It was around this time that Emanuel’s half-sister, Chelsea McKnabb, and her best friend, Jill Thomason, started having misgivings. When they met her for the first time at Boo-Yah, the bar and grill Emanuel’s mother owned north of town, Thomason found Emanuel’s girlfriend “distant” and felt that “something was off.” “I think she’s going to give the baby away,” she told McKnabb.
After the encounter, Thomason started researching paternity rights on her own. That’s when she learned about the South Carolina Responsible Father Registry, which, according to the state’s Department of Social Services, “gives a man who has fathered a child with a woman he is not married to the right to be notified when an adoption or a termination of parental rights action occurs.” Without the registry, his girlfriend could put the baby up for adoption without telling Emanuel about it. Registering with the state wouldn’t guarantee him custody of Skylar, but at least he’d be notified and have a say in court.
But Emanuel insisted that he didn’t need to register. Even though his girlfriend feared being cut off by her parents, he couldn’t imagine that they would actually make their daughter choose between staying in the family and giving her child up for adoption. The act of registering felt disloyal to him. He didn’t anticipate a battle, and he didn’t want to feel as though he were sharpening his sword.