Press Release


Media Advisory: For Immediate Release

To arrange an interview or if you have questions, please contact the Adoption Institute’s Chief Executive, April Dinwoodie, at 617-763-4089 or


NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2013 – The Donaldson Adoption Institute’s Executive Director, Adam Pertman, today depicted the Baby Veronica case – in which a 4-year-old girl has been returned by her Cherokee father to the custody of the couple who fought to adopt her – as a “cautionary tale about what can happen when everyone’s rights are not fully addressed at the start, when all the legal iii’s are not dotted, and when the impact on the child is not placed front and center.”

Irrespective of how anyone feels about the outcome, said Pertman, “several legal and human lessons can and should be learned from this heart-wrenching story.” Among them are:

  • All parties in such cases, notably including the courts, should work mightily to resolve them far more quickly. Taking years to do so creates situations that are legally and financially problematic for the adults and emotionally damaging to everyone involved, especially the child.
  • The rights of all parties – pointedly including birth parents and, in cases involving Native Americans, the provisions spelled out by the Indian Child Welfare Act – need to be seriously factored in from the start. Clearly, not doing so can lead to painful and protracted legal battles.
  • While it may be complicated and difficult for the competing adults, retaining a child’s contact and/or communications between her family of origin and her pre-adoptive parents can moderate the negative repercussions on her, irrespective of who ultimately receives custody.

“The open-adoption model, in many cases, is probably a key way that simultaneously offers the prospect of shortening the custody process while also mitigating the emotional issues, such as loss, that a child will inevitably have to deal with in such situations,” said Pertman. He added that it was a positive sign that Baby Veronica’s pre-adoptive parents in South Carolina – into whose custody she was placed Monday evening – have promised to keep her connected to her father and her tribe.

The Donaldson Adoption Institute is the leading research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership that improves laws, policies and practices – through sound research, education and advocacy – in order to better the lives of everyone touched by adoption. To learn more about our work, go to

The Institute published a report several years ago titled ” Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process.” For more information about our work, or to arrange an interview, please contact Chief Executive April Dinwoodie at 212-925-8049 or