Sunday, December 8, 2013

Scarpetta v. Spence-Chapin Adoption Service case brief

Scarpetta v. Spence-Chapin Adoption Service case brief summary
269 N.E.2d 787 (1971)

Appellant adoption agency challenged an order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the First Judicial Department (New York), which affirmed an order that sustained a writ of habeas corpus that directed appellant to surrender respondent mother's infant to her.

The intermediate court affirmed an order that sustained a writ of habeas corpus and directed appellant adoption agency to surrender respondent's infant to her.


  • The court affirmed that order on appeal. 
  • The court reasoned that holding that respondent's surrender to appellant constituted an abandonment as a matter of law would have frustrated the policy of N.Y. Soc. Serv. Law § 383(1) to allow respondent to regain custody of her child based on showings of improvidence in surrendering the child to appellant, of the child's best interests being promoted by a return to respondent, and of respondent's ability to care for the child. 
  • The court also held that allowing the prospective adoptive parents to intervene as a matter of right would have violated the legislative scheme that prevented disclosing the names of the natural parents and prospective adoptive parents to each other. 
  • Preventing the prospective adoptive parents from intervening did not deprive them of due process of law so as to invalidate the trial court's award of custody to respondent because they did not have legal custody of the baby.

The court affirmed the order of the appellate division.

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