7.18.2013

# 80: DEAR BABY VERONICA




PAGE # 80
Thursday
7/18/13
This morning


Dear Baby Veronica,

The first thing I did this morning, even before getting out of bed, was Google the words "Baby Veronica" to see if there were any updates regarding your court case.  And there were.  I already knew that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (a federal statute) in your case.  They did not decide on your final destination, however, and sent your case straight back to the state level to make that determination.

This morning, I learned that after living with your biological father for the past one and a half years, the court has ordered you to return to the prospective adoptive parents--the people you lived with during the first two years of your life.  I'm upset.  For so many reasons.

1)  I don't know why so many news reports and articles refer to the prospective adoptive parents as the adoptive parents.  You were never adopted in the first place.  Your prospective adoption was contested by your biological father.  Who are these "news" people who can't even get their facts straight?  I imagine even a high school student in a journalism class ought to get an "F" for such a grand mistake.  And it is a gross error.  It impacts how the general public interprets your case--it causes the masses to rise in indignation against your biological father.  By incorrectly referring to the Capobiancos as your adoptive parents, the media has created a blindfold over the truth.  People cannot see because they have already decided that you belong, officially and legally belong, to a family other than your biological one.  General public opinion impacts real and concrete laws and practices regarding adoption.  If public opinion is formed in the absence of truth--well, as a society, we are setting ourselves up for more obfuscation.  I am sorry that facts of your life have been misrepresented across the country.  

2)  I am so terribly sad that you are ordered to leave the home of your biological father.  No matter one's legal opinion on your case, you are a little girl who is about to be taken away from her father.  I was really sad for you when you were removed from your first home as well.  I look at my daughter, Sara, who is only a few weeks younger than you and I cannot imagine her being tossed around like an object.  It's so unfair and you didn't do anything to deserve this.  

3)  If your situation is hard for me to process and leaves me with moments of ambivalence, well, I worry about you--how will you make sense of all this?  After reading a recent article that your biological mother wrote, I felt empathy for her struggle in this.  I was rooting for your biological dad, but then I felt confused.  I didn't know which side to take anymore.  It was a short-lived reaction, of course, because within the hour, I was back to rooting for your biological father.  I didn't want you to suffer the lifelong trauma of being adopted.  I worry how you will integrate the knowledge that the Capobiancos fought against your biological father.  You will be dependent on the Capobiancos.  If you go to live with them, you will be dependent on them for all your basic needs, from food to love.  You will be faced with psychological sabotage when you are old enough to understand how you came to be adopted.

4)  Growing up is hard, but now each and every developmental stage you encounter will be even harder.  I worry about potential attachment issues.  How will you ever feel secure when you have been ripped away from your earliest caregivers not just once, but twice?  When you reach school-age, I worry how your peers will speak about you.  Your case is now famous.  Your development has been usurped.  I hope your future classmates, their parents, and your teachers are sensitive to you.  I am sorry that the perception others have of who you are will exist prior to actually knowing you.  With these words, I too am making assumptions about your future.  I worry that people will interpret your behavior, your emotions, the very essence of who you are according to their opinion of your adoption situation.  I am sorry that your unfortunate circumstances have denied you freedom, that your life has started under this great shadow.  I hope the sun shines brighter around you so that you will feel its warmth despite this great shadow.

5)  I'm super angry that the state court made a decision without even considering what would be in your best interest at this time.  I believe this is a reflection of our society in general, not only in adoption.  We live in a culture where children are truly the ultimate marginalized population.   

6)  Much of your case has caused debate over the Indian Child Welfare Act.  I do not wish to diminish the significance of whatever impact this case has on Native American rights.  I am sorry, however, that the use, then later deemed misuse of a federal statute has possibly clouded a right even more basic than a cultural heritage.  We are children of our biological parents first and foremost, before accounting for the larger cultural group we have descended from.  There is a lot of hair splitting over percentages--some people think you are indeed entitled to be protected under the statute, others think you are not Cherokee enough.  I suspect your father simply wanted you, and the lawyers involved thought this was a means of saving you from adoption.  

7)  I am saddened that so many people are happy that you are to be removed from your biological father.  Online message boards are inundated with celebratory comments.  Even if your dad made legal mistakes regarding establishing his paternity during your fetal development, I cannot believe he has no right to his child.  It's not like he came along four years later.  He did not want you to be adopted.  He came along before you were adopted.  I hope people will forgive your father for whatever personal failures contributed to this outcome.  He is and will always be your biological father.  You have a right to love him.  You have a right to know that he loves you.  

