sensitivities in this issue. No true or right reality, only a multi-layered one. But, society's state of law demands one particular judgement.
To me, it seems that one of these perspectives is that miscommunication and lack of independent initiative to work things out among themselves, leads parents to be selfish enough to fiddle with a child as well as to take down a whole vulnerable culture with it, both parties gunning for a child to fill up their own empty holes, while the child could perhaps live in both realities at once. While a whole ethnic group's agency is being put at stake over these selfish parental needs. Yet, it does beg the question of why a racially based law would be enforced by an ethnic organisation to implement and invoke a particular inclusion of a "2 procenter". It's all so ambiguous and one giant sensitive risky business.
Either way, this issue is not just about adoption and love, nor about protection of a culture. It's all of the ugly in-between-grey-zones. Yes the pain of (adoption)parents is at stake. Yes, a child's well-being is at stake. Yes, the rights and agency and thus the essential identity and sense of belonging of an ethnic group is at stake. There's hardly any point in taking one side in particular.
But there will be one outcome, probably.
In that sense, for the sake of a whole people versus the sake of one couple, I feel it's more humane to go for a group. However painful such an outcome is. While the "Indian Law" (native american law) in question ought to be revised, while the power of the ethnic organisations ought to be reflected upon, in relation to that law. (How could the native americans benefit from simply claiming ties to anyone, however far removed a lineage is - when it jeopardizes the judicial agency of the whole group? That seems to be needing some redefining.)

Jun. 29 2014 11:02 AM
Don Whitmore

I'm one of these Native American children taken by Child Social Services. I've been talking about the circumstances around my adoption, and no one has ever seemed to care. Until I figured out why. Perspective. I'm living as a POW in the latest imperialist nation. Until Americans figure out that they're still enacting Genocide on Native Americans through systematic racism today, nothing will change.

May. 31 2014 03:56 PM
t47 from FL

This is just a sad story. I feel bad for the little girl, the pawn in all of this. To be with loving people for two years and then taken away must be traumatizing. But there are of course two sides to every story. I understand where the biological father is coming from, as he has been fighting this battle for years. I feel for both sets of parents. I can't imagine raising a girl for two years and to have her taken away from you, having a "transfer" take place right in front of your eyes. This is just a heartbreaking story...

Apr. 18 2014 02:35 PM
Random Commentor

I can see both sides of the arguments presented in this case. The girl was basically yanked out of the environment she had grown in and nurtured. Honestly, if the biological father truly wanted her from the start he would have acted more or seeked for help from proffesionals knowing that he didn't have enough knowledge about this. Using the excuse that he was getting deployed is weak. A true father would have seeked contact along time ago. Many times, they don't notice how much stress this could out on a child, maybe affecting her emotionally or internally, as epigenetic evolves. This little girl doesn't know how much is relying on her little shoulders. Personally, I think an exeption should be made for her adoptive parents. You can truly feel their love to thrie child through their exhaustive search for justice unlike the biological father, who acted 2 years later.

Apr. 09 2014 10:54 PM

This is all ridiculous. I don't think they should have taken that little girl away from her adoptive parents. Veronica had already been with them long enough to cause harm to her when she was taken away. Can you imagine how scary that must've been? To be taken away from the two people who loved you the most and placed with a stranger you don't know. Its crazy.

And for someone to not know they're signing away rights like that seems highly unlikely. I understand he says he did it in case he doesn't come back from Iraq, but still. He should have read the papers before signing. Plus, where's the proof that he called the mother frequently during her pregnancy?
But, I'll also admit that it was sneaky of them to try and get around ICWA by telling him he signed over all of his rights 6 days before he was deployed.

At this point though, I don't think it'll help the girl at all if they take her from the father and place her with the adoptive couple. She's been living with him even longer than she lived with the couple. Taking her away from the father will probably cause even more harm to her than the first time she was removed from a loving home.

Apr. 03 2014 02:42 PM

This podcast was definitely worth the time to listen to.This custody case was extremely controversial.As soon as you formed your opinion, new perspectives from the father changed your mind. Although I do believe ICWA's goal is to do whats best for the child in respects of keeping Native American families together, Veronica was taking from a loving home and placed in a different home after being raised since birth by a loving couple that so desperately wanted a child. In this case it seems as though a the ICWA law was breaking one family and trying to start another.Once you hear the father's side of the story your opinions shift to having sympathy to towards the father because from his perspective its seems as though he was manipulated into waving his rights. What made me wonder was the fathers tale of events prior to waving his rights,he states the birth mother simply shut him out,but why? Wouldn't she have a reason to? The podcast mentioned he wasn't willing to pay child support and to top it off the father is only two percent Native American.It would of been nice to hear an interview from the biological mother to get a better understanding of events before the adoption.

Apr. 02 2014 08:52 PM
ira from france

The Caucasian Chalk Circle, by Bertol Brecht

Mar. 28 2014 06:51 PM

greats site.........

Temp agency in oklahoma city

Nov. 25 2013 06:34 AM
Katari from Queens NY

Loved the Podcast. Just a note about your website: your lightbox doesn't reduce image sizes! Just a heads up. Keep up the great podcasts!

Nov. 19 2013 05:49 PM
Clare Averill from Cleveland, OH

I'm wondering if everyone who commented actually listened to the entire podcast. This case was so incredibly convoluted -- as soon as you thought you had it 'figured out' (i.e. who had the moral right) it turned on itself. In the end, I was left feeling that the father should keep Veronica -- not because of ICWA, but because it seemed he'd been tricked into signing his rights away right -- he thought he was signing over to allow for sole maternal custody, not for adoption. Big difference!

Now that Veronica has been transferred back to the Capobiancos we might want to look at ICWA again -- not as it relates to fathers' rights (which I think really was what this case was all about) but because it appears that, after all these years, ICWA has not actually helped to keep significantly more Native American kids with the tribes! See

Nov. 15 2013 03:21 PM
Jay Bowden from San Diego California

It won't be recognized for another generation (I hope I am wrong) but this story is overflowing with the deep, pervasive, and sadly sincere prejudice that the general population has internalized: the idea that any man who wants to be a parent to his own biological child is probably a fraud. A father is “presumed unfit”… unless he can prove otherwise with overwhelming evidence. It comes out in the reporting in the characterizations of the father: Tim Howard: Now, as for Dusten Brown, Veronica’s biological dad, a couple months before she was born, Christy, the birth mom, sent him a text message asking him if… Lori Alvino McGill: If he wants to pay child support or he wants to waive his rights. Tim Howard: And he replied, “I’ll waive my rights.” Lori Alvino McGill: Rather than pay a dime in child support. “Rather than pay a dime.” Over and over the father is characterized as a potential “abandoning weasel.” The father is scrutinized under a microscope looking for the one flaw that will put the nail in his “abandoning weasel” coffin. Not every man conforms to the bigoted stereotypes disseminated by certain women’s hate groups. Why do you accept the false choice of pay child support or give up the child? Why do you not even consider he has a right to raise his child himself if the mother does not want that obligation? Why do you not ask if the mother was willing to pay child support? Offering the father the right to raise his child would have obligated her to pay child support, so she prevented that outcome. In our current culture, a mother’s “right” to volitionally dump her obligation to support her biological child via adoption is unquestioned…even if she has to trick the father to do it. There is a glimmer of hope here in that the some of the reporters considered the father’s side at all. We have overcome slavery, Jim Crow laws, and Japanese internment in this country. One day anti-male-parent prejudice will be seen for the bigotry it is. Veronica will eventually know that her biological father loved her and fought for her even if she loses him due to the prevailing prejudice of our times.

Oct. 16 2013 11:01 AM

I think people are forgetting a couple of important things. First of all Dustin didn't suddenly show up when Veronica was two, and say give me the baby? Dustin was informed when Veronica was four months old, and within a week he was filing paper work contesting the adoption. This family knew they didn't have the Dad's consent and choose to fight for 16 months.

One of the things the court said is its unfair for a PROSPECTIVE adoptive family to drag out a case for two years then argue best interest. Second Dustin was expecting paperwork to sign over Veronica to her mother because he was deploying and its something he legally had to do. The attorneys gave him the paper work saying an adoption, after the originally, illegally and as soon as he saw what it was he demanded the paperwork back and said I didn't agree to this. So, no he didn't sign his rights away."

I think another factor people don't realize is Veronica has a big sister. Her big sister is devastated about losing her sister.

Oct. 03 2013 12:21 AM

While some initially asked how this podcast could be "science" I argue that it entangles all sorts of science. For adoptees like myself, we constantly struggle with our biological identities and our adopted ones ( Research is slim on adoptees, unless someone is doing a biological study where they are asking a nature vs. nurture question, but as your podcast this week (Blame) eludes there is a trauma in adoption … we are connected to all of our experiences. Baby Veronica will experience this someday ( Perhaps, Radio Lab will tackle some of the other adoption "sciences" in the future to help us all be demystified.

Sep. 28 2013 05:35 PM

I really wish that the story included whether phone records support the biological father's claim that he regularly attempted to contact the mother during the pregnancy. We also don't get to hear from the person with whom he signed the papers to see if the biological father really responded the way he said he did. It would clarify a lot about the question of intent.

Sep. 18 2013 11:27 AM
Felipe.Pech from Nova Alexandria

Having a two year old adopted sister this story somewhat hit home. I'm a USMC Veteran and can understanding first hand what deployments consist of. He was trying to do what was best for his child by signing over his rights. He did not count on the fact that the mother would sign over the child for adoption. Granted, he could have gone to base legal and sought out council from JAG but he did not. He was manipulated by a woman who knew what she was doing and he found every way possible to get his daughter back. The fact that he had preferential treatment because of the law pertaining to Native Americans is not a matter.

Sep. 16 2013 07:14 AM
Amina Ahmed nvcc Annandale

Reading this article was extremely sad. I honestly don't understand how one can give their OWN child for adoption. The fact that you would give your child for adoption is utter disrespectful and is disgusting. What made this article even more disgusting is that Veronica was taken away after 2 years. Where is Respect? What happen to honor and dignity?

Sep. 09 2013 09:49 PM
Egan Dales from NOVA Annandale

The reporter asked the biological father if this was best for veronica, and he replied, uh I think so. I think this says it all. He wasnt responsible when he created Veronica, and that fact hasnt changed. I think, his intentions werent in the best interest of Veronica, and for that theres nothing more to say but shame on him.

Sep. 09 2013 09:04 PM
Omid Shabon from NOVA

Wow. Just wow. Situations like this make just make me sick. To give your child away to begin with then go get her back 2 years later, thats almost like torture. You have a family thats investing their time and love just so that veronica can be taken away 2 years after. Sure it may have been legal and whatnot but when Dustin was asked if this was for the best interest he says "i think so?". If you aren't 100% sure then there is something wrong in my opinion.

Sep. 09 2013 08:45 PM
Ashley Crawford from Nova, Annadale

This was a difficult story for me to form an opinion on because I dont think all of the facts were presented and all of the questions I ended up with went unanswered. Nothing was stated about the welfare and safety of the child in the biological fathers home or the adopted home. Nothing was stated about the emotional well being of the child when she was taken from a home she had known for two years. Nothing was stated about how the child adjusted to her new life. How were things explained to her? How will things be explained to her in the future? I understand that law being made to protect the children of Native Americans, but when does too far become too far? Every law needs a line drawn in the sand. Im not saying the child would have been better off in either case, Im saying that there needs to be guidelines pertaining to the emotional and physical wellbeing of a child, instead of blindly following a law.

Sep. 09 2013 08:22 PM
Faith Lankford NOVA AN CST 126-07

When I first began listening to this story, the first thing I thought was why didn't the father realize how important the Indian Child Welfare Act was before Christy gave up her baby? Why not step up to be a father when it mattered the most? However, this podcast answered those questions. Upon my years of working with the Services to the Armed Forces Department of American Red Cross, we often had military messages being sent to a service member who was a Native American Indian. When that occurred all the rules changed. The Native Americans truly do have very special and sacred and moral political policies that they live by. When it comes to family, those rules are extremely strict. They greatly honor family. I must admit that in the beginning, I was on the side of Matt and Melanie Capobionco. But after hearing the interview with the father, hearing the voice of the daughter and with the realization that the child has now been with her father for almost two years my opinion changed. While my heart truly goes out to the Capobionco family, I think it would add injury to again uproot this child from another place that she has come to know as her home, especially when it appears that she is wanted, loved and well cared for by her father. May God's wisdom abound in this situation.

