Family seeks deal in Cherokee custody case

(Family Photo)

Family seeks deal in Cherokee custody case

CREATED Aug. 10, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug. 16, 2013
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) -- Two families seeking custody of a 3-year-old girl filed a mediation agreement Friday while attending hearings in Oklahoma and tribal courts to determine the best course forward for the child.
Supporters of Dusten Brown cheered as he and his wife entered a Cherokee Nation courthouse Friday afternoon to argue his daughter Veronica shouldn't be adopted by the South Carolina couple who raised her until she was 2.

And the couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, was jeered as they attempted to enforce a South Carolina court order that finalized their adoption.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in June that Brown had no valid claim to the girl under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Both couples attended a hearing first in state court in Cherokee County regarding visitation, and then in tribal court regarding guardianship. But after all the proceedings, the girl remained with Brown and his family, where she's been since 2011.

Cherokee County Court Clerk Shelly Kissinger says paperwork was filed in state court noting that a mediation agreement has been filed.

She said the agreement is sealed, and lawyers and spokespersons for both sides said they couldn't talk about the case, citing gag orders in both courts. The couples didn't speak, either.

Chants of "Cherokee children are not for sale," "Go back home to South Carolina" and "She's not yours" rang out when the Capobiancos passed outside tribal court.

Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, began fighting the Capobiancos when he discovered that the mother of his child intended to put Veronica up for adoption. The girl's mother is not Native American.

Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Cherokee Nation has a vested interest in the child and, if invoked at the right time, the law allows the tribe to take over the adoption proceedings

TULSA, Okla. (AP)  A South Carolina couple says they are willing to reach a compromise that would let them regain custody of a Cherokee child they tried to adopt several years ago.
A lawyer for Matt and Melanie Capobianco said Wednesday he was willing to meet with the child's biological father to "build a path forward." Melanie Capobianco said her goal was to "seek peace for our daughter."
A South Carolina judge finalized the adoption, but a Cherokee Nation court granted custody to the family of her biological father, Dusten Brown.
Lawyer Troy Dunn said he was seeking a private meeting with Brown, and that the Capobiancos said they would want Brown and the Cherokee Nation to be a part of the child's life after they regain custody.
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The Governor issued the following statement:

“Mr. and Mrs. Capobianco deserve an opportunity to meet with their adopted daughter. They also deserve the chance to meet with Mr. Brown and put an end to this conflict. It is important for Veronica’s sake that Mr. Brown and the Capobianco family resolve this matter quickly and grant closure to all parties. If Mr. Brown is unwilling to cooperate with these reasonable expectations, then I will be forced to expedite his extradition request and let the issue be settled in court.” – Governor Mary Fallin