TAYLORSVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A terminally ill man and his adult stepson wanted to make their relationship official with a legal adoption in his final days of life. Met with many challenges, they weren’t sure that it was going to happen, but Monday morning, it became a reality.
"We've done a lot. We've done a whole lot together,” Stacy Estel said of his stepfather.
The pair has made 35 years of memories but none quite like the one they shared on Monday.
Walking up to the Spencer County Courthouse, Stacy Estel and his stepfather Chuck prepared for a memory that has been decades in the making.
"From that day when I met him, it was almost as if he was there to guide me in the right direction and do things with me and show me the right way,” Estel said.
Chuck was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer nearly 10 years ago, and the fight has been tough.
About a month ago, his doctor told him his days were limited. From then on, his dying wish has been a simple one- to legally adopt his stepson, Stacy.
"There's nobody like him. There really isn't,” Estel said.
Estel said he wasn't sure they would make it to the courthouse.
"Seeing him this morning and how sick he was, I was nervous,” he explained.
But Chuck was determined.
"I was telling my mom just to let him go back to bed and he wanted me to help him up and get him in the chair and he said this was something that he wanted to come down and do,” Estel said.
Finally, they were in front of the judge for a 10 a.m. hearing – the county attorney had organized especially from them.
Estel said his stepfather joked with the judge and she joked back.
"She called us procrastinators and asked why'd it take us so long and we both at the same time said 'we've just been busy'," Estel explained.
After a short time inside the courtroom, their wish was granted.
Estel said, "it’s a really good feeling."
The pair walked out of the courthouse together. Chuck reached up for Estel’s hand.
"He doesn't ever really show a lot of affection, never really been a hugger or anything like that, so for him to look up and ask me to hold his hand, it felt really nice,” Estel said.
A sign of the unbreakable bond between this father and son. Estel said, "I might call him dad now. For 35 years, I've called him Chuck but I might try it out”.
Helping his father get into the car, Stacy guided Chuck after years of Chuck guiding Stacy.
They’re calling this their final journey, as the family they've always wanted to be.
The adoption was made possible by a number of people. The family's attorney waived her fees, Spencer County EMS personnel worked off-duty to be at the courthouse in case anything went wrong, and the Spencer County Attorney organized the hearing, making sure the family could get in and out as quickly as possible.
The family said they are speechless and they are thankful.