Baby Veronica

What a remarkable father he is...

Dusten Brown's statement yesterday gives me chills, sadness abounds. These are his words:

Thank you all for coming today. It’s been two and a half weeks since our daughter Veronica left with Matt and Melanie Capobianco for South Carolina. It’s difficult to put into words how empty our home feels without her. To come home from work and not have her greet me, to come to the door and grab me no matter how dirty I am, or going into her room and seeing all of her toys, without her playing with them—is the worst pain I have ever felt.

Me, my wife, Veronica’s grandparents, her sister, cousins, aunts, uncles and extended family and friends are heartbroken without her, but I know we did everything in our power to keep Veronica home with her family.

During this four-year fight to raise my daughter, I had to make many difficult decisions—decisions no father should ever have to make. The most difficult decision of all was to let Veronica go with Matt and Melanie Capobianco last month. But it was no longer fair for Veronica to be in the middle of this battle. It was the love for my daughter that kept me going all this time. But it was also the love for my daughter that finally gave me the strength to accept things that are beyond my control.

The time has come for me to let Veronica live a normal childhood that she so desperately needs and deserves, and that means stopping the ongoing litigation here in Oklahoma. Veronica is only 4 years old, but her entire life has been lived in front of the media and the entire world, and I cannot bear for that to continue any longer. I love her too much to continue to have the spotlight on her. It is not fair for her to be in front of the media at all times. And her safety, happiness and well-being have always been my number one priority.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this fight to keep my daughter at home with me and her family. We never dreamed that so many people from around the world would support us in this effort to raise our daughter. We appreciate each and every one of you more than you know. Every card, letter and email has been precious, and we cannot thank you enough.

I know that the Capobiancos love Veronica very much and will provide her with a good home. It is my greatest hope we can work together on a solution that is best for Veronica—one that allows me to continue to be a part of my daughter’s life, and see and speak with her on a regular basis.

And to Veronica—one day you will read about this time in your life. Never, ever for one second doubt how much I love you, how hard I fought for you or how much you mean to me. My home will always be your home, and you are always welcome in it. I miss you more than words can express. You will always be my little girl, my princess, and I will love you until the day I die. I love you and hope to see you soon.

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.