For many, it’s a title given at birth and sometimes taken for granted, but for one Spencer County family, it is now a dying wish. One terminally ill father wants to legally adopt his adult son before his time is up.
Time can be a mysterious thing… sometimes appearing generous.
"We had talked about it nine years ago and it sort of died off. We didn't talk about it much and it kind of died off. After the fact it was something that was brought up and then it just never happened," Stacy Estel said.
But eventually, time takes a turn. Estel said, "There's a lot of struggles that he's faced with now that a month ago he might not have had. Its just gone really fast."
It's a harsh reminder that even for the strongest, time is limited.
"When death is standing at your door and you're starting to think about the things you maybe should have done but you didn't do, that's when you start to try to knock off everything that you can," Estel said.
For Stacy Estel, being a father has always been a priority. With two children of his own, he knows "dad" is more than just a title. But right now a title is all this son wants.
"My step dad is terminally ill and he was wanting to adopt me before his time comes," Estel explained.
Estel's memories with his step-father Chuck date back to when he was just a boy.
"He would run right alongside me in the cross country meets for a ways. I can just picture him being there and running along and cheering me on all the time," Estel said.
Estel said his biological father has not been in the picture in a long time. After meeting his mother, when Estel was nine, he said Chuck, stepped up to the plate. He thanks his step-father for making him the man he is today.
"He means everything to me”, he said.
Estel said the two talked about making the adoption official nine years ago... the same year Chuck was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
But as it does, time got away from them.
When Chuck decided to stop chemo in June, doctors told him his days are numbered.
"He told me that it was something that he should've done nine years ago and it was something he wanted to do before his time came," Estel said.
They finalized the adoption paperwork and set a date in court. The night before the hearing, Chuck's condition worsened and he was rushed to the ER.
"It was sad to know that we were that close and that more than likely, that was our last chance," Estel said.
With Spencer County officials working to make the adoption happen, this family is watching the clock. They know time, now more than ever, is of the essence.
The pair is hoping to make it to a Monday morning court date, where special accommodations will be made to get the family in and out quickly.
But should his health deteriorate before then, county officials say they will make alternative plans. The entire community is now determined to make this relationship legal.