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Baby Veronica's Biological Dad, Cherokee Nation Drop Legal Fight

This July 21, 2013, photo provided by Shannon Jones, attorney for Dusten Brown, shows Brown with his daughter, Veronica.
This July 21, 2013, photo provided by Shannon Jones, attorney for Dusten Brown, shows Brown with his daughter, Veronica.

In an emotional statement on Thursday, Baby Veronica's biological father said he and the Cherokee Nation were dropping the legal fight to regain custody of the 4-year-old girl.

"I know we did everything in our power to keep Veronica home with her family," Dusten Brown said in Oklahoma. "Veronica is only 4 years old, but her entire life has been lived in front of the media and the entire world. I cannot bear for [it to continue] any longer.

"I love her too much to continue to have her in the spotlight. It is not fair for her to be in front of media at all times," he said. "It was the love for my daughter that finally gave me the strength to accept things that are beyond my control."

If you remember, the case — which went all the way to the Supreme Court and involved fundamental questions about parental rights and Native American autonomy — was about a Native American girl who was adopted by a couple in South Carolina but who had been living with her biological father for more than a year and a half after a South Carolina court ruled that a federal law aimed at keeping Native American families together was applicable.

On Sept. 24, months after the Supreme Court overturned that ruling and after a lower court lifted a stay, Baby Veronica was returned to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, her adoptive parents.

Brown said that day, he made the most difficult decision in his life. He said walking into Veronica's empty room has caused him the "worst pain I have ever felt."

Brown added that he knew the Capobianco family loves Veronica and he said he hopes they can come to a resolution in which he can still be part of her life.

Toward the end of his statement, Brown addressed his daughter:

"One day you will read about this time in your life. Never, ever for one second doubt how much I love you, how hard I fought for you or how much you mean to me," he said his voice trembling.

"My home will always be your home and you are always welcome in it. I miss you more than words can express," he said. "You'll always be my little girl, my princess. And I will always love you until the day I die. I love you and hope to see you soon."

The Tulsa World has posted full video of the statement.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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