— Kristy Gaffney thought she had met the man of her dreams. Instead, she became embroiled in an adoption dispute for the baby she claims was wrongly taken from her.
Gaffney, 29, is fighting for the return of the child she had with Emmitt Dippold, a man she met online and dated —and who turned out to be married. Their daughter, Gabriella, is currently in the custody of Dippold and his wife while the adoption dispute works its way through the legal system.
“I think she’s missing out on her mother,’’ an emotional Gaffney told TODAY’s Ann Curry Tuesday. “I can’t believe someone could do something this horrible and be OK with themselves.’’
When Gaffney met Dippold, she says he told her his name was Ed Dupont, and that he was part of one of the wealthiest families in the country. He was a divorced businessman, she claims he told her, who did work for the CIA. They dated for six months before she became pregnant.
“He was very controlling during our relationship, and I was very much in love,’’ she told Curry. “He was promising me marriage, everything I wanted. We constantly talked about those things.’’
After Gabriella was born, Dippold had Gaffney sign some papers to secure his rights as the baby’s father. Gaffney admits not scrutinizing the paperwork — which indicated she would “give up permanently all rights to this child.’’
That's when she discovered Ed Dupont was really Ed Dippold, that he was married, and that he and his wife were in the process of adopting her baby.
“I felt like somebody stabbed me with a knife,’’ Gaffney told NBC News.
The Pennsylvania woman currently sees her infant daughter every other weekend.
“Obviously they were trying to take her from me and adopt her, so I don’t want her to get acquainted with them especially if I do get her back,’’ Gaffney said. “That’s just messing up her life. I know how these people are now. They schemed against me to get her from me, and I don’t want her to be raised like that.’’
A judge overturned the adoption, ruling that it was based on fraud, and that Gaffney signed away her rights under duress. The Dippolds' appeal could take six months to resolve, according to Gaffney’s attorney. The Dippolds could then take the case to the Supreme Court, which could take another year.
During that time, Gaffney’s daughter would remain in the Dippolds' custody, where she has been for more than a year. Gaffney is appealing to the media to try to help speed up the process.
“When you’re with somebody and you talk to them every single day and you see them a couple times a week at least, you’re discussing the future like we were constantly, you don’t think that someone would do something like this to you,’’ she told Curry.
“The document was signed in its entirety before two notaries who have testified under oath in court that she signed the document,’’ the Dippolds' attorney, Steven D. Silverman, told NBC News. “Emmitt Dippold has no interest in disparaging the birth mother. I’m here to make a plea to this woman that it is not in the best interest of her daughter to create a media sensation about this baby.’’
The Dippolds declined to comment to NBC News, saying through their lawyer that they “do not want a very private matter to be played out in the media.’’