HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - In Virginia, if a man fathers a child with a woman who is not his wife, he loses his parental rights if the child is put up for adoption and the man hasn't placed his name in the Putative Father Registry.
One night of unprotected sex and three years later, Barry Mallory learns through social media that his one-night stand got pregnant, had a baby girl, and moved to California. With just a first name, he set out to find her - and did, on Facebook.
"I said, 'I could come down and do a paternity test so we can solve it,'" said Mallory. "She was like, 'well, it's too late for that. I gave it up for adoption.' I was in shock. She said she knew I was the father."
Adoption rights overrule parental rights of missing dads. You've got six months, says attorney and law instructor Susan Brewer, from the final order of adoption to try and overturn it.
The window was slammed shut by the time Barry got word he might be a daddy.
"(sigh) I feel for him, I truly do," said Brewer. "I think it's a sad situation. If the birth mother knew who he was and didn't identify him, then that is also bad. But, it's not going to change the outcome. The code section is specific. It says even if there's a fraud, even if there's misrepresentation, nothing is going to intervene with the final order."
Mallory used info from his one-night stand and her friends and found the adopting family in Hopewell, VA. He says he was given pictures and even allowed to watch the little girl as she slept once. They nixed the niceties though when Mallory pushed paternity.
"This lady, the adopting mother, she has three kids of her own," said Mallory. "I want to have my child. That's my blood. She looks like me."
The court denied his paternity test petition. The adopting family's lawyer told Mallory to back off, and that he was one of many possible fathers.
"He said in a letter she was a prostitute, and she just got out of jail in D.C. and how she had messed around with 20 other guys and how those guys came forward and none of them was the father," said Mallory. "... and that I didn't sign up for a registry, called Putative Father Registry. I've never heard of that in my entire life."
Most people have never heard of it and have no idea it exists.
"When I teach this class, there's not a person in my classroom that understands it," said Brewer.
Putative Father Registry is under the Department of Social Services, which runs ad campaigns twice a year. Men who place their name in the registry and tell the state about their sexual partner or partners will be notified if a woman initiates adoption proceedings.
After seven years in operation, men are not running to document their sexual activities.
"They are not thinking about this when they are having sex, and they are not thinking about this immediately after," said Alex Kamberis, assistant director of Family Services.
Social Services says the information is confidential, but only 850 putative fathers are signed up.
"There's a fear, perhaps, 'if I register, how does this impact child support? Will the police come after me?' Really, this is an opportunity for men out there to have some rights that they previously didn't until this law passed," said Kamberis.
Men not married to the mother who don't register their sexual encounter lose the chance to be a daddy to a child they may have fathered.
"I wasn't acknowledged," said Mallory. "I didn't have a choice in any of it. I didn't know."
Mallory will always remember his one-night stand and the little girl he believes is his. He hopes someday to give her all the cards marking birthdays and milestones he's saving.
"I want full custody. That's what I want. But, if I would start out with visitation and work my way up, I would be completely happy with that," said Mallory. "I want to be a part of her life. Just like they are, I want to be a part of her life. It hurts not to see her, and I think about her every single day."