As Lost Daughters of adoption, we've been following the heart-breaking legal progress of the case(s) to decide who has parental rights over Veronica. We've tried to put aside the emotional triggers that this case is bringing up in our adoptee hearts and have added our voices to the conversation.
Our voice may very well be joined by "Baby" Veronica's ... in about fourteen years, or so.
Here's great resource for those who want to catch-up, thanks to the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
How adoptee rights are related to the Baby Veronica case
Samantha Franklin -- As an reunited OK adoptee and advocate for adoptee rights to their original birth certificates, this case is very close to my heart. I have attended open hearings at our state Capitol during an "Adoption Review Task Force" (on which NO adult adoptees were appointed). Around the table were adoption agency "professionals" who spent the entire time arguing the point that legislators should NOT put a cap on "expenses and fees" charged in adoptions in OK. They were very concerned that potential "birthmothers" would not see OK as "adoption friendly" if lawmakers put more ethical laws in place. It was physically sickening to be at these public hearings and realize the complete truth that adoption agencies are truly businesses that profit from adoption and are concerned about supplying the demand for their consumers who are willing to pay top dollar for a baby. This was a series of meetings over two years, held mainly because of an OK Supreme Court ruling over an adoption attorney who charged thousands of dollars for an adoption which was contested and reviewed. It seemed as if the legislators became weary of the constant discussion from the "professionals" in adoption. Finally, at the last meeting (after two years of sitting and listening, without voices not being heard), did they "address" the issue of adult adoptees obtaining their original birth certificates in adulthood. It was determined, and I quote, by a legislator, after hearing testimony from the same adoption agency "professionals" WHY the law didn't need to be changed, "if it ain't broke, why fix it."
Well, Mr. Legislators, the Baby Veronica case and so many other states passing legislation restoring the identity rights of adoptees only serve to prove that it IS broken, and we need to fix it. We need to remove the money in adoption. "Counseling" provided by adoption agencies is a conflict of interest. Adoptees are not commodities. We are not perpetual children. We deserve human rights.
What can be done to guard paternal rights?
Julie Stromberg -- This case is weighing on my heart as well, Sam. My father and paternal grandparents fought Catholic Charities to stop my adoption. They wanted to raise and keep me. Fathers had no rights at all to raise their own children back in 1971. Apparently, not much has changed since then. This saddens me.
Veronica is not a child in need. She is being raised by the father and family who created her. She should have a right to be raised by her own family. Allowing her adoption to go through will legally erase her origins through the falsifying of her birth certificate. And open adoption agreements are not legally enforceable. So she will not be guaranteed continued contact with her father and paternal family. The Capobiancos will hold all of the legal control over both Veronica and her father should the adoption be finalized.
If this adoption goes through, Veronica will be a Lost Daughter, just like all of us.
Samantha -- Hugs to you Julie, I'm so sorry you were separated from your father and his family. My heart is so heavy over these issues and the fact that "popular" opinion is so swayed towards stranger adoption.
Karen Pickell -- It is physically difficult for me to spend too much time reading all the articles that have been written about the Baby Veronica case, especially the most recent developments which point toward this child unnecessarily being taken away from her own biological family. I am not overstating my reaction; my body literally hurts when I read about this. Why? Because I know firsthand the struggles Veronica will go through having been disconnected from her biological relatives and forced to live with strangers. I know firsthand all the questions she will have about who she is and why she couldn’t have stayed with her own family.
Even worse, I know that one day in the not-too-distant future, she will be able to read and hear and watch all the media coverage about her life, and she will understand very clearly what has happened. Even worse than knowing her mother did not want to keep her, Veronica will know that her own mother basically sold her to strangers. She will know that her own mother preferred that she be torn away from her father to be raised by strangers. Veronica will know that her mother tried to dismantle a law designed to protect Native American children from being stripped of their cultural heritage, that her own mother did not care that Veronica herself is Native American—that her own mother did not think about how striking a blow against the Native American community is the equivalent of striking Veronica.
