EUGENE A. WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:
Plaintiff-appellant, a California resident, sought in this diversity action specific performance of a contract to make a will allegedly entered into between her and the late Marcus Daly III. Joined as defendants were the corporate executor of Mr. Daly's estate, his wife at the time of death and a daughter, alleged to be the child of the plaintiff by Mr. Daly. The district court dismissed the amended complaint on motion of the appellees on the ground that it failed to state a claim. We reverse.
For purposes of review, we must take as true the facts as alleged in the amended complaint; Walling v. Beverly Enterprises, 476 F.2d 393 (9th Cir. 1973). Appellant alleged that she and the decedent were involved in an adulterous relationship in 1954 while both were married to other persons. Appellant had been abandoned by her husband during this period. She supported two small children, a sister, and a widowed mother in California by working as a waitress in Reno, Nevada. An alleged promise of marriage by the decedent was withdrawn because of his inability to obtain a satisfactory property settlement with his then wife.
Appellant moved to California at decedent's request when they learned
Amended complaint, CR 126.
The appellant acceded to this arrangement and the decedent subsequently adopted the child and provided for her in his will. He made no provision for appellant, however.
The district court dismissed the amended complaint, holding that it was against public policy to enforce a contract by the father of an illegitimate child to provide for the mother in his will if the contract was incident to an adoption agreement. This decision was based on a misinterpretation of the case law relating to public policy in this area.
There are no Nevada statutes or cases indicating state policy with respect to the propriety of such a contract. Contracts to make a will, however, are permitted, Waters v. Harper, 69 Nev. 315, 250 P.2d 915 (1952). But Nevada statutes do recognize the distinction between adoption agreements involving the natural parents of the child and those involving third parties. Parents placing their own children are exempt from the licensing requirements necessary for persons who place children for adoption, N.R.S. 127.240(1) and from criminal sanctions for receipt of compensation by unlicensed persons arranging for the placement of children, N.R.S. 127.300(2). Mothers of illegitimate children are permitted to agree on support arrangements by putative fathers, N.R.S. 126.280.
The Nevada case relied upon by the district court is inapposite. In Las Vegas Sun v. Franklin, 74 Nev. 282, 329 P.2d 867, 872 (1958), the court in a libel action held that there was no proof of the "black-market sale" of a child "in the absence of proof of a sale price or profit . . ." The basis of the alleged libel was the placement of the child with an unrelated person for adoption. The case is not precedent in a situation involving an adoption agreement between the natural parents of an illegitimate child. Moreover, the decision did not relate to circumstances in which there was other consideration for the payment besides mere consent to the adoption by the mother.
No decisions in other jurisdictions involving similar facts have been discovered. Some principles can be gleaned from cases in related areas.
Courts have upheld support agreements between the natural parents of illegitimate children based on consideration provided by the mother's forbearance from instituting filiation proceedings. Schumm v. Berg, 37 Cal.2d 174, 231 P.2d 39 (1951), Peterson v. Eritsland, 69 Wn.2d 588, 419 P.2d 332 (1966), 20 A.L.R.3d 512 § 4. Here the plaintiff necessarily surrendered all support rights against the decedent by permitting the adoption and remaining silent about her daughter's paternity rather than instituting a filiation proceeding.
Similarly, courts have approved contracts to devise between parents of illegitimate children based on the mother's forbearance from instituting filiation proceedings and consent to adoption, Redmon v. Roberts, 198 N.C. 161, 150 S.E. 881 (1929); Smith v. Wagers' Administrators, 238 Ky. 609, 38 S.W.2d 685 (1931).
Other courts have upheld adoption agreements between parents of illegitimate children, permitting the children to share in the fathers' estates despite a lack of formal adoption proceedings, and holding that the mothers' surrender of the children provided valid consideration for the contracts. Doty's Administrators
The courts in Georgia have prohibited adoption agreements involving some financial benefit to the mother where the adoptive parent was not the natural parent of the child. Downs v. Wortman, 228 Ga. 315, 185 S.E.2d 387 (1971); Savannah Bank and Trust Co. v. Hanley, 208 Ga. 34, 65 S.E.2d 26 (1951). Courts in other jurisdictions have permitted mothers to regain custody of their children after agreeing to surrender custody to third parties, Walker v. Williams, 214 Miss. 34, 58 So.2d 79 (1952); In re Guardianship of Fox, 212 Or. 80, 318 P.2d 933 (1957).
