Lawyers: A Lesson In Adoption Dispute
Lansdale lawyer Amy Stern says a Montgomery County woman’s legal battle for custody of her own child is a perfect example of how, once you sign something, it could be too late. Kristy Gaffney of Plymouth Meeting met a man through an online dating service, had his baby, and then found out he was a married man who adopted the baby along with his wife. Stern says it looks like a couple who wanted to have a baby, but could not conceive, set her up.
“He got her pregnant and I guess she gave him the baby to take care of for a little while. He’s the father, so she gives him the child and he never brings the baby back. She goes to pick up the baby and he says, ‘Oh no. I have paperwork here and you signed a consent for me and my wife to adopt this baby.’ She had no idea she was signing a consent for an adoption. She thought she was acknowledging that he was the father of the child.”
Stern says a judge has ruled that the adoption was fraudulent, but the adoptive parents are appealing and they retain custody. She says the court will not move forward on the child custody case until the appeal on the adoption is decided. Lansdale lawyer Kevin Regan says the case underscores an important lesson.
“Don’t sign anything unless you read through what you’re signing because you might very well be signing a life over and, oddly enough, that’s exactly what happened here.”
Regan says she would have saved a lot of time, aggravation and money if she had a lawyer review the documents before signing them. He and Stern appeared recently on the WNPV talk program Legally Speaking.