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Supreme Court rules on Adoptive Parents v Baby Girl Case 5-4

The Supreme Court ruled on this ongoing case today that Veronica doesn't have to be returned to her biological father as the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act due to the fact that "the ICWA didn’t apply in this case because the biological father never had custody of the child and abandoned her before birth."

Basically (but not) Veronica biological father, Dusten Brown, signed away his parental rights believing that she was going to be in the custody of her biological mother. Instead, she was adopted by a couple, the Capobiancos. Due to multiple mistakes on her birth certificate and other files, Cherokee Nation was not informed of the adoption. When it was finally discovered, the biological father and Cherokee Nation stepped in. It was initially ruled that she be returned to her father and that's what they've been battling. The ruling doesn't solidify that she will go back to her adoptive parents - it goes back to the lower court that first granted her biological father custody.


My summation isn't very good. It's a complicated story. If you don't know about this case, I would recomended the RadioLab episode or this Slate article. Followed by the WaPo on the ruling.

I have really mixed feelings about this ruling. Obviously, its awful that she was taken away from her adoptive parents and I feel terrible for her father and stepmother as well. As well as what the Slate article points out,

This case agonizingly demonstrates the importance of observing ICWA’s placement and termination procedures in order to prevent impermissible adoptions from occurring and then being invalidated later. Everyone involved in Veronica’s adoption knew she was an American Indian child, and if the ICWA requirements had been followed, Veronica would not have been placed with the Capobiancos in the first place.


The ICWA is a important piece of legislation. It shouldn't be ignored or looked at as this annoying loophole in an adoption. It was first put into place due to the forced assimilation of tribes by taking Indian children at a rate of 25 to 35 percent and placing them in non-Indian homes.

Obviously, everyone wants to put Veronica's best interests first but it feels like there is more on the line with this case.

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