Sep. 09 2013 08:07 PM
Walter G. Reyes from NOVA, Annandale

This “adoptive-couple v. baby girl” case is very difficult for all parties involved here. I totally understand the frustration and sense of loss for the adopted parent, Matt & Melanie Capobianco. I personally do not agree to the current outcome of this case. It is a sad situation because we are dealing with the life of an innocent human being and we should seek for the child’s best interests to be with a loving caring and protecting parent like the Capobianco. However, Dustin Brown, the biological father, claimed he was forced to sign the adaptation documents 6 days before been deployed to Iraq by the child’s biological mother, Christy Maldonado. I believe that he had a change of heart and lucky for him the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act is protecting this child from being with her adopted parent. Furthermore, the only way he can reinstate his wrongdoing and be blessed with his daughter, Veronica, is because of this Cherokee clan’s 2% membership.

Sep. 09 2013 07:15 PM
Brady Urano from NOVA Annandale

I could never understand what its like to have a child nor to give one up. But to take the child away after two years is wrong if you aren't able to keep the child then you're not ready for a child. To realize that and then two years later come back for her is not at all a fair thing to do to the child.

Sep. 09 2013 06:21 PM
Jon from NOVA, Annandale

I do have to say that I disagree with how this turned out. The adoptive family had spent two years with Veronica and had formed a bond/family with her, then to have her biological father come out of nowhere and take her away? I don't think this should have been allowed to happen, regardless if he was Cherokee or not. If he signed the papers to legally give up his child, then that should have stuck.

Sep. 09 2013 04:05 PM
Mary Ulrich from Annandale

I think this is a very tragic situation. I don't think that Veronica should have ever been taken away from her adoptive parents. I do however think that her father suffered an injustice, but not because he has Cherokee in him but because of a lack of communication he made a decision to give his child up. He should have been allowed some visitation. Now, in listening to the love in her voice when she says "daddy" I think it would be a grave injustice to uproot this child again. It would be nice if she could somehow experience both families love.

Sep. 09 2013 02:54 PM
Adam Veliz from NOVA,Annandale

This a very tragic and complicated situation. The ACT meant well,however, times have changed and the policies should be revised to accommodate.At first, I felt sympathy for the father since the mother may have displayed deceptive methods. Ultimately, the father relinquished the duties and responsibilities of a father. The adoptive parents have a two bond that leaves a very painful void.In addition, the child's 2% Cherokee makeup further supports the reason for justice.

Sep. 09 2013 11:54 AM
Adam Veliz from Nova,Annandale

This a very tragic situation. It

Sep. 09 2013 11:43 AM
Kelly N. from NOVA Annandale

This is a very difficult case. Veronica may be too young to fully understand what exactly is going on, but the adoptive parents and the biological father sure are going through a very rough time. i know this may seem harsh but i blame the biological mother for putting her daughter in this situation. I understand she did what was best for veronicas interest but there are ways to go about it. She could've explained the situation to the biological father and not just sent over some papers for him to sign. However Dustin should've knowed better then just sign without going over the legal documents. Now when it comes to Matt and Melany i feel bad for them. They seemed to be very sincere and loving people. they even cut the umbilical cord for little Veronica. it must have been very hard for them to give her up. The laws that protect Native Americans are something i just learned about through this podcast. They seem extremely strict to me.

Sep. 09 2013 08:17 AM
April Fernandez CST-126-07 (NOVA Annandale)

I feel very sad for the adoptive parents because Veronica was taken away from them. I don’t know what it is like to have a child taken from you, but I can only imagine. It’s upsetting to hear about the whole “transfer “ part. I can’t imagine how much pain this couple (Matt and Melanie) felt having to hand over their daughter back to the biological father. They were given this child thinking they were finally going to be able to start a life with an adopted daughter together, then months later they are in the middle of handing her back over. This must have been a painful thing for this couple to go through. I can’t imagine how Veronica’s biological father feels about this whole thing also. Does he know that it is his fault he didn’t read through the papers thoroughly before signing? He could have taken the time to read through before signing any document. I wonder if he even feels selfish or sad about taking his daughter back from the adoptive parents. It could have been best for her to stay with her adoptive parents since she’s been living with them and believing that they are her real parents. If the court was to rule for the adoptive parents, Veronica would be taken away from her second family. She may grow up wondering what and why she’s been through family to family. Veronica is a little girl who should be with one stable family. Regardless of her being a Cherokee, none of this should get in the way. Veronica deserves a family who will love and support her no matter what.

Sep. 09 2013 03:12 AM
Leticia Watson CST 126-07 from NOVA Annandale

Wow! Listening to this story stirred up a lot of different emotions for me. Being adopted myself I couldn't image being taken away from my adopted parents. Its hard for me to understand how the birth father would sign legally binding documents and not enquire about what it was he was signing. I totally understand the laws that were put into place back in the 70's I believe protecting the Indian tribes and their children. But just like in any other case of adoption once you sign over your rights that's it, you have no more legal rights to that child. So now the adopted family is childless and heartbroken because of a law that in my opinion has nothing to do with this case. And now its to the point where if the adoptive family were to regain custody of Veronica, she would probably be confused and tramatized because she's being snatched from home to home. I truly feel bad for the child in this case because in the end she's the one most affected by this situation. She may not underdstand it now, but there will be question in the near future when she gets older.

Sep. 08 2013 11:44 PM
Jorge A from NOVA, Annandale

This is a really hard case, especially for veronica. She’s been living and being raised by adoptive parents. Being taken away after 2 years from the people that love and raised her and then being forced to live with what seems like strangers, would be emotional to anyone. But, I also think Dustin was done wrong. He didn’t know he was signing away his daughter. Although veronica was staying with the adoptive parents, I think it was right to have Dustin take custody of her child. He really wanted to be her father and I think it was a good decision

Sep. 08 2013 11:26 PM
Iqra K from CST 126-07 from Annandale, VA

This podcast broke my heart. You can feel the pain from the adoptive parents voices and feel how broken they are. I dont think it was far to snatch their daughter away only because the father was Cherokee Indian. I understand this case going somewhere IF he never signed anything giving up custody and authority to change his mind but since he DID sign it, I don't think this should have even been a case. It's not far not even to just the adoptive parents but also to the child. She doesn't even have a say in it because she's so young but she was happy with her new parents. My heart goes out to them and Veronica.

Sep. 08 2013 06:08 PM
Mary Ulrich from Annandale

I think this is a very complex case. I believe that Veronica should have never been taken from her adoptive parents. The injustice to the father was not that he was Cherokee but that he was duped. I do not believe the best interest to the child was served by this law. However, now that she has been in this happy home for sixteen months and is obviously a happy little girl who loves her new family. You can here the love in her little voice when she calls him "daddy". What do you do from here? Very hard call, but I do think that the adoptive couple should at the very least be able to be a part of her life

Sep. 08 2013 02:56 PM
Lisa G from NOVA, Annandale

This is one of those emotionally charged legal cases that forces as as readers (public)to give pause and think about the perspectives of both sides of this legal battle. How our personal values must give way to the law. On a personal level, I can identify I am Asian and was adopted by a Caucasian couple in the early 70'S as a baby. I would never have wanted my adoption or placement based solely upon race. In this case, race is exactly what this case will be decided on. If Mr.Brown were any other race he wouldn't have had a legal argument after having signed his parental rights away.Also, I don't understand how Kristy Maldonado's legal rights as having sole custody was superseded by Dustin Brown's after he had initially signed his rights over to her. It's obvious,ICWA served a purpose for a time that has since passed but now I feel it needs to be reviewed.Unfortunately it may come at a price that little Veronica may have to pay.

Sep. 08 2013 11:07 AM
Rodel Mosuela from Fairfax VA

At first I really sided with the parents in the story. After listening to the whole podcast I really sat down and thought about what I would do if i were in the same position. As a former service member with children, I wouldn't know what to do if my rights were manipulated and pawned for secret adoptions. I understand that there are 2 sides to every story and only the Biological mother really knew what was going on. I would say she wasn't a bad influence or did not have the best intentions, but her secrets and her plans caused good people a lot of headache and distraught. Someone having only 2% of that native blood could have such a stronghold on the law to me is a loophole that has now been exposed to everyone. I do hope things work out for the better for the adoptive couple, But i don't think they will win this battle.

Sep. 07 2013 10:32 PM
Florence Appiah from NOVA, Annandale

After listen to the complete podcast, I must say I felt sad for both side because they all seems to love Veronica(the baby girl). Even though, the adopted family was more emotional. I also couldn't tell whether the biological father was being truthful when he said he didn't know about what was going on till later, but the point still remains that now he wants her daughter back. I understood why the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act was made in those days judging from what they went through. But it shouldn't apply to this case in my opinion, because this time around nobody took any child from their biological parents with force or by any unlawful way. The child's mother gave this baby to this couple wholeheartedly and regards of whether the father was "tricked", the law should have been fair But they just gave a child away to strangers. I asked myself why should a law made in ages stands when a child's welfare is involve. The adopted parents were not abusive or unsuitable to this kid but they choose to turn a blind eye all in the name of a law. It's heartbreaking for this adopted parents to just let it just go because they did their best as parents for two good years. I know this case is tough but I hope at the end they put the child's best interest first before all else.

Sep. 07 2013 03:09 AM
Osman from NOVA, annandale

Wow this is a huge case full of emotions, laws, and fine print issues. I think Veronica should have stayed with the adopted couple because they had been raising her like their own. Veronica was their own to them. Isnt the well being of a child the most important thing to look at?

Sep. 04 2013 09:55 PM
Dominic from NOVA, Annondale

I think that while it's very hard to say with certainty that Veronica's biological Dad is a bad person of any kind, I think his judgement or the method he used to re-acquire his daughter were too abrupt and didn't take into consideration the bonds that her adoptive family had formed with her. It may not be my place to say it but I don't think that, even when a child is biologically yours, you have any kind of say in whether or not you can reclaim that child from an adoptive family after the child has been with them and formed bonds with them over a period as long as two years. I think it hurts the adoptive parents to have a child they were so looking forward to making part of their family taken from them without discussion of the matter and I strongly believe it's emotionally damaging and distressing for the child involved.

Sep. 04 2013 09:41 PM
Brian N. from NOVA, Ananndale

It is an unfortunate situation for the adoptive couple of Matt and Melanie, and initially one could (and maybe even should) feel for them, however I feel like the biological father is overall really getting the short stick in this situation, by pinning him as the "heartless man who took away a little girl from a perfectly fine middle class home" The reality is (assuming everything that Dustin said is true) that there are no real bad guys in this situation (with one possible exception being the mother, but we dont really know here side so I'll reserve judgment). The law was originally created to protect American Indian Families, and whilst it may have been abused at times (such as in Sierras Case)its initial use was not malicious in anyway way. In the end this is a case in which the biological father was caught in a series of unfortunate events that led him to losing his daughter, it is wrong that he is taking advantage of an old law that in all honesty might not need much use today, and yes the child should be returned to the adoptive parents, I am unclear of how restoring the fathers rights to his child could impede upon the actual adoption (in an ideal world a joint custody system could be established between him and the adoptive parents were both would be able to spend time with the child, but who knows how that would pan out....) My heart goes out to both these families, ( and yes a family of two is still a family) and hopefully some type of middle ground could be found (although it is unlikely knowing how there are so many regulations and roadblocks when it comes to "touchy" subjects such as this one."

Sep. 04 2013 09:21 PM
Sang from NOVA Annadale

It seems like "American-Indian Children Welfare Act"drives Amerindian children to street. The government only interested in uniting Amerindian Family but do not care if the parents want to take care of them. Biological father already abandoned the child once but court favored him because of "American-Indian Children Welfare Act". I am really concerned about the future of the Veronica

Sep. 04 2013 08:28 PM
Sung from NOVA, Annandale

Fascinating podcast, but after listening to both sides to this case I find it really hard to take a certain side. This case feels like it lies in a really grey area and there’s no certain right or wrong answer. On one hand, I feel really horrible for the adoptive parents. They were there for Veronica’s birth in the delivery room and were very involved in the adoption process, making the mother feel very comfortable that her daughter was going to a loving and caring home. They did absolutely nothing wrong and but still had their daughter taken away because she was about 1% Cherokee. But then it sounded like the biological father, Brown, also was kept in the dark about the adoption process. Being served with adoption papers 6 days before he was deployed the Iraq bothers me a bit.

Still, I think the biggest issue is the legal precedent it would set for Indian laws. ⅓ of Indian children being taken away is horrifying, something that shouldn’t happen again. However I don’t think ICWA applies here and this case shouldn’t affect other Indian laws. But given that I’m no lawyer, I’m just speculating here. In any case, I hope both parties can find some sort of resolution.

Sep. 04 2013 08:09 PM
Joe Nolan from NOVA Annandale

I am a College student from Nova in a interpersonal communications course. This case is full of complex issues. Did the Biological father have the right to take back his child? She was in a happy home and if he really was unaware of what he was signing then I believe that he should get his child back.

