TULSA, Okla., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Another in a string of custody hearings brought a 4-year-old's birth father and adoptive parents face-to-face Monday in an Oklahoma courtroom.
"Baby Veronica" -- who turned 4 Sunday -- is the subject of competing custody claims by her birth father, Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma, and the girl's adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco of South Carolina.
All parties were in Tulsa for an appeals hearing before the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, KOTV-TV, Tulsa, reported.
Brown has argued Veronica should live with him because he was tricked by his former fiancee into signing over custody of the child. Brown says he thought at the time he was giving custody to the birth mother, not that she was planning to give the child up for adoption.
Brown challenged the adoption in a South Carolina court, which ruled in his favor and granted him custody of the child. The Capobiancos appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the South Carolina court erred in its interpretation of the law and ordered judges to reconsider the case.
In an Aug. 30 hearing , a Nowata County, Okla., judge ruled in favor of the Capobiancos and ordered Brown to surrender custody of the child, but later that same day Brown won a stay in Oklahoma Supreme Court and has maintained custody of the child since.
The Oklahoma Court of Appeals was considering that motion Monday, the Tulsa World reported. The hearing began at 9:30 a.m. and continued after a 1:30 p.m. lunch break.
Lawyers for Brown and the Cherokee Nation have argued the courts should hold a best interest hearing to determine once and for all who has custody of the girl.
A gag order in the case has prevented lawyers on either side from commenting on the case and proceedings are being held in private, the World said.