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S.C. top court orders child returned to adoptive parents

July 18, 2013 at 10:43 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C., July 18 (UPI) -- The child in a case that divided the U.S. Supreme Court should be returned to the couple trying to adopt her since birth, South Carolina's top court said.

The state Supreme Court, in a 3-2 ruling Wednesday, ordered a family court to finalize the adoption of Baby Veronica by Matt and Melanie Capobianco of Charleston and terminate parental rights of the biological father, Dusten Brown, The Washington Post reported.

The state court earlier ordered the girl removed from the Capobiancos when she was 27 months old and be sent to live with Brown, a registered member of the Cherokee Nation.

Brown had given up his parental rights before the child was born, but later changed his mind. He argued before the South Carolina court that the Indian Child Welfare Act, which established criteria for adoptions outside the tribe, stated the child should be with him.

Veronica's birth mother never married Brown and she had chosen the Capobiancos to raise the child. The child has lived in Oklahoma with Brown and his wife for the last 18 months.

In a 5-4 vote last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said the federal law does not apply when "the parent abandoned the Indian child before birth and never had custody of the child."

The South Carolina court, cited the federal court's ruling, told a family court to approve the Capobiancos' adoption of Veronica. The state top court said that even though Brown filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma and with the tribal council to stop the adoption, South Carolina retains the case.

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