8)  I worry that someday you will hate the Capobiancos for fighting your biological father.  I am having a had time understanding how anyone would want to force a child away from a biological parent.  It is hard to remain non-judgmental of your future adoptive parents.  I was in a similar situation to the Capobiancos but made a very different choice.  I am their antithesis.  I am trying to find potential redeeming qualities in a prospective adoptive couple who chose to fight a biological parent.  It is hard for me because I was in such a situation and did not make such a choice.  I want to believe the Capobiancos are good people.  I am trying to understand their course of action though it bewilders me at the moment.  I will keep trying.

9)  I'm angry at the legal system.  I wonder if there was ever an early conversation between all parties outside of lawyers and courtrooms.  When your biological father contested the prospective adoption, did the Capobiancos try to talk to him?  Will they speak to each other now?  Will all involved parties be able to come together on behalf of your best interests?   

10)  The irony of the United States Supreme Court's naming of this case is just too much.  The case is called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  Shame on you SCOTUS for mislabeling the Capobiancos.  They are not the adoptive parents.  At least not yet.  Please see item number one on this list.  I can hardly bare to reiterate why the misuse of language is dangerous here.  Federal Supreme Court case law with a misleading title!  Moreover, it is noteworthy that the case is v. Baby Girl.  Just think about it.  I am sorry, Baby Veronica, that your situation is even misrepresented on this level.  You surely are worth better care and consideration than this.

In conclusion, I wish Baby Veronica all the love, strength, and intelligence that will be required to navigate a lifetime of adoption trauma, public knowledge of that trauma, as well as these multiple early losses.  I hope all the adults in your world will find a way to preserve your connection with your biological family.  

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Author of "Where's Baby Lily, Mommy"
and Former Prospective Adoptive Parent 

13 comments:

Jay Iyer said...

Dear Jennifer,

Apologies for this long comment fueled by passion. You spoke my mind. Like you, I have been Googling "Baby Veronica" every day since the US Supreme Court heard the case. I had hoped you might blog on the recent developments.

I am deeply saddened that Veronica has been ordered abruptly returned to her prospective adoptive parents, with no best interests hearing. As a lawyer, I felt that Dusten Brown's legal position might be weak. In general, I believe it is more sympathetic to unwed mothers than unwed fathers.

While I believe legislation is required to amend the laws, no law can adequately secure the quality of life of a living, breathing, growing, physically and more importantly emotionally developing child. I understand the Capobianco’s fierce love of Veronica. She is the child they waited for, longed for. Nina, just as brown eyed and curly haired, is my Veronica: the longed-for child whose interests I am passionately devoted to promoting for the rest of her life. The difference between the Capobiancos and us is our view of how those interests are best met – and here is where it is hard for me not to feel that the Capobiancos are being selfish.

I remember when Nina first left our home to return to her mother. I stayed awake the night before, circling her little sleeping form with my body, full of worry that no one would protect her as I could, wanting to take off into the night with her, convinced only I could meet her needs. And then, prompted by my husband, I came to realize that all those thoughts of mine were born, at least in part, from a desire to keep this child for myself. Biology, her roots, her identity, is so important. Serious compromises to her safety and well-being can trump that – my selfishness cloaked in seemingly convincing arguments with myself that I could provide her with a better life simply could not.

Regardless of the past, Veronica has now experienced 19 months of being raised by her biological family. The Capobiancos assure the press they have sought so aggressively that they will do everything within their power to maintain contact with both of Veronica’s biological parents: an open adoption all around, if you will. It is patronizing to offer a child her biological connections as a consolation prize. Being raised in your identity is NOT the same as visiting it once in a while. I see that with Nina, even though had we been raising her as adoptive parents only a 20 minute drive from her biological family, she could easily have seen them every single day. I doubt very much that Veronica will have frequent contact with either of her biological parents, who live several hundred miles away from the Capobiancos. Dusten Brown has shown, in the past 19 months, that he loves his daughter, can clothe her, feed her and protect her – and he gives her her heritage ( Native American or otherwise, like you I feel this is important but not as much as fundamental biological lineage). There is no bigger prize for Veronica than that, and I had hoped the Capobiancos would see that she deserved this: courts, especially at the Supreme Court level, are often less able to consider these factors than us ordinary human beings.

