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A News Story That is Going to Bother You

There are so many ways this article is going to bother you that I’m erasing the first line I just wrote listing out all the various angles it will come from to poke you.  Which begs the question — why am I sharing it with you if it’s just going to sit in your stomach the way it is sitting in mine?  I don’t know.  Because misery needs company?  Because I think in hearing other people’s thoughts, it can help harmonize my own?

A woman named Kristy Gaffney met a man (Emmitt Dippold) online and began dating him.  She says that he presented himself as a divorced businessman who had been unable to have children with his wife due to infertility.  They continued to date and Gaffney became pregnant.  At first she says that he wanted her to have an abortion, and then changed his mind, asking her to sign some papers that would enable him to be listed as the father.  Though she didn’t understand the paperwork, she signed it anyway.

The baby was born, the man fixed up his house so the three of them come live together, and then one day, before they could move in, the man did not return the baby.  This is when she learned that the man and his infertile wife (he was not divorced) were adopting the baby.  The paperwork she had signed ended her parenting rights.

The judge ruled the adoption fraudulent.  The man and his wife are appealing that decision.  The woman says she was misled in various ways as to the nature of their relationship (she met him on a dating site, he told her he was related to the Duponts).  The man implies that their relationship was akin to a traditional surrogacy agreement (albeit without paperwork or through any traditional channels).

The full article is here.  Or here.

I’m going to encourage you not to read the 693 comments on the Today Show article.  I started and then had to stop.

41 comments

1 Liana { 02.21.12 at 12:01 pm }

I am not reading the links provided, so I am taking for granted the story you present is full and that there is no question of the woman’s story. It bothers you because of the horrible wrongness of some people that they think it’s okay to steal a baby like that. I guess even if it’s the other way around and this was a surrogacy gone bad, the same kind of horrible wrongness applies.

I am glad the the judge ruled it fraudulent as appeals aren’t easily granted and rulings are even less easy to overturn.

2 It Is What It Is { 02.21.12 at 12:12 pm }

For fuck’s sake! Where is the humanity?! I would love to write an intelligent comment akin to what you probably started to write originally, but all I can say is that people can sometimes be the worst kind of assholes and desperation (on anyone’s part) is never an excuse to break the law and use a helpless child as a pawn in your effed up scheme.

Bad things always happen when people take leave of their senses. And, that goes for both the duper and the dupee.

3 Rachel { 02.21.12 at 12:15 pm }

I’m so confused.

The whole thing seems really strange on both parts.

Also, I wish they didn’t use the word “surrogate”. Totally a misnomer here.

4 Curly Sue { 02.21.12 at 12:20 pm }

Oh God, more bad press for the infertility world. Now on top of assuming we are all trying to be Octo-mom, we’ll have to deal with people fearing we are baby-snatchers. How sad and desperate do you have to be to pull a stunt like this? And the birth-mother is a classic example of why people have to be advocates for themselves and not trust that someone else always has their best interest at heart! Learn to read legal documents in order to protect yourself.

5 k { 02.21.12 at 12:32 pm }

I’m not sure I can go read the article either, mostly because I’ll be unable to stop myself from reading what are sure to be the heinous comments written by neanderthal asshats who seek only to judge.

But wow. I do say shame on her for signing something she didn’t read, and if she didn’t understand it, have a friend read for her. While I’m not in the habit of blaming the victim, I do believe that we have a responsibility to understand anything we put our names on.

But this man? And his wife? Predators. Plain and simple.

6 Audrey { 02.21.12 at 12:33 pm }

It’s like a Law & Order episode, only worse because it is reality and there is some small niggling fear in my head that the schmuck is going to get away with it. I have not yet clicked on the links, but I am wondering what the wife’s take on it is.. because damn.

7 Alexicographer { 02.21.12 at 12:45 pm }

How terribly sad. I didn’t read both articles but did read the HuffPo one and find it very odd that they discuss, in the context of this case, two examples of adoptions that were disrupted by the adoptive parents (i.e. where the adoptive parents decided they could not/would not parent their adopted child — one being the case of the woman who returned the son she had adopted to Russia by putting him on a flight). Except in the sense that all share the “adoption isn’t always sunshine and rainbows” attribute, those disruption cases have nothing to do with this one. This one to me honestly seems (on a gut level) more like kidnapping than anything else, though I realize that’s a nutty claim to make given that the child’s genetic and adoptive father are one and the same.