Sep. 04 2013 08:03 PM
Bita from Annandle Nova

My heart goes out for this couple too. the little girl ripped away from them, two years is enough time for the new parent love the baby. I think the laws should help the good couples adopt the children that need a real family. it does not matter where you are from, any couples can save a baby`s life shoul be helped.they can not wait till bioligical parents chang.

Sep. 04 2013 07:24 PM
Ronny Kitmetou from Northern Virginia

In my opinion the historical wrong of this whole story SHOULD NOT effect the non-related parents in this situation. Breaking up any type of family should be prohibited. If the biological parents arent around for birth or even after birth for support, i would like to say that i dont think they deserve theyre child. For families like this one, having infertality problems is already a huge damper to life. After adopting a child and having to take care of their child for over 2 years and have the child taken away because of an act created in 1978 to help save and keep Native American familes together, it should at least be conversed between the two families. (biological & Adpoted family) To hear the response of the biological father after he was asked whether this is the best situation for the child, and he responds "I think so" its sickening. Having 25% to 35% of native american children in and out of home placement is also a sickening thought to phathom. In conclusion this story has really changed my input on how social services deal with human being on this planet. Something needs to change for the sake of the children and for the sake of having a blessful family!

Sep. 04 2013 06:49 PM
Anavinnh Samreth from NOVA, Annandale: CST 126-06

I think that the foster parents of this child were wrongly stripped away of their custody, because both parents did sign away their rights to the child giving full custody to them. No law should prevent something as such to happen, even though there is a law for Native Americans to be able to have children stick to their families, it all changes when you choose to give away your rights to this child; there isn't turning back saying you want a refund on the custody. On the other hand, we can't judge the biological father, because he was only notified of the reason for signing over custody six days before being shipped to Iraq. But it is his fault that he was unable to read the fine print, and/or his inability to further question why he was signing over his rights. Although I do feel bad that he was "tricked" to signing over his child, you can't just go back and say that you made a mistake and try to take it back, that isn't how life works.

Sep. 04 2013 06:36 PM
Luis Navas from NOVA, Annandale

This is a very complex case because on either side people are going to hurt. The girl lived with her adopted parents from birth then is taken out to live with a stranger in her eyes. That is bad for her psychologically. Poor thing but on the other all those native american kids that would be at risk with his law maybe going away. for me its hard to side. i think she would have been happy in either family, but who should have custody over her? another thing is the dad signed his rights away so i thing it not him. I'm happy the court ruled the adopted parents should keep her because it makes sense. the native american law should never be at risk even because of this case it should have been left alone in my opinion.

Sep. 04 2013 05:22 PM
Karen-126-05 from Nova - Annandale

It must be very hard for the adoptive parents to lose their daughter after being with her for almost two years. I truly feel for them because biological child or not they love their daughter regardless. At the same time I could understand if the biological father would want his child back, not intentionally wanting his daughter to be adopted in the first place. What matters most is what's best for baby Veronica because she's just an innocent child.

Sep. 03 2013 09:58 PM
Ariana Dombrowski Annandale NOVA

Not only is this a heartbreaking story, but I believe that the supreme court handled this case very unfairly. I feel that neither the court nor Veronica's biological father's acted in the child's best interest. Dustin, the biological father abused the Indian child welfare act. This law was originally instated in order to keep children and their families together; for little Veronica her adopted parents were the only family that she had ever known. Tearing this little girl from the parents who had loved, cared, and provided for her since birth was probably cruel and traumatic for both the parents and for Veronica. This separation of children from their loving families was exactly what the Indain child welfare act was put in place to prevent, just because these people were of another race doesn't mean that they should have to suffer the way the Indians originally did.

Sep. 03 2013 09:53 PM
Saniyah from NOVA, Annandale

Before listening to this podcast, I had never heard the story before. I honestly feel bad for both sides. It must be such a hard thing to have their adoptive daughter taken away from them , because even though she had no blood relation to them, she was still the only child they ever knew and they raised her as their own. But at the same time her biological father, Dustin Brown, has his own rights over her as she is her biological father and he didn't fully realize what he had been doing when he signed the papers.
Although the topic of Native American welfare was a big part of the issue, I think that regardless of race or ethnicity, it would still be a hard case because on one hand you have the adoptive parents who raised the child, and on the other hand you have the biological father who truly yearns for his daughter. I feel bad for Veronica, because through all this mess, she's the one who had to go through an unstable point in her life from leaving everything she knew and moving in to a new environment with a man she never knew before.

Sep. 03 2013 09:49 PM
Crystal Hak from NOVA, Annadale

After listening to this podcast I find it heart breaking especially for three year old Veronica that she has to go through this.For the adoptive parents I can not imagine raising this little girl for three years then suddenly she's no longer there. However,does the biological father feel as this would be the best choice for Veronica?

Sep. 03 2013 09:46 PM
Belal Mahmoud from NOVA Annandale

It's so messed up how people force others to give up they're kids legally without the biological parents being actually conscious of what they are signing. Are people that corrupted to just take someone's kid like that? In the beginning it seemed as if the the father didn't care about his daughter and that he didn't want her. Then he goes through all that trouble to ensure that she stays with her biological family. I truly respect how much he cares to try to keep the family together and how much he truly cares about his daughter.

Sep. 03 2013 09:30 PM
Kirsten Leonard from NOVA, Annandale

Right off the bat, I was on the adoptive parent's side. They did nothing wrong in this situation and they didn't deserve to go through all that they did. I thought of the biological father as a careless man with no interest in his daughter. As the story unfolds though, I began to relize the simple summary of the story judt doesn't give it justice. A lot of factors went in to this case, such as interpertation of the law and the lack of communication. One thing to think about is how people interpret the ICWA. Some, might think it doesn't apply to this certain case, considering the fact that the father is only 2% native american and how this chid was never living in a native american home. Others might think that one who is only 2% native american has just as much of a right to enforce the ICWA as someone who is 100%. That problem culd have been avoided if this next one had never happened. The other problem in this situation is the lack of communication between the biological mother and father. If she had just been more clear of her intentions and if he had read the documents that he had signed before signing them, then none of this would have happened. Now, after hearing the father's side of the story, I can't hate him, he seems genuine about his story and his love for his daughter. But, there is still that adoptive couple who doesn't have their daughter. It's a tragic story with out the possibility of an ending to make everyone happy. And to think, it could have all been avoided by better communication.

Sep. 03 2013 08:27 PM
yoonsu Heo

YoonSu Heo from nova 126-06

When i heard this story, i just thought that this problem could have been lot better if the two biological parents actually talk face to face, but the mom didn't want that. First i felt really bad for adoptive couple, having veronica for two years, and all of a sudden, veronica is in the hands of the biological parents by the law called ICWA. When i read heard this story, i really give respect to adoptive couple, even though they lost their child, all they did was hoping she grows healthy. When i heard the story of the biological dad, i felt bad for him too, but also if he read over the document he was going to sign, he could have prevented all of this tragic situation.

Sep. 03 2013 06:56 PM

When the podcast first started I felt that Matt and Melanie were wronged, but listening on I found that this story unravels more and more and goes into details one would not suspect with a brief overlook of the subject matter. At first, and this is still argued, the biological mother was trying to provide the unborn child (Veronica) with a better than life. She met with and became attached to Matt and Melanie(the adopting parents), Matt even cut the umbilical cord, which just goes to show how much she approved and trusted these people. However, after hearing the biological father (Dustin’s) story I was very intrigued. On the surface it appeared that veronica’s biological father just took her back. Under the surface you find out that the biological mom may have refused help offered by Dustin and certainly refused to talk to him. We also find out that this man’s child was born and put up for adoption without his knowledge. He was requested to waive his parental rights and agreed to do so until he found out that veronica had been put up for adoption. He regains custody under ICWA since he is Cherokee and is now living seemingly happily with veronica and a new wife.
This story, after the details, turned into a huge nationwide miscommunication mess. If the story told by Dustin was indeed true, the biological mother should have been more upfront about her plans from the beginning. She was distant and apparently refused help when offered to move to the army base where Dustin was located at the time. She should have told Matt and Melanie the truth about veronicas biological dad or better yet not even think about adoption, why not just give her to her dad in the first place. On the other hand, I understand that it’s his daughter and rash decisions need to be made sometimes but pulling the card (ICWA) that he did didn’t necessarily help anything. Yes he got custody of his daughter but did he have to do it in that manner? Where the press gets involved and blow things out of proportion like they notoriously do. And furthermore, by using the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did he not just do to Matt and Melanie what had been done to his people since the 60’s? So they are not Indian and it doesn’t apply to them, so what. They are still human and most humans know between wrong and right. Ultimately this entire ordeal was handled terribly and most likely could’ve been averted had the biological parents simply attempted to communicate with one another.

Sep. 03 2013 05:48 PM
Ashley Moore from NOVA, Annandale

At first I was completely on the the couples side. Obviously they did everything legally and they are perfect loving parents who don't deserve their child ripped way from them because of some Native American privilege that is being used as a loop hole because it so clearly wasn't meant to be used in this sort of circumstance. I villainized the birth father. I understand that the ICWA law should stay in place because it was enacted for a good reason that I agree with, I just didn't think it should apply to this situation.
However after I heard that biological fathers side of the story I had a minor change of heart. If his story is true he probably should have payed more attention to what he was signing, but he never intended to give away the child; and so he used ICWA to his advantage. If I was in his situation I would too, it was a last resort.
Its a hard situation, and at this point Veronica has spent 16 months with her biological father, and she seems to be well adjusted. I don't think that she should have been ripped away from her adoptive family, but I don't fault the biological father for trying. At this point i think it might be better for the child to stay with the birth father now though.

Sep. 03 2013 04:43 PM
Adam Nova 126-06

I think that the whole thing was handled badly from the start. If what the biological father says is true the biological mother should have been more honest from the beginning about her intentions. That being said I have a lot of problems with the biological fathers handling of the situation. Firstly who doesn't read legal documents that you are going to sign. Not only that he was stationed on an Army base and had access to legal counsel through the JAG corps. He didn't stop to think that it might be a good idea to explore his options before signing away custody? Then after finding out what happened he decides he wants to fight it. He didn't care about giving up rights to the mother so why does he care about someone else raising her? As for the law he used to fight it I'm not even sure where to begin. This whole case is a legal nightmare and trapped in the middle is a child. I'm not going to get into it online but I will say this. All the adults need to think about whats best for this child. Not what nice little definition we want to file her into so everyone can wash their hands of it and say it was tough but the law is the law. The worlds changed and we need to start to adapt our legal system to it. If heritage is going to be a deciding factor in adoption it needs to be established and recorded by the courts before the child is ever born. Adoption agencies and state agencies need to make sure that they are following the law and protecting the children they claim to serve. Otherwise we are going to see more and more of these cases and the laws which were designed to protect children are going to end up hurting them.

Sep. 03 2013 04:34 PM

First of all I am just going to say this is an incredibly sad story. I think the adoptive family should have been able to keep her. This also makes me incredibly angry that some punk dad is able to just come in and think he can take what is rightfully his. What I didn't like about this whole podcast was how they mentioned 'INDIANS'. So the only thing this punk dad going for him was the fact that he was part of the Wolf Clan. So because he was part of this clan that made it alright for him to go in and rip up this family?!I just don't understand what type of person would do that. I mean, I understand you're pissed at the fact you signed the papers and had no idea what you were signing. But you should have been a better husband let alone dad. I just think it's incredibly sad for this mother and father who can't even give birth to a child. Get the opportunity to adopt a child, end up falling in love with this child. Then having some Jerk think he can take her away. I hate this story and think the child should be able to go back to the Mother and Father.

Sep. 03 2013 03:09 PM
Ryan Compton 126-06

First let me say this was a well put together podcast that explained all sides of the story without being bias. Second, I believe the father has every right to his child regardless whether he is native American(not Indian) or not. I feel for the adoptive parents who took care of the child for two years, but they only had contact with the mother and not the father before the child was born. I hope they do not change the law but how it is looking that child will be in North Carolina. I hope the matter can end civilly and all the adults can be present in the child's life.

Sep. 03 2013 12:54 PM
Christopher Morales

1/3 of Native american children were not in their homes? Who the hell hired these social workers? I think this case is horrible. This law the "American-Indian Children Welfare Act" that was passed i think i its great! Like they said "what is culture without you passing it down to your children". Its just unfortunate in little baby Veronica's, adoptive parent's, and Dustin's case. Despite the hurt of the family as much as i wish they could keep her i don't think its possible to return her adopted child when at the same time it can jeopardize the law and many other children.

Sep. 02 2013 09:44 PM
Randall from NOVA Annandale

This is a sad story but this could have all been prevented if two irresponsible adults could have thought more about their child than themselves. If the biological parents would have talked and decided what they wanted to do then the adoptive parents would have never gotten involved. No matter what happens whether she stays with her father or is sent to her adoptive parents, no one wins.

