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When my mom married my step-dad, I was 15 (and my sister was 18) but he had custody of his 4-year old daughter and 6- and 10-year old sons. His ex-wife had them every-other weekend, but often skipped her weekend whenever she didn't feel like having them! My mom wanted to adopt them, but the ex-wife said she'd die before she gave them up (like they were possessions, not human beings).
My mom adopted each of of them on their 18th birthday, when their biological mother could no longer prevent it. But if their father had passed away prior to that, it wouldn't have been a good situation for anyone.