In a case closer to our facts, the Supreme Court of Kansas in In re Shirk's Estate, 186 Kan. 311, 350 P.2d 1 (1960), upheld an oral contract in which the adoption of a child by its grandmother was conditioned on granting both the child and its mother a one-third interest in the grandmother's estate. The court, citing 39 Am.Jur., Parent and Child, § 30, held that
350 P.2d at 11.
The court distinguished the case in which the child was surrendered for adoption to a stranger, holding that the "instant case involves a family compact." 350 P.2d at 12.
The court in Shirk's Estate also found significant the facts that the adoption request was initiated by the grandmother, including the promise of a share of her estate, that it was not prompted by self-seeking on the part of the mother, and that the "controlling consideration" was the welfare of the child, id. See also Clark v. Clark, 122 Md. 114, 89 A. 405 (Ct. of App. 1913) and Enders v. Enders, 164 Pa. 266, 30 A. 129 (1894). Although the court noted that the mother already had a right to share in the grandmother's estate by intestate succession, this seems rather meaningless since implicit in the offer of a share in the estate was the prospect of explicit disinheritance.
The court found additional support for the agreement in the fact that the mother had surrendered "the control, custody, and daily companionship of her daughter. She lost the privilege of watching her grow and develop and the love and affection of the child for her was lessened." 350 P.2d at 9.
We conclude then that it is not against public policy to enforce an agreement to provide for the mother of an illegitimate child in the putative father's will, incidental to an agreement to permit the adoption of the child by its father, where the adoption was in the best interests of the child and pecuniary gain was not the motivating factor on the mother's part. The fact that the agreement was not initiated by the mother is evidence of the motivation behind the agreement.
Here the appellant alleges that she was in dire financial straits and had been abandoned by her husband while the decedent offered the prospect of a stable home and a secure financial position. She alleges further that she accepted the agreement offered by the decedent only when a prior offer of marriage was withdrawn by him. The appellant incurred a significant detriment by foregoing her right to child support through filiation proceedings, relinquishing the companionship and affection of their child as well as any financial compensation she might have obtained from her daughter's earnings during minority and her support obligations thereafter.
Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
KOELSCH, Circuit Judge (dissenting):
I respectfully dissent.
This is a disturbing case; appellant presents a sympathetic plea for relief. If the allegations of her complaint are true, she has undoubtedly suffered because of the circumstances which led her to give up her daughter. The daughter has fared well as a result of the bargain. Were it our function to cure past injustices, I might join the majority in providing appellant some monetary compensation for her sacrifice on behalf of her daughter.
But that is not our function. We sit here to review a decision of the district court, sitting as a court of equity, in a diversity suit. We may best perform that task, particularly, in "close" cases of this nature, and maintain a consistent, justifiable body of law, if we are careful to observe the institutional limitations on our authority to substitute our judgment for that of the district court, and if we are careful to apply rules of substantive law in a manner which can be justified in general application. The majority strays in both regards.
This suit, despite its subject matter, is a simple contract action. Appellant and decedent allegedly entered into a contract whereby appellant agreed to relinquish custody of the child to decedent, and refrain from creating a scandal, in return for decedent's promise to adopt the child, accord it the advantages his wealth allowed, and on his death leave his estate in equal parts to his wife, the child, and appellant. This suit seeks specifically to enforce the promise to provide by will for appellant. Enforcement of the covenant is here opposed solely on the ground that the promise providing compensation to the mother in connection with her relinquishment of the child violated public policy against the purchase and sale of children.
As noted, this is a diversity suit; the law of Nevada applies. The local district judge concluded that the law of that state proscribed receipt by a mother of any consideration which allowed her to profit from childbirth (thereby characterizing her agreement to relinquish custody "a sale"), and that the covenant providing for the mother was illegal. Relying on familiar contract principles, he refused to enforce the illegal promise and dismissed the complaint. See Restatement of Contracts § 606 (1932); 6A Corbin, Contracts §§ 1521-22, at 758 et seq. (1950); Kessler v. Jefferson Storage Corporation, 125 F.2d 108 (6th Cir. 1941). The majority now overturns that decision, ostensibly on the ground that the experienced judge was wrong in his determination of the public policy of Nevada. In doing so, I submit the majority oversteps its bounds.