Sep. 02 2013 09:41 PM
Austin Neal

As for baby veronica, I find it horrible that there is a "tug of war" over this child. If the parents were in fact forced to sign over their child via putting paperwork they did not understand in front of them and forcing them to sign; then yes they have every right to the custody of their child. The process that was taken that broke apart the families of the native americans is absolutely horrible. The way of life and genetic code they possess is connected to those who were on this land when Columbus first landed.

I personally have seen custody battles between two parties occur within my own family and often times the one that loses is the child not one of the parents. They end up being carted back and fourth between the two parents homes with no place they can call home. Through the custody process the parents both act like children and play a tit of tat game causing more issues down the road. if the adults would act like adults the whole custody process would be much smoother with a more mutual understanding.

Sep. 02 2013 09:32 PM
Amanda from NOVA Annandale

Listening to this was heart wrenching for me. I have kids of my own and it would be absolutely horrible if one of them was taken away from me like what Matt and Melanie experienced. There are of course many sides to this story, the adoptive parents, the biological father and biological mother. But what I think is the most important for people to keep in mind is the little 3 year old girl at the center. It is ultimately her best interest that should be considered when looking at this case. I agree with one of the lawyers for the adoptive parents when he said "take a kid out of a loving home and you will do great harm." Just because Matt and Melanie are not biologically related to little Veronica doesn't mean that they are not her family. They have given her love and treasured her for more than 2 years. They are the only family she knows. I think the father, Dusten, should work out some kind of visitation with them if he wants to be a part of Veronica's life. But taking her out of a perfectly good home on the basis of an out dated "race" law is not in her best interest. Family is about love and sometimes about sacrificing for others happiness.

Sep. 02 2013 09:11 PM
Alek Walter from Nova, Annandale Campus

This seems silly to me. If Dustin would have checked the documents before just signing anything handed to him, this would not be an issue. I understand that he doesn't want to lose his daughter, but now he has torn her away from the only real parents she ever had. He greedily abused a loophole in a law that is meant to help Native Americans keep their families together. If he truly cared for Veronica and thought she would be staying with her mother, he would have not signed his rights away, effectively denying her the free life insurance, health care, and other benefits associated with the armed forces.

Sep. 02 2013 08:48 PM
Alek Walter from Nova, Annandale Campus

This seems silly to me. If Dustin would have checked the documents before just signing anything handed to him, this would not be an issue. I understand that he doesn't want to lose his daughter, but now he has torn her away from the only real parents she ever had. He greedily abused a loophole in a law that is meant to help Native Americans keep their families together. If he truly cared for Veronica and thought she would be staying with her mother, he would have not signed his rights away, effectively denying her the free life insurance, health care, and other benefits associated with the armed forces.

Sep. 02 2013 08:43 PM
Michella Ineza from NOVA, Annandale

Based on what I heard, I can't really say that I'm on the father's side or the adoptive couple's side because it all comes to two questions. Where does Veronica want to live? Where is she the happiest? At the beginning, I would have definitely said that it is logical that she would have obviously went to the adoptive couple. But after hearing the father's side of the story, I realized that he was actually set up into giving up his parental rights and also signing the adoption papers, which means, he has the right to be wanting to have custody of the little girl, Veronica. Long story short, we all know that they all (adoptive couple and father) love her and want to take care of her, so they should have worked up some kind of compromise. For example the couple could have custody of Veronica (because they desperately want to have a child) but, at the same time,the father would have the right to spend time with her once in a while in order for Veronica to have all of them at the same time so that she won't have to really pick a side. But as we all now know, the adoptive couple got the custody of Veronica due to whatever reason that the supreme court finalized their decision on. So, I guess it was kind of the right decision, generally speaking.

Sep. 02 2013 08:08 PM
charlie from nova annandale

At the beginning of the podcast I find myself sympathizing with the adoptive parents. But then I find out that the dad (dustin) had been looking for her for awhile. But what really gets me is that dustin waived his rights for the child early on, instead of paying child support. I think that should've been the end of the line, but then dustin basically used this law, to protect native families, to use in his own favor and achieve what he wanted despite only being 2% Cherokee. Ultimately I believe that the adoptive parents should have custody, dustin is using a law formed to protect families to his own advantage because he screwed up and is destroying a family in the process. If he were any other nationality he would have had to live with his mistake of withholding rights.

Sep. 02 2013 07:04 PM
Adam from Nova Annandale

The background regarding the removal of Indian children is what really makes this case interesting to me.
I feel that the biological parents deserve their children more than anyone if they do everything in their power to have a happy and healthy child. Would I describe a few text messages every few months to my child's mother doing everything they can?...not quite, but this case is not that simple.

This case has so many factors, that it is impossible to say that you are 100% for or against either side based solely on facts and not on your emotions.

The most interesting independent facts to me:
-Dustin was being deployed for the U.S. military to fight overseas right before they let him know the deal
-The issue with ICWA, and its history regarding Indian Families
-The fact that the mother had previous children, then decided to have another which she all of a sudden "wouldn't be able to care for" and decides to adopt out across the country

Sep. 02 2013 06:43 PM
Courtney Quick from Nova, Annadale

This case is really hard to choose an outcome for. Right off the bat you hear that this little girl has been taken from her adoptive parents so you want to fight for her return. Later you hear that the father just gave over his rights so you continue to root for the adoptive parents. However later on you realize the father was shut out of this little girls life without a choice, he is almost tricked into signing over her to these adopted parents. She has been with her father for about a year and a half which is only six months away from the amount of time she spent with her foster parents. After listening to the entire case I think she should stay with her father. There is no point in the Indian law being destroyed just because this adoptive couple want to keep a baby that technically isn't there's. The mother made this choice without talking to the father, he tried to do the responsible thing since he was going to war. When he realized she wasnt just going to be living with the mother but instead put up for adoption he stepped up. Right now she is in a loving home with a family that is making good money. If you remove her again its only going to confuse her more. This couple can adopt another baby. They only had her for two years. The mother never had a right to cut him out of that babies life or give her away without notifying him first. It was unfair and wrong of her.

Sep. 02 2013 04:59 PM
Ronaldo Dagdag from Nova, Annandale

The birth dad should get custody. When he signed over the custody, he did not understand what was going on. The paperwork wasn't fully explained and he was preoccupied with his upcoming deployment.

Sep. 02 2013 04:37 PM
Jose Zelaya from annandale

This case is really sad to hear. I think veronica should stay with her adoptive parents because they show her love. She needs that.

Sep. 02 2013 04:35 PM
HyenJeng Shin from NOVA, Annandale

When I listen the podcast I thought at first the father just came suddenly and stole the baby from adoptive couple. But after listen the podcast, I cannot stand one side. Nobody did wrong even Veronica's birth mother, they just could not have enough conversation. I think they really needed to have a conversation and make a dicision together and if they did, they could prevent this situation. And I just feel so sorry for adoptive couple and feel so lucky to Dusten and Veronica at the same time. At last, I think for Veronica, whether she was decided with adoptive parents or was decided with Dusten, everything was the best for her. Because she will know that how much she is beloved.

Sep. 02 2013 04:11 PM
Cayleigh Hall from NOVA, Annandale

There is so much going on in this article! When it begins, you think it is just a simple custody battle but it quickly progresses into much more than that! I have to say, I am more sympathetic with the adoptive parents side of the story. Although, I do understand where the father is coming from and also where his lawyer is coming from. His lawyer just wants to have one less case where a child is taken away from a Native American home. I also do not understand why the father was not reading anything he was signing! I feel even worse that this little girl is being moved around from place to place! First she is with her mother, then with her adoptive parents, then with her father! That is a lot to take in for someone so young. Ultimately, I think she belongs with her adoptive parents.

Sep. 02 2013 03:56 PM
Amy Murray from NOVA, Annandale

I think this case is a going to be a cornerstone for new law making and reviewing laws that relate to Native Americans, because a situation like this hasn't come up yet. While I think it was unfair for the father to leverage the use of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, I can see why he did if he truly thought that the mother was making him sign over his rights to her, rather than to an entirely new couple. I hope everyone involved with this case actually thinks about the well-being of little Veronica, and not just the wrong and the right and technicalities of this case.

Sep. 02 2013 01:31 PM
Jeffrey NOVA from Annandale

I believe in this case that Dustin Brown is at fault for signing the rights of his child away. How many more problems will we have if birth parents continually change their minds on whether or not they want their kids? If he did not think that he was going to survive in Iraq, then wouldn't the child receive sufficient help from the government if he did not return? (If he were still the legal guardian). That seems like that would be in the best interest of the child.

Additionally, you have to learn to read before you can write. If Dustin Brown did not understand or pay attention to what he was signing, he should've requested assistance. I believe his lack of care somewhat reflects his parenting skills. I feel bad for the little girls emotional roller coaster of a life that has already started at such a young age.

Sep. 02 2013 11:29 AM
Rebecca Williams from NOVA, Annandale

Tim was dead on describing this case as going "down the rabbit hole". I mean, wow. My gut reaction before hearing the entire story was to, of course side with the adoptive parents. It was an open adoption, they had her for two years, were there at the birth, cut the umbilical cord, the whole nine. After hearing the historical details regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act, I was immediately horrified as i had no idea this kind of thing had happened to Native American tribes (adopting out their children to diminish tribes). But, this isn't the 1950's and (unless someone can prove me wrong) I haven't seen sufficient evidence to prove that this kind of practice is still going on. To me, Dustin didn't not deserve to use this law to gain custody (not because he's only 2% cherokee). I could see how Dustin was confused over the text messages about giving up his rights, but I don't care how naive or (seemingly) uneducated you are about law, when you physically sign papers saying that you are giving up your rights, you know what you're doing. I think Dustin had a kick of guilt, realized the mistake he made and tried to take it back by trying to get custody. In the end the right choice was made, but i do believe Dustin still deserves a chance at being in Veronica's life.

Sep. 02 2013 02:16 AM
Johanna Ingabire from NOVA, Annandale

This case was really heartbreaking. It is a very sad story, especially for the little girl who must feel completely lost. At first, like everyone else, I was on the adoptive couple's side and then I got to hear what Dustin had to say. Dustin clearly loved Veronica's biological mother, but I think that he claimed custody to get Christie to talk to him again. I don't think he really wanted to do the "right thing" for Veronica or even if he was ready to take care of her. Veronica was doing great where she was and if he was a caring father, he shouldn't have done that. I think that the court made the best decision for the couple who desperately loved Veronica. It was also the best decision for Dustin because, in my opinion, the whole thing started because he had no idea why Christie would not talk to him. He wanted to take control of the situation, but he did not realize that he was ruining other people's lives. Even though the case is closed now, there is still one unanswered question... Where was Veronica the happiest?

Sep. 02 2013 12:59 AM
Micah Lucas from Nova, Annadale

There is not another a better example of the analog "stuck between a rock and a hard place, then this case. This is the excruciating story between laws and reality. After listening to the entire episode. Even though Dustin(Bio Dad) signed over his rights as a parent, he ended up getting the lucky end of the deal and obtained custody over baby Veronica. Veronica should not be moved back to her Adopted parents. She has already had to move at age 2. Being moved again could cause more harm than good. It would actually fight the reason why the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was established, to help Indian children have good loving homes and not cause any mental distraught. Moving her back would have caused the same effect ICWA was trying to avoid. Thus my conclusion is that Veronica should stay with her loving father who is obviously able to support her and love her. While the ICWA law is a totally different matter and should be based on a case by case basis.

Sep. 02 2013 12:57 AM
Cayleigh Hall from NOVA, Annandale

There is so much going on in this article! When it begins, you think it is just a simple custody battle but it quickly progresses into much more than that! I have to say, I am more sympathetic with the adoptive parents side of the story. Although, I do understand where the father is coming from and also where his lawyer is coming from. His lawyer just wants to have one less case where a child is taken away from a Native American home. I also do not understand why the father was not reading anything he was signing! I feel even worse that this little girl is being moved around from place to place! First she is with her mother, then with her adoptive parents, then with her father! That is a lot to take in for someone so young. Ultimately, I think she belongs with her adoptive parents.

Sep. 02 2013 12:02 AM
Magdalena Baugher from NOVA Annandale

This is an extremely interesting and conflicting situation. Initially, I felt terrible for the adoptive family that had just lost their little baby girl who they had been with right from the start. At that point, I had made up my mind about who was right and wrong even though I had not heard the other side at all. A very powerful reminder to collect ALL of the facts and not blindly believe the first thing you hear. Once I heard about all of those Native American families whose kids had been wrongfully taken from them, everything did not seem so black and white anymore. I think that they definitely should not change the right that protect Native families from being torn apart. However, in this specific case, I think the little girl should not have been taken from her adoptive family. Her father had legally signed his rights away, whether he thought about it long enough or not and she was obviously in a very loving home. That being said, after living happily with her biological father for over a year at this point I think moving her AGAIN would only further traumatize her.

