A 26-year-old Oklahoma student who did not know his girlfriend had adopted out his son has successfully won full-time custody of his child. Jeremiah Sampson, of Coweta, has officially been a full-time single dad since Christmas last year.
However his battle to win back his son, three-year-old Hilkya, has taken three years and cost him almost everything he has. In 2008, Sampson was recruited to play running back and receiver for Pittsburg State, a small public university in southeast Kansas, where he met his girlfriend, Tulsa World reported.
Worth the fight: Jeremiah Sampson, 26, now has full custody of his son, Hilkyah, 3 ‘I wasn’t looking to settle down or anything like that,’ he said. ‘We both understood it wasn’t serious.’
In December 2009, after not seeing him for a few weeks, the girlfriend came to his house with an opened box of pregnancy tests and disappeared into the bathroom to take one, Sampson said.
When she came out, she showed him the positive result. Sampson said they needed to go to a doctor but she refused, causing him to doubt her pregnancy. ‘I really thought it was trickery,’ he said.
‘I thought it was all mind games. The relationship ended and he heard nothing else about the pregnancy, Sampson said, until March 2010. His cellphone rang as he was walking out of class.
A woman identified herself as a representative of an adoption agency. ‘You’ve been alleged as a potential father,’ she told him. Sampson asked for a paternity test.
Jeremiah Sampson grew up in a family of eight children with a single mother, and said he feels strongly about the roles a father should play ,’If I’m the father I want it,’ he said. “The mother has already put the baby up for adoption,’ the woman said. ‘I don’t want that,’ Sampson insisted. ‘It’s not necessary. That doesn’t need to happen.
In September 2010, Sampson was awaiting the birth of his child, and a few nights before the due date he stayed up all night texting his ex-girlfriend. She was complaining about contractions.
At daybreak he drove two hours to Joplin, Missouri, to be with her, but when he got there she wasn’t answering her phone. The hospital had no information. He drove to her house and her grandmother slammed the door in his face.
Stunned, he sat in his car across the street. ‘Sir,’ a neighbor knocked on his window, ‘is there anything I can do for you?’
Sampson drove five hours to Rolla, Mo., once or twice a week for more than six months to challenge the adoption in court. His son now lived in Florida, but under orders from the judge, the adoptive parents brought the baby to Rolla when he was 6 months old.
Sampson caught his first glimpse of him in the courthouse lobby, but the other parents quickly threw a towel over the baby’s head. ‘I saw how they looked at me – like I was the devil,’ Sampson said.
‘How can anybody hate me that much? I’m the father. ‘People complain about men who don’t take responsibility for their children. ‘Well, here I am, wanting to be a father to my son.
An earlier photo of Jeremiah Sampson and his son, Hilkya, who he says was put up for adoption without his permission and that makes me a bad guy?’
The judge nullified the adoption in July 2011 and temporarily put the baby in state custody while giving Sampson visitation rights. Hilkyah, pronounced Hill-Kye-Yah, warmed up immediately to Sampson’s attorney.
But light-skinned with streaks of blonde in his hair, Hilkyah wouldn’t come to his father, who’s dark-skinned with shoulder-length dreadlocks.
‘They say babies are color blind or don’t notice any of that,’ Sampson said. ‘But I tell you, they do. They notice. It didn’t take long to bond, however. ‘He has a lot of energy and reminds me a lot of myself,’ Sampson said.
He shared custody 50-50 with the birth mother until the day after Christmas last year, when a Missouri judge granted Sampson full custody with visitation from the mother.
Sampson dropped out of college to pay for the three-year court battle.
The custody battle of Jeremiah Sampson is similiar to the epic case of ‘Baby Veronica’, in which a biological father in Oklahoma was pitted against adoptive parents out of state in 2011 He now works as a mental-health technician and plans to start nursing school this summer.
His case resembles last year’s monumental ‘Baby Veronica’ custody battle, pitting a biological father in Oklahoma against adoptive parents out of state.
Veronica went to South Carolina for the first two years of her life before her father, Dusten Brown, won custody in 2011 and brought her back to Nowata, an hour north of Tulsa.
Then Veronica’s adoptive parents appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and, after a four-month standoff in various courtrooms across Oklahoma, took Veronica home to Charleston last September.
Sampson is now suing the adoption agency for allegedly violating his parental rights by going ahead with the placement even after he objected.