SC man granted custody of daughter who was adopted without his knowledge
Christopher Emanuel endured a lengthy court battle and once believed he would never see his child, Skylar, again.
A South Carolina man has started a Kickstarter campaign to help other fathers after his paternal rights were terminated without his permission.
In 2014, according to ABC News 4, Christopher Emanuel gained full custody of his daughter Skylar after she was adopted without his approval. He shared with the outlet he feared he would never see his daughter again as he engaged in a lengthy court battle.
The outlet reported that Emanuel listed himself on a South Carolina database for unwed fathers aiming to provide for their children. When he registered, he added the mother of the child’s name and was supposed to be notified if the child was put up for adoption.
“Before rights are terminated to allow an adoption to occur, attorneys, as well as the department of social services, will check this registry and if his name is on there he must be notified,” said Pat Littlejohn, the president of a local advocacy group South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families.
ABC found Emanuel signed up on Feb. 4, 2014, and the family filed a motion to adopt Skylar on Feb. 19. The adoptive family, residents of San Diego, was able to use a loophole in South Carolina law, allowing out-of-state adoptions under special circumstances and according to the report, being biracial qualified Skylar for the process.
“I was lost, man, I was hurt I was confused because I wanted to ensure that I could be there for my child,” said Emanuel to ABC. “This was my opportunity to prove that I was deprived of that my constitution and state rights were violated.”
In 2015, according to The Atlantic, Emanuel was in a relationship with a white woman whose family did not approve. Despite that, while his girlfriend’s family was out of town, the two continued their relationship and she got pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy, while her family remained away, the two attended doctor’s appointments together, and he helped her apply for Medicaid and other benefits. According to the report, she had never told her parents about the baby and he had never met them.
When her parents returned, a neighbor broke the news about the pregnancy, and the girlfriend, who did not speak to the outlet, called Emanuel crying.
The Atlantic reported the woman was confronted by her mother who exclaimed “You’re pregnant by a n—. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Emanuel thought things had improved and finally even met his girlfriend’s mother. Although the girlfriend said she ‘liked’ him, she also told him, “You may be a nice fella, but [my daughter] knows it’s forbidden to date a n—-.”
Despite that, he continued to support his girlfriend through gestational diabetes and more, vowing to take care of her and their daughter via regular texts even when she stopped seeing him.
According to the report, she lied to Emanuel about Skylar’s birthdate, telling him that she would be induced on Feb. 24, 2014. He found out the truth when served notice papers of the adoption that the infant was born on Feb. 11.
After a lengthy and intense court battle, a judge ordered granted custody of Skylar to Emanuel on April 17. The adoptive parents relinquished the child in January of 2015 and though she initially sided with the adoptive parents, Sylar’s mother terminated her parental rights in December of 2014.
Emanuel provided an update to The Atlantic in 2016:
“Every morning, Sky wakes up next to me and says, ‘Wake up, Daddy!’ We’ll say a prayer, brush our teeth, read a book, and we eat breakfast. I have to be at work (as a manager at a furniture store) at 9, and my mother or my aunt stays with her during the day for now. She’s about to start at a school for 3-year-olds in the fall. She’s so smart! She enunciates her words so clearly. She can count to 20. She can name every part of her body. She can say her ABCs. She likes Barney.”
He now works so that other fathers know their rights and are able to have legal custody of their children. Emanuel launched the Sky Is The Limit to help all fathers understand their rights. According to the website, the organization helps “to guide and answer questions to the best of our abilities so that all properly fit, capable and willing Dads can be well equipped in asserting their parental rights,” and works to end adoption trafficking.
Sky Is The Limit is currently mounting a Kickstarter campaign to change the policy that makes adoption trafficking legal in America.
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