We introduced Dusten Brown to readers several weeks ago and provide here an update on what we termed his “extraordinary travails” as a father seeking to retain close ties to his daughter (please see our October 11, 2013, blog post).
As a quick refresher, Brown -- a Native American father from the Cherokee tribe -- was involved in a long-term legal battle in which he sought to assert his child custody rights to his biological child, the girl widely known in the media as Baby Veronica.
Brown lost that fight. While he was deploying to Iraq as an Army soldier, Veronica’s mother placed the child for adoption with a South Carolina couple. Brown has consistently maintained that he never approved of that, and he sued for custody.
He was initially successful, but ultimately lost custody when the United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that he could not rely on the Indian Child Welfare Act to reclaim his daughter, given that he lacked custody when adoption proceedings were commenced.
As we noted in our prior post, Brown recently capitulated, saying that he would no longer contest the matter out of concern that long-term acrimony would harm his daughter. He expressed his hope for regular visitation rights.
What he and the Cherokee Nation received recently instead was a demand from the adoptive parents’ pro bono attorneys to pay them $1 million for their work on the case. That development -- described as “punitive” in a media article covering the matter -- has raised other issues in the case, which a Huffington Post writer terms “dubious actions.” They include the following:
- The director of the adoption agency hiring her attorney spouse to represent the adoptive parents, creating a potential conflict of interest
- The adoptive parents securing and paying for the birth mother’s attorney, and reportedly rendering her payments
- The purposeful termination of contact between Brown and his daughter during pregnancy
- Inconsistencies and questions concerning the required and timely disclosure of Veronica’s Indian heritage as a prerequisite to moving her from Oklahoma, her birth state
The Post writer terms Brown a fit and caring father who lost custody because, sadly, he was “out-maneuvered.”
As we stated in our earlier post on this story, the case strongly points to the need for any father embroiled in a custody matter to secure prompt and proven legal counsel.
Source: Huffington Post, "The Baby Veronica saga: denial of a father's rights and now a $1 million lesson," Adam Pertman, co-authored by Bruce Boyer, Nov. 27, 2013