Friday, July 19, 2013

The Baby Veronica Fiasco Blame Game

The agonizingly long drawn out case of Baby Veronica seems to have reached it's end with father and child torn apart.

The case of Baby Veronica began before this now four-year-old child was born.  Veronica was born in 2009 to Christy Maldonado of Oklahoma, a self-described Latina single mom of two other children.  It has wound it’s way through the South Carolina Courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court who sent it right back to SC who recently made the latest what appears to be the final decision regarding the permanent care and custody of this innocent child.

Supporters on the two sides of this baby battle agree one thing: that it has been horrific for this child. And there seems to be plenty of blame to go around.

The Adoption Culture

In order to fully understand this case, one must view it within the framework of the extremely pro-adoption culture we live in the US today where the general consensus, by far, is that adoption is a child-saving miracle that should be encouraged. Among many Christian churches you are not a goof Christian until you have “saved” an alleged “orphan” via adoption.  It is encouraged and supported by hefty tax credits…regardless if the child is actually an orphan or if he is being torn from a parent or parents who are fighting desperately to keep and care for their flesh and blood child.

This case is set upon a backdrop of adoption good; deadbeat Dads - like the old stereotypical coke whore mother - are bad.

In this extremely pro adoption culture are those of us who  see through the smoke and mirrors, the lies and fabrications; we see behind the curtain the child-destroying aspects of adoption: that it begins by nullifying the child’s identity, heritage, medial history, ancestry; that it treats the child as merchandise in a sale; that it keeps the adoptee forever infantilized and denied equal status to al non-adopted citizens in the vast majority of states by keeping his or her original birth certificate from him for life; that it treats adopted persons as suspicious and creates discriminatory laws and statuses that apply only to them in defiance of the fourteenth Amendment….

Those of us who see it and report on the atrocities within the adoption industry, the fallacies and injustices in our laws, policies and practices that govern child adoption within the US and Internationally – are quickly slapped with the label “anti-adoption.”

Yet few cases shine a clear bright light on adoption as a crisis of imbalance weighed heavily against families of blood connection, than the removal of Baby Veronica from her natural father who has fought for her from the start, who is perfectly capable of providing a safe, healthy home for her and who has gone to extreme lengths to do so for the past eighteen months. Like a piece of furniture she is being taken away yet again.

Who's to Blame?
The Indian Child Welfare Act

Veronica’s father is a member of the Cherokee nation and as such asserted his rights under The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that was enacted in 1978 to protect Native American children from being adopted away by non-tribal members. Tribal nations had been losing as many as 25 to 35 percent of their children to removal from their homes, and consequently from their tribal culture. In some cases, the per capita rate of Indian children in foster care was nearly 16 times higher than the rate for non-Indians.

On the Dr. Phil Show, however, Matt Copobianco made the opposite, absurd claim that, “The Child Welfare Act is destroying families.” Another adoptive father named Johnston, on the same totally one-sided show, said of the ICWA: “I think it’s an unjust law. I think it’s a racist law, because we were white, and the kids were considered Indian…”

They are not the only pro-adoptionists to point a finger of blame at the ICWA. Adoptive father John Culhane, writing on, claimed it “contributes to the destructive narrative that an adoption is never a sure thing, and could make even more difficult the search for adoptive parents.” He went as far as to say: “It’s tribalism in its most literal, and block-headed, sense.” 

Sure, anything that preserves natural families and reduces adoptions is seen as a negative in our pro-adoption culture that is all about child snatching under a saving pretext as it was from the start and what caused the necessity of the ICWA.

Dustin Brown

Dustin and Christie became engaged to be married in December 2008. Christie informed Dustin that she was pregnant a month later, January 2009. On learning of the pregnancy, Dustin sought to marry Christie and refused to provide any financial support until after the two had married. In May 2009, Christie broke off the engagement by text message and cut all communications with Dustin.

Four months after the birth of the child and just days from deployment to Iraq, Dustin was served with notice of the proposed adoption of his daughter. Dustin signed a document, believing that he was relinquishing rights to Veronica over to her mother, Christie. Once Dustin realized what he had signed, he immediately tried to retrieve the document, and failing that, contacted the Judge Advocate General at Fort Sill for assistance. Seven days after being notified of the proposed adoption by the Copobiancos, Dustin obtained a stay of the adoption proceedings under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and he deployed with his Army unit to Iraq. Dustin also invoked his right as a Cherokee and continued to fight tooth and nail leaving no stone unturned in a costly legal battle. He won his cases in trial court and on appeal with the State Supreme Court. The case finally wound up in the US Supreme Court where it was sent back to SC and veronica taken from her father who by then had had physical custody of her from 12/31/11 to July 2013 - 19 months. Complete timeline here

Dustin is a man of integrity and ethics who has remained in an amicable relationship with his former wife who credits him for being a good, involved father to the child they share.

