Almost seventeen years ago, I placed my daughter with an adoptive family in an “open” adoption. Back in the late ’90s, an open adoption – at least in my case – meant I would receive pictures up until the baby became a toddler and then a girl who blew out her fifth candle. The only information I would be offered was the adoptive parents’ first names and how much they wanted to start a family. They would know everything about me: that I was a minor, that the birth father came from a large extended family, but had not been present through my pregnancy and that I had a bright future except for the stain of a teenage pregnancy.
It’s true that I selected Tom and Linda, that I signed the papers, that it was “for the best” and all that. I never wrote a letter, sent a picture or made contact of any sort. That is, what I thought, birth mothers do: go off quietly and not make a fuss. And I didn’t and haven’t.
My daughter’s birth father did not go silently: yes, he signed away his parental rights, but he did so with trepidation — he was in no condition to parent alone as a minor and the pressure from his family to go along with what I wanted was swift and intense. He signed and then made noise: he sent presents for each birthday and became an unlikely Santa dropping off gifts to the adoption lawyer’s office. His persistence eventually granted him last names and then contact with Tom and Linda and eventually, the unthinkable to me, in-person access for him as well as his father.
Years later, when I would find out, I would be devastated.
Without strings attached, I asked him to forward along my email – just a paltry mishmash of letters – in case anyone, whoever that might be, would like to contact me. The adoptive family of our daughter cut him out of their lives. Just like that.
I can only speculate as to why, but I think I have a good idea.
The two of us speak, but no longer about our daughter – it is a topic he refuses to even mention. The pain runs far too deep for him; he lost her twice.
This is what I think about when I see the tearful pleas and prideful custody battle over “Baby Veronica.” No one disputes that both Veronica’s adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, and her biological father, Dusten Brown, have provided a loving environment for the almost four-year-old girl that has split her life between the two families. What is in question — and has been decided by the Supreme Court – is where and with whom Veronica will celebrate many more birthdays. In a 5-to-4 ruling, the Court sided with the Capobiancos, who are white, against Brown, who is a member of the Cherokee nation. It has been ordered that she be returned to South Carolina from Oklahoma where Brown resides.
Brown, despite the ruling, has yet to comply and recently turned himself in to Oklahoma authorities after failing to appear in South Carolina with Veronica.
Veronica’s birth mother supports the Capobiancos fight for custody against Brown who signed his parental rights away after the baby was born. Brown claims he was unaware the birth mother planned to place Veronica with an adoptive family and has fought to parent the girl since she was four-months old.
Dusten Brown deserves the right to parent his child without the continual intervention of the Capobiancos and Veronica’s birth mother.
Brown is clearly capable, competent and poses no danger. Veronica, by all accounts, will thrive in his care, so why the fight? Why, then, do the Capobianocs persist; even telling the Today Show, “We are not going anywhere.”
Perhaps they should. Quietly and without fuss.
Let this father raise his daughter. He shouldn’t have to lose her twice.
Photo Credit: KTUL