"The rule in this circuit is that
Funk v. Tifft, No. 73-1785 (9th Cir., Jan. 22, 1975), at 5 (Wright, J., dissenting), quoting Douglas v. Beneficial Finance Co. of Anchorage, 469 F.2d 453, 455 (9th Cir. 1972). Turnbull v. Bonkowski, 419 F.2d 104, 106 (9th Cir. 1969), and cases there cited. See Propper v. Clark, 337 U.S. 472, 486, 69 S.Ct. 1333, 93 L.Ed. 1480 (1949); Bigjoe v. Pioneer American Insurance Co., 446 F.2d 28, 29, 30 (9th Cir. 1971). All agree that there is no Nevada case or statute expressly covering the precise situation we face here; indeed, no case has been found from any jurisdiction which is directly in point.
The district judge's conclusion is nevertheless well-grounded in Nevada law. The judge relied on Nevada statutes regulating adoption, such as N.R.S. 127.285, which prevents an attorney from receiving fees for "finding" children for adoption; N.R.S. 127.290, which restricts receipt of compensation, for assisting in placing a child for adoption, to licensed child placement agencies to cover operating expenses; and N.R.S. 127.300, which provides criminal penalties for unauthorized receipt of compensation in connection with the placement of a child for adoption, for his conclusion that the public policy of Nevada is violated by receipt of such compensation.
The judge also relied on Las Vegas Sun v. Franklin, 74 Nev. 282, 329 P.2d 867 (1958). In that decision the Nevada Supreme Court held that a newspaper's accusation that an attorney had facilitated an unwed mother's "black-market sale" of her child was libelous per se. The newspaper's defense of truth, based on the fact that the adoptive parents had paid the mother relinquishing the child $300 for her loss of wages during confinement, was rejected, the court commenting:
From this the district judge concluded:
And, in light of the fact that the Nevada Supreme Court considered an accusation of child-selling to be a charge which was libelous per se, the district judge concluded that a situation in which the mother received a consideration for the consent to adoption was contrary to the public policy of Nevada. He therefore refused to enforce the covenant providing such compensation to appellant.
I am persuaded that the statutes and case relied on by the district judge fully support his conclusion. Moreover, as the onus is on the majority's rejecting that conclusion about state law to demonstrate it "clearly wrong," I am certain that conclusion cannot be disregarded; the majority has altogether failed to point to anything in Nevada law indicating support for a different conclusion. While it is true, as the majority emphasizes, that none of the indicia of Nevada law relied on by the district judge directly express a policy against receipt of compensation by a relinquishing parent under the narrow circumstances presented here — adoption by a natural parent which is in the child's pecuniary best interest — it is likewise certainly the case that the majority has pointed to nothing,
Certainly none of the statutes relied on by the district judge make any such distinctions — unauthorized receipt of compensation remains criminal regardless of whether or not the child has been placed in a good home, or who pays it.
Furthermore, N.R.S. 127.300(2) does not, as the majority contends, exempt parents "from criminal sanctions for receipt of compensation by unlicensed persons arranging for the placement of children . . .." In fact, the section provides that the natural and adopting parents shall not be considered accomplices under N.R.S. 127.300(1); it does not expressly absolve the parents as principals if they personally receive the compensation. Mitler indicates the provision was necessary because:
As the major target of the law was the middleman, the parents making payments were not to be considered accomplices for making or receiving the payment in question in order to facilitate prosecution of the middleman, but were not exempted from liability for receipt of compensation if prosecuted directly. In sum, Nevada allowed parents to participate in adoption proceedings without becoming licensed, see N.R.S. 127.240, but restricted the receipt of compensation to licensed agencies, limited only to that necessary for operating expenses, N.R.S. 127.290, proscribing such compensation to all others, including appellant here. N.R.S. 127.300.
The statute contains no exceptions of the sort engrafted by the majority.
As I understand its decision, the majority, being of the opinion that Nevada cases and statutes are not sufficiently explicit, has turned to various decisions of courts of other states and has concluded that a "majority rule" exists permitting compensation and that Nevada would follow the "majority rule."
The general statement found in American Jurisprudence 2d, 59 Am.Jur.2d, Parent and Child § 37, at 119-120, states the rule which the majority quotes from In re Shirk's Estate, 186 Kan. 311, 350 P.2d 1 (1960), and upon which the majority primarily relies:
Enforcement of a contract to give or leave property to the child whose custody is transferred involves a different issue of policy than enforcement of a provision providing compensation to the parent relinquishing custody; no sale is involved in the former, and we are not here concerned with such contracts.