Sep. 01 2013 08:23 PM
Alicia D from Nova Annandale

I thought that this story was very sad for each side. As i started to listen, I felt bad for the adoptive family and Veronica's biological family. I think that even though thats how the law is, Veronica's adoptive family should have more rights to seeing her since she was already 2 years old at the time.

Sep. 01 2013 05:50 PM
Eric Marquez from NOVA, Annandale

This is a difficult case to take sides on. At one point I'm in favor of the Capobianocs because they just lost their child to someone they have never met and couldn't do anything about it because of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. Later on, you hear the biological father's, Dustin's, story and you realize that he wasn't not ready to give up on his daughter so quickly. He was unaware that his daughter was being given up for adoption and when he did he immediately took action. That shows that he cares about Veronica. In the end, I think the Supreme Court made the right decision on giving the adoptive parents custody. The 1978 Act was misused.

Sep. 01 2013 04:09 PM
Ronald Pomposini from NOVA

This was an interesting case. I don't like to see kids being torn away from their parents. I don't think anyone does either. But this was an exception for me. I am on Dustin's side. The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act was put in place because Indian children were being put in non-Indian homes due to the Indian people being mislead or their lifestyle seeming to be less than from the social services perspective. They were being immensely taken advantage of. Dustin did not know what he was signing and he immediately took action. That shows me he had a change in mind and heart. The child should be given to Dustin and the system needs to be corrected. That being said I believe this should apply to everyone excluding race or ethnicity. Everyone one should have the right to undo an action in adoption within a certain amount of time and have the right to speak upon this action. It's easy for a couple to adopt a baby than it is for a couple to conceive a baby. There should always be an exception to the laws that one may apply for. This case has the potential to lead to improvement in that.

Sep. 01 2013 03:24 PM
Francia Marin from NOVA, Ananndale

For me, parents don´t mean people who give their children the life, it means people who give them love and support anytime. Even though veronica was living with adoptive parents, she was having a good quality of life which let us know that her parents were taking care of her. In my opinion, I think that their biological parents didn´t care too much about the baby because her biological mother always was agree with the adoptive process and her biological father even though he said that he wasn´t 100% agree, he did it. A daughter is a responsibility for the whole life and not after two years or when the father feels like having a daughter. On the other hand, I’m not agree that because of his nationality he has more benefits and rights than others because at the end, an agreement between two parts should have more power than a cultural preference.

Sep. 01 2013 01:36 PM
Shivani from NOVA Annadale

This case really had me enraged the more and more I listened because I think it's outrageous how Veronica's biological father all of sudden 2 years into her life decided to snatch her from her adoptive parents. I understand why they have the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act but at the same time I hate that law because it allowed someone like Dustin to take Veronica from the Capobiancos. If anything if Dustin really cared about Veronica why did he wait two years to suddenly want custody? Obviously he was not that involved in Veronica's life and why did he sign off on the adoption papers if he was just going to snatch her away 2 years later? All in all I feel for the Capobiancos because they did not deserve that whatsoever.

Sep. 01 2013 12:40 PM
Bruce from NOVA, Annandale

My opinion is that the court should have a trial and take into consideration that the ruling should reflect the best interest of the child. It was awful that the biological father was purportedly 'duped' into signing his daughter into custody, but it is also his fault for not reading the fine print. One needs to be well informed before any important decisions are made. Hold no assumptions in matters like this and question things going on around you.

Aug. 31 2013 07:39 PM
Thalia Baez from NOVA, Annandale

There is a lot of lacking in communication and many misunderstandings. At the start of this whole podcast I was outraged, but as I began to hear more of the story unfold I felt a bit torn I suppose because I sympathize both with Dusten and the Capobiancos. I really don't know how to feel about the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act I understand that it was in order to make amends with the injustices of the past, but no law is ever perfect. This Act is a double-edged sword in this situation, and that's why it's so difficult to be up for interpretation. It's hard to be objective in such a subjective matter.

I feel for the Capobiancos, I really do, but at what cost is this? Who will have to suffer for it all? My main concern is Veronica though. How will she feel growing up and developing into something like this? She seems happy enough with her biological father but right now she is just a child, she's not aware of what is happening. Then again let's not underestimate a child's capability of knowing the stress that is going on.

Aug. 31 2013 04:14 PM
erik NOVA from annandale

after all the pages of notes i took on this roughly 35 minute emotional roller coaster I've chosen to talk about one subject that kept on rising and falling to the front of my attention and that being communication. there were countless of times throughout the story where people are acting almost below a child's level when it comes to simple communication. going back to where the child was conceived and brown was telling his SIDE of the story he kept mentioning TEXT. he almost never mentioned a time where he sat down and really discussed a really important issue, that being his daughter. so there's a strike against him. then he says that she CONSTANTLY TEXTED him on if he would sign the baby over and he mentions ONLY THINKING about his decision. NOT ONCE did he mention that he had a call with the birth mother or meet with her to talk about things and from what the mother said about him not actually providing and being around when she was pregnant shows yet again the lack of communication. then to bring up the point of the birth mom and her "lack" of communication. she DIDN'T even let the biological father know that their child was being given up for adoption(i mention this even though i believe that the father is a 100% idiot for not reading or even having a lawyer present while signing paperwork) lack of communication at this stage in the story is already shameful but there were far more examples. at that point instead of at least consulting with the adoptive parents which at this point to me are her ONLY form of family he THEN thinks its a dandy idea to contact a lawyer(sarcasm) and does so to have paperwork filed against these people who are perfectly content with there 2 year old daughter who they were there to witness be born and the new dad even cut the umbilical chord(where is Mr Brown at this point)? oh yes he was hope that everything would just blow over with this ex when he got back from war(mind you this is all in his head because clearly he never once COMMUNICATED with her about any of this because i could almost guarantee that she would have told him off and definitely let him know that neither her nor the child will be there for him when he returns. one last point of ill communication is how at the end of the podcast they say that IF it is passed in June that it will STILL have to go through multiple other courts which is a constant ping pong game of future ill used communication skills.

Aug. 31 2013 12:19 PM
Skyler Wilson

While I understand and see why the 78 law Indian law was passed and sympathize with the father to some extent, I can't help but side with the adoptive parents on this case as I feel that taking young Veronica away like she was from two parents that had already done so much to obtain the to raise her just doesn't feel right in my eyes.

Aug. 30 2013 10:19 PM
Miriam from NOVA, Annandale

Before listening to this podcast, I had previously heard of this story and honestly thought that the biological father, Dustin Brown, was trying to just use the law to his advantage in a crooked way. I thought that he fully understood the consequences of him giving his rights away, but now I understand that he did not. As such, I believe that his daughter Veronica should be allowed to stay and be raised with him. He seems like a good father who never wanted to give up his child, and thought that by signing the waiver forms that his ex-wife convinced him to sign, that he was giving full rights to her, and was fine with this only because he was going overseas for the army. I don't believe that Brown being 2% Cherokee Indian and belonging to the Cherokee Nation is that big of a deal. I think that if he was of any other nationality/ethnicity, he should be able to have his daughter, because it seems like he was tricked and lied to. Especially now, with Veronica having lived with Brown for the past year and a half, and her knowing that he is her real daddy, I think it's best for her to live with him. I feel bad for the adoptive parents, but I'd feel worse if Veronica was taken away from Dustin Brown.

Aug. 30 2013 09:27 PM
Hieu Hoang from NOVA, Annadale

This is just so sad for the adoptive parent. At the beginning of the podcast, i was so furious about the fact that the judges had ridiculously followed some "ancient" rule resulting in the break up of a happy family. Why on earth would anybody do that. It was similar to ripping off somebody's body part, so painful. At that moment, i just wanted to immediately join the rallies who against the judge's decision.
However, if the birth father's story was true, then he should love his daughter as much as the adoptive father does. Just put ourselves into his position: he didn't know his daughter was adopted and could not contact the mother for any information. He just went to the army to serve his country while his daughter being given away from him. Therefore, in this case, applying the ICWA is perfectly reasonable.
In my opinion, I believe at the end, Veronica will still belongs to the her birth father, Dusten. Because the ICWA is a strong law which designed to protect the right and the happiness of the Native American families. In this case, we are talking about trading the happiness and safety of all the Native American families for the happiness of only one family. In addition, breaking that law is the same as rejecting the Native American tribes's sovereignty resulting in many domino-effect consequences. Is it really worth it to cause all that troubles?

Aug. 30 2013 07:25 PM
Luis Rivera from Annandale

I think this is a tough and interesting case not only because it involves and ethical dilemma but also because of the importance of federal laws to make a differences for some people or destroy other families. Here, the little Veronica is the person affected. She is a little baby who has been born and adopted when she is 4 months by a charming, middle-class family from South Caroline and given up by her biological parents. It is clear that her biological parents were having serious marital problems where there was lack of communication and made them opt to give their daughter to adoption. Now, nobody can judge why they decided to give up their daughter but they are mature and need to understand that, on the other side, the adoptive parents were willing to love their daughter and give a home for her. They also had feelings and they did not deserve to be brought up to the Supreme Court the custody of their daughter after they had adopted her at 4 months and raised her for almost 2 years. However, there is the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act that was made to protect Indian Americans to be taken away in the past because social workers thought that they weren't raised with their biological parents, did not have good ventilation conditions, indoor plumbing or were living poor conditions. Indians were being abused and they stood up and the law was passed. Even though there is this law, it does not give the right for some Turkey clans, Indian Americans to take advantage of it and use it like Dustin did, even if he had no idea what he was signing. He was a professional military, stationed in another country and smart enough to read and understand what was happening. The end of the story Dustin won the case and he is living happily now with his daughter. After all of this, I think that there is a broken court system that break the heart of many families and something should be done to prevent cases like this one.

Aug. 29 2013 09:23 PM
Bridget pardo from NOVA,Annandale

I think the child should have just stayed with the adoptive parents because if the mother gave her up for adoption, she must of had her good logical reasons. I don't understand how a father shows up after two years demanding to have his child back. I think it was unfair to the child and the adoptive parents.

Aug. 29 2013 04:22 PM
anna peland from bartlesville ok..

not matter what race the little girl is the birth dad keeps talking abuut blood nothing about love while the adopt family its all aabout love not caring what the blood isshe would better off in south clarina

Aug. 15 2013 11:27 AM

My biggest concern is not for the adoptive parents or the bio mother or father. I am concerned for this little girl who has not only been taken from the adoptive parents and seemed to have settled in well with her father, who no doubt loves her very much. But then up root her again. My heart goes out to this little girl. I hope there will be people there to listen to how she feels and tell her the truth about all of this on day. I think if Dustin was telling the truth about not knowing the whole story then good for him for fighting for his little girl...there are so many fathers out there that don't want anything to do with their children. Is the Biological mother getting in trouble for lying to him about the whole thing? She in my opinion is the one who should be answering for all this confusion. Now we have a great family who wants nothing more then to just have a family of their own, but a father who wants the child that is rightfully his. And like I said before, a little girl stuck in the middle. The act that was mentioned was put in place for a reason. If the mother broke a law then she needs to answer for it. It is a shame that a law like this even needed to be put into place. I am ashamed that the people who came over here to begin with treated the Native Americans so poorly, taking everything from them and then they wanted to take their families too. Very very sad.

Aug. 14 2013 05:59 PM

Concerning the adoptive parents v. baby girl short, the Biological father of Veronica lied about his name being. Dustin Brown is possibly lying about his name being of Native American. Dustin is an English name with North Germanic roots and derived supposedly from Thorsten. Grimm's law suggest that Dustin and thorsten are related because of the consonants.

Aug. 08 2013 05:08 PM
charlie k from chitina, ak

the mother and adoptive parents should have been open and honest with the father from the beginning. this whole episode could have been avoided by simple honesty.

Aug. 08 2013 03:16 PM
Dan from NC

This is why you shouldn't meet the parents of your adopted children. Use an agency, let a third party take custody first. Then both birth parents have a chance to get the kid. Make sure the birth parents can't know who you are, but keep info on them. Then let your kid decide if they want to meet their birth parents once they are 18. Adoption is about transferring parental rights, why make it complicated? The couple was assuming the world wouldn't bite them and they didn't adopt using the safest procedures. This is a case of idealists and poor management.

