It all began at the start of the year, when adorable 2-year-old Veronica was removed from her adoptive parents’ home as a result of the ICWA, and transferred to her birth father. From that day on, there has been no rest for the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW).
Many citizens of the South Carolina town where Veronica was raised witnessed the emotionally inhumane transfer of custody, and a campaign began immediately to“SAVE VERONICA ROSE.”Veronica’s story soon brought national attention to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
CAICW has never seen this kind of reaction before. THOUSANDS of supporters joined Veronica’s Facebook page, and as of this writing, more than 20,000 have signed a petition to Congress to change the ICWA.
A Recap of Veronica’s Story
While pregnant, Veronica’s Latina birth mother had selected Matt and Melanie to become Veronica’s adoptive parents—to love, nurture and raise her child. Although Veronica’s birth father knew the approximate period of time in which Veronica was to be born, he made no contact with her mother during the pregnancy. And because the birth mother didn’t want to marry, the father told her he wasn’t going to support the child. In South Carolina, where the mother resides, the law states that unless a father is physically and financially involved during a pregnancy, and in a timely manner following birth, he is considered to be an absentee father and therefore does not have standing in court. This law is in place to allow a mother time and opportunity to make necessary decisions in the face of abandonment.
In early January 2010, when Veronica was about four months old, her birth father signed papers agreeing to relinquish parental rights to his daughter. Shortly afterward he changed his mind. The Oklahoma state court dismissed his late attempt at intervention, but because of his 3 percent Cherokee heritage, the Cherokee Nation intervened in the adoption proceedings and argued that this happy, healthy two-year-old be transferred to her birth father. As a result of the
ICWA, a family court judge ruled in his favor.
Up until this time, Veronica was a thriving child residing in a stable, nurturing environment. To this day,Veronica’s birth mother remains committed to her original decision. On December 31, 2011, with less than two hours of “transition” time, Veronica was handed over to her biological father. She was placed in a car with literal strangers and taken miles from the only home she had known since birth.
On January 6, 2012, in order to allow Veronica’s supporters to be protected
under a legal entity and receive a tax deduction for donating to the family’s legal defense fund, “Save Veronica” officially became an advocacy and awareness campaign of CAICW.
Veronica’s parents appealed the custody decision, but this past July the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the ICWAlaw, ruling that Veronica remain with her birth father. On Monday, October 1, 2012, the legal team for the parents filed a petition for review with the United States Supreme Court for their case involving the ICWA. We will know in January if the court will accept the case.
On Thursday, October 18, 2012 Veronica’s story aired on the Dr. Phil show. Representatives of the Cherokee Nation as well as Veronica’s birth parents were interviewed. Much of the discussion centered around whether the ICWA was actually working to protect the rights and well being of children as it was originally intended to do, or whether the law was creating a situation where the
rights of tribes supersede the rights and welfare of the children. The show has ignited a firestorm of responses, which CAICW regards as clear indication of the need to further educate the public about ICWA and the unintended damage it is causing to families and children across the country.
CAICW continues to advocate for the return of Veronica to her adoptive parents, and we encourage all of our supporters to contact your congressional representatives and impress on them the need to change the outdated ICWA law.