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Among modern legal and child psychological authorities, the consensus is that, of the multifarious considerations relevant to the best interests of a child in resolving a private custody dispute between the natural parent and the proposed adoptive parents, the most important factors are: (1) Whether each person seeking custody is fit to be the child's parent; (2) Whether either of the adoptive parents has a psychological relationship with the child; and (3) The natural parent's biological relationship with the child.
Petitioner natural mother, an 18-year-old single woman who was living with her parents, executed an act of surrender putting her week-old baby up for adoption. Within 30 days, petitioner revoked her consent to the adoption, claiming that she surrendered the baby under duress, as her parents told her she could not bring the baby home and that her attorney, who was the partner of the attorney who placed the baby with respondent adoptive parents, had a conflict of interest. The trial court entered a decree of adoption; the appellate court affirmed. Petitioner natural mother sought certiorari review of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
On appeal, the court vacated the decree and remanded the case for a new hearing on the best interests of the child. The court held that petitioner did not surrender the baby under duress and that even if her attorney had a conflict of interest, petitioner failed to show that it caused her to surrender the baby. However, the trial court erred by failing to consider petitioner's biological relationship with the baby or the baby's psychological tie to respondent but rather focused on the relative wealth of the parties in determining that it was in the baby's best interest to be adopted by respondent.