Via The Adopted Ones blog, a bedtime story for adoptees. Hang in there: the ending is happy.
Once upon a time, there was a very rich couple with four children of their own. They applied to adopt from China. Meanwhile, the wife gave birth to a fifth child (shades of Anita Tedaldi!). Then the husband got cancer. But their Chinese girl came home in 1996, and the very rich couple named her Emily. When their adoption finalized, they both signed
an adoption agreement stating that they would not abandon Emily or “transfer or have [her] re-adopted,” and that she would be deemed “a biological child,” according to court papers in the case. The agreement also stated that Emily had the right to inherit the estate of her adopted parents, who had established a pair of trusts for their children, as well as one meant solely for Emily.
In 1997, the very rich a’dad died. Very rich a’mom held onto Emily for six whole years until she saw an opportunity to ditch her on the woman who ran the school for special needs children Emily was then attending. A year later, the very rich lady punted Emily out of the family and into the arms of Spence-Chapin. Two years (!) after that, she was legally adopted by the school administrator and her husband.
Then rich a’mom’s lawyers sent New Mom and New Dad a letter informing them Emily’s trusts totaled $842,397. Ready to get angry?
[L]ater, they learned that a federal tax return valued Svenningsen’s estate at more than $250 million. The couple sued on behalf of Emily for a new accounting, but Christine claimed that Emily no longer had any rights to the estate since she was re-adopted.
Not only was she not entitled to the full amount, “ex-Mommy” said, she wasn’t entitled to anything because she was
ejected from the family readopted. Readopted despite, you know, that thing you signed, Ms. Svenningsen. The judge did not agree, and he told you so, o-o-oh. So the least you could do would be to accept your failure with quiet dignity and grace, amirite?
I’m wrong. She appealed. On behalf of herself and her
real biological children.
And they lost, and Emily won.
Emily won against her “ex-a’mom,” who recently spent thirty-three million dollars buying islands, but who fought in court against shelling out a dime, let alone the rightful amount, to the daughter she promised to treat as a biological child forever. Emily won. Emily also lost. Such is adoption. The End.
To those of you who live outside AdoptoLand, this really happened. A woman passed a home study and said all the right things and signed all the right papers and paid all the right people and went through so so so much to bring a beautiful Chinese girl into her family. Then she ditched that girl and tried to deny her her inheritance over her dead husband’s wishes. A woman really did this. A woman who would no more miss the thousands or millions Emily is owed than she’d miss a stain removed from her carpet…which is more than she apparently misses or thinks about Emily herself. I can only conclude that Ms. S always found her “real” children more worthy than she ever found her adopted daughter.
It’s true I have no idea why Ms. S decided to get rid of Emily, but that doesn’t matter: Forever means forever. If those who tout adoption wants its critics to believe a thing they say, they need to call out the bad actors, and call them out hard. (I haven’t seen anyone defending Ms. S yet, but I’m sure someone will.) But they don’t. They didn’t with Tedaldi or Hansen or the Poeterays. Those who tout adoption need to stop circling the wagons to defend adoptive parents who do shitty horrible things and put the blame on children.
BTW, Ms. Ellen (author of article), the Svenningsens were not Emily’s “first family.” Not unless we’re growing little Chinese girls in Petri dishes now.
PS: Read Lauri Lee’s comment for more info.
ABC News story here.