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Equitable adoption is a remedy to 'protect the interest of a person who was supposed to have been adopted as a child but whose adoptive parents failed to undertake the legal steps necessary to formally accomplish the adoption.' Gardner v. Hancock, 924 S.W.2d 857, 858 (Mo. Ct. App. 1996). 

The doctrine is applied in an intestate estate to 'give effect to the intent of the decedent to adopt and provide for the child.' Id. It is predicated upon principles of contract law and equitable enforcement of the agreement to adopt for the purpose of securing the benefits of adoption that would otherwise flow from the adoptive parent under the laws of intestacy had the agreement to adopt been carried out; as such it is essentially a matter of equitable relief. Being only an equitable remedy to enforce a contract right, it is not intended or applied to create the legal relationship of parent and child, with all the legal consequences of such a relationship, nor is it meant to create a legal adoption. 2 Am. Jur. 2d Adoption § 53 (1994) (footnotes omitted). Adoption did not exist at common law and is of purely statutory ...

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