C was born in Arkansas on January 12, 1954. After his birth his mother was confined in a State hospital because of a mental condition. On July 21, 1954, C's father gave him to D and E "to raise and care for" because the father was unable to care for him properly. From that date until D died on November 2, 1958, although no action was taken to legally adopt him, C lived with D and E, was known by their surname, and was treated in all ways as their child. After D's death, E instituted proceedings for the legal adoption of C, and on April 27, 1959, an interlocutory decree of adoption was granted, which stated in part:
E died, fully and currently insured, on September 4, 1959, less than six months after the interlocutory decree was issued. Shortly thereafter, an application for child's insurance benefits based on E's earnings record was filed on C's behalf.
Section 202(d) of the Social Security Act provides, in pertinent part, for the payment of child's insurance benefits to a child (as defined in section 216(e) of a fully or currently insured individual. Section 216(e) defines the term "child" as including the legally adopted child of an individual.
The interlocutory decree of adoption which was issued to E provided for a six months' waiting period before a final decree could be entered. However, E died before such final decree could be entered. Therefore, the question to be resolved is whether C qualifies as the legally adopted child of E and, if so, the effective date of adoption.
Section 56-108(e) of the 1947 Arkansas Statutes provides, in pertinent part:
In reference to the effective date of an adoption, the Arkansas Supreme Court in the case of A. v. B., 297 Ark. 844, 233 S.W. (2d) 629 (1950) said:
It is held, therefore, that C has the status of a legally adopted child of E even though E died within six months of the interlocutory decree and no final decree will be entered, and thus C is the child of E within the meaning of section 216(e) of the Social Security Act.