Dustin was fully supported by the Indian community, but in the court of public opinion there is no doubt who to blame: Dustin Brown.  Dustin has been trashed in the media as a deadbeat dad who didn’t want to be father and signed his rights away. To adoptive parents and most of the public, the blame begins and ends with him for wanting his own daughter!

Matt and Melanie Copobianco

Apparently, unbeknownst to Dustin, Veronica’s father, Christie chose to give their child for adoption to the Copobiancos of Charleston, SC. She said she felt an immediate connection to these unrelated people she had located looking through ‘files’ and allowed them in the delivery room to the cord after delivery. They raised her in an adoption that was open to Christie for 27 months.

The public rallied around the couple all throughout the battle with websites like  The media portrayed them as loving, distraught “parents” who were having “their” child taken from them and the public ate it up. The entire adoptive parent community and adoption industry media machine was behind the Copobiancos.

Yet, reformers any within the adoption community were – and still are - outraged with fury and point all ten fingers of blame squarely on the Copobiancos calling then selfish and entitled continuing to pursue a child they knew from the start was wanted by her father.  And they were fully supported and cheered on in this child snatching by a pro-adoption culture that permeates and has totally brainwashed our culture backed by a mega-billion dollar industry media machine that puts a spin on anything and everything adoption related, changing language and lying all to keep the babies and the money they bring flowing. And the public eats it up like hot dogs at a baseball game!  Cheering hooray for adoption! 

The Copobiancos are loudly and vehemently cast as the villains for keeping this child in a tennis match in which she was both the ball being bounced back and forth and the coveted prize when they could and should have returned the child the minute they knew the child had a capable father who was protesting the adoption and certainly should have left her with him once they lost custody and the child was removed and formed a bond with Dustin and his wife.

The anger for them among adoptees and mothers who have lost children to adoption is off the charts rage and pure unadulterated hatred! They and they alone are painted as THE monsters in this case by the adoption activist community for not letting go from the start or after the court decision in Dustin’s favor…but dragging it on and on now, when Veronica is four years old and old enough to really form clear cognitive memories. 

Their behavior is nothing less than despicable, some say reprehensible.

The Courts

The courts certainly bare culpability as well. The failed this child again and again flip flopping back and forth with black or white choices and no comprises. Under adoption law there are winners and losers and no way to compromise. It is preposterous that a case involving a child can go back and froth with arguments being made about her custody as if she were an automobile and her adoption just a contract for her sale. 

Family court denied the request of guardian ad litem that favored Dustin back in 2011.

Supreme Court Judge Scalia had scathing words for the decision on this case:
"The Court's opinion, it seems to me, needlessly demeans the rights of parenthood. It has been the constant practice of the common law to respect the entitlement of those who bring a child into the world to raise that child. We do not inquire whether leaving a child with his parents is 'in the best interest of the child.’ It sometimes is not; he would be better off raised by someone else. But parents have their rights, no less than children do. This father wants to raise his daughter, and the statute amply protects his right to so do. There is no reason in law or policy to dilute that protection."
The courts clearly failed this child.

Christie Maldonado

Christie, the one who put the whole adoption plan in motion through deceit and less than honest and open communication or informed consent of never mentioned by either side. Never held culpable. Never blamed. She gets off scot-free.

Christie sent Dustin a text message asking if he would rather pay child support or relinquish his parental rights. He responded via text message that he relinquished his rights, not ever hearing one word about any plan for adoption, he assumed he was allowing Christie to have sole custody, as opposed to joint custody.

Dustin was totally unaware that months prior to the baby's birth Christie had begun to work with an adoption attorney to place the child with Matt and Melanie Copobianco of South Carolina. Although Oklahoma law requires that when the case involves involves a child of indian decent, the tribe be notified, Maldonado's attorney misspelled Brown's name and provided an incorrect date of birth, so the tribe was not put on notice of the proposed adoption. After receiving permission from Oklahoma authorities, based in part on the identification of the child as Hispanic instead of Native American, the Copobiancos took the child to South Carolina.

