Man Wins Back Custody Of Daughter, Who Was Adopted Without His Permission

by : Emily Brown on : 23 Feb 2021 18:00
Man Wins Back Custody Of Daughter, Who Was Adopted Without His PermissionWFBF

A South Carolina father succeeded in winning back custody of his daughter after she was adopted without his permission. 

Christopher Emanuel ‘always said [he] wanted to be a great dad’, but the opportunity to prove himself was taken away when his former girlfriend placed their newborn daughter, Skyler, up for adoption without telling him.


Under South Carolina law, unwed fathers can sign up on the responsible fatherhood registry to let the state know they have fathered a child.

Hear more about Emanuel’s story below:


On February 4, 2014, Emanuel went through this process and made it mandatory that he would be notified if Skyler’s mother put the child up for adoption.


Pat Littlejohn, president of the advocacy group South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, told Fox 57 News: ‘Before rights are terminated to allow an adoption to occur attorneys as well as department of social services will check this registry and if his name is on there he must be notified.’

However, despite being listed as her father on the registry, Emanuel was not added as the biological father on the adoption documentation, filed by the adoptive parents from San Diego, California on February 19, 2014.

Christopher Emanuel won back custody of daughterABC 6 News

Emanuel commented: ‘I was lost man, I was hurt I was confused because I wanted to ensure that I could be there for my child.’


Under South Carolina law, hopeful parents from another state can only adopt a baby born in South Carolina under unusual or exceptional circumstances.

Senator Katrina Shealy explained to Fox 57 News that at the time the adoption code was written, the public was less willing to want to adopt mixed race or children with disabilities. The law meant that Skylar, who is biracial, fell into the category and the adoption was able to move forward.

Christopher Emanuel won back custody of daughterABC 6 News

Emanuel fought back by turning to the court system in Aiken County, where Skyler was born, commenting: ‘This was my opportunity to prove that I was deprived of that my constitution and state rights were violated.’


He added:

My daughter was in San Diego, CA with the perspective adoptive couple where her name is changed. I have medical documentation calling my daughter another name and she was never legally adopted.

Emanuel contested the adoption, with court records showing that his paternal rights were terminated without his permission. He continued to push for custody, at one point expressing willingness to adopt Skyler back, and after almost a year a judge sided with him.

Christopher Emanuel won back custody of daughterABC 6 News

The courts granted Christopher sole custody of his daughter, and Skyler was sent back to South Carolina.

To help ensure other fathers don’t experience similar battles, Emanuel started the Sky Is The Limit Foundation, through which he travels across the nation educating fathers on their parental rights.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Adoption, father, Now, parents, South Carolina


ABC 6 News/YouTube and 1 other
  1. ABC 6 News/YouTube

    Aiken man uses his pain for purpose to help fathers

  2. Fox 57 News

    SC man wins custody of his daughter, after she was adopted without his permission