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Friday, February 15, 2013

Widow owes rejected adopted daughter millions, court says

Here's an interesting story with a happy ending. A wealthy couple from New York adopted a child. The father made a will sharing his $250million estate between his biological and adopted children. A few years after the father died, his widow basically gave the child back, and in fact the child was adopted by someone else.

Eventually it came to light that had the child not been "returned" by the widow, the child would have inherited millions of dollars from her first adoptive father. The new parents sued on behalf of the child and eventually the court ruled that the father intended this adopted child to share in the estate. He couldn't have foreseen that after he died, his wife would try to un-adopt the child.

To read about this story in more detail, click here to see an article from

This is a really interesting precedent from a legal point of view. Usually the law is pretty clear that when someone is adopted, they are for all legal purposes the child of the adopting parents and are no longer connected to the original parents. If that rule were strictly followed here, it would mean that the child, being adopted by a second couple, would no longer have any entitlement to the estate of her first adoptive parents.

However, I completely agree with the court's findings in these very unusual circumstances. Circumstances changed after the father's death in a way that he could not have foreseen. Dickens himself couldn't have come up with a more heart-wrenching plot.

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