The Supreme Court sure has been busy this week. Not only did the justices make a landmark decision on DOMA, but their answer to the plea of a couple of adoptive parents in what's become known as the "Baby Veronica" case strikes right at the fears for parents looking to adopt everywhere.
Melanie and Matt Capobianco raised Veronica for two years as their daughter until her biological father won a case in state courts to have her returned to him in Oklahoma. Veronica's biological dad Dusten Brown said he'd never agreed to the adoption, and because he's Native American, he was able to use a federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to fight to get her back.
But now, 18 months after Veronica was sent back to live with Brown, the Supreme Court says the ICWA, which generally bars the adoption of a Native-American child by non-Indians, doesn't apply.
Because Brown had refused to financially support his ex-girlfriend (Veronica's mom) at the time of the adoption, and because he wasn't trying to get custody at that time, the high court says the little girl's mother DID have the right to place her for adoption with the Capobiancos.
The result is a giant, heartbreaking mess.
The Capobiancos can now go back to the state courts to try once again to get little Veronica back.
They might win, or Brown might.
Either way, there are a lot of losers here. Brown because he has been fighting for his little girl and caring for her for the past 18 months. The Capobiancos because they thought they were getting a happy ending when they adopted a child and instead it's turned into a nightmare. Veronica because she's been bounced around (and could be bounced some more).
I've noticed that in a lot of arguments about fertility, adoption is used as an easy out for folks -- as in, "Hey, you could just adopt!"
But the Baby Veronica case is yet another example of why it's not that simple.
Imagine giving birth to a child, loving her and caring for her for two years, and then suddenly having her wrested from your arms, sent to live with another family.
The security of what it means to be parents is something biological moms and dads take for granted. It's one of the many things adoptive parents fear.
Granted, cases like that of Baby Veronica don't happen every day. There are hundreds of thousands of adoptions that go through without a hitch.
But parents who have adopted kids often live life waiting for the other shoe to drop because of cases like Baby Veronica's. They're not sure if they'll be that case, if some technicality such as the ICWA could render their family illegal.
Adoption is a wonderful thing; it's been a blessing to millions of families over the years, my own included. But as we saw this week, it will never be the "easy" option.
Do you think the Supreme Court made the right call here? Should Veronica go back to the people who adopted her or stay with her biological dad?
Image via CNN