The Adopted Life

Strengthening the adoption community by empowering adoptee voices

Baby Veronica

My husband Bryan wrote:

The Baby Veronica case is a hot-button issue, and I wanted to share some thoughts. (Disclaimer: I am not a member of the adoption triad, but have learned much from making CLOSURE and reading countless stories of adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents) I look at the Baby Veronica case and see just another example of an adoptee being tossed around without any say, and that makes me sad. I also see another example of the birth father’s voice (Dusten, in this case) being lost, and not given any value. If I could say one thing to the Capobianco’s (Veronica’s adoptive parents) I’d tell them to give up now. Give custody of Veronica to Dusten, and rebuild your trust with him so you may still play a role in Veronica’s life. My heart goes out to the Capobianco’s as well, as I’m sure the love and bond they feel towards Veronica is stronger than most of us could imagine. However – they don’t seem to be thinking in the long term right now. When Veronica is no longer just an adorable 4 year old, and instead a curious and inquisitive 17 year old girl, what are they going to tell her about her story? They won’t be able to fall back on a trite narrative of abandonment and how they “saved” her from foster care, being an orphan, etc. How will she feel when she discovers that her biological father FOUGHT for her for four years, even going to jail to defend his right to keep her? And that he had an equally loving family wanting to play a role in her life, and could have provided with everything she needed? As a young adult someday, is it possible Veronica may view her adoption as unnecessary, and totally avoidable by the Capobianco’s? There’s a lot of talk right now about Veronica’s “best interest”, but best interests can look different for a 4 year old and a 17 year old.

I'm learning that people in positions of privilege don't often realize they have privilege until someone without points it out. Birthfather (Dusten) and adoptee (Veronica) are clearly in positions without power or privilege. The adoptive couple has complete privilege in the eyes of this case as they are wealthy, "healthy," successful, "courageous," Caucasian adoptive parents. The birthmother has jockeyed herself into more of a position of power b/c of her vulnerable position. People empathize with her, and view her as a disadvantaged person who endured a hard pregnancy and made the difficult decision for adoption. Until the world takes notice and listens to those without the societal power, the same tired narrative will continue.

I think it's a beautiful thing that the birthmother in this case was able to choose a family that she felt to be best qualified at the time, and that the family has valued her from the start. I'm happy to know that the Capobianco's love and cherish Veronica as a human being. However, the bottom line of this inhumane game of tug-of-war is not about the relationship between the birthmother and the adoptive family. It's not about the care that the Capobianco's have shown as her parents thus far. Juggling Veronica's precious life around does not have anything to do with the troubled relationship between birth mom and birth dad and how that factors in to who should parent the child. This case is not about the mismanagement of the Nightlight Christian Agency who chose to terminate Dusten's rights prematurely and bypass ICWA without doing their due diligence. This is about the one person who cannot speak for herself - Veronica. This is the rub that irks many adoptees. Everyone else is doing the talking for young adoptees as babies and children obviously cannot yet speak. Clearly, a four year old cannot understand the complexities, and advocate for herself at this time. In wondering what could remedy this, I feel that listening to those who are without privilege - first - may offer new perspective.

I'm troubled by the lack of respect that the birthfather has been shown. I can't help but wonder if he was a Caucasian middle/upper class man would his narrative be the same? I bet the media coverage would be rolling with titles like; BREAKING NEWS: Biological father served our country, jailed fighting for his daughter.

I also think it's worth noting that the Indian Child Welfare Act has been put in place for a reason. It is important that we acknowledge this rather than try to scoot past this law like it's a nuisance for adoptive couples who want a child so badly and on their time frame.

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