POHNPEl LAW REPORTS
VOL. 3
 
[3 PN.L.R. 171]

IN THE MATTER OF THE CONFIRMATION OF
THE CUSTOMARY ADOPTION OF AURIO RESEP,
A Minor

LUSIA RESEP,
Petitioner

Pohnpel Civil Action No. 247-87

Trial Division of the Pohnpel Supreme Court

June 7,1988

     Petition for the confirmation of customary adoption of a minor child so that the minor could receive Social Security benefits due heirs of his adoptive father. The Trial Division of the Pohnpel Supreme Court JUDAH C. JOHNNY Associate Justice granting the petition, held that the Court had power under 39 TTC 5, which remained applicable in Pohnpel State, to confirm an adoption under local custom when validity thereof was questioned or disputed in such a manner as to cause serious embarrassment to or affect the property rights of the parties of their children.

1.      Laws of Pohnpei - Sources of Law - Statutes
39 TTC 5 remains part of the laws of Pohnpel State.

2.      Domestic Relations - Adoption - Customary Adoption - Confirmation - Courts- Powers-Custom
The Court has power under 39 TTC 5, to confirm the adoption of a minor under local custom where the validity of the adoption is questioned or disputed in such manner as to cause serious embarrassment to or affect the property rights of the parties or their children. When such question or disputed is absent the Court cannot confirm such relationship, for custom is a law and need be effected by law.

[3 PN.L.R. 172]

Counsel for Petitioner:     Stephen R. Skipton, Esq.
                                           Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
                                           Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941

JUDAH C. JOHNNY, Associate Justice
     The petition of Lusia Resep came on to be heard before me on June 7, 1988, in Kolonia, State of Pohnpei. Present were the petitioner, minor Aurio Resep, and Stephen R. Skipton, Esq. of the Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, as counsel.

     The petition seeks an order of this Court to confirm that the petitioner and her husband, Aurio Resep, now deceased, are adoptive parents of minor boy Aurio Resep, under Pohnpei custom.

     Evidence obtained from the petitioner shows that the petitioner is a younger sister of the mother of the natural father of Aurio Resep, Dakeo Resep. That under Pohnpei custom, the petitioner and her husband Aurio Resep adopted Dakeo Resep. That a few years ago, Dakeo Resep was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii, to enroll in job-corptraining. Dakeo Resep never returned to Pohnpei, but has got married to Chandra, a resident of the State of Hawaii. Dakeo

[3 PN.L.R. 173]

and his wife have settled and made living in Hawaii, and have born to them three children, the youngest being Aurio Resep, who was born on September 27, 1979.

     At one point after the birth of Aurio the minor, Aurio the deceased husband travelled to Hawaii to visit Dakeo Resep and family. When Aurio the deceased returned to Pohnpei he brought along Aurio the minor when the latter was about one year old. The taking of this minor was for purposes of adoption. Aurio Resep died on April 12,1986, but the petitioner continues to keep custody and has been providing the necessary support and discipline to the minor up to the present time.

     She now petitions this Court to confirm that she and her late husband adopted Aurio Resep under Pohnpei custom.

     There is on file an affidavit signed by Dakeo Resep and Chandra Resep on October 28, 1987, acknowledging the existence of a customary adoption of their natural child Aurio Resep by the petitioner and her late husband Aurio Resep.

[1-2] The power of this Court to grant confirmation of customary

[3 PN.L.R. 174]

annulment, divorce, and adoption is prescribed under Title 39 Section 5, of the Code of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which this Court has ruled remains applicable in this State despite the proclamations that Trust Territory laws ceased to apply in the Federated States of Micronesia at the termination of the Trusteeship Agreement, and implementation of the Compact of Free Association, on November 3, 1986. See Pohnpel State vs. Mack et al., 2 P.S.Ct.R. 269. Section V of Title 39 gives power to this Court to confirm annulment, divorce and adoption under local custom "when the validity thereof is questioned or disputed in such a manner as to cause serious embarrassment to or affect the property rights of the parties or their children." When that is absent, this Court cannot confirm such relationship, for custom is a law and need not be effected by law.

     I find that the purpose of the relief sought by the petitioner as herein above discussed is to enable the minor to receive Social Security benefits due heirs of Aurio Resep, his adopted father. While the petitioner has sought payment of the proceeds of this Social Security benefit, she is unable to have the payment made

[3 PN.L.R. 175]

until an order is issued by this Court, naming a legal successor. Under this petition, the petitioner desires that the adoptee be the successor. I determine that the difficulty by the Social Security to issue Social Security payments to Aurio Resep constitutes a question regarding the existence or the validity of the customary adoption. That gives power to this Court to determine the validity of the alleged customary adoption.

     I am satisfied that Aurio the deceased and his wife Lusia Resep, the petitioner herein, completed the necessary steps, under Pohnpei custom, to adopt the minor Aurio Resep.

     Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the customary adoption of Aurio Resep by the petitioner and her husband Aurio Resep, deceased, is confirmed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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