The biological father of a four-year-old girl has transferred custody of his daughter to a couple in a different state who adopted the child when she was born. The case has been the subject of an ongoing court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court but did not end there. The case has been known in the media as the “Baby Veronica” case after the psuedonym given to the child involved.
The girl’s biological father gave up parental rights when he learned his then-girlfriend was pregnant before he deployed to Iraq. It later came to his attention that his girlfriend had decided to put the child up for adoption and he objected, citing the Indian Child Welfare Act, which is designed to keep Native American children in their tribal communities.
The child went to live with the adoptive parents for two years starting at her birth, but was transferred to her biological father when he challenged the validity of the adoption.
After the Supreme Court heard the case and determined that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply, a family court in the state where the adoptive parents live validated their adoption and ordered that the biological father return his daughter to them. He continued to fight to keep her on the Cherokee reservation where he had his wife had been raising her for two years. The state court where the father lives granted a stay on the transfer but ultimately lifted it, resulting in this week’s custody transfer.
This case has been a tangle of family laws from different states, as well as the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, and the laws of the Cherokee Nation tribal court. The question of which court had the power to decide the case was a major issues here, and goes to show the importance of careful court selection in a child custody proceeding.
Source: CBS News, “‘Baby Veronica’ handed over to adoptive parents, Charokee Nation confirms,” Sept. 24, 2013.