As for the latter, there are, so far as I have been able to discover, only three cases in which the courts have enforced contracts compensating the parent relinquishing custody of a child. Each of those cases is clearly distinguishable from the instant one. Neither Clark v. Clark, 122 Md. 114, 89 A. 405 (Ct. of App. 1913), nor Enders v. Enders, 164 Pa. 266, 30 A. 129 (1894), involved an adoption contract. Both involved situations in which a mother agreed to allow a grandparent to keep the child in the grandparent's home and raise it. In neither case did the parent, as here, legally relinquish parental rights and responsibilities to the child. In Enders, on which Clark relied entirely, the agreement allowed the mother to visit the child whenever she desired, take the child to her home whenever she pleased, and in general maintain her maternal relationship to the child. In enforcing the grandfather's promise to pay the mother money, the Enders court decided that the natural tendency of the contract was not violative of public policy, because the promised payment to the mother was not made in return for an extinguishment of the mother's "parental solicitude and affection." 30 A. at 130. Here it was: for all its supposed virtues, the contract between appellant and decedent clearly contemplated a permanent termination of the relationship between the child and its natural mother, and thus falls afoul of the solicitude displayed by the Enders court that the payment not be for a termination of the parental relationship.
Shirk's Estate can be distinguished on a similar basis. There, the adoption contract between grandmother and mother contained a provision that the mother, who was recently divorced, could, when she settled down and remarried, readopt her daughter, indicating that permanent severance of the mother's ties to the child was not bargained for or contemplated. Indeed, the mother did readopt her daughter, with the grandmother's consent, some two years after the initial adoption, and some 15 years before the lawsuit was brought.
But the court went on to indicate that it did not consider the promised share of the estate a pecuniary gain of the sort proscribed:
Such is of course not the case here. Appellant was not entitled to any part of the decedent's estate absent the contract. The majority attempts to minimize this distinction by arguing that "implicit in the offer of a share in the estate was the prospect of explicit disinheritance." The fact of the matter is that no explicit threat of disinheritance was made at the time the contract was entered into, nor do the facts reveal that such a threat was implicit in the negotiations. The fact that the grandmother then confirmed to her daughter that she would receive her third of the estate does not necessarily establish that there was a concomitant implicit threat of disinheritance if the daughter did not accede to the grandmother's desires. Certainly the majority must recognize that there are many families in which the ebb and flow of family relationships, of vacillating parental approval of a child's conduct, is not accompanied by implicit threats of disinheritance. (It may be as readily assumed that the parent will ultimately forgive and forget and pass property to the child.)
If the majority is going to rely on Shirk as an expression of a general public policy towards contracts of this sort, it should take the precedent as it finds it. Laws of intestate succession express and confirm a fairly widely held moral notion that a parent's property should pass to the child, a notion presumably shared by parents, and which they will act upon. The Kansas court apparently believed that it was of considerable, indeed controlling, significance that the mother bargained only for the share to which the laws of Kansas intestate succession recognized in her a moral entitlement, and which she ultimately might receive anyway, contract or not. The majority disregards that difference in an effort to equate the free and clear third of the estate bargained for here with that bargained for in Shirk's Estate. But the two are not comparable — the
The major difference between this case and those on which the majority relies, however, is that here enforcement of the appellant's contractual claim may be at the expense of the child. She is named as a defendant in this action, as under decedent's will she is to receive a portion of his estate. It is quite likely that enforcement of the covenant will reduce the child's share of the estate. Such was not the case in Shirk, Clark, or Enders. If so, none of the cases relied on by the majority justify finding a covenant harmful to the child's present interests enforceable, and such a holding would fly directly in the face of well-established legal principles.
The general rule governing all contracts, including the one here, respecting the custody of a child is that such contracts are not binding on the courts, either when made between parents or between a parent and a third party. 59 Am.Jur.2d, supra, §§ 33, 34, at 116-118; Ford v. Ford, 371 U.S. 187, 83 S.Ct. 273, 9 L.Ed.2d 240 (1962); Restatement of Contracts § 583 (1932). "The custody and welfare of children are not the subject of barter." Ford, supra, at 193, 83 S.Ct. at 277, quoting Buchanan v. Buchanan, 170 Va. 458, 477, 197 S.E. 426, 434 (1938). Parents may not treat children as chattels; the state retains a paramount interest in the welfare of the child which may not be defeated by the parent's contract. "[E]xperience has shown that the question of custody, so vital to a child's happiness and well-being, frequently cannot be left to the discretion of parents." Ford, supra, 371 U.S. at 193, 83 S.Ct. at 277. See Barwin v. Reidy, 62 N.M. 183, 307 P.2d 175 (1957). Thus, in virtually every American jurisdiction the terms of a contract respecting custody are subject to being disregarded by the court to advance the child's welfare. Ford, supra, 371 U.S. at 193, 83 S.Ct. 273. Such a contract is considered either illegal, see Restatement, supra, § 583(1), or at least voidable ab initio. In each instance, the provisions of the contract are enforced only if performance of the bargain benefits the child.
