[image-1]Like many of you here in Charleston, I’ve followed the Baby Veronica case with great interest. And like many of you, when I first heard this morning that Veronica’s biological father Dusten Brown had surrendered to authorities in Oklahoma to be extradited to South Carolina, I thought that this sad, sad saga had finally begun to come to an end. But like the countless other times when it seemed as if this entire ordeal was over with — that Veronica was finally going to be with a family that would love and care for her— it suddenly wasn’t.
A short time ago, an Oklahoma judge ordered the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department to release Brown from jail. As it stands now, Dusten Brown will return to court on Oct. 3 to learn whether he will be sent to South Carolina to be tried for the crime of custodial interference, namely that he had failed to turn over Baby Veronica to the Capobiancos. And if and when he is extradited, it will do nothing to solve the ongoing custody fight over the three-year-old little girl. In fact, it will only make things worse. Much worse. Especially for the Capobiancos.
Although the Capobiancos may not want to hear this, Ronnie Brown will never be their daughter as long as Dusten Brown is alive. Too much time has passed from when they called Baby Veronica their own and when they were forced to give her up. Today, the bond between Ronnie and her father is probably far too great to break, and anyone who believes that bond should be broken should be ashamed of themselves. When it comes down to it, Ronnie Brown is not a cause; Baby Veronica is. The flesh and blood Ronnie Brown is a child, and Dusten Brown is her flesh and blood father — and by all accounts, he loves her.
Forget the Indian Child Welfare Act. Forget that the Capobiancos raised Baby Veronica from birth until she was two. Forget that they tried desperately to have children of their own for years and years and years. Forget that they loved and cared for her as if she was their own child. She’s not. She’s Dusten Brown’s, and for nearly the past two years, she has been under his care. She has spent her days and nights with him and his family. She has called him “daddy” countless times. Regardless of what happens, she will never call Matt Capobianco “daddy” and mean it in the exact same way she does when she refers to Dusten Brown.
Right now, Ronnie Brown is surely aware that her daddy, Dusten Brown, loves her so much he is willing to go to jail to save her. The Capobiancos will never be able to lay claim to such a heroic sacrifice, and because they can’t, Ronnie Brown will never be theirs. And as the years go by, Dusten Brown’s sacrifice will only grow in importance to little Ronnie Brown, and it will only poison whatever relationship the Capobiancos hope to have with her if she is handed over to them. Their lives will be ruined. But more importantly, so will hers.
So much has gone wrong when it comes to this case. So much has been mishandled. And too many tears have been shed and hearts have been broken. It’s finally time for someone to do something right. And for the Capobiancos that means putting an end to this tragedy right here and right now. If they truly wish for the best for Ronnie Brown, they must quit fighting for custody of Baby Veronica. She doesn’t exist. Ronnie Brown does, and Dusten Brown is her father. Let him have her. Her future — and theirs — depends on it.