Christine Svenningsen is a rich, New York widow who enjoys collecting and remodeling estates in Long Island Sound. She is also, apparently, a rich, New York widow who enjoys collecting—I'm sorry, adopting—children from China, only to give them up for readoption once she tires of them. According to a report in the Daily News, Svenningsen has given up not just one adopted child—as previously thought—but two.
The first abandoned child, Emily, was part of the Svenningsen family for eight years, including over a year while Svennginsen's husband, John, a party supplies magnate, was still alive. Svenningsen gave Emily up for readoption in 2004 and then sued to have the girl removed from her husband's $250 million will. That attempt was shot down in a state appeals court last month, but not before Svenningsen's terrible treatment of Emily came to light.
As the Daily News reports:
Once in 2003, as punishment for "disobeying major house rules," Emily was forced to sleep in a tent for a week, according to court papers. She was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital; a witness said she was covered in bug bites.
Svenningsen, asked at her deposition what rule Emily had broken, said she couldn't remember. Campbell's filings say Svenningsen also separated Emily from her siblings at dinner.
In 2003 - the same year Christine paid $22.3 million for one 8-acre island with a 27-room mansion, a tennis court, a pool and a golf course - the cold-hearted widow shipped Emily off to a boarding school for kids with special needs in Connecticut with a diagnosis of "reactive attachment disorder," a condition in which people can't relate to others.
Svenningsen left Emily at the school on weekends, while the rest of the students would go home with their families, the court filings say.
Svenningsen said she did bring Emily home on Christmas Eve, but when the girl threw a fit about being back home, she drove her back up to school the next day - Christmas morning.
Emily was put up for adoption shortly after that incident and was taken in by Maryann Campbell, who worked at Emily's boarding school with her husband and had bonded with the girl. Campbell and the school determined there was nothing wrong with Emily and discontinued her medication. She was then moved to another school and, according to Campbell, is doing fine.
During the deposition for that case, it was revealed that Svenningsen had adopted another baby from China shortly after she adopted Emily. This baby, named Eric, was given up almost immediately after Svenningsen returned to the States. Her reason for giving up Eric:
"I couldn't handle seven children," Svenningsen answered.
It remains unknown why she thought it was a good idea to adopt Eric after she already had six children, including one, Emily, who she apparently thought was a mistake.
"Maybe I should not have gone to China. Everyone advised me not to continue with the adoption, but I just wanted things to go on as planned. My world was falling apart. My husband had cancer. Somehow I thought if I stuck to the plan, everything would be okay," she said.
Of course, based on a recent interaction with Campbell, Emily's new mother, it seems likely Svenningsen lacks the basic skills necessary to be a decent parent, or person.
Campbell's filings say Svenningsen turned a cold shoulder to the girl even after she'd been readopted.
Campbell said she had a "chance encounter" with Emily's former mom, and told her Emily would love to see her and her former siblings because she missed them.
Svenningsen said no.
[Daily News, image, of one of Svenningsen's homes, via AP]