Christopher Emanuel, 25, of South Carolina is just one of many single fathers that had to fight to gain custody of his daughter, in a legal system that doesn’t support fathers as caretakers. Emanuel first started dating his girlfriend in 2012, and when he found out she was pregnant months later, he was excited to be a father. He and his girlfriend would go to doctor’s appointments together, and they chose their daughter’s name. After Emanuel had a strange interaction with his girlfriend’s parents who made it clear they did not approve of their daughter’s interracial relationship, Emanuel’s sister urged him to sign up for South Carolina’s Responsible Father Registry, fearing the baby would be put up for adoption without his knowledge or consent. Unfortunately, the scenario she feared is exactly what wound up happening. But because he decided to register and had the text messages to prove he provided his girlfriend support during pregnancy, he was able to get his daughter back–after he’d missed her birth, and she had been placed with another family. The Atlantic reports that the birth-mother’s lawyer said, “Just because the birth father is a sperm donor and has that biological link does not under the law establish his parental rights,” and as crazy as that may sound, it’s true. Unfortunately, the American legal system is set up to expect men to pay child support, but not to give them rights to parent their children. Deborah Dinner, associate professor of family law at Washington University said, “Even though we’ve had progress in the active role that men take in their children’s lives, the state still defines breadwinning as the definitive component of fatherhood.”
Read the full story at The Atlantic.