Dedicated Pro Bono Attorney Helps Airman Adopt Step-Children With Ailing Mother, Saving Them From Abusive Father
An Air Force servicemember’s spouse had two children from a previous marriage that the servicemember was seeking to adopt because the biological father was incarcerated with a history of alcohol, drug abuse and domestic violence. In addition, the soldier’s spouse—the biological mother—had been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. The biological father did not regularly visit with the children, did not pay regular child support and was arrested for a domestic disturbance the last time the children visited with him. The servicemember, on the other hand, had been actively involved in the children’s lives, had been married to the children’s mother, the custodial parent, for almost two years. It was therefore clear that it was in the children’s best interest for the soldier to adopt them, especially given his spouse’s declining health. The soldier’s military legal assistance attorney was concerned that the soldier was not capable of representing himself, so she referred the soldier to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which assigned the servicemember to an experienced and dedicated pro bono attorney. The volunteer attorney retained a social worker to conduct a pre-adoptive study and reported that the social worker was so moved by this wonderful family that she was quickly able to submit a comprehensive report at a significantly reduced rate. In the end, the pro bono attorney successfully procured the step-parent adoption of the soldier’s two stepchildren, the termination of the biological father’s parental rights, and the creation of new birth certificates that list the servicemember as the children’s new father.