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US lady with sons denied nod to adopt discarded girl

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The Supreme Court has dismissed a wealthy American single woman’s plea to adopt a girl found abandoned in Delhi, upholding a high court’s apprehension that it would not be “appropriate” for the pre-teen girl to live with the lady’s two teenaged sons.

Erin Jennifer Hawk, a 37-year-old California-based property manager who estimated her income at $323,000 (Rs 1.78 crore), sobbed inconsolably outside the court hall after the verdict was delivered yesterday.

Although senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani tried to convince the court that Erin was financially sound, highly educated and determined to give the best care to the child, a bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya found no reason to interfere with the concurrent findings of two lower courts that refused to approve the adoption.

“We are not inclined to interfere with the findings of the high court,” the Supreme Court bench said.

On October 2006, the girl was handed over by police to SOS Children’s Village of India, an NGO. Her year of birth was recorded as 2001, which makes her 11 now. In 2007, the Co-ordinating Voluntary Adoption Agency cleared the child for inter-country adoption and a no-objection certificate was issued.

After obtaining approval from the Central Adoption Resource Agency and the Indian Council for Child Welfare, Erin filed an adoption application before an additional district judge.

The judge rejected her plea, holding that she has two biological sons and it may not be proper to give in adoption a girl child.

Erin appealed in Delhi High Court, which also dismissed her plea after examining her background.

The high court noted that Erin was earlier married to Anthony Hawk, who had a son, Riley, from his previous wife. At the time of marriage, Erin quit her job to take care of Riley. But after her divorce from Hawk, there was nothing on record to show that she was in touch with Riley, the high court had said.

“The appellant is already having two sons of 13 years and 11 years of age, whereas the age of the child is 10 years. The elder boy is a teen. The younger one is a pre-teen. The girl child is also in growing age.

“She needs special protection. The appellant is a working woman. Considering the age factor, in the absence of appellant at home, the presence of a female child with two male children of aforesaid age group will not be appropriate.”

The high court said Erin is dating someone and is open for remarriage. “The chance of expanding her family with another marriage also cannot be ruled out.”