I suppose I can imagine a case where a man (a) experiences infertility together with his wife; (b) has an affair; (c) impregnates his mistress (perhaps unintentionally); and (d) decides that the “best” outcome would be for his mistress to bear the child and for him and his wife to parent it. And who knows, maybe there’s a case where that would be correct, where the genetic and gestational mother (truly) is unfit as a social mother yet would be willing to carry the pregnancy and give up the baby. But there’s just no way that tricking said genetic/gestational mother into giving up her parental rights is OK. No. Way.

8 Sunny { 02.21.12 at 1:17 pm }

I just can’t click over. Maybe if I pretend it’s just a movie on Lifetime, I won’t end up running to the bathroom to puke at how disgusting the story is.

9 a { 02.21.12 at 1:31 pm }

I saw this last week – although it was a slightly different spin. It implied that the man convinced the woman to give the child up for adoption, without her realizing that he and his wife would be the adoptive parents. Regardless, it was an absurd thing to attempt.

I…don’t even know what to say about the people involved. I know there’s always more to the story, but this is just incomprehensible. How could you imagine that would ever work?

10 Astral { 02.21.12 at 1:54 pm }

Very unethical! What is wrong with people?

11 Cristy { 02.21.12 at 1:55 pm }

I can’t do it, Mel. I can’t click over to those sites. Because I know how awful those comments will be, villainizing every person living with infertility.

If this is true, what these two have done is awful. It’s awful to the mother, but it’s awful for every couple who’s struggled to have a child. Because now it’s one more stone the rest of the world can caste at us as we try to build our families.

12 Christa { 02.21.12 at 2:41 pm }

Not gonna click, I might get too upset. But let’s play devil’s advocate here. What if the tables were turned and a fertile woman went out and got pregnant from some stranger cause her infertile husband was unable to get her pregnant? Would the legality be any different? I’m not taking any sides (like I said, I didn’t read the article), I’m just providing food for thought

13 clare { 02.21.12 at 3:11 pm }

not today.. I just can’t click over.. but I am glad that you brought it to my attention so that when it comes up in conversation I can say “oh, I read something about that, but haven’t had a chance to read it” instead of “WHAT! you’re making that up..” because seriously, how.. how.. how…

14 BigP's Heather { 02.21.12 at 3:13 pm }

I always think “I’ve heard it all now.” and that I can’t be shocked.
I’m shocked.

15 Alexicographer { 02.21.12 at 3:20 pm }

@Christa in each case in the US the gestational mother has legal rights in terms of her pregnancy, like, she can terminate it (make decisions about prenatal screening, etc.), that neither the genetic nor the social father can restrict. Otherwise I believe the two cases would be legally the same, i.e., both genetic parents would have parental rights that could not be taken from them without their consent (except in some pretty extreme circumstances relating to the welfare of the child, i.e., the state can step in and remove parental rights in abuse and neglect cases). Logistically of course there would be a key difference which is that absent genetic testing or confession, no one would know what the woman had done.

Data are scarce (and I’m no expert) but e.g. the book Adapting minds: evolutionary psychology and the persistent quest for human nature by David Buller (which seems to have been favorably reviewed by knowledgeable sources and is reasonably recent) puts the estimate of the prevalence of “misattributed paternity” at 9% or higher. You can find the book on Google books; the statistic is from p. 281.

16 Kathy { 02.21.12 at 3:31 pm }

Really?!?! :(

This makes me want to do an SNL Weekend Update “Really?!?!” segment with Seth and Amy and tell the world what I think about stuff like this. Not that it’s an option for me. But ya know, if I could…

Really?!?!

Grrr!

17 Kristin { 02.21.12 at 3:36 pm }

Oh dear God, what the fuck is wrong with people? The sheer duplicitous nature of what that man did…I am dumbfounded.

18 Gail { 02.21.12 at 3:52 pm }

I read the articles, watched the video and also read some of the 600+ comments. I was genuinely shocked that a number of the comments were supportive of the birth mother. Granted, I only read the first 30 or so, but this confirmed that humanity, as a whole, is still good. There are just a bunch of bad apples (like the man and his wife in the story), but I’m also sure that we don’t know the whole story. There are 3 sides to every store: the man, the woman and the truth. Hopefully, the truth will prevail.

19 nh { 02.21.12 at 4:15 pm }

I’m struggling to get my head around this. I can’t click over, I just can’t…. and yet I know at some point I will. I can’t believe that anyone would think that this is the right thing to do (if we are given all the facts) and I worry about how it represents infertile people.

