OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday said it won't intervene in an adoption dispute involving a Cherokee girl and dissolved a court order that was keeping her with her father.
It wasn't immediately clear whether 4-year-old Veronica would remain in the Cherokee Nation, where she's been living with her father, Dusten Brown, and his family while Brown appealed court orders finalizing the adoption to Matt and Melanie Capobianco of South Carolina.
Brown and the Capobiancos had been negotiating for the past week but failed to reach a settlement by Monday. Representatives from both sides said they did not immediately have a comment on the state Supreme Court ruling.
Veronica's birth mother, who is not Native American, was pregnant when she put the girl up for adoption, and the Capobiancos had been lined up to adopt the girl.
But a tribal court later found that the Capobiancos have no valid claim to her. Her father claims federal law favors his keeping custody of the child and he won custody of her when she was 2 years old. But the U.S. Supreme Court then said the Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply to the case.
Brown and his family claim the Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that the child be raised within the Cherokee Nation. The law was passed in 1978 with the intent of reducing the high rates of Native American children being adopted by non-Native American families.
A South Carolina court cited the law when awarding Veronica to Brown in 2011, but the U.S. Supreme Court this year said the law did not apply because he had been absent from the child's life. A South Carolina court then finalized the adoption to the Capobiancos and ordered Brown to hand Veronica over. Brown refused and is facing extradition back to South Carolina to face a charge of custodial interference.
Meanwhile, two Oklahoma courts certified the South Carolina order finalizing the adoption to the Capobiancos. Brown is appealing those certified court orders.
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