This case is worse than the ugliest divorce. The Capobiancos should have backed off a long time ago, when it became abundantly clear that Dusten Brown never intended for his daughter to be adopted out to strangers and when it became abundantly clear that he is, in fact, a perfectly fit parent for Veronica, more fit than the Capobiancos will ever be now that they’ve made it obvious that they do not care about the bond between this child and her biological family. At this point, I honestly do not care about the Capobiancos’ emotional distress over this case, nor do I care about the money or time they’ve put into their fight to take this child. And I do hope they read this, because they need to hear how adult adoptees feel about what they are doing. If they do end up raising Veronica, she herself will be an adult adoptee one day, a lost daughter, one of us. Do they think she’ll be grateful that they stole her away from her father? Do they think she’ll thank them for purchasing her from Christy Maldonado? Think again.
Many people are saying that Dusten Brown turned his back on Veronica and then changed his mind. Many versions are circulating of what supposedly took place during Maldonado’s pregnancy and during the first four months of Veronica’s life. I don’t know any of the parties involved. I don’t know exactly how it all went down. What I do know is that Dusten Brown is a father who wants to raise his daughter, and the Capobiancos, along with Christy Maldonado, are trying as hard as they can to keep him from doing so. As an adopted person and on behalf of Veronica, I ask why? Why would anyone work so hard to keep a child from her own father?
Deanna Doss Shrodes -- I am grieved in my spirit about this case. Dusten Brown is a perfectly fit father and WANTS to raise his daughter. Why is this case even being debated? Adoption should take place only when there is absolutely no other option of a child being raised in their original family. And in fact, Veronica's adoption has not even taken place! The child is not even adopted YET, and still, she has (at the present) been placed with the Capobiancos. So, a father comes forward BEFORE an adoption takes place, declaring his intentions to raise his daughter and she is...placed for adoption anyway?
So basically... Veronica will have to deal with a plethora of post-adoption issues that she would not have to deal with, all because the Capobiancos have made an investment?
Their emotional distress or financial investment is of no consequence in comparison to a child who will now have to face identity issues and much more than could have all been avoided had they just done the right thing.'
Lynn Grubb -- My sisters before me have clearly spelled out the issues in this sad case. I fear that this case is setting a legal precedent that fathers (still) have inferior legal rights in this country. This case shows (again) that money is more important than children's rights.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is designed to protect Native American children. I think it is very telling that Christy Maldanado is suing to remove this law. She clearly has no respect for the ICWA, Native Americans and the father of her child. I believe she is on a power trip and has clearly lost sight that her child is drowning while she is grasping the media spotlight.
I believe the legal team behind Maldonado and the Capobiancos intended to bypass the ICWA and Dusten's legal rights and got caught. Dusten represents the inferior way we treat fathers in this country. How many other Veronicas will have to be passed back and forth before the Courts make a clear decision about father's rights? As my husband says, fathers are important only when they open their wallets. And when they do, they get every other weekend visits.
The ICWA should not be abolished and in fact, there should be sanctions and disbarring of attorneys who attempt to get around the laws in the first place.
Julie Stromberg -- I, too, believe that the legal representatives for Maldonado and the Capobiancos attempted to bypass Brown's rights as both a father and Native man. There is such a double standard in this country when it comes to adoption. Society chastises fathers who don't step up to help raise their children--unless the mother wants to place the child for adoption. Then society expects the father to ride off into the sunset. We have reached a point in this country when every sexually active adult male should register with the putative father registries in states that have them and prepare a legal document stating that they intend to raise any child they create--before engaging in sexual activity with any woman.
I am having a really difficult time garnering any sort of sympathy for the Capobiancos at this point. While I understand that yes, Maldonado selected them and took $10k plus medical expenses from them in return for Veronica (society does not view this as buying a child, of course), they were aware of the issues surrounding Brown. And they opted to protect their "investment" instead of considering that rights of both Veronica and her father.
Clearly, they are not fighting to take possession of Veronica because they want to adopt a child in need. Veronica is not in need. So I can only assume that the Capobiancos are desperately clinging to the belief that Veronica somehow "belongs" to them because they paid Maldonado thousands and thousands of dollars for her. To be blunt, it seems to me that they paid their money and they want the merchandise. The fact that Veronica's father is willing, able and fit to raise his own child is of no concern to the Capobiancos.
I recently read a blog post written by an adoptive parent who wondered how the Capobiancos will look Veronica in the eye during the years to come and say "we fought hard to take you from your father, who wanted to keep you."
I am wondering the same thing.
