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Clarenville man legally adopts stepdaughter after almost 39 years

Renee Pike and her father Austin Chatman
Renee Pike and her father Austin Chatman

CLARENVILLE-Austin Chatman has legally become the father to Renee Pike, after filling the role of stepfather for almost 39 years. 

From left to right, Vance Pike, Dallas Quinton, Renee Pike, and Austin Chatman.

"At 63 years old, it makes me happy to become a legal dad," he said at Clarenville provincial court Thursday morning, Sept. 21, just moments after Judge Paul Noble signed the adoption papers.

"I have a father," said an overjoyed Renee.

"He's always been my father- but legally now, I have a father."

Renee, who currently lives in Labrador, says she was scrolling through Facebook one day when she saw a story that caught her eye— an American family had legally adopted an adult who they had raised.

Renee began to investigate.

She got in touch with a lawyer in Labrador City, who claimed that they would need some time to look into the technicalities of adult adoption because they had never handled such a case before.

"And four months later here we are!" said Renee.

The family planned the adoption as a surprise for Chatman, who knew nothing of the process until Monday, Sept. 18.

"She came home and called me into the bedroom… and she had these professional looking papers.  Then I looked at the papers, and starting reading 'adoption'.  I kept on reading and I realized what she wanted," said Chatman.

"I was quite surprised about 39 years, but it was a pleasant surprise," he said.

"I told her yes on the spot."

Renee had to sign documents that she would legally waive rights to her biological father, and that she would give approval for Austin to become her adoptive father.

She says that though she has always considered Chatman her father, it was important to her to legalize the relationship.

"I'm married and not living with my parents, but it was a final thing that needed to be done.  He's always been my father."

The family also say that they are surprised with how quickly the process went— they originally thought it might take a few months to arrange things with the court, and thought the adoption might be a Christmas present.

The joy that the family felt was easy to catch at the courthouse.

"Congratulations, it's a girl!" laughed the court clerk who handed Chatman his copy of the adoption order.

"And there's no Pampers!" joked Renee.

The family plans to celebrate tonight by eating out, and maybe catching a screening of Stephen King's "It" at Clarenville Twin Cinemas.

But, since Renee's husband Vance and her mother Dallas and her aren’t too fond of horror movies, it might just be a daddy-daughter date. 

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