This is the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl was a legal battle that entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.
When producer Tim Howard
first read about this case, it struck him as a sad, but seemingly straightforward custody dispute. But as he started talking to lawyers, historians, and the families involved in the case, it became clear that it was much more than that. Because Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl challenges parts of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, this case puts one little girl at the center of a storm of legal intricacies, Native American tribal culture, and heart-wrenching personal stakes.
A note from Jad:
"As you guys may know, our new podcast More Perfect is Radiolab’s first ever spin-off show. But I want to share something special with you: THE Radiolab episode that inspired us to launch this whole series about the Supreme Court. After we put out this episode we got hooked on the court and the kinds of stories we could tell about it. So we made More Perfect.
We reported this Radiolab story about three years ago. It’s about a little girl...but really it’s about so much more than that, too. Stay tuned to the end for an update about what has happened since."
The key links:
- An op-ed by Veronica's birth mom
, Christy Maldonado, in the Washington Post - Marcia Zug's article for Slate
on the original case that went to the South Carolina Supreme Court - Marcia Zug's article for Slate
criticizing the Supreme Court ruling - An op-ed by the New York Times Editorial Board
urging action from the Supreme Court - The official site for ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act
The key voices:
- Matt and Melanie Capobianco, Veronica's adoptive parents - Dusten Brown, Veronica's biological father - Christy Maldonado, Veronica's biological mother - Mark Fiddler, attorney for the Capobiancos - Marcia Zug, associate professor of law at the University of South Carolina School of Law
- Bert Hirsch, attorney formerly of the Association on American Indian Affairs - Chrissi Nimmo, Assistant Attorney General for Cherokee Nation - Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association - Lori Alvino McGill, attorney for Christy Maldonado
The key cases:
- 2013: Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl