A very big win for a father after he was granted back custody of his daughter who was adopted without his permission.
Christopher Emmanuel had always wanted to be a great dad, but the opportunity to prove that slipped away the moment his former girlfriend decided to put their newborn daughter up for adoption without notifying him.
Recall that the South Carolina law states that unwed fathers can sign up for the responsible fatherhood registry to inform the state of their paternity. Hence, Emmanuel, on February 4, 2014, signed up for the registry which made it compulsory that he’s notified whenever his ex-girlfriend wanted to put their daughter, Skyler, up for adoption.
On the same note, Pat Littlejohn, president of the advocacy group, South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, in his briefing to Fox 57 News said, “Before rights to commence the adoption are terminated, attorneys, alongside the department of social services, must inquire into this registry. And He must be notified if his name is on there.”
However, despite Emmanuel’s name listed as Skyler’s father on the registry, the adoptive parents from San Diego didn’t include him in the documents they filed on the 19th of February, 2014.
Emmanuel was thrown into confusion upon finding out that his daughter was being adopted without his consent.
“I was lost, man. I was hurt and confused because I had always wanted to ensure that I’m there for my child,” he said.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina law further states that parents from another state seeking to adopt a child born in South Carolina can only do so under exceptional and unusual circumstances.
To this effect, Senator Katrina Shealy also gave a briefing to Fox 57 News.
“As at the time the adoption code was enacted, the public was not willing to adopt a biracial child or one with disabilities. However, since Skyler is a mixed-race child, she fell under the category; hence, her adoption could be processed,” she said.
Emmanuel fought to overturn his daughter’s adoption by taking the case to the court system in Aiken County, where his daughter was born.
“This was my chance to prove that I was deprived of my rights as a father and that the state constitutions were violated,” he said.
“Skyler was in San Diego, California with the hoping adoptive couple where her name was changed. I’ve got with me medical documentation referring to her with another name. She was never adopted legally,” he added.
Finally, records with the court proved that Emmanuel’s paternal rights were terminated without his permission. And as he continued to fight against Skyler’s illegal adoption, he expressed willingness to gain back her custody.
The whole case lasted a year until a judge sided with Emmanuel, leading to the court eventually granting him sole custody of his daughter, allowing her to come back with him to South Carolina.
In another news, according to abc15 NEWS, Emmanuel’s story has prompted South Carolina lawmakers to seek change to the adoption code in the state.
“We had a meeting and went over a lot of things. We deliberated the language of the code, how it was perceived back when it was enacted, as well as how outdated it probably is today,” said Dr Jermaine Johnson, South Carolina House representative for District 80.
Johnson reported they now have the bipartisan support to help them effect some changes to the code and said, “I’ll be pushing things from the House side, and hopefully we can get things done this session.”
Meanwhile, Emmanuel has established a foundation named Sky is the Limit. Under the foundation’s umbrella, he is now travelling across the nation to create awareness for fathers on their paternal rights.