Aug. 07 2013 08:42 PM
Robin Harper from Durham, NC

I love Radiolab and I know you have a limited time frame but I was so disappointed to hear not one word devoted to how Veronica is doing. The legal stuff is interesting and is the main point of the story, but really, NOTHING?? Presumably she has been "snatched" away yet again from what has been her family for the past 16 months, and given back to the adoptive family? That is unclear from your story. Anyway, I would just have appreciated a sentence or two about HOW SHE IS, and how she has reacted to the latest upheaval in her life. Thank you for making a space for comments.

Jul. 30 2013 05:25 PM

Deborah from texas,
Where in the story does it say that the Father doesn't have his life together?
Assume much? (cough cough racist cough)

Jul. 18 2013 05:41 PM

The newest information on the case:

South Carolina courts ruled in favor of the adoptive couple Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

Jul. 18 2013 09:03 AM
Deborah from Texas

I am all for preserving the Native American way of life, since I too; am half Cherokee. But when it comes to a child, it is all about what is best for the child, regardless of their race. If it is better for her to be with the adoptive parents, then by all means; leave her there. But, don't ever let her forget her heritage or her father; who obviously loves her dearly. As soon as he can get himself together properly, then give him another chance. It seems to me that everyone greatly loves this baby and it would be in her best interest if all of them could work out a compromise. She could live with the adoptive parents and still spend time with her dad. She should be allowed to know who her father is and what her heritage is. She is a lucky little girl to have 3 parents who love and want her.

Jul. 12 2013 06:55 AM
ap from San Francisco

If Dustin would come clean about himself I might have more sympathy for him.But in view of his drug arrest(s), his slack of child support for his other children, his infidelities and according to one of his baby mother supporters, his fake wife,("married her to make it look like he had a stable family) I don't.This little girl would be better of where she started, with the adoptive couple.No judge seems to have the balls to say it. Maybe that don't know the truth yet.

Jul. 11 2013 12:09 PM

this is one of my favorite episodes of all time. i feel like everyone in america should listen to it.

Jul. 08 2013 02:34 PM

Kind of sad that every time Radiolab runs a story that some deem "not scientific enough" they flood this page with complaints. And of course Radiolab has dozens of stories where hard science is not the core notion of the story so it should be clear by now that Radiolab is a show about curiosity and ideas told through stories, not a science lecture. It's an example of rampant anti-intellectualism in the United States that so many people just want to be spoon fed only what they want to hear rather than be surprised and challenged in their thoughts and ideas.

Jul. 03 2013 10:35 AM
Nina from Minneapolis, MN

I would agree that they should be using the term Native Americans not "Native Indians". It was not clear if the father at the beginning of the story had signed over the right of parenting his child. It is discussing that this was a pattern and a practice to remove the Native American children from their cultures.

Jun. 26 2013 11:54 PM
Daniel Barkalow

As I read the opinion, it says that, since Dustin had not had custody of the girl at any point, the adoption had not broken up an Indian family, and therefore should not have been prevented. It goes into quite a lot of detail as to what is necessary for the law to apply, and says that it didn't apply at the time. But... based on the explanation in the opinion, I'm fairly certain it does apply now, since Dustin has had custody of the girl, and removing her would break up an Indian family (albeit one the court says shouldn't have been created). And the SCOTUS doesn't actually award custody of the girl to anyone in particular, but sends the case back to the state court for a decision "not inconsistent with this one". So I think this actually fails to resolve the case: it's impossible for the state supreme court to have never given Dustin custody, and it has to choose between moving Veronica a second time and leaving her with Dustin, and it is deciding this time in a different situation from the one it originally was in and just got an explicit answer on from the SCOTUS. I don't think that either decision it could actually make at this point would be inconsistent, nor would either be impossible to appeal again.

Jun. 26 2013 07:57 PM
Lucy from GA

I wanted to add that I realize the pre-adoptive couple are "good people" and I feel bad for what they initially went through, but they were taken in and have made very self-focused choices since. Note how they keep referring to Veronica as theirs, and now want her back even though she's happy with her dad? Why won't they see that they were done wrong by the birth mother and the agency and their lawyer(s)? Yes, it's not "fair" if they are the only ones whose happiness matters, but they should never have gotten Veronica from the agency. The fact that they are called the adoptive couple is misleading--they hadn't adopted Veronica yet when her father came to get her. And yes, I can imagine their heartache as I personally know people who lost the child they were going to adopt, which is always a tragedy--and is always the fault of a messed-up system. But I really am amazed that this couple allowed themselves to be blinded to what's best for Veronica or the rights of her other parent and grandparents, etc. Yes, it's sad for them. But do they realize that others have suffered, too? Or why the father hasn't pursued a relationship with them when they've done all they have since? (Still can't believe the way Radiolab weighted that.) If they really wanted a relationship with her, why did they not let their foster daughter go to her dad and been supportive of the fact that she was WANTED, and sued the birth mother who got $10,000 from them and the agency (that screwed things up and could have placed another child with them that they could have legally adopted) and it's likely they would still have a relationship with Veronica. That's closer to what both sets of my friends did, because they loved the kids more than what they wanted for themselves and refused to be so myopic. But instead, this couple let others play on their heartache and are now putting their own desires/hurt over everyone else by listening to lawyers taking their money and profiting from enabling them to see themselves as sole victims and see the dad & ICWA as the enemy.

If it's about heartstrings, imagine if the show had weighted the story in the opposite order--can you put yourself in the dad or grandparents' shoes? If you were the dad going to Iraq and coming back, would you not do everything you could to get your daughter back?

And please note how powerful the forces supporting the pre-adoptive parents are. Much of the adoptive community who can only imagine their child being taken from them, have focused on the emotion of that and listened only to these lawyers who accuse the father of being a deadbeat bad guy etc. I greatly admire adoptive families and am very pro-adoption, but you have to understand that it's not so simple in Indian Country, and ICWA matters more than you realize. The whole adoption/social services system was a mess and it's still obviously a mess, yet that isn't being talked about in the media even though it's a big part of this story, too.

Jun. 26 2013 05:22 AM
Lucy from GA

It took me a while to be able to bring myself to listen to this episode as I'll admit, I was worried that I was going to spend 35 minutes being upset...reason being that I love Radiolab, but this is a story that nearly everybody in Indian Country has been following since the beginning--and which the mainstream media has done an shockingly poor job of covering since it got to the Supreme Court and thus rose to the public's notice. As little faith as I have in the media, even I was shocked when I saw how little research writers for even New York Times or NPR (even Codeswitch!) had done, and how little they knew the story behind the case. Or even how unprepared most of the SCOTUS was for this (some of the ignorance of law displayed during the case was amazing). So I was relieved that you at least talked to Dusten Brown and his lawyers and didn't twist his words (...just left his story to the very end!!). It would have been so messed up without some of those facts. But the story was already so weighted because you didn't talk to enough people on the father's side before releasing the story--that notice how many listeners who know so much about this in Australia and New Hampshire already had their minds made up. Their heartstrings are pulled, and they already decided that the dad gave up the daughter and didn't want to support her for 4/5 of the show. How is this good journalistic balance...Instead, for the sake of drama and the plot twist element, you save the other side till the end?! When that's the part of the story that's been largely ignored by the media?! And we have to listen to Maldonado's slick lawyer playing on emotions as she basically lied about the father?

I have heard no one in the media mention that the birth mother had gotten $10,000 from the pre-adoptive parents. Or that she and her lawyer were well aware of the ICWA and used clearly deceptive tactics to go around the ICWA, like lying about not knowing how old Brown was, how to spell his name, or whether or not he was Cherokee. Or that Maldonado actually tried to establish her own Cherokee blood quantum at the last minute to try to keep Dusten from their daughter. No one pointed out that one could say the birth mother and irresponsible agency took this child away from the father, who was trying to do his duty as a service member and respect the wishes of the mother of his child, who never told him she was putting their child up for adoption and getting lots of money. No one seems to care about that. Or that this case also seems to be about a shoddy adoption agency and lawyers who are trying to cover their backsides and not take responsibility for what they did wrong...

P.S. Tim is right and doesn't need to apologize for saying "Indian." But yeah, non-ndns, you're fine saying "Native Americans" if referring to Natives as a whole or if you don't know someone's tribal affiliation. It's polite. Canadians say First Nations or Aboriginal but we're in the States.

Jun. 26 2013 04:51 AM
Peter Derecskei

page 37 of the supreme court ruling:
"the majority begins its analysis by
plucking out of context a single phrase from the last clause
of the last subsection of the relevant provision, and then
builds its entire argument upon it."
I recommend readind it from the onwards.

Jun. 26 2013 03:59 AM

So many questions. The main concern for me is the child. What is in her best interest? And what would happen if this had been a mother trying to keep her biological child?

Jun. 25 2013 10:49 PM
Casey from Oregon

I think whats frustrating about this story is that it points more to the lack of parental rights for fathers as a whole more than tribal rights and this is coming from someone who is a very serious and strong supporter of tribal rights.
if the representation we see here of this story is correct then what it points to is a lack of protections for fathers, a subject that has increasingly disgusted me the more I have come to know about it.

Jun. 25 2013 02:05 PM
Jay from Boston, MA

Wow people are sure whiners. Does it matter that this story doesn't have "stats" in it? Who cares? It's a great story, and a story so important it went all the way to the SCOTUS.

Can some of you try to open your minds, just a little?

Jun. 25 2013 11:52 AM

The Supreme Court's opinion was released. The majority sided with the adoptive parents, but in a way that doesn't (as far as I can tell) have broader implications regarding the legitimacy of tribal law.

Jun. 25 2013 10:45 AM
chris from qld australia

Why can't they organise shared custody? Forget the lawyers and courts and work something out between themselves with shared respect for all...

Jun. 25 2013 05:39 AM
Danny Black

Please stop saying indian.


Jun. 24 2013 07:55 PM

Thank you for bringing this story to my attention and collecting the interviews from all those involved. Very nicely done. It will be interesting to see how the supreme court rules on this.

Jun. 23 2013 12:45 PM

If it wasn't clear below, quoting the "sociology is a science" comment was a joke.. Like LJ I am going to be heavily screening any future Radiolab episodes for science content... something interesting please! Many of us couldn't care less for human drama.

Jun. 16 2013 07:32 PM
Dave G

While this is a well presented and interesting story I am disappointed about the recent dearth of science related episodes. There are a number of podcasts that examine social/political issues but very few that deal with science in an accessible and interesting way. I will still listen but I really wish this podcast would bring back the science.

Jun. 14 2013 08:52 PM
Toby from Earth

Two British parents have a kid in the U.S.A, first generation, so this kid is zero percent American? what if two American parents have a kid in England, is the kid zero percent American?
"So he is only 2%", "she is only 1%", "he looks European"... I'm glad we no longer need laws against discrimination of people for how they look or how much (or lack of) -specific- blood they have.

Jun. 14 2013 01:02 PM

First, I am aware that sociology, psychology and economics are sciences. I have degrees in two of them. However, if you look back at episodes starting in 2006, the show has been mostly about the natural sciences. My public radio station recently picked up the show, and I'm 95% positive that the commercials that they've been running said as much. That is (or was) the strength of the this show. I miss it.

But hey, cover the stories that you want. We'll just find another show. I already have one This American Life.

Jun. 13 2013 09:44 PM

" Some do consider Sociology a science. "
--->> Rimshot!

Jun. 13 2013 01:50 PM

Hi folks,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I should mention that when I started reporting this piece I thought that "Native American" was the only acceptable term, but most tribal members I spoke with generally used "Indian" to describe themselves, and "native" pretty often, too. "Native American" came in third, I'd say. Not to say the term "Indian" isn't problematic or confusing to some people, of course - it's just what I encountered.


Jun. 13 2013 11:32 AM
Natalie Wallis from Australia

This is the second time I have listened to your program and found your presenters to be completely culturally insensitive. The comment I found most offensive was "what he is only 1%?."

We had a similar situation in Australia with the stolen generation, and it is extremely disrespectful to question a persons indigenous heritage. Please consider your comments more.

Jun. 13 2013 06:41 AM
Amber from Toronto

@ James from NYC : Thank you for your point about the use of the term "Indian." I tried to make the point earlier but was characteristically shushed. I appreciate it.

Jun. 12 2013 09:56 PM

From a citizen of the tri-cultural state of New Mexico: thank you, Radio Lab. Hope to hear more of these caliber of shows--this was one of your finest. Some do consider Sociology a science.

Jun. 12 2013 02:53 PM
james from nyc

why do we Americans continually call Native Americans "Indians"? it is clearly an incorrect name. In Canada, it is even considered a 'bad' name for Native Americans. Its is very American of us to continually and unabashedly use a name that is incorrect. What should we call those from the subcontinent? When can we be more like canadians?

