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Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Months of Fighting in Courts, Father Finally Wins Custody of Daughter Put Up for Adoption Without His Consent

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Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

When Christopher Emanuel from Aiken County, South Carolina, became a father over seven years ago, he had hopes and dreams for his daughter.

“I always said I wanted to be a great dad,” he told WACH-TV.

He and the baby’s mother were not married, but he signed up with the Responsible Fatherhood Registry through the state Department of Social Services, which would require him to be notified if his child, Skyler, went up for adoption.



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Emanuel took the right steps and was officially signed up on Feb. 4, 2014, but adopters signed their papers on Feb. 19, unbeknownst to him.

He was never notified, never given a chance to step up for his daughter before she was given away without his knowledge or consent.

“I didn’t know if she was safe. … I didn’t know if I would ever see her again,” he said. “I was lost, man. I was hurt. I was confused because I wanted to ensure that I could be there for my child.”



Part of the issue is that South Carolina adoption laws allow for children born under “unusual or exceptional circumstances” to be adopted by out-of-state adopters — and Skyler fell under that category. It’s another law many agree needs to change.

Emanuel lawyered up and pursued Skyler, even though she’d been taken from Aiken County, where she was born, to San Diego.



 

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He was not even listed as the biological father on the adoption paperwork, and his rights had been terminated illegally.

It took almost a year, but a judge finally ruled in his favor, and his baby was sent back to South Carolina and to his waiting arms.

As a result of his struggle and the way his rights were trampled, Emanuel started a group in 2015 to advocate for fathers’ rights, called the Sky Is the Limit Foundation.



“Despite the obstacles and structural impediments he faced as a father he was successful in bringing his daughter home,” his website states.

Emanuel, his daughter and his work are all a beacon of hope for others who want to avoid the issues that he encountered and be able to keep their children close.

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