In the Matter of the Adoption of K.J.C.; K.B.C., and B.J.C., Petitioners and Appellees
K.J.C., D.V.T. and the Executive Director of the Department of Human Service Department, State of North Dakota, Respondents, D.V.T., Appellant
from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest
Judicial District, the Honorable David W. Nelson, Judge.
J.S. Rusch (argued) and Ryan C. McCamy (on brief),Fargo,
N.D., for petitioners and appellees.
P. Hurly, Devils Lake, N.D., for appellant.
W. VandeWalle, C.J., Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers,
Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner. Opinion of the
Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
[¶1] D.V.T., the father of minor child
K.J.C., appealed from a district court's final decree of
adoption, terminating his parental rights and granting a
petition for step-parent adoption. We affirm the decree as
modified, concluding the evidence supports the district
court's findings and its decision is not clearly
[¶2] The child was born in 2011. Although
the father's paternity has never been judicially
established, the parties agree D.V.T. is the child's
father. The child's mother, K.B.C., was never married to
the father and they were not in a relationship together when
the child was born. In December 2014, the mother married
B.J.C., the child's step-father.
[¶3] On January 23, 2015, the mother and
step-father petitioned for an order terminating the
father's parental rights and allowing the step-father to
adopt the child. They alleged the father's consent was
not required because the father had not communicated with the
child or provided
for the child's care and support for more than one year.
[¶4] The father appeared at a hearing on
December 7, 2015, and objected to the petition. At the end of
the hearing, the district court made oral findings on the
record, stating it was terminating the father's parental
rights and granting the petition for step-parent adoption.
The court found the father's consent was not required
because the father failed to be a part of the child's
life for four years and the father never contributed any
financial support for the child. The court found the adoption
was in the child's best interests and ordered the
father's parental rights be terminated.
[¶5] On December 8, 2015, a final decree of
adoption was entered. The court's written order said the
required consent for adoption was obtained or excused, no
person appeared at the hearing claiming to be the natural
father and claiming custodial rights, and the adoption was in
the child's best interests. The decree granted the
petition for adoption and terminated the father's
[¶6] The father argues the district court
clearly erred in terminating his parental rights and finding
his consent to the adoption was not necessary. The father
contends there was not clear and convincing evidence he
intended to abandon the child.
[¶7] The trial court's findings of fact
in an adoption proceeding, including whether a parent has
abandoned a child, will not be reversed on appeal unless they
are clearly erroneous. In re Adoption of S.R.F.,
2004 ND 150, ¶ 7, 683 N.W.2d 913. A finding is clearly
erroneous if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law,
there is no evidence to support it, or if there is some
supporting evidence, on the entire record we are left with a
definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made. In
re Adoption of I.R.R., 2013 ND 211, ¶ 12, 839 N.W.2d
[¶8] Generally, a parent of a child must
consent to adoption; ...