Applying that principle, I am clear, even assuming that the over-all contract between appellant and decedent was beneficial to the child, thus making the contract legal, and further assuming that a covenant providing compensation to the relinquishing parent is valid, that if the court is asked to enforce a provision detrimental to the child's interests, the court has the right and the obligation to refuse to enforce it. The provision appellant seeks to enforce here retains its character as a part of a custody-related contract. "`[T]he rule [is] that the welfare of the infant is the primary, paramount, and controlling consideration of the court in all controversies between parents over the custody of their minor children. All other matters are subordinate.'" (Emphasis added) Ford, supra, at 193, 83 S.Ct. 276, quoting Mullen v. Mullen, 188 Va. 259, 269, 49 S.E.2d 349, 354 (1948). As the situation under the
I have a further objection to the course taken by the majority. Even if there were a "majority rule," Nevada would not necessarily follow it. As noted earlier, if a state is undecided on an issue of law, the responsibility rests upon the district court to predict the course that the state will follow. A supposed rule in other jurisdictions is instructive, but certainly not binding. Particularly where a close question is involved, the district court may conclude that the state would follow a "minority rule." In that event, our task is not to decide de novo what we consider the preferable rule, but to decide whether the district court was "clearly wrong." In performing that task, it is particularly relevant to consider the various reasons supporting the "minority" view; we should overturn the district court only if the minority view is untenable. Here there are a number of compelling reasons for upholding the district court's decision.
The so-called "majority rule" is rejected almost as often as accepted. Texas holds that any contract by which a parent surrenders custody is wholly void as against public policy, regardless of the financial prosperity thereby visited on the child, and will not allow enforcement of the contract even by the child, much less the parent. Hooks v. Bridgewater, 111 Tex. 122, 229 S.W. 1114, 1118 (1921).
The rule stated did not apply in Shirk's Estate because there, upon adoption of the child, she became one of three natural heirs of the grandmother, and her expectancy under the contract was the same as that under intestacy. Here, were it not for the adoption agreement, the child would upon her adoption have been entitled to one-half of decedent's estate under the Nevada law of intestate succession,
Given the dubious validity or applicability of the "majority rule," and the split among the relatively few jurisdictions which have considered the question, the district court was certainly not "clearly wrong" in concluding that Nevada would not enforce the promise to devise to the relinquishing mother.
The majority says nothing in favor of the practice of a relinquishing parent's receiving compensation for consent to the transfer of custody of a child. It cannot; I am confident that every court in every jurisdiction in the United States would find that such a promise, standing by itself, violates a strong public policy against the sale of children. Rather, the majority predicates its decision on the notion that the covenant, although while standing alone would violate public policy, becomes inoffensive if the contract taken as a whole is beneficial to the child. The general contract rule, however, is to the contrary. A provision of a contract which is illegal standing alone does not become enforceable if the contract on balance is benevolent. Rather, if the contract is divisible, with consideration supporting two promises, one of which is illegal, a plaintiff may sue to enforce the legal promise, but the illegal one fails. If the contract is not divisible, none of its covenants are enforceable. Restatement, supra, §§ 606, 607; Corbin, supra, § 1522. Applying that principle here, decedent's various promises to benefit the child were legal, but the promise to the mother remains at all times illegal and unenforceable. Again, I doubt the district court was "clearly wrong" in deciding that Nevada would not deviate from such a widely accepted principle of contract law.
None of the appended benefits flowing to the child alter the basic fact that if the mother accepts any consideration for her consent to relinquish custody, she is to some extent "selling" the child. The law, of course, recognizes no property interest which she may sell, but it does
Moreover, the incentive to the mother permitted by the majority has no proper place in Nevada's scheme of legislation protecting the child. As previously pointed out, child custody, welfare, and adoption are not areas where private ordering and arrangement predominate. All states thoroughly regulate the subject to protect the child, overriding private arrangements with public law. Nevada has a comprehensive system of laws governing all aspects of child custody and adoption, passed on the basis of various judgments as to the approaches which will best protect the child; the laws attempt to ensure that all of the child's needs are met. In that context the court's function is not to protect the child by facilitating ad hoc private arrangements, but rather to fashion corollary rules which will conform to and advance the state's legislated approach. The type of incentive provided by the majority is not only not needed to protect the child, but is in fact inconsistent with the general thrust of Nevada's statutory scheme.
Nevada's child welfare laws generally enforce and protect the natural relationship, taking the view that the child is best protected by enforcing the natural bonds between parent and child.
Nevada's statutory scheme, in giving her custody, places on the mother of an illegitimate the concomitant responsibility for making, objectively, decisions which affect the child's well-being. Most importantly for our purposes here, the mother by herself may consent to the adoption of the illegitimate child, unless the father chooses to establish parental rights. N.R.S. 127.040(1)(c).
Adoption is a serious matter; it cuts off the favored natural relationship of parent and child. Nevada has rigorous
The fact that Nevada allows private placements by the natural parent as an exception to the requirement that placements be made through licensed agencies does not, I would think, evidence an intent to ignore the state's concern that the qualifications of the proposed parents be carefully considered. Rather, the state is to some extent relying on the natural parent's solicitude for the child to replace the special competence of the licensed agency. Thus, Nevada, by requiring her consent to the specific adoption proposed by the petition, N.R.S. 127.040(1)(d), places on the mother the initial responsibility to decide whether the child would be well off with the prospective adoptive parents. That decision entails more than financial considerations. By providing means of enforcing a father's financial responsibilities to an illegitimate, Nevada relieves the mother from purely financial compulsion to give up the child, and therefore allows her to consider qualities of the proposed adoptive parents other than their financial capacity. She must consider the whole spectrum of the child's needs, and balance all its prospects, whether financial, educational, cultural, religious, or any other. Ultimately, she must evaluate how well the adoptive parents can raise the child — whether they can replace her natural love for the child and give it the love, tolerance and guidance necessary for it to grow happy and whole. It is a delicate, perhaps imprecise, balance. But as the child's welfare is at stake, Nevada undoubtedly intends for the mother to weigh the child's interests as carefully as she is able.
In that light, it seems to me a very reasonable corollary that Nevada would not want or allow one-third of the Anaconda Copper fortune held by the decedent Marcus Daly to be dropped in the balance to sway the mother's judgment. Such financial considerations might very well buy a blind spot to qualities in the adoptive parent harmful to the child, and which the mother would not otherwise ignore. As stated by Mitler in his report for the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau:
While Mitler was addressing the child-selling abuses of middlemen paid by adoptive parents to "buy" a child, the underlying policy judgment, that money should not dictate the placement of an adoptive child, presumably translated into the Nevada law, remains the same here.
The majority apparently believes that the danger posed to the child does not warrant uniformly proscribing such compensation,
But such after-the-fact review does not completely cure the vice at which it is directed. So long as the receipt of compensation is not entirely proscribed, the mother may be tempted to diminish the child's benefits under the contract and increase her own share. Our review to determine whether the adoption contract is on balance favorable to the child does not eradicate the potential in each case that were compensation to the mother entirely proscribed, the child might have done even better under the contract. The majority's rule creates a temptation, the marginal consequences of which are inimical to the child's welfare.
Moreover, after-the-fact review is inadequate and cannot replace the protection provided in the first instance by the mother's natural concern for the child. The majority, and the other courts which have faced the question, are forced to rely almost entirely
As the decision on which course will best serve the child is made before the child is adopted, and as a court cannot later review that decision very well, it seems to me preferable for the Court to circumscribe the mother's initial decision with rules which ensure, insofar as possible, that she will weigh all considerations, tangible and intangible, solely on the basis of what is best for the child. The district court, by proscribing compensation to the mother, did so. The majority's approach manifestly does not. I believe that the district court's position is preferable because it advances the policies of Nevada's child welfare laws. But I am certain that the district judge was not "clearly wrong" in deciding that Nevada would choose his course.
There is no compelling legal reason to reach a conclusion different from that of the local district judge, and we should not do so. We cannot afford ourselves the luxury of ad hoc deviations from sound legal principles in order to reach sympathetic results; the price of such a course, in terms of the confusion and uncertainty introduced into the law, and
I would affirm the judgment below.