WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington man is fighting for the right to raise his own child. A child he's never met. A child he never knew existed until the baby was several months old and already living with its potential adoptive parents. So far, trying to intervene has been a losing battle.
There's a crib, books to read at bedtime, toys. Items Greg Johns rushed to buy when he found out he was a father.
He has a nursery ready, but no baby sleeps in it.
"I'm already a father," John said. "I'm just looking to be a daddy."
In April 2011, Johns discovered he had a six-month-old baby boy. A mutual acquaintance told Johns his ex-girlfriend had a baby and put it up for adoption. He confronted her and found out the truth.
"The emotions of anger, sadness, the joy of being a father... I had all that compacted into a five-minute conversation by her just saying, 'You have no rights.' I just kept thinking, 'What is she talking about? I'm the father,' John said.
He found out Christian Adoption Services in Matthews had placed the baby, whom Greg has named "Chase," with a family in the triad.
Johns has spent the past year and nearly $100,000 fighting in court for the right to intervene in the adoption. Last month, a judge in Charlotte denied that request.
"It sounds certainly unfair and unjust, and the law is not being applied favorably in his case," family law attorney Jason Minnicozzi said.
Minnicozzi does not represent Johns, but is familiar with adoption laws.
Johns got a paternity test showing he is the father, which Minnicozzi says should be enough to intervene.
"You would think that the court would be inclined to allow that person to intervene in the matter and be heard on whether or not their parental rights should be terminated or whether or not their child should be adopted by another party," Minnicozzi said.
Johns has paperwork from Christian Adoption Services that shows his name was on the paperwork, but someone scribbled out his last name and put a fake name in its place. The agency says it tried to notify a Gregory James to no avail.
"I can't believe this was even notarized when the last name was crossed off and someone else's handwriting is there," Johns said.
The clock is ticking. Johns has an 18-month-old son he's never met.
To say he is frustrated in the legal system is an understatement. The Charlotte judge ruled that because Johns wasn't there from the beginning, he has no rights.
"I've used that anger in the right way," John said. "Motivation to not give up, to know that I do have a beautiful baby boy, to know that one day he will know the truth, one day I will have custody of him, because I won't stop. He'll know the truth, and he'll know his father did everything possible to love him. He'll know his father."
Now, all Johns can do is appeal, but money is running low.
"In this justice system today, you really need money to have your rights protected, because it's a game within a game," he said. "You have to have money to go. You have to keep appealing and go as high up as you can."
Or until the money runs out. That's is why Johns created a Facebook page called "A Father's Chase" and he website AFathersChase.com in hopes of getting monetary and emotional support, and to spread the word as he tries to bring his little boy home.
We contacted Christian Adoption Services. Director Jim Woodward would not comment on the specifics of this case. He would only say, "It's in the court system."