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Scarpetta v. Spence-Chapin Adoption Service

Court of Appeals of New York
269 N.E.2d 787 (1971)


Olga Scarpetta (plaintiff), an unmarried 32-year-old resident of Columbia who held a social sciences degree from a college in California, traveled to New York to deliver a baby that had been conceived with a married man. The baby was born on May 18, 1970. Four days later, Scarpetta placed the baby in the boarding care of Spence-Chapin Adoption Services (Spence-Chapin) (defendant). Ten days later, she executed a surrender of the baby to Spence-Chapin, thereby transferring custody so that the baby could be adopted. On June 18, 1970, the baby was placed with prospective adoptive parents, although Spence-Chapin retained custody under the law. Scarpetta had second thoughts about the adoption. Her family was well-off and assured her that they would support her in raising the child. On June 23, 1970, Scarpetta asked that the baby be returned to her. When Spence-Chapin refused, Scarpetta filed suit against the agency. The prospective adoptive parents were denied leave to intervene. The lower courts decided in Scarpetta’s favor. Spence-Chapin appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Jasen, J.)

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