Veronica is a beautiful little four-year-old girl. She has lovely brown eyes, curly black hair, and a smile that could light the world in the midst of nuclear winter.
She is also the subject of one of the most controversial custody battles in this country, a battle involving the birth mother, the birth father, the adoptive parents and the Cherokee Nation. The case has gone from the family court in South Carolina to the South Carolina Supreme Court to the SCOTUS, back to South Carolina family court, to two courts in Oklahoma, and is now awaiting decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
How did this happen? Despite what you may have read elsewhere, there are no villains in this story. It is, rather, a tale of misunderstandings and faulty communication that would rival a Shakespearean comedy were the situation not so tragic.
Dusten Brown and Christy Moldanado knew one another and dated briefly in high school. Afterward they dated on and off. Brown married and divorced someone else somewhere along the line.
In February of 2008, Brown enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Fort Sill Oklahoma, four hours away from where Moldanado lived. In December of 2008, he proposed to her and she accepted.
In January of 2009, the woman informed him, by phone, that she was pregnant. The father, Brown, began to pressure her to move up the date of the marriage so the child would not be born out of wedlock. The mother did not wish to do this. By April their relationship was strained
It is not possible to know exactly what happened next. Each side tells it differently. Here is what the record from the Supreme Court of South Carolina has to say about that time in Veronica's story.
“Mother testified she ultimately broke off the engagement in May via text message because Father was pressuring her to get married. At this point, Mother cut off all contact with Father. While Father testified his post-breakup attempts to call and text message Mother went unanswered, it appears from the Record Father did not make any meaningful attempts to contact her.”
This would not, however, have prevented Brown from sending child support if he so chose. He knew where she lived. He could have sought legal help through the Army if he wished to establish himself as the father and provide support to the mother of his child. He did not do so.
In June, now six months pregnant, the mother sent Brown a text message telling him to either support his child or give up his legal rights. He returned two text messages saying he would give up his rights and a later text message saying that he was still trying to obtain the correct papers to give up his “rites” and when could his father come over and pick up his belongings from her home.
At this point, the mother, feeling she had been abandoned and unable to care for her yet unborn child alone, began to look at adoption agencies. She chose the family she felt would give her child the best home and the best future. She chose Matt and Melanie Capobianco.