Missouri Father Calls Daughter’s Adoption “Legal Kidnapping”
INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) — A father is fighting to get his daughter back after he says she was adopted without his knowledge or permission.
Chris Reynolds hasn’t seen his 3-year-old daughter, Brooke, in more than a year. He and his other children write Brooke letters every night.
“I miss you so much,” writes her little brother. “If and when I get to see you again that would be the happiest moment in my life.”
Brooke isn’t missing. Her father knows exactly where she is, but he has zero legal rights to go get her or even spend time with her.
“To me, it’s a legal way of kidnapping,” Reynolds says.
Brooke was recently adopted by her maternal great-grandparents. Reynolds says he didn’t sign any paperwork and no one told him until after the private adoption went through.
He reached out to KCTV5 News to warn other unmarried fathers that this could happen to them. He and thousands of other fathers in both Kansas and Missouri are on shaky legal ground.
“If the child was born to an unmarried couple, then there’s no presumption that you are the father,” said attorney David Langston, who is not directly involved in the case.
Reynolds and Brooke’s mother were together for seven years but never married. Reynolds thought he was on the birth certificate but, even if he was, it wouldn’t have mattered. A name on a birth certificate doesn’t offer legal protection, like custody or visitation.
When the relationship fell apart, Reynolds says he worked out child support and custody arrangements with his child’s mother.
Brooke’s mother, a struggling single mom living in Arkansas, decided to do a private adoption and give her daughter to her grandparents.
“I couldn’t think why. Why would someone do that? It doesn’t make sense,” Reynolds said.
A putative father registry, offered in both Kansas and Missouri, is something unwed fathers can do to protect their rights, but many have no idea it exists.
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