A married couple, Samantha and Carl Johnson*, first came to the Clinic’s Ft. Wayne office several years ago to get assistance with a stepparent adoption. At the time, they were unable to locate and thus get consent forms signed by the biological father. The Clinic was not able to take the case. But after finally obtaining the necessary forms, Samantha and Carl returned to the Clinic and were able to receive assistance. The family has seven children in total, with two of Samantha’s boys being from a previous relationship. Although not their biological father, Carl is the only father they have ever known. Ft. Wayne Paralegal Cathy Warney says, “The biological father had been absent in the two sons’ lives and had never even seen the younger of the two boys.” This, combined with Carl’s constant presence, meant the boys believed Carl to be their biological father; they did not even realize they were being adopted. “[The children] were told they were just having their names changed to have their father's last name as they were born before their parents were married,” Cathy says.
Although this sometimes made the case a bit more difficult, Director of the Ft. Wayne office Desiree Koger-Gustafson says, “[The parents] wanted to make it legal and be able to decide for themselves when they want to tell [their children] about their biological father.” Both Samantha and Carl hoped to complete the adoption as quickly as possible before the boys got any older. “They had not ever been around their biological dad since they were babies and they were getting to the age where they might find out in an unpleasant manner,” Desiree says.
Cathy was especially happy when the Clinic was able to accept the case. Although Carl works as a stay-at-home dad and the family is financially stable, with seven children and two adults, their budget is still extremely tight. “They did not have the resources to hire a private attorney to complete the two adoptions,” Cathy says.
All that time and effort is paying off though because, just one week ago, the Clinic received word that the adoption was complete. Desiree delivered the good news to Samantha and Carl and found them to be ecstatic. “They were relieved and thankful,” she says.
Of course such personal familial cases can prove to be challenging as well, especially when the client has to share difficult details before an eventual positive resolution can be reached. Desiree says, “Usually by the time they wish to adopt, they have moved past the hurt of whatever broken relationship started that journey.”
Despite these initial difficulties, for Desiree, this type of case holds a particular joy for her. “Family unity is what our faith is about,” she says. “Adoptions come from love and that's why they are my favorite!”
*Names and some details have been changed.