'Baby Veronica' adoptive parents: 'We're not going anywhere'
The adoptive parents in a bitter custody battle with the biological father of the girl known as “Baby Veronica” said in a press conference on Wednesday they want a quick resolution but are willing to fight as long as it takes to return her back to their home in South Carolina.
Matt and Melanie Capobianco have traveled to Oklahoma in hopes of taking the girl home nearly two months after the Supreme Court ruled that the child should not have been taken from them in 2011 to live with her father, Dusten Brown, who is a member of the Cherokee tribe.
“If it takes another week, another month, another decade, we’re not going anywhere,” Matt Capobianco said at a press conference in Tulsa on Wednesday. “But of course, we believe what's best for Veronica is a resolution now.”
"We are determined to bring our daughter home, but know we don't seek victory,’’ Melanie said. “There is none in this type of situation. What we seek is peace for our daughter. For everyone involved, we need closure."
During a press conference that also included a family friend and television personality Troy Dunn, the Capobiancos said they would allow visitation for Brown and his family.
The child is currently staying with her paternal grandparents at an undisclosed location, and Brown's attorneys are fighting a South Carolina court order to reveal the location. In a press conference in South Carolina on Monday, Matt Capobianco said he considered his daughter to have been "kidnapped" and appealed to law enforcement to remove her from Brown's custody, but on Wednesday he noted he wanted to avoid a conflict with Brown.
"We're not going to do anything to upset anyone,'' he said. "We' don't want to scare our daughter with some kind of confrontation."
The sheriff in Nowata County, where Brown lives, told NewsOn6 that he would not take the girl from Brown and his family without a court order from Oklahoma, despite a South Carolina court order that custody of the child be given to the Capobiancos. The couple is planning to meet with the girl's birth mother, Christy Maldonado, later on Wednesday.
“It's time for this to be over,’’ Matt Capobianco said. “Veronica will be coming home. But if there is going to be some thoughtful solution that continues to involve all who love her, this is the time.”
Brown turned himself in to Sequoyah County authorities in Oklahoma on Monday after being charged with custodial interference for failing to appear at a court-ordered meeting in South Carolina on Aug. 4 to return the child. He posted a $10,000 bond and was released, and the Capobiancos came to Oklahoma on Tuesday with the hope that Veronica, 3, would be returned to them. The child lived with the Capobiancos for the first 27 months of her life before Brown gained custody via a court ruling in 2011.
“Dusten plans to continue to fight for the right to keep his daughter and the right to raise her with her family where she belongs,” his wife Robin Brown, told The New York Times. “She has the right to know where she comes from and know who she is.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced Tuesday that she would not take quick action on the extradition order for Brown from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, saying Brown deserves his day in court in Oklahoma. The couple requested a visit with Veronica on Tuesday but was denied, Melanie Capobianco said during the press conference.
Following the press conference, Fallin tweeted that the Capobiancos "deserve an opportunity to meet with their adopted daughter" and meet with Brown to resolve the dispute.
"As a mother, my heart broke when that request was denied and we were told our visit was not in her best interest,'' Melanie said.
If Brown fails to comply and allow the couple to see Veronica, Fallin indicated she would change her stance on the extradition order from South Carolina.
In 2009, Brown split up with Maldonado, who asked Brown to give her custody of the baby. He agreed, signing a legal document, but later said he was about to deploy to Iraq at the time and never realized that his daughter might be put up for adoption.
“I thought I was just signing for (Maldonado) to have full custody, so that she could take care of my daughter while I was gone,” Brown told NBC’s Kristen Welker on TODAY on Aug. 9. “I’ll fight for her until I have no more fight in me.”