Deanna -- Veronica's case IS part of a much larger problem in society -- the blatant disrespect of fathers and their rights.
From the very beginning, Maldanado decided what would happen with absolutely no regard for Dusten Brown --the father of the child they BOTH created.
Society at large seems to not care about Brown because they thought it was Maldonado who had the right to make the exclusive decisions regarding this child's fate from the very beginning.
People tend to believe in SOME rights for fathers, but definitely not equal ones. If we as a society believed in equal rights for fathers they would be equal from the get-go.
Karen Pickell -- I wholeheartedly agree with you all on the issue of fathers' rights. It takes two to create a child. If I'm not mistaken, every one of us participating in this roundtable is a mother as well as an adoptee. We are all women who know what it means to give birth to a child. However, we also know how important our children's fathers are in their lives, and how much our own biological fathers mean to us. Some of us have taken considerable effort to reunite with our birth fathers. Others of us are still searching, still hoping to resolve that missing connection. Veronica should not have to experience this type of loss in order to satisfy the needs of the Capobiancos.
I know Julie has said this, but I'm going to say it again: Veronica is not a child who needs to be adopted, and adoption should be about a child's needs, not about the needs of adults who want a child.
Deanna -- Karen, you bring up an excellent point. As one who is searching for my biological father, I cannot even fathom finding him and being told that he wanted me and fought to raise me but some strangers who had not even legally adopted me yet, prevented him from doing so. Quite honestly, it would slay me. I hope the Capobiancos aren't just saving for college but for long term therapy.
Julie Stromberg -- Absolutely, Deanna. This whole ordeal is all about what some people want instead of what Veronica needs. The Capobiancos do not need to raise Veronica. And Veronica does not need them to raise her. She is happy and thriving with her own father and within her family of origin. This is exactly what Veronica needs.
My father and paternal grandparents wanted me. They fought to keep and raise me. My adoptive parents, however, didn't know this. They were in no way responsible for me not being raised by my own family. This will not be the case for Veronica. She will know that the people raising her purposely fought to take her away from her father and paternal family. I can only begin to imagine the sense of hurt and betrayal Veronica might feel one day when she is able to fully process what happened to her.
In order for an adoption to occur, something bad must happen first. A child must lose his or her first parents. Adoption or not, Veronica will already have to process the fact that her mother did not want to raise her and the sense of loss that comes with it. As adopted women ourselves, we know how difficult this can be. And if the Capobiancos get their way, Veronica will then have to process the fact that she lost her father because of the people who are feeding her and putting a roof over her head. It disgusts me that these adults are knowingly and willingly fighting to put a child through all of this.
They can't say they didn't know how it might affect Veronica. Right here at Lost Daughters, they have access to several of Veronica's adult counterparts who are expressing exactly what this adoption would put Veronica through. Will they listen? Will they consider what we have to say as adult adopted women? Or will they continue to allow their wanting of Veronica to overshadow the reality of what they are doing?
Deanna -- Love "does not demand it's own way..." I Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)
Love is not possession.
Julie J -- The default setting should ALWAYS be with family. Family should never have to prove they are better than any random stranger. Adoption should never be on the table for any child as long as they have family willing & capable of raising them as this child clearly does. Family members are not interchangeable. There are beneficial, intangible factors of being with your own people that will always outweigh alternatives. That's what's not being acknowledged or respected in this case. I am saddened that laws that were set up to protect children from exactly these types of scenarios were blatantly ignored. The Capobiancos are not her parents. They are nothing more than child consumers, more concerned with themselves than Veronica.
Really listening to us may involve arriving at the conclusions that there are good reasons to prioritize the preservation of families first, and that adoption should be avoided whenever unnecessary. Some adults simply cannot consider that being subjected to an unnecessary adoption and losing one's family, heritage, & identity could have adverse effects on us because they don't see anything undesirable about adoption at all. To listen to our voices on this would mean them having to re-examine their own beliefs and values. Some adults simply cannot go there when it comes to the sacred cow of adoption.
Yes, we may expect Veronica to join our ranks in the future when she finds her own voice on this matter. I wish she didn't have to lose her family again. I wish all the Veronicas could stay with their own families who love them & want them. How many more Veronicas must experience this so that legal & genetic strangers get to experience "parenthood"? We are witnessing an example of pro-adoption over pro-child.