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US top court to hear Native American adoption case

The US Supreme Court is due to take up the Capobiancos' appeal in March
The US Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up an appeal by a couple ordered to turn over the two-year-old girl they had raised since birth to her biological father because he is a Native American.

The US Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up an appeal by a couple ordered to turn over the two-year-old girl they had raised since birth to her biological father because he is a Native American.

The girl's biological father Dusten Brown said the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, a law intended to prevent Native American children from being separated from their families, meant he was entitled to custody.

A family court annulled Matt and Melanie Capobianco's adoption in December 2011 and transferred custody to Brown after DNA tests proved his paternity.

In July, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled with a "heavy heart" in favor of the biological father, a decision the dissenting justices described as a "human tragedy."

The decision "sends a chilling message to any couple wishing to adopt a child of Native American descent," said the adoptive parents, requesting that the US Supreme Court provide "much-needed clarity" on the federal statute.

The Capobiancos had made seven unsuccessful in vitro fertilization attempts before the adoption.

They also financed part of the medical costs for the child's birth mother, met the woman who was not Native American, attended the September 2009 birth and returned to South Carolina with the girl when she was just eight days old.

The US Supreme Court is due to take up the Capobiancos' appeal in March and will make a ruling before the end of its session in June.