Baby Veronica’s birth mother has added her name to a federal lawsuit asking that the U.S. Attorney General declare parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act to be unconstitutional.
This is a new lawsuit and not a part of the Veronica case, in which the South Carolina and United States supreme courts supported the adoption of a Cherokee child by a South Carolina couple.
The child’s birth mother, Christina Maldonado, is protesting the circumstances that led to a drawn-out custody battle. The suit was originally filed by another birth mother, Samantha Lancaster, who may have a planned adoption blocked because she is of Cherokee descent.
Lori Alvino McGill, an attorney for Maldonado said:
“These women have filed this lawsuit in order to protect their rights, otherwise respected under state law, to choose fit and stable adoptive placements for their birth children—and to protect the constitutional rights of their children to be treated like all other children, irrespective of an accident of heritage.”
Maldonado chose Matt and Melanie Capobianco of James Island to adopt her baby, but under ICWA, Veronica is also a member of the Cherokee Nation, a sovereign entity.
Alvino McGill said that in the Samantha Lancaster case, “The Cherokee Nation has taken the position that it may deem her child a member of the Nation solely on account of a trace of Indian blood—and thus make her an ‘Indian child’ within the meaning of ICWA—over her fit parents’ objection—even though no parent has ever had any tie to any Tribe, nor wishes to.”
In the Veronica case, the U.S. and State Supreme Courts decided that ICWA does not apply to the birth father’s complaint and that the adoption should proceed. But the Cherokee Nation has sued, saying Veronica is the one protected under the act and should be granted a hearing to determine what is in her best interests.