20 Sarah { 02.21.12 at 4:54 pm }

Oh my god.

The part that kills me is that the child lives with the dad and his wife…. and is now 14 months old! how is that even possible??

21 Birdie { 02.21.12 at 5:02 pm }

This whole story makes me sick to my stomach. There are so many things that jump out at me… first and foremost NEVER I mean NEVER sign something you don’t understand… get someone to look over the document and explain it to you. My heart breaks for this child.

22 Trinity { 02.21.12 at 5:21 pm }

I only read the HuffPo article, and I read only the first few comments, which were, naturally, victim-blaming. As in, she is a moron for signing something before 2 notaries without an adequate understanding of what precisely she was signing. Anyone whose ever read entrustment agreements or any kind of legal document would understand that it is easy to get lost in the legalese. Having worked with both agency-driven and private attorney-driven adoptions, I could easily see how someone with lesser understanding of these kinds of documents could misinterpret what they’re actually signing.
(especially when cajoled by an intimate partner who is misrepresenting it)

And, yes, it is very interesting that the article references disrupted adoptions, because? Don’t you know? INFERTILE BITCHES BE CRAZY.

23 Her Royal Fabulousness { 02.21.12 at 6:03 pm }

This deserves a “Really?!” skit on SNL. WTF is wrong with people?

24 Still Hoping { 02.21.12 at 6:28 pm }

Oh my word! I don’t even know what to say! Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a story like this surfaces. It absolutely blows my mind!

25 AlexMMR { 02.21.12 at 6:29 pm }

Can’t click. Why does anyone put a signature to any piece of paper on which they don’t understand every single line???

READ before you sign. If you don’t understand, have someone unrelated to the agreement explain it to you. Don’t ever trust the person who wrote it to explain it! It’s your signature, it’s your agreement!!! How to people just toss that out there all willy nilly???

26 Kat { 02.21.12 at 6:33 pm }

I actually heard a variation on this story a couple of years ago in Korea, where I live, about the things that foreign brides have to put up with. In that particular case it was a Vietnamese woman who had married a Korean man and had ended up giving *two* of her children to him for his ex-wife to raise as she was ‘very lonely.’ As she was a foreign bride away from family, friend and not speaking the language, she didn’t know what to do. It was eventually exposed by the newspapers, but I don’t know if she was able to get her children back.

27 Sarah { 02.21.12 at 6:47 pm }

I saw this on the Today show this morning. It upset me so I nearly got sick. How awful! I can’t imagine what the infertile wife must be feeling or thinking. It wasn’t made clear this morning what her part was in all of this. I didn’t read the articles because I don’t think I could handle them.

The poor birth mother who trusted blindly in this man who claimed to love her for 18 months and charm her family as much as he charmed this birth mother.

You’re right, this really pisses me off and the view on couples struggling with IF it presents. I hope this thing gets worked out and these sick manipulating freaks of nature don’t get to keep this poor child who is in the center of this disaster.

28 Orodemniades { 02.21.12 at 8:21 pm }

Holy effing crap! My gods, that poor woman…I can’t even imagine what kind of sick mind would think of doing something like that. It’s horrific, and someone’s got some ‘splainin’ to do. Preferably to their cellmates.

29 Deathstar { 02.21.12 at 8:25 pm }

I’m thinking there’s more to the story than just what the article says. In any case, it’s all sad and pathetic.

30 Broken Birds & Bees { 02.21.12 at 9:20 pm }

Fuck all the times I thought of stealing a baby out of a shopping cart at Wal-Mart, then realized that’s WRONG. I didn’t read the comments ether, I can just imagine what they would say. What if my husband has no or low sperm count and I slept with other man and got pregnant. Think of how easily I could push it off as my husband’s miracle baby, without ether men knowing. It probably happens more often than we think.

PS, I’m here from ICLW.

31 Emma { 02.21.12 at 9:22 pm }

Wow! This left me speechless!

I can see putting blame on the mother for signing something she didn’t understand, but when you’re in love with someone how many people would be like, “Hey, I need to get a lawyer before I sign this?” She loved the guy and who would think the person they just had a baby with would actually do something like this?

No matter what though, it’s sketchy, and super sad!

32 Leah { 02.21.12 at 9:58 pm }

wow, if it was a premeditated act, their infertility has nothing on their sociopathy, and there’s no scientific assistance for that to date!

