Adoption Gone Wrong

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Leon Calafiore

When Richard Rinko’s son left home, his brand new sneakers were left behind. He left his clothes, his toys, his books, and most important to Richard, he left one of his fathers. He also left without saying goodbye. Although father and son are able to talk on the phone frequently, Richard Rinko has not seen his son since last July.

Rinko was the primary adoptee of his son from the start. But in 2004, Rinko and his partner at the time, Anthony Galde, jointly adopted their son after having been together for a number of years. After their relationship ended in 2008, Galde received residential custody of their son, and the two moved to New York City where Galde was working at the time. Their son started school there.

Rinko faced difficulties being involved in his son’s education, oftentimes finding that the teachers and principle there would not communicate with him because he did not have residential custody at that time. He explains that eventually staff worked with him, but when Galde later attempted to move to Georgia where the state of LGBT rights is dismal, visitation rights options worsened for Rinko.

Although LGBT people are able to adopt children legally in many states, it is hard to say that there is equality in the process. Prospective parents face daunting amounts of paperwork and sometimes harsh criticism— particularly for the “lifestyle they have chosen.” Oftentimes, someone who is LGBT will be judged for having a “risky lifestyle” — one which is “inappropriate” for children. Many experts say this is a misconception too many LGBT people still face today. The supposed link between HIV/AIDS and gay people still exists as a common social stigma to some. It sometimes causes bias in the logistics of the adoption process. Of course, there are many other reasons why adoption is made difficult for LGBT singles and couples.

After overcoming the adoption hurdle, Rinko faced further discrimination in the courts from a judge who seemingly did not care about the custody case. He has not had any closure since the judge’s verdict, which left the life he knew practically unrecognizable. Since the custody battle, Rinko says he has been attending mandatory parenting classes, and he is forced to pay child support for a child he is not allowed to see in Georgia. In reaching out to legal councils and support networks, thus far, Rinko has found little to no support he says. Discouraged, he said that for him, “it feels like a loss.”

To add to Rinko’s difficulties in losing custody of his son, he was arrested in his home for a crime he says he did not commit. In the aftermath of the custody battle, Rinko now faces charges of domestic abuse and is forced to pay child support and extensive legal fees. He is unable to leave his county of residence in New Jersey.

Of these difficulties though, he says losing his son is the worst one. He is concerned and is primarily worried about his son’s happiness, his education, and his future.

Meanwhile, his son’s brand new sneakers are still sitting in the closet.

When Richard Rinko’s son left home, his brand new sneakers were left behind. He left his clothes, his toys, his books, and most important to Richard, he left one of his fathers. He also left without saying goodbye. Although father and son are able to talk on the phone frequently, Richard Rinko has not seen his son since last July.