The Copobiancos were dead wrong, but, Christie Maldonado, Baby Veronica's natural mother, in my opinion is THE most culpable person in this debacle. Christie chose the Copbiancos, and not just encouraged them, she insisted that they never give up. She attended every court procedure, at their side, speaking on their behalf, defending their right to her child as her sole wish, deriding Dustin Brown. She steadfastly waged a campaign of public character assassination against Dustin and supported the Copobiancos every move; every battle to keep the child away from Dustin. Her motives were pure hate for her ex.

Christie not only GAVE the Copobiancos motivation to continue, relentlessly, she gave then justification personally and publicly. With her on their side, they were not taking a child away form her father, they were upholding the never wavering wishes of the child's mother. 

Christie attended every court proceeding alligned with and supporting the Copobiancos, and went as far as telling "the state court that she would nullify her consent to the child’s adoption if Veronica were not to live with the Copobiancos." 

Dale Dove, the attorney who represented Christie for the Supreme Court proceedings said“This is a case that promotes the rights and choices of the birth mother who’s taking the lion’s share of the burden. I am thrilled that they’ve decided it in a way that protects the adoption plans of birth mothers.”

Read more here:

Even those of us within the adoption community who are as far as we can be philosophically from the pro-adoptionists and the Industry … are so focused on solely blaming the Copobiancos and so wont to ever see a birthmother as anything but the wounded party - as she too often is - that we unintentionally have painted a not well-intentioned, innocent, coerced mother with the same brush we use for those whose vulnerabilities are exploited by the adoption machine.

Christie Maldonado, of all people, could have used whatever leverage she had to help resolve this case through a mediated open adoption or at the very least a demand for visitation, Instead she - like the Copobiancos and the law - saw the child as a piece of merchandise to dispute ownership of.  

She of all people, as a MOTHER, should have and could have fought for her CHILD's best interest over that of all the adults. Instead she orchestrated the battle and acted throughout to destroy the possibility of a reunification of a child and her kin, her heritage and a father who loved and wanted her, acting like far too many divorcing couples who use children as weapons in a perceived war.  She was angry mother in a divorce and she used the Copobiancos to do HER dirty work of taking her child from Dustin!  And she used the Copobiancos to do her dirty for for her and pay all the legal fees.  

It was Christie, the natural mother, who set this all in motion by making a sole decision for the adoption of a child who had a father. She disregarded him from the start and then blamed him for not being involved. She was less than honest in her intent, leading Dustin Brown to believe he was signing custody over to her, without revealing her intent to place the child one she had him sign off on his rights. She tricked him!!  This was an evil and immoral thing to do and showed from the start of the process her lack of ability to put the needs of her child over her anger at this man she created this innocent baby with.

It is hard for me to say these things – to point a finger of blame at a “sister” birthmother who “lost” a child to adoption, but no generalizations can be made about any group of people. There are good and bad in every race, religion and there are good and bad adoptive parents and good and bad birth parents.

I recognize and award adoptive parents who do the right thing in order to encourage more to do so. And I recognize when a mother does the WRONG thing, as is the case here. I am able to admit that there are some mothers who are incapable of making safe, healthy choices for the well being of their children, often because of substance abuse or mental illness. I encourage extended family care in such cases, but to ignore the reality and claim or believe ALL mothers and fathers should have custody of their children, is dogmatic and inherently wrong and makes anyone saying it lose all credibility and paints adoption reformers as stringent anti-adoptionists who defend mothers right or wrong.

Loving, caring parents who are capable should maintain their rights and that was the case here with Dustin Brown. Dustin was duped by Veronica’s mother who put her anger above her child’s best interested and insisted she be raised by strangers rather than her own blood kin. And that started and ended this case for Veronica. It was what encouraged the Copobiancos to continue to pursue no matter what and influenced all the court decisions.

Where was court ordered mediation, as is done in divorces and custody battles? Where was a guardian ad litem to represent the child's interest throughout this or any disputed adoption? Where was court ordered visitation or slow transition for any of the transfers of this innocent, tiny human being tossed about like a ship in a storm, hither and yon, calling different sets of people Mommy and Daddy so many times in her young life, and suffering abandonment upon abandonment? Will she ever be able to trust again? Where were her interests in any of this?

The case may have reached its end. There is a slim chance Oklahoma refuses to hand over the child based on the time time, her age, and the bonds she has formed with her FAMILY. 

Who is to blame for this tragedy? The razor sharp divisiveness continues with the divide remaining as a battle between Dustin Brown and Matt and Melanie Copobianco, with Christie never mentioned, never dragged into any of the controversy, barely ever mentioned in the media except as “the natural mother.” She is protected and spared all blame and culpability, unjustifiably in my sole opinion. She is the unspoken of elephant in the middle of this fiasco that the public, the media and even we in adoption reform have left unscathed.

