I have written several times over the past year about the Baby Veronica case. As an infant, little Veronica was given up for adoption by her birth mother after it appeared that the father had abandoned her. However, the father. who was part Native American, later asserted his custodial rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act. In 2011, a South Carolina family court judge ruled in favor of the father. As a result, the child – who had now lived with her adoptive family for almost all of her two years – was ripped out of the arms of the only mother and father she had ever known. She was placed in the car of a man who was a stranger, and was driven away.
The adoptive parents appealed, and the decision was ultimately overturned. An appeals court ruled that the child must be returned to the adoptive parents. The father then appealed to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided not to intervene. That meant the prior ruling would stand. It was final. The case was over.
Baby Veronica – who had by now lived with her biological father for more than a year, and had probably bonded with him – would have to be returned to her adoptive parents.
But that’s not the end of the story.
When the time came for the biological father to hand the child over, he was nowhere to be found. The Sheriff’s Office in Charleston, South Carolina issued a warrant for his arrest. On Monday, the father turned himself in. He was taken into custody and later released on a $10,000 bond.
Then, after his release, the father once again, disappeared — and Baby Veronica is missing.
Over the weekend, the father told CNN that he is willing to go to jail. “I’m going to fight till I have no fight left in me and till they say you can’t fight no more. This is my daughter. It’s not a yo-yo that I can just say, hey, I borrowed it for two years and here’s it back.”
The adoptive parents are grief-stricken. They recently gave this statement: “With every passing hour, we fear more and more for her safety and well-being. If anything should happen to our daughter while she’s being left in the hands of those who hold her captive from us, the responsibility will be shared by many.”
Meanwhile, Baby Veronica remains in the eye of the hurricane. She is the innocent victim here. This poor child has been bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball. Each time she has the chance to bond with an adult caregiver, she is yanked away and handed to someone else. By now, she may have developed emotional scars that could last a lifetime.
This is a stunning example of how children can fall through the cracks of the legal system. Father’s have rights. Mother’s have rights. Grandparents, and step-parents, and biological parents, and adoptive parents all have rights. But in the process of asserting those rights, sometimes the best interests of the child are forgotten. Sometimes, while the war is being waged in one courtroom after another, children like Baby Veronica are damaged. And when that happens, it affects us all.
Gary Frank, has been a courtroom litigator in the Family Law arena for over thirty years, and is a strong and committed advocate for his clients. In addition to being a litigation attorney, Mr. Frank has acted in the capacity of a Judge Pro Tem in the Maricopa County Superior Court. This has given him an understanding of the inner-workings of the court, and a unique perspective that most attorneys lack. He has also acted, for many years, as a professional mediator of Family Law disputes. We handle a full range of Family Law matters, including divorce, custody / legal decision-making, parenting-time, child support, spousal maintenance, division of property and assets, modification and enforcement actions, as well paternity/maternity cases, grandparent or non-parent custody and visitation actions, and relocation/move-away cases. If you are in need of a consultation regarding any area of Family Law, please do not hesitate to give our office a call today at 602-383-3610; or feel free to contact us through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com; or by email at [email protected]. We’d be happy to help you.