NICWA's Terry Cross: In Defense Of Dusten Brown
It took more than a year for Brown to fulfill his obligations to our country, completing his service honorably and admirably. Only upon his return could the adoption hearing occur. When the South Carolina Family Court finally heard the case, it denied Adoptive Couple's petition to adopt. More importantly, the court found that Brown "did not voluntarily consent to the termination of his parental rights or the adoption; and [that Adoptive Couple] failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Father's parental rights should be terminated or that granting custody of Baby Girl to Father would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to Baby Girl."
When these are the facts, why have they been seldom mentioned? This winter, as I followed the case of another military father embroiled in a custody case that closely paralleled the one involving Brown, I often wondered this. In the case, Terry Achane, a U.S. Army drill instructor, won custody of his daughter from a Utah couple after it was revealed that his estranged wife cut off all communication with him while he was deployed and gave the child up for adoption without his consent.
While initially indicating they would fight the ruling, the Utah couple changed their minds. Their attorney explained that because they "love the child deeply and want her to succeed in life, they are willing to put her needs before their own hopes and desires and would rather drop the appeal than risk the child suffering potential psychological and emotional consequences."
The outpouring of support for Achane stands in stark contrast with Brown's treatment in the media. However, the tide is changing. The media has started to dig deeper in its reporting. As they do, more light is shed on Dusten Brown as a father and veteran. I can only hope that once these facts come to light, the same public that has vilified Brown will come to recognize him simply as a man who loves his daughter very much.Terry Cross is a member of the Seneca Nation and the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association in Portland, Oregon. Media Contact: Nicole Adams, +1-503-754-0466, firstname.lastname@example.org SOURCE National Indian Child Welfare Association
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