Monday evening at around 7:30 p. m. in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, little Veronica Rose was reunited with her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. Veronica lived with the Capobiancos for the first 27 months of her life, but she has spent the most recent 21 months of her life with her birth father, Dusten Brown.
Earlier Monday, it was learned that after five consecutive days in a Tulsa, Oklahoma courtroom, the families could not reach an agreement regarding the custody issue.
Later in the day, however, the Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted the stay that had prevented Veronica's return to them. According to Jason Chennault, undersheriff in the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, the order came to them around 5 p.m.
The Brown family has been living in a house on Cherokee Nation property. Presumably the order was delivered there. The Brown family was given time to pack clothing and toys for Veronica.
Veronica was returned by 7:30 p.m. Her birth father was not present. She was, instead, delivered by Chrissi Nimmo, an assistant attorney general of the Cherokee tribe. She escorted the child to the Cherokee Nation's police headquarters. Melanie Capbianco asked Veronica if she could put her in the car seat and Veronica agreed. According to witnesses, Veronica did not cry.
Though Brown was not present at the turnover, according to his Charleston Attorney, Shannon Jones, he told Veronica that she was going to stay with the Capobiancos and they would be nice to her. He also told her that he loved her. He held in his emotions as he helped her pack, but burst into tears when she was out of sight.
It was, in fact, Brown who desired to make “peaceful and respectful transfer”, according to Todd Hembree, Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee had intended to have the court order returning Veronica to the Capobiancos domesticated in the tribal courts, but Brown felt the peaceful transfer was in Veronica's best interest.
Hembree, however, seems determined to carry on the fight. We will assess our legal options in the morning, he said. He also stated that he did not think the legal issues in this case are over.
The Capobiancos have not yet left Oklahoma and no plans for when they will have been revealed. Prior to the stay being lifted, they had several visits with Veronica. Contrary to what some had predicted, she not only remembered the Capobiancos but was very happy to see them. Newly released photos of the visits show her thoroughly enjoying her time with them.
There are, of course, no happy endings here. There has been a great deal of sadness all around. The Capobiancos have expressed a desire to keep Veronica's Oklahoma family in her life as well as her Indian heritage. In fact, court records show that they were taking measures to assure she would know her heritage when she originally lived with them.
Writer's note: There are some hysterical rumors around the Internet regarding Veronica's departure from the house where she had been staying. According to eye witnesses, none of these statements are true. The only part of this theatrics that is true is that Brown's father had a heart incident and had to be taken away in an ambulance, but Veronica had already left by that time.
Out of respect for the families, the series of feature articles “Veronica's Story” is temporarily on hold to give both families peace. However, the articles will continue after a while. There is still a great deal more to the story that has yet to be told.