And Brown claims the biological mother tried to "conceal" his Indian heritage during the adoption process with the Capobiancos, who live in Charleston, South Carolina.
Establishing such heritage would normally make it very difficult for the Cherokee Nation and state social services to agree to any non-Indian adoption and removal from the state.
By this time, Brown was deployed to Iraq on a one-year deployment in the U.S. Army, making it hard to press his custody claims. Veronica lived with the Capobiancos for two years before the high court in South Carolina ruled for the father. Brown took his daughter back to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, on New Year's Eve 2011.
The state's top court that ruled in his favor said Brown had "a deeply embedded relationship" with his American Indian heritage, in which Veronica will be raised.
But the Capobiancos point to another part of the state court's conclusion: that despite a ruling against them, they were "ideal parents who have exhibited the ability to provide a loving family environment." That court said its hands were tied, and that federal law trumped state law.
"Courts in seven states have held that ICWA does not bar courts from terminating the parental rights of a non-custodial father under state law when the father abandoned his child to the sole custody of a non-Indian mother," said Lisa Blatt, attorney for the couple.
She says the father's initial agreement to give up his parental rights meant he forfeited any subsequent efforts to establish custody, when the child was already in a happy, stable home environment.
The Capobiancos argue Brown had refused to offer any financial assistance to the biological mother until they were married and "wanted nothing to do" with the pregnancy.
As a single mother with two other young children, the biological mother felt she had no choice but to give her daughter up for adoption, said a legal brief filed by her lawyers. They say she complied with the adoption laws in both states and with the tribe.
The couple also says they long wanted to be parents and had seven unsuccessful attempts at in vitro fertilization. She is a child developmental psychologist and he is an automotive body technician. They were in the room when Veronica was born, and had an "open" adoption, meaning the biological mother could and did maintain a relationship with Veronica.
The case is Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a Minor Child Under the Age of Fourteen Years (12-399).