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Court orders wealthy New York widow to give part of $250 million fortune to former adopted daughter

Posted by on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:38 AM
  • 42 Replies


But a state appeals court has ordered the family to share — finding Emily is still entitled to one-sixth of the trust funds her adopted dad had left behind for his children.

Party goods magnate John Svenningsen died of cancer in 1997, just a year after he and Christine adopted Emily. 

Shown is a Facebook photo of Christine Svenningsen, third, from left., and her current family.

Christine Svenningsen, third from left, pictured with her family.

A mega-rich widow who gave up her adopted special-needs daughter after eight years has lost her bid to also cut the girl out of her family’s $250 million estate.

Christine Svenningsen had coldly contended her former daughter Emily — whom she had adopted from China when she was less than 1 year old — shouldn’t get a dime from her late husband’s estate because she has been adopted by another family.

The money-hungry mom was joined in her bid to keep Emily away from her family’s bounty by her five biological kids, the adopted girl’s former siblings.

The adoption agreement they signed guaranteed that “they would not abandon Emily or transfer or have her readopted, and that they would deem (Emily) a biological child.” It also gave her the right to inherit their estates.

John Svenningsen was true to his word — his will expressly provided that any children they had adopted should be treated equally to their five biological children. 

But Svenningsen — who was the one who traveled to China for the adoption — eventually decided she didn’t want Emily anymore. 

“Christine maintains that Emily was a difficult child and unable to bond with the family,” a probate court decision said.

“In December 2003, Svenningsen placed Emily at the Devereux Glenholme School based upon a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder,” which occurs when a person has severe problems relating to other people, Judge Anthony Scarpino wrote.

“The staff at Devereux did not concur with the diagnosis,” Scarpino said. 

Soon after Emily was enrolled, Svenningsen’s lawyers told school administrators she wanted to give the girl up for adoption — news that thrilled Devereux staffer Maryann Campbell, who often cared for Emily on the weekends with her husband and felt “bonded” with her. Campbell and her husband agreed to adopt Emily — but Svenningsen never mentioned to them or the adoption agency that she had been named as a beneficiary in John Svenningsen’s will. 

They remained in the dark until 2007, when one of the lawyers for John Svenningsen’s estate told them there was a trust that could help with her medical expenses. When they tried to find out more, they were stonewalled — and then found out through court filings that she would be entitled to a share of her first adopted father’s estate at an unspecified date.

Svenningsen — who has made headlines by spending $33 million to buy some islands in Long Island Sound — contended that since Emily was no longer a family member, she shouldn’t be entitled to a share of the family fortune.

In a Feb. 6 decision, the state Appellate Division disagreed, finding Emily was John Svenningsen’s daughter and heir when he died. The court ordered the family to provide Campbell and Cass with an accounting.

Scarpino’s decision said Emily has “thrived” with her new parents, who declined comment on Friday.

Svenningsen, who remarried in 2010, could not be reached, and her lawyers did not return calls.


by on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:38 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Piskie
by Bronze Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:44 AM
6 moms liked this
Good. He wanted the money to go to her. I'm glad she's got a good family now tho.
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mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:49 AM

Good what a horrible person this lady is.

candlegal
by Judy on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Good

momaof8
by Bronze Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:06 AM
2 moms liked this

good for the kid babies are not returnable     no wonder she couldn't bond with the cold b@#$%

momaof8
by Bronze Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:07 AM

We agreed the same when we adopted lol unfortunately they will just be dividing up the debt lol

colins_mom
by Silver Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Sounds like dad loved her, to.bad the bitch couldnt. Im glad she has new parents that care for her
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coolmommy2x
by Gold Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:17 AM
Wow...
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bahamamama61
by Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:34 AM
It was the dads wishes, and his money:)
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dawnie1
by #1 Raider fan on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:48 AM

This is no lady!


Quoting mikiemom:

Good what a horrible person this lady is.



meriana
by Platinum Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Good. The lady sounds like an extremely selfish person, unfortunatly her bio children are, apparently just as selfish and self-serving. Since she has remarried, I can foresee a huge court battle between them and step-daddy at her death.

Unless the person was legally incompetent when they wrote the will, a will is generally upheld in court and legally a person can leave their estate to anyone or anything they want, including the family pet.

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