TODAY   |  September 24, 2013

Baby Veronica returned to legal guardians

In a custody case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, baby Veronica Capobianco was returned to her legal guardians from her biological father, a case that raised questions over tribal sovereignty and federal law. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> a cross country child custody battle that reached the supreme court appears to be over. gabe gutierrez is in charleston, south carolina with the latest on baby vernon rangers. good morning.

>> good morning. this case raised big questions about sovereignty and federal law but today she's back with her adoptive parents. they're returning here to this neighborhood after an emotional night in oklahoma .

>> reporter: just this week she celebrated her fourth birthday. now her biological father has handed her over to her adoptive parents.

>> he believed it was in veronica's best interest and did this in a manner that was the least traumatic.

>> on monday, the oklahoma supreme court lifted it's ruling that kept veronica in the state. the latest chapter in a bitter custody battle that began in 2009 when her parents split up. her biological father signed the paperwork giving up custody to her birth mother who is speaking out for the first time in an interview airing on dr. phil.

>> it broke me.

>> she put her daughter up for adoption but brown who is a member of the cherokee nation objected after invoking a federal law that aims to keep native american children with their families he was awarded custody and for the last 21 months veronica lived with him in oklahoma but this summer in a rare move the u.s. supreme court weighed in ruling the federal statute did not apply because he abandoned the indian child before birth and never had custody.

>> the courts had ruled and what we were hearing out of oklahoma was that, you know, the cherokee nation felt that it and mr. brown didn't have to obey.

>> brown had refused to return veronica to her adoptive parents until now. it is not clear whether the cherokee nation plans to keep appealing this case but the tribe says it hopes dustin brown will be allowed to remain an important part of veronica's life, even here in south carolina . natalie.

>> gabe guttiierrez in charles south carolina. thank you.