COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Charleston-area couple trying to adopt a Cherokee girl on Monday called on federal law enforcement to help them bring the child to South Carolina, saying they'll take the matter into their own hands if necessary.
"Send someone to the location our daughter is being held and work with us to bring her home. No more delays and no more excuses," Matt Capobianco said during a news conference in his James Island neighborhood. "Our daughter has been kidnapped, and I expect the situation to be treated as such."
Matt Capobianco said he would go to Oklahoma himself to retrieve Veronica if that request is denied, adding that he expected to receive support from local authorities if anyone tried to stand between him and the girl. A spokeswoman for South Carolina U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The Capobiancos have been trying to adopt 3-year-old Veronica since her birth in 2009 and raised the girl for two years. She has been living with her biological father, Dusten Brown, in Oklahoma since 2011, when South Carolina's Supreme Court ruled that the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which governs the placement of American Indian children, favored him as her custodian.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina courts should decide who gets to adopt Veronica, and the state court said the Capobiancos should raise the girl. Last week, South Carolina Family Court Judge Daniel Martin finalized the couple's adoption, approving a transition plan detailing a gradual process for reintroducing the girl to the Capobiancos.
Brown has been in Iowa serving on duty with the Oklahoma National Guard since late July and his parents have been caring for Veronica. South Carolina authorities issued a warrant for his arrest Saturday, charging Brown with custodial interference for failing to appear with the girl for a court-ordered meeting with the Capobiancos Aug. 4 — a date the couple has said was set by the judge and to which Brown's attorneys did not object.
A spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation, which supports Brown's efforts, has called the charge "morally reprehensible" and "legally questionable." Over the weekend, Brown was allowed to return to Oklahoma, and he was expected on Monday to attend a tribal court hearing that had been requested by an attorney representing Veronica. Details about the hearing were not immediately available.
Bruce Smith contributed to this report from Charleston.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP