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

A feature about adoption rights for unmarried men.

Feature (NATIONAL)

Kevin Noble Maillard
Atlantic, The
July 7, 2015
Full story

Tags: Benefits of Legal Aid, Child Custody, Children & Juvenile

Organizations mentioned/involved: South Carolina Legal Services


Until 1972, single men like Emanuel had no rights to children they’d fathered outside of marriage. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Stanley v. Illinois changed that. The case centered on Peter Stanley and his partner, Joan, who had lived intermittently with Peter for 18 years. Stanley had fathered three children with Joan during that time. Upon her death, the state took their three children and gave them to court-appointed guardians.


Today, 33 states have putative-father registries. Some require mail-in forms. Others, including South Carolina, allow men to register online. They simply need to create an account and enter some basic information about themselves and their partners, listing the child’s place of conception, its race, and its approximate date of birth. There is no national registry, which means a man must register separately in each state where the mother might possibly give birth. (No state requires a pregnant, unmarried woman to divulge the name of the father, and she can give a false name if she chooses.)