My sister is terminally ill and would like me to adopt her baby when she passes. The baby's father has not had contact with my sister since she became pregnant. There is no father listed on the baby's birth certificate. Does that change the adoption process?

First, I am truly sorry to hear about this situation. Probably this is not an adoption situation. You need to talk to an attorney who specializes in probate law. They can set up documents that would give you custody of the child if your sister passes. There still may be issues with the custody rights of the father, but this is not an area of expertise for the IAC. Please consult an attorney.

The only way this can be done as an adoption is if your sister signed papers relinquishing her parental rights before she passed. In addition, the rights of the father would need to be legally terminated. Even if he is not on the birth certificate and has not been involved since the birth of the child, his rights must be terminated. You would also have to have a home study done to determine that your home is a safe physical and emotional space for a child. This includes a criminal background check.