How DNA Testing is Changing Fatherhood

It’s a question that has plagued men since the dawn of time: “Am I the father?” For 99% of human history, this was an unanswerable question. But with the advent of DNA and Paternity Testing, today it’s a painless swab on your cheek and a few dollars for a concrete, accurate resolution. And it’s changing fatherhood as we know it.

It’s both a biological instinct and a strong cultural imperative that a man should not abandon his offspring. Though many men do, it’s always with shame. Many will dutifully help raise their children even if it goes against their own self-interests. But they make these sacrifices because they believe the child they are helping to raise is their own. But what happens if it isn’t? Does the relationship between father and child still have meaning if it’s not a blood link?

Father to Someone Else's Daughter

Consider the real-life story of James, who first suspected something was wrong when he found a hidden box of love letters from his wife’s co-worker. His wife confessed to a fleeting affair, but assured James that their three year old daughter was his own. But as the girl approached five and did not seem to resemble him, the doubts refused to go away. His marriage deteriorating, James told his daughter he needed to check something in her mouth, and swabbed her cheek. “The day the results came back was the most devastating of my life,” he said. “I ran upstairs, locked myself in the bathroom and dry heaved for 45 minutes.”

It’s a one-two gut punch of hurt and rage — feeling like you’ve been serially duped for years by the woman you love, while sacrificing your own self-interests to raise a child that’s not yours. Because nothing can be done about the cheating, or the parenting, the natural instinct is to gravitate towards the money. Often, the man doesn’t even need the extra recompensation, but it becomes a way to punish the woman for her unfaithfulness and deceit.

James and his wife separated immediately, and began preparing for a custodial court battle. But it was then his lawyer told James that he needed to make a difficult choice. If he proved he was not the father, he wouldn’t have to pay child support, but he might not get to see the girl at all. Would he choose to reveal the truth, or keep silent? Would he still want to be involved in the life of a daughter that he had raised for five years, but wasn’t his by blood?

James chose not to contest paternity. He voluntarily paid child support for a daughter that wasn’t his own by blood, but that he still loved and still wanted to help raise. When the girl turned 15, she discovered for herself that James wasn’t her biological father. Sitting in a park, James told her the whole story, and afterwards she gave him a hug and told him “you’ll always be my daddy.”

DNA Testing provides answers to nagging questions and doubt with stunning accuracy and precision. But the fallout from the revelation is unpredictable and complicated. Judges across the nation wrestle with the tangle of sex, money, the competing interests of the biological and non-biological parents, and the state itself.

But in the story of James, and hundreds of thousands like him, we see that fatherhood isn’t predicated on the child being linked by DNA. As anyone who has adopted will tell you, true parenting means loving and being a part of a child’s life regardless of who the true parents are.

The Largest Accredited Paternity Testing Network

With over 2,000 centers nationwide, DNA Paternity Testing Centers is one of the largest, most affordable, networks of accredited DNA testing labs in the United States. Our price is unbeatable without sacrificing quality. We offer DNA testing for paternity, maternity and all other relationships (grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles). Call us today at 866.232.7660 or ORDER ONLINE!

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