Chris Emanuel says he was ready to be a father, but he had no idea his daughter's mother would give her up for adoption behind his back.
After months of legal battles, Emanuel finally won custody over his daughter, Skylar, and has now set up a foundation that advocates for fathers' rights, ABC News reported.
The 25-year-old from Aiken, South Carolina, met Skylar's mother, whom he now refers to only as "the egg donor," when they worked together three years ago.
After three months together, Emanuel learned that he was going to be a father.
“I was happy, who wouldn’t be happy?” Emanuel told ABC News. “It was my first child and at the time, you know, I’m going to be there. We’re going to do everything we got to do.”
He was ready to put everything into fatherhood, and the two even talked about marriage.
But everything changed when he met her family. He said that they immediately hated him, which he attributed to the white family's racism against Emanuel, a black man.
“Like hearing racism but actually feeling it, it totally different," Emanuel said. "It’s like being punched in the stomach."
His girlfriend continued to text him and reassure him of their future together. However, they saw each other less and less, The Grio reports.
Emanuel's half sister and her best friend started to worry about his girlfriend's actions, so they researched father's rights in South Carolina. When his girlfriend skipped their baby shower, they convinced him to join a "responsible father registry," which would notify him if his daughter was put up for adoption.
A few days later, he learned from the registry that Skylar had been born a week ago and adopted in another state.
"My daughter was stolen from me," Emanuel said.
Even though the adoptive parents had bonded with Skylar and begged Emanuel to let them keep her, he fought in court and finally won her back, months later.
“All I could do was break down on my knees, and I cried and I thanked God for bringing my daughter home because all I needed was for her to get in my arms,” Emanuel said.