No Winners in the 'Baby' Veronica Case
I want to get riled up, to get angry that 'Baby' Veronica has been returned to the adoptive parents. But I can't. I knew the story would take this turn, would end up in this way with the Capobiancos, the family who had custody for her first two years of life, coming out as victors and Brown, her biological father who fought for custody, as, simply put, the loser. But let's be point blank about this fact: There are no winners in this case.
Not the Capobiancos. Not Brown. Not the Cherokee Nation. Not the adoption industry. Not child welfare as a whole. Not the push for ethical adoption reform. Not our society. Not the two sons I am parenting. And most certainly, not Veronica. The losses go so deep and are so complex that I don't think we will truly understand the far-reaching implications of this case for years to come.
What I do know, from the reactions of people on Twitter last night is that adoption remains a vastly misunderstood and hot-button topic -- and rightly so. More so than the feelings, emotions, and money of adult parties involved, our children are at stake. When we refuse to look at that fact, first and foremost in any of the decision making processes, our children lose.
I set out to find some reactionary blogs on the news, and found myself weeping onto my keyboard. These following three posts highlight just a few of the far-reaching and complex issues this case brings to light. From the Indian Welfare Child Act to how we make legal decisions for children to feminism -- and beyond -- this case touches many groups of people in many different ways.
Yes, Veronica is gone. Yes, it is the saddest outcome for this case. Yes, I know we are weeping, mourning our loss, devastated. But while feeling all these things is natural, we have to carry on. Fighting for Veronica was a long and tough battle, but it was a battle in a more hellish war. Now that they have "won" Veronica, they are going after the Indian Child Welfare Act. They, the adoption agencies, and potential adoptive couples, want to dismantle it so they can take more of our children in the same way they took Veronica. We cannot let them do this.
Pick your hearts up, Cherokee women. Turn your sorrow into strength; your anger into energy.
Julie Shapiro makes a point not based solely on adoption speak but on how recognizing that more than one set of parents can be important in a child's life. All sorts of problems -- legal and otherwise -- can crop up with this argument, but maybe some of the compromises that would need to be made but maybe it's worth it for our children.
Still, if’ I’m attached to the idea that the law ought to reflect reality (and I am), then maybe it ought to recognize that more than just one set of parents may be crucial to a child’s life. It’s not that I think one can partition up decision-making authority (one of the key elements of parental rights). That’s not always possible or desirable. But surely there are other ways to recognize the important relationships that a child has–to recognize that the isolated nuclear family isn’t always where the child lives. This recognition would come at a cost, but maybe it is worth assessing whether the cost would be worth paying.
Over at Lost Daughters, the point that adoption is a feminist issue was raised -- point out that equality is the basis of feminism. However, Veronica's father did not have equality in this case.
As a feminist, I should make clear that I believe in the true definition of feminism … “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” But this assumes that men have rights.
In the case of Baby Veronica, her father did not have the rights that her birth mother did. He was misled. Birth fathers should have equal rights and protections, especially in the welfare of their children.
I am both interested -- and scared -- as to how this case will further effect adoption law in our country. One can only hope that ethical reforms will come about to keep something like this from happening to another child.
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