Jun. 11 2013 04:18 PM
ihop from PA

How is racism that is enacted to counterbalance past racism magically transformed into something desirable? Equal protection under the law should mean truly equal protection: not permitting government agencies to seize children for bogus reasons, but also not permitting individuals to receive special treatment because of who their great-great-great-great-grandparent happened to be.
The implication that we have to choose between one or the other is a classic case of false dichotomy. Native Americans (and all Americans, for that matter) can be protected under equal application of law. It sounds to me like this law doesn't need to be scrapped; it just needs to be modified to remove the built-in preferential treatment. After listening to this specific human-interest case, it strikes me that the important thing for the courts is not to decide this girl's future. No, it's to make sure that this mess can't recur.

Jun. 11 2013 01:36 AM
Kathryn Jensen from Seattle

Thank you for sharing!
I would like to share that y'all are just getting the tip of the iceberg. Look into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, long story short over 100 years of Indigenous children being taken from their homes, forced to go to government funded, church run schools (residential schools) where they were essentially abused and stripped of culture. Anyway in the early 2000's a bunch of adults who attended the schools which the last one was closed in the late 70's/early 80's... and filed reports of sexual abuse that they sustained by the priests/workers at the schools. 98% of the children were sexually abused. The flood of information into the court system ended up bankrupting the 4 largest churches in Canada and then the TRC was intended to help heal all of the wounds of intergenerational trauma sustained from these schools essentially. Looking at alot of 'bad' Indian behavoirs actually stem from these schools. AND in America these schools were called Boarding Schools which I believe the last one closed in the 70's... I'm sure part of the law that this episode is about has to do with after ripping children away from their parents/families for centuries as a way to strip culture and break apart families the law wants to do the opposite perhaps as a way of making up for it? Look into Dian Million, she's a AIS professor at UW and was involved in the AIM movement, has a P.hd and is absolutely incredible, she is the one that taught me all of this, as well she attended a boarding school herself and has scars to prove it. Apparently the children would tattoo themselves as a way of just saying 'I'm alive!' or to make some physical sign of independence, anyway Dian tattooed herself and one of the nuns literally carved them out of her skin. She's in her 60's.
THANKS for all your hard work

Jun. 10 2013 10:21 PM
Kathryn from York, PA

First and foremost, this was a wonderful episode that presented two equally compelling sides to a complex issue. The story didn't even get into men's rights in general, but it did make me question how society (and some of our laws) seems to automatically assume that men don't want to play the roll of father if they can avoid it.

Second, for all the people complaining about RadioLab stories that aren't about science; that isn't all radio-lab is. Over the weekend I was just re-listening to a story that got me hooked on RadioLab in the first place: Goat on a Cow. It's not science; it's fascinating and wonderful, and they put it on their t-shirts and that fabulous flash drive for a reason.

Jun. 10 2013 10:11 AM

This was a beautiful piece. Insightful and respectfully done. I also come from a different perspective on this piece due to the fact that I am aunt to two beautifully adopted nephews; one requiring a tribal release from the grandparents stating that the tribe did not have rights to the child for the grandparents had separated from the tribe, their child was not a recognized member of the tribe and that the family had willingly given the child to adoption by my family.

It was a stressful 6 months but recognition of the adoption was given and now 4 years later my nephew is healthy, happy and his birth mother is given yearly up dates as to how he is doing.

This is a slippery slope, but if steps are taken and respected then it can end on a very happy note.

Jun. 09 2013 11:34 AM

Although using "Indian" to describe Native Americans instead of people from India can be confusing, it is clear what they mean in this context. Considering they are talking about the "Indian Child Welfare Act," it seems appropriate.

As for the 1%-2% bloodline, it is important to keep in mind that our concept of race is a very specific one, and is not universal. As mentioned in the show, for many tribes, it is more about membership/culture/family. That is why most Americans who have over 1% Native American blood are not Native American. There are many white people in Oklahoma who have more Cherokee blood than Dusten, but are not members of a tribe.

Jun. 08 2013 08:05 PM
Ryan from Napa, California

Boy, I can't tell you how well this episode fits into RL's typical format, as I am a new listener. But this episode is a terrific illumination of a terribly sophisticated legal embroilment. Jad Abumrad's investigative format artfully reveals the flaws in this Iroquois custody law, while at the same time impressing its cultural importance.

It feels like this discussion has a long way to go. One thought that keeps blowing around in my mind is: "Why don't they just change the law so that it prohibits US Social Services from separating any Native American children from their families?" It seems to me that if Iroquois were protected under a more sensible law instead of the current version which strips children from their home TWICE, then the "racially bias" argument could be, for now, side-stepped.

Great episode, great discussion, and thank you!

Jun. 08 2013 06:47 PM

I've always seen this show as an attempt to present matters/topics that might likely be impenetrable to a laymen audience, in a matter that not only provides access to the ideas at hand but also contextualizes their larger, resonating importance.

What sets this apart from, say, the conceptual underpinnings of 'This American Life' or 'Snap Judgement' is that the topics explored on RL are always factually, logically explorable. Focusing an hour or a podcast on 'love,' loss, 'depression,' et cetera isn't quite Radiolab's style. Rather, it's the mechanisms that driving these seemingly abstract concepts, the explainable processes--and the unexplained, but under exploration, subsequent steps--that makes Radiolab more intellectually engaging than, perhaps, some of the alternatives.

In this respect, I think taking some time to untangle the law behind a seemingly un-explainable/unreasonable set of circumstances is entirely consistent with what the show has done in the past.

Jun. 08 2013 12:49 AM
Randall_J from Brooklyn

Bring back science!

This story was really interesting but most of us came to Radiolab for the great and insightful science pieces. I hate to criticize something free, but these kind of human interest stories are engaging, but seem more suited to This American Life than the Radiolab I know.

Jun. 07 2013 02:13 PM

Ektor from Phoenix: not many shows come close to Radiolab, but I highly recommend "99% Invisible" from KALW. Each episode tells a story of the world through a design artifact, like public staircases in Los Angeles or the width of American roads, and observes its history almost as though it were a function of human history. Check it out here!

Jun. 07 2013 01:15 PM

Another vote for Radiolab staying away from these stories and sticking with science. Not the worst episode, but please, play to your strengths guys.

Jun. 07 2013 02:49 AM

I am the product of a closed infant adoption, just now, after 40 years, recently reunited with my biological family. There are issues at play here that people who haven't been separated from their genetic heritage can't possibly understand. There are deep and murky issues of identity and lack of mirroring for the adoptee. A great number of adoptees grow up feeling detached, "alien," because of a total lack of the subtle mirroring that every human gets from bio family. We're "troubled." We attempt suicide in larger numbers than the general population. for more info, or just google.

When I found my bio family, it was as if a great hole that had been draining my energy all my life had suddenly been stopped up. I could SEE that I was related to human beings. I have my mother's eyes. I have my father's hands. I have mannerisms similar to both of them, which I could never have developed by copying their behavior growing up. Genetics are powerful. Uncovering all of these things has been a blessing and an utter joy.

Adoption is so often presented as a panacea, a Great Good Thing. It's not. It's inherently complicated. For a child born into an untenable situation, it is only ever the "least worst" option. Science these days is pretty clear - a baby is programmed in the womb to expect a postpartum experience centered around the birth mother. It is used to hearing its mother's voice and responding to it, and feeling her all around. When she is suddenly not there, and everything is completely's a bit like going to sleep on Earth and waking up on Mars. From the baby's point of view, infant adoption is (to put it mildly) a HUGE adjustment. Adoptive parents need to understand how this fundamental dislocation can express itself in dozens of ways as the child grows up. Being an adoptive parent is not like being a bio parent. Being an adoptee is not like being a bio child. Period.

Also, a lot of adoptive parents are dealing with infertility issues. Infertility is awful. I know, because I've been going through it myself. At times I felt like my body's inability to carry a child was making me completely insane. But to adopt a have to first mourn the child you will never have, so that you can truly SEE the child you're adopting. It is so easy to accidentally hold your adopted kid up to an invisible measuring stick, the "kid you should have had," and not even realize. For a sensitive kid, this can be devastating.

Baby Veronica should stay with her father. He loves her, he wants to raise her, and although he may not have the means that the Capobiancos do, he can provide her with mirroring and a biological link that can ground her in her understanding of herself that no adoptive parent possibly could provide. He deserves a chance to raise his daughter. She deserves the chance to be raised by a loving biological parent. ALL children deserve that chance, if it's available to them.

Jun. 07 2013 12:01 AM
Roger - Australia from Australia

My perspective comes from Australia. We have our own history of social injustices perpetrated against Indigenous Australian children during the same period, something we know as "The Stolen Generation".

Nevertheless, I could not help thinking while listening to this sad case, that this was a totally unjust misappropriation of the Native American legislation as it was described. My understanding of the law is that is was aimed at preventing unwarranted and gratuitous removal of indigenous children from their families for reasons of social judgment. In this case, I think the law has been misapplied, to the detriment of all parties, including the spirit of the legislation.

I could also not help thinking that "two wrongs don't make a right".

The historical injustices perpetrated against native Americans in the past does not justify perpetrating an injustice against the bona-fide intentions of this white couple to adopt a child, who just so happens to be native American. Steeling from this family is not justified by the steeling from Indian families in the past.

Indigenous rights do not trump the personal rights of the child to a stable and loving environment provided for two years by these well-intentioned adoptive parents, just because they are white. Indigenous rights do not trump the emotional and psychological welfare of the child. Indigenous rights do not trump civil law as defined by contractual obligations (that is, the original adoptive process) - or at least they should not.

This is an injustice, racial discrimination and a cynical misapplication of an otherwise good legislation.

Jun. 06 2013 07:00 PM
angel from washington

Why are the states DSHS or CPS even involved with Native American families? Their tribes should be responsible.

Jun. 06 2013 03:27 PM
Felicianomiko from NH

Having heard the whole podcast, I side with the adoptive parents at the onset. The child should not have been taken away from them due to the father's failure to do his due diligence. While I understand the need for the law, I don't think it can be applied here, because this is not the kind of situation the law was written to deal with. And I am sick to death of 'racial' debates. There are no races of humans, we are all one race. There are cultures of humans, ethnicity even, but not races. Ethnically speaking, I'm 1/16th Mohawk, and while I am proud of that fact, I was not raised in that culture and so do not affiliate myself with it, nor do I consider myself Mohawk, but American. If you are raised in an Indian Nation, then I don't care what percentage of that Ethnicity you are, you are of that Nation.

The waters get murky now that she has been with her birth father for an equal amount of time. At this point, I would say the birth father should have to reimburse the adoptive parents for the fees involved in the adoption process, but the child should stay with him. It was his lack of care and thought that led him to signing off on his parental rights. As sad as the outcome of that decision is, it's no else's fault but his own and he has ruined the lives of an innocent couple due to that lapse.

Jun. 06 2013 11:47 AM
ektor from Phoenix

All I can say is wow! I haven't listened to this episode but I've recently discovered Radiolab and became an instant fan. Best show ever.

Just out of curiosity for some other fans here. Is there any other show that you've come across that even comes close to this?

Thanks for any responses in advance.

Jun. 05 2013 11:53 PM

I wrote a blog post in response to this episode.

Jun. 05 2013 07:33 PM

Just another reminder that we are so quick to judge... there are always multiple sides to any given situation.

Jun. 05 2013 12:01 PM
Foster Focus Magazine from Offices of Foster Focus

Very thorough report. Well done. I've shared it with my readers.

Jun. 04 2013 03:44 PM
David from Madison, WI

The science in this episode is pretty much absent, it's a shame too as it could have lead into a bigger discussion about biological basis of race and ethnicity.

But in terms of social commentary this episode is brilliant, mirroring stories TAL would produce. It's really a view into modern "post-racial" American society where there is a large amount of denial how racism (now in a more nefarious subtle way) is still omnipresent.

ICWA seemed like a no-brainer when first passed, but now in the revisionist state of society today where of *course* we're not racist these laws seem almost unfair. Nevermind how we eviscerated Native American society and how that legacy is still manifests today in terms of poverty on Reservations. It's the same with African-Americans, some people seemed shocked that some African Americans are stuck in vicious cycles of crime and poverty when all of this "opportunity" is around them.

Just look at jimmy from Akron, OH's comment: "You get a guy who is 2% of a privileged class who then gets rights virtually nobody else would get."

That type of ignorance is sadly so prevalent today.

Jun. 04 2013 12:54 PM
Archie Campbell from California

While I thought this episode was well done, it did feel like "This American Radiolab." Like some other folks here, I'd prefer it if you folks stuck to topics of scientific interest.

Jun. 04 2013 12:07 PM
jimmy from Akron, OH

This is the type of infuriating outcomes that you get when you decide to confer special rights based on race. You get a guy who is 2% of a privileged class who then gets rights virtually nobody else would get.

