Hanai: A Hawaiian Tradition

Hanai is the Hawaiian tradition of birth parents allowing their families or friends to raise their children. It was usually done openly without legal paperwork. Should a “hanaied” child be treated equal to a blood child in court?

In 1869 in Lahaina, Peter and Mary Ann Mellish filed a lawsuit against Eugene Bal and W. F. Adams. The Mellishs’ mother was George Lawrence’s adopted daughter. When Lawrence died, Eugene Bal and W. Adams got the land. However, the Mellishs claimed that they were Lawrence’s children through hanai and that they should inherit the land. Did the Mellishs get the land? Read more about it in “Supreme Court.”


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