33 jjiraffe { 02.21.12 at 11:03 pm }

Oh, for Fuck’s sake! Ugh!

This motivates me even more to get the next Faces of ALI post out. Right. Back to my notes…

34 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.21.12 at 11:27 pm }

This story has managed to super-hyper-mega-sensationalize IF, adoption and surrogacy in one fell swoop.

Like Kathy said, REALLY??

35 Heather { 02.22.12 at 6:45 am }

I think this is a horrible story of what one person would do to another, if one would believe her story which I sort of do. But I also get frustrated that it’s another story of us crazy infertiles and the things some would do, and the rest of us have to explain how not normal it is.

36 frankiesoup { 02.22.12 at 7:04 am }

It makes me so angry my teeth hurt.

37 KH99 { 02.22.12 at 9:29 am }

Unbelievable, yet, somehow it is true. Truth really is stranger than fiction. What really sucks is that this story will be the one referenced when sensational articles about desperate infertiles are written.

38 loribeth { 02.22.12 at 10:11 am }

Un-frickin’-believable. :p Yes, why on earth would anyone sign a legal document (especially one related to custody of your child) without getting it reviewed by a lawyer??

I keep wondering if the wife was in on the whole thing, or if she’s as much a victim of her husband’s duplicity (wording?) as the birth mother?

And I totally agree with Alexicographer, it struck me too while reading the HuffPo article — why drag in the cases of the adoptive parents who “returned” their children? Totally unrelated, aside from the fact that they are all “adoption gone wrong” stories of sorts.

Could not bring myself to read the comments. :p

39 Sushigirl { 02.22.12 at 12:53 pm }

I don’t understand why she signed ANYTHING about custody without actually reading it; surely it’s not normal for a couple to agree custody when they’re together and she presumably thought they were stable? Given that she used a dating site, she must have been able to read. The man shouldn’t have done it either, but neither of them sound like being Parent of the Year material.

40 Kate { 02.22.12 at 9:18 pm }

I can’t even address the actions of the incredibly evil man/”father” and his wife, who, I’d be willing to bet, was in on it…. I don’t care HOW badly I want a baby (bad), if I didn’t know anything about what my (estranged) husband did to end up with the baby he suddenly has (including seducing a presumably naive girl, impregnating her, putting relinquishment papers in front of her with the intention of taking the child away from her for good) then you can bet that as soon as I found those things out that I would be filing for divorce, not adoption! No. She totally knew and probably helped him stalk his prey online.
And the bio mom? As a birthmother who signed her own relinquishment papers and as a former adoption professional who took/witnessed many relinquishments (of parental rights, I find it very very hard to believe that anyone could have gotten through that process without knowing what she was signing. Not that I’m blaming the victim! Not at all… It just sounds like there had to be some very shady stuff going on if that girl didn’t know that she was signing her parental rights away! That process requires that the signer acknowledge that she knows that she is giving up her parental rights in about 30 different ways. Legally (at least in the state where I was) the witnesses are required to be there to make sure that signer is very aware, is not misunderstanding anything, and is not being coerced….in order to avoid exactly this kind of legal and emotional cost!!!! That this happened at all is unbelievable to me.

41 Bea { 03.05.12 at 9:07 am }

Gosh, I am so far behind now. Just got back from visiting relatives. Look at all the crap that has come to light in my absence.

I like Christa’s point. Alexicographer deals with the legal/practical response, but in case anyone like me is still dropping by and bothering to read the comments (you’ll read them, though, won’t you Melissa? and what could be more important) I want to take it one further.

In reverse – a father being diddled out of his paternity rights – it still seems wrong, but the gut reaction is not nearly as strong. I think the fact that the person who has put the physical effort into carrying and birthing the child is the one getting screwed over here makes a difference. (I am ok with this explanation. Pregnancy and birth can be hard work, in a way that spreading one’s seed isn’t.) I also wonder how much has to do with the cliche of mother as nurturer. (I am not ok with that explanation – it’s very likely true to some extent, but it shouldn’t be.)

Anyway. I haven’t had the guts to click either, but it’s very wrong. Yes, she should have checked before she signed and no, I don’t know how they managed to get the documents through all the checks that are supposed to be there against this sort of thing, but she had a newborn baby and thought this guy was her co. In our house we also split the workload, and especially when we’re spread thin. a’s version seems more likely, also more morally grey. I mean veeeeeeeeery slightly, in that she at least knew she was giving up her parental rights, mostly it’s still very wrong either way.

Bea

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