Until all people are equal before the law, we are asking for injustice like this to happen every day.

Trying to pick which race of people gets preferential treatment under the law will always, always, always lead to injustice.

Jun. 03 2013 11:46 PM
Prisca Ekkens

What interests me about this case is how race is qualified. Does it mean that all Americans that are at least 1% Native American, are Native Americans in the eyes of the law?

Jun. 03 2013 03:58 PM

This sounds exactly like what happened to my stepmom when she adopted a child. It was not a transracial adoption. So I think this happens a lot more than you'd think. At the age of 4, the child was taken away and given to biological father.

There's even a Wikipedia article on the court case. (Which, of course, lends it legitimacy.)

Jun. 03 2013 02:32 PM
Winslow P. Kelpfroth from Muleshoe, TX

Reminds me of another Indian adoption case I knew of. One of my reserve soldiers is as blond and blue-eyed as any Swede and was adopted and raised by Oklahoma Cherokees. Would the Indian Adoption Act work in reverse? Hard to know what's best. I'll ask my cross-the-street neighbor, a 95 year old social worker, who's also a Nebraska Cherokee tribal member what she thinks.

Jun. 03 2013 12:29 PM

I am a transracial adoptee. What has struck me is the comments that say that this little girl was better off with her adoptive parents. Perhaps, but now she has lived equal time with her biological father.

Adoption is complicated for all parties involved. Adoption is about love, but more importantly, adoption is about the well-being of the child. At this point, she seems happy with her birth father.

Perhaps he was naive and young at first, but he loves her. Just because he cannot offer what the adoptive couple can, does not make him a bad parent.

Jun. 03 2013 11:53 AM
Pam C. from California

I have to echo some of the earlier comments. Why was the father so quick to give up his rights? If he thought that the mother was going to keep Veronica it would have been even more irresponsible to give up his rights to her. He was signing her rights away for free healthcare, life insurance, and many other benefit given to the dependent of the armed services. I believe that ICWA clause was used by some smart lawyers as a last resort to give him back custody. I don't believe it was used in the manner it was intended.

Jun. 03 2013 06:36 AM
Steph from Atlanta

Thought I'd share another story I read recently about a Cherokee case that's an interesting companion to this one. I'm not a legal expert but I'd be interested to see someone parse out the differences between freedmen and baby Veronica and her 1% bloodline. I agree it shouldn't matter, and know tribal sovereignty is at stake, but don't understand the exclusion of freedmen, especially those whose ancestors went on to marry/have kids within the tribe

Jun. 03 2013 03:36 AM

Dustin did seem like a nice guy and I can kind of understand him not wanting his biological child to disappear. However, it still seems fairly obvious to me that the ethical decision should be decided in favor of the adopted parents.

The 2% Cherokee part was interesting, because I immediately though it mattered, then I realized it really shouldn't, in fairness. But then seeing a photo of Dustin, as European as anyone I've ever seen, getting off on a loophole designed for Native American's just seems wrong. That he's so clearly abusing what this law was intended to do seems so dishonest - and that one family's life has been utterly torn apart by it, just makes it worse.

At the point the lawyers realized they could invoke this "loophole" for Indians and Dustin agreed to do it, the unethical decision began, to my mind. It's one thing to use a loophole to regain justice but when part of it involves taking a 2-year old child away from her family, it starts to get a little evil.

I was easily prepared to give Marcia Zug's statement "The court made the right decision" a decent hearing but now the story's ended, I found this ridiculous & morally reprehensible. No one could possibly believe that in this case, with this context, the right decision has been made. The only way you could convince yourself of such a thing would be take an attitude of "the law works for most people but doesn't always work, you have to take the bad occasionally". I'm glad she's a lawyer and not making any family decisions - or deciding anything involving humans.

You don't just "accept it" when the law get's it wrong, you improve it. You don't sit idly by, justifying doing nothing, because you realize it can't always be right. What a pathetic ethical outlook. Marcia's basically saying "Oh, I'm sorry you don't have a daughter anymore, I'm sorry you loved her so much, but it can't always work out, sorry. I'll just do nothing now & justify it because that particular law does work most of the time. Goodbye... and Come Again"

Jun. 02 2013 11:04 PM
Kernel Sanders from Ukraine

I have 2 adopted siblings and I know that the proper way to do adoptions is through a professional agency and not through direct contact with birth parents. Transferring custody to a neutral party first is the proper way to do it. Either birth parent then has a chance to gain custody, before the child is transferred to an adoptive family. The entire section about the emotional connection between the birth mother and the adoptive parents is wrong and indicative of an unjust process. Adoption is transfer of parental custody in full and that should be a formal utilitarian process with a waiting period and an appropriate state agent as middleman. The adoptive family in the story did it wrong. If you want your adoptive children to have access to their genetic roots then save the information and let them do with it what they will when they are 18. This story is about sloppy management and idealists not understanding that the world is cold utilitarian place where no one will necessarily give you anything good so you better cover your ass.

Jun. 02 2013 08:33 PM
Nandom from Austin

I might be oversimplifying this but this is how it appeared to me. A law that has saved countless families could be overturned because of one man who abused it for his own gain.
Also, it seems if he had read what he was signing or had cared enough to ask one question this would have all been avoided.

Jun. 02 2013 05:47 PM

2% Indian? Did we not read Mr. Krulwich? Krulwich Wonders: Are You Related To King Charlemagne? This episode is disappointing to me because we did not get the usual scientific method of analysis. It isn't that the show isn't about science, it is about it's approach. This is why people are complaining about it being like TAL.

I enjoy both shows, but for different reasons. Although TAL did do some Planet Money shows that sounded a bit like RL. Payback or a warning????

Jun. 02 2013 04:38 PM
Justin M. from Cambridge, MA

I am a little confused by most of these comments. When did Radiolab profess to be strictly a science based show? I thought Radiolab was about curiosity. It asks questions and often uses science as a lens through which it explores those curiosities. Science is a very good and powerful lens, but it also has limits and flaws. If we truly want to explore all of the curiosities in the world around us we must use many lenses to tell those stories. I appreciated this story.

I will also say (as a white, european-american person) that stories like this, while certainly complicated, amaze me in the way they show that white people still, after all these years, just don't get it. Most don't understand, nor have ever come to terms with racism, white privilege, and colonialism in this great land they have taken from others.

Jun. 02 2013 04:50 AM
Alex from New York

@Kevin This American Life has done a few pieces focusing on Native American issues in the last year, but nothing related to ICWA in general or this case in particular (as far as I know). Yes, this podcast strayed from Radiolab's wheelhouse, but it was a powerful, emotional, complex story without a tidy conclusion. Most Radiolab pieces play out just like this one did: illuminating a topic from all sides, but revealing even more questions and gray area than we could have imagined.

Jun. 01 2013 11:30 PM
Toby from Minnesota

@amber from Toronto. Your concern over the use of the term "Indian" is appreciated, but I do not think the producers of the show or any of the speakers intended to use it in a derogatory or even incorrect way. Though it is an inaccurate word to describe a diverse population/nations of people in the Americas, some (including folks that self identify as indigenous to the Americas) use it and are comfortable with its use. Just my perspective though--peace.

Jun. 01 2013 06:34 PM

So uh...where's the science? This show's grasp on its ostensible raison d'etre has been slipping lately, and now, with the advent of this podcast (recycled from This American Life, sadly), it has dissolved completely. I find this incredibly disheartening as Radiolab is more or less my favorite podcast on the net. Or at least it was.

Jun. 01 2013 06:20 PM
Julien Couvreur

I felt you approached this story with blinders, not going to the root cause.
Namely, the original problem is with Child Services.

First, what gives this federal agency any jurisdiction over Indian nation, if it is indeed a sovereign nation?
Second, it seems a very powerful agency, as you pointed out, which enables politically motivated abuse. Also, as most or all government agencies, there is very little restraint on this power and a clear lack of accountability.
Third, the design of a federal agency by nature will clash with the importance of local communities and subtleties of individual cases (which are admittedly tricky). This goes back to the problem of accountability (the agent who placed a child who ended up going thru 20 foster homes seems to feel some heartfelt pain, but bears little blame beyond that disaster).

If you consider a first government intervention (foundation of this agency) which leads to bad outcomes (Indian kids taken away), maybe fixing that agency or repealing it in favor of local solutions would be a more appropriate solution. Instead, a second intervention is piled on, which does does not address the core issue and introduces more of its own. Debating this second intervention is focusing on the wrong issue.

In general, when government is abusing power, the best recourse is to cancel or reduce that authority, fragment or dilute its role. Trying to rely on government to distribute further privileges to make up for its abuses is not a solution.

Jun. 01 2013 03:04 PM
Bas from Amsterdam

I thought I was listening to "this american life" until I remembered this is Radiolab where is the science...

May. 31 2013 06:44 PM
Paul Kram from Hanover NH

I'm unhappy that Radio Lab chooses to dilute it's franchise by putting its name to this story. It is a good story. I thought that the first time that I heard it on another podcast. It's been done already.

But the real problem is "WHERE IS THE SCIENCE?". Radio Lab is the BEST science podcast for non-scientists. That includes kids that are inspired to become scientists. That includes people who need to have some appreciation of science.

RadioLab.... you FAIL with this story.

May. 31 2013 01:04 PM
Amber from Toroto

While I thought the Baby Veronica story was interesting in a lot of important ways, I found it difficult to have to continually overcome the use of the word "Indian" over and over again from nearly every speaker on the program. Indian people live or are from India. Native people are those folks that are from America and belong/associate with nations other than the American nation (First Nations, for example.)
For the sake of avoiding unwanted friction, I suggest you modernize your lexicon appropriately.

May. 31 2013 12:57 PM
Paul from Utah

From my perspective as someone born in the late 20th century and living as an adult entirely in the 21st century...after having seen how many people live on "Indian" reservations, I think the reservation system is nothing more that state sponsored segregation that we continue to maintain.

Reservations don't seem to lift people or help preserve heritage and culture from my observation.

May. 31 2013 12:11 PM
Alli from San Francisco

Hopefully the Supreme Court will take the "ick" out of ICWA, do what is best ,send Veronica back to her parents. Radio lab needs to dig a little deeper into the background of DB. Did he join the army to avoid prosecution in his drug dealing bust in Nowata County? umhummm. Is his marriage authentic or a fake to look like a family?. umhummm. I could go on.

May. 31 2013 11:34 AM
Sarah from Oregon

The day after the father signed the waiver that was delivered to him days before his military deployment, he went to the JAG lawyer on his base. Five days after that he requested a stay of the adoption, which started a two-year legal battle where every court affirmed that he should get to keep his daughter-- a legal battle he fought while he was simultaneously fighting in Iraq.

May. 31 2013 01:13 AM
Nicole from Ohio

This is tragic. My heart is shattered for the adoptive parents. I have a two-year old little boy, and just listening to the "transfer" moment made me physically ill. I cannot imagine the pain these two people went through in that instant, the feeling of utter powerlessness as they were compelled to hand their daughter away. I do not blame the biological father, per se, but wonder how he believed it was in the best interests of the child to do that to her? And now that she has been living with him for almost as long as she was with her previous family, should the court rule in the adoptive parents' favor, she could conceivably have the pain of being ripped from a second family. So, so sad.

May. 31 2013 12:12 AM
Reid from Michigan

My wife and I just finished listening to this podcast. We are adoptive parents of a 1 year old baby boy. We are white and he is African American. We love him with all of our hearts. Like the adoptive couple in this case we also were placed with our son through an open adoption. We also were invited to be there for his birth and I was asked by his birth mom to cut his umbilical cord. In our son's case, his birth father never came forward and therefore waived his rights in that regard. We, like every other couple who goes through the adoption process, know how difficult and invasive the adoption process is (background checks, interviews, homestudies, training and follow up visits to name just a few). That's why our heart goes out for this couple. I also can't imagine having our son ripped away from us to be given to someone he's never met nor is capable to provide the love, support and future we can offer. I doubt that any biological couple could with any of their children either.

Now as for the baby girl, I have my doubts that she will go through this ordeal emotionally unscathed. One point that is strongly made during adoption training is the potential for attachment disorders in older age adoptions. The symptoms often times don't manifest until later on in life. I have my doubts that the interviewer was trained in child psychology and therefore most likely did not pick up on any signs of these issues if they were there. It is more than likely that if she is now returned to her adoptive parents that there will be additinal attachment issues. Children who Bounce through the foster care system often suffer from this because they have been bounced around so many times. That's why our heart goes out for this girl.

Adoption is about love.

May. 30 2013 11:10 PM
Liam Shiels

Loved this podcast episode though it is a bit off the topic of science. With that said: I would listen the heck out of a podcast about legal/political issues done in the style of Radiolab.

May. 30 2013 08:11 PM

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