Kevin Noble Maillard

Kevin Noble Maillard is professor of law at Syracuse University.
  • A Father’s Struggle to Stop His Daughter’s Adoption, Cont'd

    Courtesy of Chris Emanuel

    Last summer, I wrote a feature article for The Atlantic on Christopher Emanuel’s struggle to stop his daughter’s adoption. Chris had been in an interracial relationship with a young woman whose family hated that she was dating a “nigger,” so when she got pregnant in 2013, she secretly arranged for someone to adopt the baby. Her labor was induced early and the adoptive parents took Baby Skylar home.

    Luckily, Chris had registered as a putative father under the South Carolina Responsible Father Registry, one of only 279 men who did so that year. In the end, Chris successfully won custody of Skylar, who came home with him after spending seven weeks with the adoptive parents.

    Some readers of my article wondered if Chris would remain a responsible parent, or if he could raise Skylar on his own. One commenter seemed skeptical: “Let’s wait 15 years to see if there is a happy ending.” Another commenter, named General Realist, wrote, “I dare the reporter to revisit this scene two or three years from now. But he won’t, I’ll bet.”

    I actually communicate with Chris on a weekly basis. We exchange pictures of our children, recycle kids’ clothes to each other, and talk about plans for the future. Chris founded a 501c3 status nonprofit, the Sky Is the Limit Foundation, which “educates, empowers, and promotes responsible fatherhood, the benefits of registering, the rights of putative fathers.” The foundation has a very active Facebook page, and also an Instagram account that features daily posts of fathers and their children.

    Mentoring fathers is a crucial part of protecting their rights. Registration can be difficult in some states, like Utah, and Chris advises fathers in their custody battles. He is currently mentoring 10 fathers from California, Virginia, Illinois, Georgia, and, of course, South Carolina.

    On July 23, the Sky Is the Limit Foundation co-sponsored Aiken Unity Day with other local organizations to “bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement by creating an environment of fun, with a particular focus on our children.” They have a fundraising goal of $100,000 by December 9, 2017. Part of the development effort is the sale of #TeamSkylar t-shirts.

    Chris and Sky at Aiken Unity Day.  (Courtesy of Aiken Standard newspaper)

    To spread the word, Chris has partnered with the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families. He travels through the state and speaks to different organizations and coalitions about what it takes to become a responsible father.


    Chris and I speak all the time, but I just interviewed him so he could update his story in his own words.

  • Christopher Emanuel / The Atlantic

    A Father’s Struggle to Stop His Daughter’s Adoption

    In the United States, when an unmarried man has a baby, his partner can give it up without his consent—unless he happens to know about an obscure system called the responsible father registry.

  • Reuters

    Sex and the Single Man: What If Your Partner Has a Kid?

    In 33 states, unmarried men can request to be notified if children they fathered—knowingly or not—are put up for adoption. But the system has serious flaws.

  • Associated Press

    Biracial Cool: Bill de Blasio's Fresh Electoral Asset

    The New York mayor-elect's family—both fascinatingly ordinary and shockingly modern—proved to be one his greatest strengths.

  • Racially Profiled in Palm Beach

    On a late-night bike ride, a law professor finds that neither his polite demeanor nor academic pedigree seems to outweigh the color of his skin.