Rally urges lawmakers to help keep Native American families together

Aug. 20, 2013 at 1:19 PM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Supporters of a Cherokee dad trying to keep custody of his 3-year-old daughter have urged Oklahoma legislators to help keep Native American families together.

In a rally at the state Capitol, lawmakers were called on to follow the spirit of the 1970s-era Indian Welfare Act, The Oklahoman reported Tuesday.

Sarah Adams-Cornell, one of the organizers of the rally, said the child, known as "Baby Veronica," has become a symbol of the loss of Native American culture from babies being adopted by non-Native American couples.

Veronica was adopted at birth by a South Carolina couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who raised her until she 2. The child's biological father, Dusten Brown, regained custody in 2011 after claiming in a lawsuit he was tricked into signing adoption papers.

Adams-Cornell cited a study done in the late 1970s that found about 25 percent of native people had lost touch with their culture through adoption.

The study said up to 35 percent of Native American children were living outside their home. Of those, 85 percent were not living in native homes.

Veronica is presently living with Brown's parents somewhere in Oklahoma. Dusten Brown is being sought by South Carolina authorities for allegedly ignoring a judge's order to return the child to the Capobiancos.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has said she will not act on the South Carolina warrant until Brown is given a chance to fight extradition. Fallin says she wants Brown and the Capobiancos to resolve their issues in a way that will be beneficial for Veronica.

Brown has an extradition hearing Sept. 12.

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