Christie Maldonado orchestrated this cruel circus every step of the way from her very first deceit to Dustin, to choosing the Copobiancos, standing by them to this day, and publically slandering her child’s father. I say shame on Christie and some stones should be cast where they need to be.  The Copobiancos never would have been in the picture, much less able to succeed had it not been for the choices made and reaffirmed every step of the way by Christie Maldinado.

Bad mother of year award goes to Christie Maldonado for putting her anger before the best interest  of her child, for deceiving and berating her child's father.

Collateral Damage: Innocent Victims

And in the wake of this war, like any war, there is are innocent people hurt. Veronica's sister and grandparents are among them.   Also, Dustin's current wife who totally her role as mother to Veronica and who the child called Mommy for a year. 

UPDATE: Christie Moldinado has sued the federal government, saying a law governing the placement of Indian children is unconstitutional
Read more:                                                             


Anonymous said...

Mirah, the father has had his daughter since 12/31/2011 to present....not 07/12 to 07/13. That's an important additional 7 months...19 months total!! She does not remember those other people!!

Anonymous said...

While I agree that birthmother is culpable in this case, comparing her to Casey Anthony is quite extreme. There are many birthmothers who have behaved far worse such as all the birthmothers who give birth in Utah to deny the father his parental rights. The conduct of the birthmother in the Terry Achane case could be considered criminal (parental abduction).

I don't have much sympathy for Dustin in this case, he gave up his parental rights so he wouldn't have to pay child care. He didn't deserve to get them back.

The real victim here is the child of course. Its unfortunate that she has been moved around without any regard for her best interests. The fault here lies with the ICWA which appears to disregard the best interests of the children it affects. It's absurd to apply the law to a child with less than 2% Cherokee heritage. Its far more accurate to describe the child as hispanic than describing her as Native American. I am not sure the law benefits real Native American children either if so many of them end up in foster care.

Mirah Riben said...

I totally agree that the Casey Anthony comparison was too harsh and will fix that.

And we all agree the child's best interests were disregarded in this case. I thus totally DISAGREE with your other two points.

A child's best interest is ALWAYS served by remaining with kin who are capable and willing to care for their child. Adoption by a non-related should always be a last resort when there is no extended family to care for a child in a safe and healthy manner. That was not the case here.

Her Native American is something she should also be entitled to and not torn from. It is HER heritage! Her history, her linage. Everyone should have an unalienable right to know theirs, but adoptees are denies that right.

This adoption should never have taken place and should have been and stayed reversed from the moment her father stepped up to the plate and requested it be reversed. It is not a child's interest to separate her form her kin when they are capable as Dustin has proven himself to be. He was duped. At worse, he made a bad call which he moved IMMEDIATELY to undo!

Anonymous said...

These South Carolina stalkers are just outright demonic. A lot of people over the past day or so are saying that (although the results are tragic) the fight is over. Is that really true? Why don't the Browns seek humanitarian political asylum in Canada, Mexico or hell even the Hague.... Imagine an American citizan going to the world court and saying "My competancy as a parent has never been questioned. I am not only my daughter's natural father but also the only one she remembers. All I want is the right to raise her. If we remain in the U.S.A that right is threatened. We work hard, support our family, obey the law and will gladly learn the language of any country who will offer us political asylum. Who will help us?" What Royal Baby? The international press would be all over this story immediately. Hopefully they would not even have to be out of the country for long. To most of the world this story would be nothing more realistic than a horror movie. The attention of less adoption obsessed parts of the world is needed. Clare

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!! This baby girl belongs with HER FATHER!!!!! He should have all rights to her, he is her Father!!!!! Why would these adoptive parents have any rights at all? If he was unfit, then that’s a different story!!! He’s there, he’s trying, he loves her, she loves him!!!!! You finally have a good father/daughter case & you’re trying to take away his child!!! And to make matters worse, he is a veteran, fighting for our country & his life, NOW he has to fight for his rights to HIS child? WTC is wrong with this world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MOM GAVE HER UP, HER NATURAL FATHER LOVES HER & WANTS HER & HAS EVERY RIGHT TO HER, GIVE HIM (HER FATHER) HIS BABY GIRL, GIVE BABY GIRL HER DADDY (IT IS HER RIGHT TO HAVE HER FATHER)……….END OF STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

An elder once said to me "One drop Sioux, all Sioux."

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget