Friday, March 14, 2008

Something to think about the Next Time you Use Jell-O…..

This is a good story because it not only involves interesting questions about the rights of adopted children, but it also involves that ubiquitous sparkling treat of our childhoods – Jell-O.

A woman born out of wedlock to a direct descendant of the family that struck it rich marketing Jell-O more than a century ago has been denied her “just desserts” (their pun, not mine).

The Court of Appeals in New York ruled Thursday that Elizabeth McNabb, a child born out of wedlock and later adopted, cannot share in the multimillion-dollar estate of her late mother, Barbara Woodwoard Piel. Piel became pregnant in 1955 after a liaison with a married man and put the child -- later named Elizabeth McNabb -- up for adoption in Oregon. Piel soon married and had two other daughters.

As a young adult, McNabb embarked on a quest to find her birth mother. She was able to find out about her family history and had a four day visit with her birth mother. After Piel’s death, McNabb was denied her share in the family fortune. The issue is question is whether or not a child put up for adoption should share in an inheritance – in this case family trusts made before and after her birth.

Jell-O was first made by a carpenter in NY who mixed fruit flavoring into gelatin and began selling the sweet concoction door-to-door in March 1897. When sales never picked up, he sold the trademark to Piel’s grandfather for $450. Within a decade Jell-O became a million-dollar business. At issue is $12 million for Piel’s children (who are great-grandchildren of the man who bought the trademarke) – that’s a lotta Jell-O ..........

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