Adoption—Last Will and Testament and Inheritance

Adoption Detective | Judith Land | Inheritance

“Wisdom is the best inheritance anyone can receive,” —Judith Land

My adoptive mother Rosella lay quietly in her hospital bed dying of cancer. She was communicating with her eyes that she wanted to unburden her conscience. With tears in her weary eyes, she reached out and touched my hand. “I gave all of my oil paintings and my entire estate to the church—now I have nothing.” My mother had owned a new car, an attractive brick house in a quiet neighborhood with big trees, and was known to have a lavish bank account. I was crestfallen and saddened by what she told me but reassured her that my only concern was for her comfort. If she needed money to pay for hospice care and funeral expenses, I would help her. I held her hand and brushed her hair. We spent many long days together reminiscing about past events and fond memories of our lives together. Her favorite priest read her the last rights at her bedside and thanked her for her generous financial contributions. She was quietly reserved and at peace with the world.

The tranquility of the bedside scene was shattered when her outspoken sister Myna burst into the room holding a recently written Last Will and Testament in one hand and a fountain pen in the other. “Here, sign this. I want you to appoint me Executor of your Will. Judy is not your real daughter. She was adopted. I am your sister; your flesh and blood. She is somebody else’s child; she doesn’t even look like you.” Her words stung like a leather whip on bare skin. I was speechless. It was the first time in my entire life I had ever been ridiculed for being adopted. Her aggressive tone and outward display of greediness exceeded all rules of civility and destroyed the subdued ambience and quiet inner peace my mother and I had been experiencing. Her hateful words reminding me that I was adopted lingered in my memory like the smell of a hot branding iron for an eternity. She continued making a fuss even at the funeral.

My adoptive father was a wealthy man. He was a private person with complete control over all aspects of his business. He demanded perfection and total obedience from his employees. When his eye sight suddenly declined due to macular degeneration he became a changed person. He was devastated by his sudden loss of vision and inability to analyze business spreadsheets, read the Wall Street Journal and play golf. He couldn’t even bait a fishing hook. In his youth he was known to be somewhat cold-hearted, but in the end he made the decision to do everything possible to help the blind. He gave his entire estate to support eye research and the treatment of eye diseases.

I am very proud of the achievements of my adoptive parents and the large financial contributions they made to the church and medical research—but I can’t help but wonder if things would have turned out differently, if I was their flesh and blood? I wonder how many other adoptees have had similar experiences?

 

http://www.adoptiondetectivejudithland.com

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About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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6 Responses to Adoption—Last Will and Testament and Inheritance

  1. LisaListed says:

    This is such a touching story.. thank you for sharing!
    http://www.lisalisted.com

    • Judith Land says:

      Lisa, Wisdom is the best inheritance we can receive; forgiveness is often our only choice. Each situation is unique. State laws on inheritance vary widely. International law can even influence an outcome. The worst situations are the ones where the intent of the will is not carried out according to the wishes of the deceased. I have heard of many other cases where unscrupulous lawyers and executors of a will and family members nefariously skim off large chunks of an estate for their own benefit. And what happens when something is willed when it has already been given to someone else? Inheritance issues and stories seem to be equally as inventive, interesting and prolific as adoption stories. Judith

  2. susanlaine says:

    Very moving. I am always interested in hearing about others adoption experiences.

  3. sb32199 says:

    My Last Will and Testament story? My birth mother had no plans to let anyone know of my birth, including her husband who knew nothing about her pregnancy when they got married. However, a couple of years after they were married, she unintentionally spilled the beans. Nevertheless, they stayed together and not long after the revelation they had a child of their own.

    Eventually my mother inherited some family land of considerable value. Her husband was an attorney and he realized it was possible that one day I’d appear in their lives and ask for a share of her estate. He believed she would willingly re-accept me into her life, so he took steps to insulate her assets against any attempts he thought I might make to cut myself in.

    However, by the time I discovered the identity of my birth mother, she had been dead for 23 years and her husband had been dead for 16 years. The estate had been bequeathed to their daughter. Happily, she and I are close.

    • Judith Land says:

      SB, Stories about inheritance are as old as the Bible. When Esau was born Jacob was firmly grasping the heel of his brother trying to pull Esau back into the womb so that he could be firstborn. Their struggles continued throughout their lives leading to many questions about relationships, family dynamics, character and motives and how they relate to inheritance. There are many painful choices associated with divorce, death, adoption and disinheritance of specific individuals and outcomes are often unreasonable or morally unfair. There are many things to learn about wills, trusts, estates and inheritance. The courts are filled with hundreds of attorneys specializing in estates, trusts and inheritance issues; all of them optimistically believing they can alter circumstances and outcomes in favor of their clients. Inheritance laws vary greatly by states and it behoves all of us to know the law. I am happy for you knowing that you are on close terms with other family members. I hope things work out in your favor. The best inheritance any of us can receive is wisdom. Judith

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