rights, duties and obligations between the child and the adopting parent as if such child were born to such adopting parent in lawful wedlock. In applying the intestate laws of this State, an adopted child shall have the same rights of inheritance as if born to the adopting parent in lawful wedlock. In the construction of any testamentary or other document executed subsequent to the effective date of this act, an adopted child shall be deemed lawful issue of the adopting parent unless such document shall otherwise provide. L. 1953, c. 264, p. 1777, § 14.'
The portion thereof which at first gave this Court difficulty is the proviso:
'* * * that when the adopting parent is a stepfather or stepmother, and the adoption is consummated with the consent and approval of the mother or father, respectively, such adoption shall not affect or terminate any relationships between the child and such mother or father.'
However, after considerable deliberation the Court finds that only one interpretation can be placed upon such proviso; namely, that in order for the stepfather to petition the Court for the adoption his wife, the natural mother, must consent (see Section 9:3-21, N.J.S.A.) and this proviso thereby prevents her by her consent from being removed from her status of 'mother' which the previous portion of the statute would do if it were not for such latter provision.
This then brings us to the direct impact of the legislative words, 'The entry of a judgment of adoption shall terminate all relationships between the child and his parents, and shall terminate all rights, duties, and obligations of any person which are founded upon such relationships, including rights of inheritance under the interstate laws of this State.'
Apparently the Legislature in its judgment felt that the changing sociological order, partially attributable to the increase in the rate of divorce of parents of minor children and the high percentage of remarriage of such divorced parents, called for legislative action. And they, by this Act, have attempted to unite into a single cohesive unit, a family upon sociological bases rather than upon natural or congenital ties, and thus, eliminate or avoid that division of authority so often apparent to a minor child between its natural parent and adopting step-parent.
Possibly this is better but the writer would have great hesitancy in attempting to disturb the natural order of things. However, ours is not the power to legislate but merely to adjudicate and in this particular case to adjudicate under the law as the Courts of New Jersey have or would have interpreted the Acts of the New Jersey Legislature.
In this regard we find that the Courts of New Jersey have spoken regarding this Act, as follows:
In re Wehrhane's Estate, 1957, 23 N.J. 205, 210, 128 A.2d 681, 683:
'At the hearing below expert opinion was offered to demonstrate that today societal regard for the family relationship is based upon sociological environment rather than biological connection, that the common impulse of our time is to accept adopted children into the same realm of family affinity as the natural born, suggesting thereby that the issue sub judice should be resolved in this light. Attention is invited to a rule of construction incorporated in L.1953, c. 264 (N.J.S.A. 9:3-30) which would presumptively include adopted children as lawful issue in all testamentary documents executed after the date of the enactment.'
Page v. Johnson, Ch.Div.1957, 45 N.J.Super. 97, at page 105, 131 A.2d 522, at page 527:
'In 1953 all of chapter 3 of Title 9 was repealed and a wholly new adoption act for minor children was adopted as L.1953, c. 264. (See N.J.S.A. 9:3-30.) This provides, in effect, that in applying the intestate law an adopted child shall have the same rights of inheritance as if born to the adopting parent in lawful wedlock; and that in construing any subsequent will or other document an adopted child shall be deemed lawful issue of the adopting parent unless the document provides otherwise.'
Benedict v. New York Trust Co., Ch. Div.1958, 48 N.J.Super. 286, at page 289, 137 A.2d 446, at page 448:
'Granted that the present trend of the law is to eliminate as much as may be possible, the legal distinction between adopted children and natural born children * * *.'
And in the Matter of Jacques, Ch.Div. 1958, 48 N.J.Super. 523, at page 534, 138 A.2d 581, at page 587:
'* * * It would be strange indeed to permit the adoption and not permit the child to take the surname of the adopting parents, especially since the usual effect of a judgment of adoption is to transfer from the natural parents to the adoptive parents the custody of the child's person, the duty of obedience owing by the child, and all other legal consequences and incidents of the natural relation, in the same manner as if the child had been born of such adopting parents in lawful wedlock.'
If, therefore, the Courts have said that the legal distinction between natural born and adopted children has been removed, it would seem logical that they would say in the present case that the child cannot be the legal child of two fathers at the one and the same time; she is, therefore, the child for all legal purposes of the adopting father.
And if the Courts of New Jersey say that an adopted child is just the same to the adopting parents as though born in lawful wedlock, it would likewise seem to follow that legally one cannot be born to two sets of parents, and is, therefore, the child of the adopting parents.
This Court then, and not too happily I might add, concludes that under the law of New Jersey a father whose child is adopted by another loses all rights, duties and obligations towards such child and the child legally obtains a new father, in toto, likewise losing all rights, duties and obligations towards its natural father. As a result, this Court finds that the child, Francine Kasser, is not a legal child of the deceased, Harry LaBove, under the provisions of the Act, supra, and hence cannot be the beneficiary of the policy in question. This brings the mother-plaintiff next in line and she will be awarded the proceeds of said policy.
Counsel will prepare an appropriate order.