"Baby Veronica" custody battle takes drastic turn

(CBS News) The biological father of a four-year-old girl involved in a custody battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court turned himself in Monday on charges of custodial interference.

The girl's adoptive father, Matt Capobianco, said the whole situation has "been a nightmare."

The Capobiancos with Veronica
The Capobiancos with Veronica
CBS News

"I mean, we just want our daughter back," Capobianco said.

Capobianco and his wife, Melanie, fear the next step in their fight for their adopted daughter could be police removing her from her biological father's home in Oklahoma.

"I'd feel awful about it," Matt said. "I'd feel -- it's the last thing we want, but our daughter's coming home, you know? I just hope they cooperate, you know. I beg them to cooperate."

For two years, the Capobiancos raised Veronica in their South Carolina home. Her biological father, Dusten Brown, had given up his parental rights. But later, Brown, who is Cherokee Indian, invoked a federal law that protects Native American children from being separated from their families. He was awarded custody 19 months ago.

"We told (Veronica) we loved her and we missed her and she told us I love you too," Melanie said. "'I love you mommy, I love you daddy.' And that was the last thing we ever said to her."

"Baby Veronica" dad turns self in, refuses extradition
Cherokee Indian girl's father faces charges in adoption dispute
Judge orders Cherokee girl in custody dispute back to adoptive parents in S.C.
New round in custody battle over 'Baby Veronica'

The hardest part of the whole ordeal, Melanie said, was "no knowing if my daughter was crying out for me, and not being able to do anything about it."

The Supreme Court ruled the federal law did not apply in this case because Brown gave up parental rights before the child was born. CBS News sat down with Brown shortly after the decision in June.

"To take her from us right now would devastate her, would ruin her world," Brown had said.

Since then, a South Carolina court has finalized Veronica's adoption and authorities there have charged Brown with "custodial interference" for failing to appear with Veronica at a court-ordered meeting.

Brown surrendered to Oklahoma authorities Monday morning. He's free on $10,000 bond.

Veronica and her biological father, Dusten Brown.
Veronica and her biological father, Dusten Brown.
CBS News

When asked what he would say to Dusten Brown, Matt said he wants him to know they are on the same side.

"I guess that I understand where he's at, 'cause I was there, and it's the hardest thing he'll ever have to do," he said. "But she's not coming to strangers. She knows us, we love her, we're gonna take good care of her. It's gonna happen. So please just, you know, let's all try and get along and do what's right for her."

Brown is free on bail. Veronica is currently being cared for by Brown's wife and his parents in Oklahoma. The Capobiancos have appealed to federal and state authorities to help bring their daughter back to South Carolina.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter