On Dec. 31, 2011, Veronica was removed from her home in Charleston, South Carolina where she was a happy, thriving 2 1/2 year old little girl. The reason for her removal? The misapplication of the controversial Indian Child Welfare Act. Veronica is a multiracial child, predominantly Hispanic and Caucasian and approximately 1 percent Cherokee. Her birth father, who would have otherwise had no rights under state law, used this federal law to block Veronica’s adoption.
Veronica was removed from her family, friends and community without any transition period. She was home one day and gone the next. Immediately following her abrupt transfer, a groundswell of supporters surrounded Veronica and her adoptive family – a grassroots campaign named Save Veronica was born with a mission to ensure Veronica was returned back to her rightful parents, the parents chosen for her by her birth mother. Her family and birth mother have not been allowed to see or speak to her in 19 months.
More than 30,000 courageous individuals came together to stand up for Veronica’s rights – we became her voice. Despite the odds, after months of raising awareness and standing behind Veronica, her birth mother and her adoptive family, Veronica’s case found its way to the steps of the United States Supreme Court on April 17, 2013.
On June 25, 2013, on behalf of the court, Justice Samuel Alito issued a ruling confirming that, just as we had said all along, the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply to Veronica’s adoption and reversed the South Carolina Supreme Court’s prior order. Despite the odds, we had won at the U.S. Supreme Court! Moreover, Justice Alito expeditiously remanded the case back to the state Supreme Court, a rare occurrence that has happened only twice in the last 15 years.
Upon receipt of their orders from the U.S. Supreme Court, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered that Veronica’s adoption be finalized and she be returned to her family and home in Charleston. Chief Justice Jean Toal reiterated the court’s ruling by denying all petitions for a rehearing, sending the case immediately to Charleston County Family Court to determine a transition plan centered around Veronica’s best interests. Finally, on July 31, the family court presented Matt and Melanie with their adoption decree and ordered a thoughtful transition plan.
We are so grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court, S.C. Supreme Court and Charleston County Family Court agree Veronica should be allowed to come home to her family. Let them find it in their hearts to return her in a way that respects her needs, despite their feelings of loss.”
Save Veronica has made great progress in helping bring Veronica home. The reality is she’s not home yet. Now that Matt and Melanie are officially Veronica’s parents, we ask everyone to please pray for a healthy, safe return – a return that is sensitive to Veronica’s needs. Keep everyone involved in your thoughts in the coming days as we look forward to seeing Veronica reunited with her family, friends and community.