I read the news of Veronica’s soon-to-be abrupt removal from her lineage just before I left to pick up Nina for a mini summer vacation at our home. And when her smiling form ran up to grab me in a strong, strong hug, I looked at her absolutely radiant mother, the dysfunctional situation of a few days ago overcome (which family doesn’t have its dysfunctional moments anyway?!!), and I shed a tear of joy for Nina’s gain and one of sorrow for Veronica’s loss.

One cannot predict the future of these young children. I simply hope that, someday into the future, Nina agrees that what we together are doing for her is indeed what was in her best interests. I simply hope that, someday into the future, Veronica arrives at that same conclusion in regard to hers.

Jennifer said...

Jay,

Great comments--you need to write a blog and/or book!

Jennifer :)

kym said...

Thank you both, for your courage, integrity, understanding and love for these children. While I'm sorry for your losses, I'm glad for their childhood and future that you helped give them.

Thank you for sharing your story of a love greater than yourself.

Please visit Facebook page: "Standing our Ground for Veronica Brown" to find the latest update and ways to support Veronica Brown. Postings on Thursday, July 25 include contact lists for house and senate to let them know that Veronica has rights and her future should be at the center of this entire quagmire.

Jennifer said...

Kym...

I've signed the petition and reposted here and on my Facebook page.

All the best,
Jennifer :)

Unknown said...

Kym and Jennifer, I signed the petition. But did you see how many more signatures there are to go? I am writing to every single person I know!

Jay Iyer said...

By the way, somehow I got signed in as "Anonymous" That was me, Jay, saying I signed the petition. Hope they make 100,000!

Jennifer said...

Jay,

I know--they really need support. The other side has a good friend who owns a PR team. Definitely unequal resources.

Jennifer

Jay Iyer said...

Yes, Yes, I have been following Jessica Munday's aggressive PR campaign on the Capobiancos behalf for years. She clearly is very competent at what she does. In addition, I think the vast majority of the public regard adoptive parents as unequivocally being the party able to provide a better life for a child because usually they are more well off and often better networked with friends, family and other resources as well.

I myself am guilty of doing that at one time. Early in Rayna's rehab, I made out two lists, side by side, of my strengths as a mother vs. Rayna's strengths - and I definitely came out on top in all the factors I listed above. I suppose I was trying to convince myself that i was the better mother for Nina, and I bet most of the public at large would have agreed with me.

As you say, Dusten Brown does not have a PR campaign. In addition, he and the various Native American organizations have been restrained and dignified in their comments to the press. Makes for an unequal battle, definitely.

I even read on one of the pro-Capobianco sites a question, asking, "Would you want to give your baby up to a Josh Powell? See your child get killed?!!!" Talk about libel!! Their PR campaign fed the public fears of Veronica ending up in a terrible home with her father like nobody's business.

*Peach* said...

Thank you so much for speaking up for Veronica and all adoptees.

Dana Seilhan said...

FYI, the Cherokee Nation does not determine membership by blood quantum but by ancestry--which makes membership in that tribe far more familial in nature than membership in most associations in this country.

So many fathers are deprived of their children through the machinations of the adoption industry that any straw this man can grasp to keep his daughter, I say he should hang on for dear life. He's been legally Cherokee his entire life, anyway.

And Jay is more generous than I am. I fail to see how anyone could do this sort of thing to a child out of "fierce love." Fierce entitlement, yes, probably. Did you hear that Veronica's mother's lawyer (who is possibly now one of the Capobiancos' lawyers) is best buds with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? True story.

Trace A DeMeyer said...

I shared this link on my American Indian Adoptees blog, in the post on Aug. 11. Thank you!

Jennifer said...

Dana,

Yes, I have read that somewhere about Chief Roberts being friends with the attorney. I am horrified but not surprised. The courts are full of corruption, though one would hope that at the SCOTUS level there would be some real justice. People should be outraged if this is in fact true.

I agree that the adoption industry steals babies from birth fathers. I wish more people would wake up--because even those who have no direct experience with adoption at this point, could be impacted in the future. I think of something like this happening to my own son and it makes me enraged.

I also agree that it is fierce entitlement. If the Capobiancos truly loved Veronica, they would let her go. They are so selfish. One has to wonder what could possibly be going on in their minds.

Thanks for taking the time to comment and for clarifying the point regarding Cherokee ancestry.

Best,
Jennifer

Janina said...

My heart breaks for little Veronica. I'm horrified and appalled at the actions of the Copiabanos -- taking a kid away from her natural father, who loves and wants to and it 100% able to care for her.

My heart breaks for what Veronica will think of the couple that appears set to adopt her, in just a few years when she googles herself!!