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Who's the Daddy?

Up to three million Britons may be wrong about who their real father is, experts claim. But using DNA paternity tests to discover the truth can cause its own problems.

BBC, U.K., May 16, 2003

Dad's got blue eyes, Baby brown...
When Tessa found out she was pregnant after fertility treatment, she felt a mix of delight and doubt.

This wasn't simply pre-baby nerves - she suspected that her husband might not be the father. For Tessa had started sleeping with a colleague when the stress of the ongoing treatment became too much.

Keen to build a family with her husband, she let him believe the baby was his. But her lover threatened to reveal all if she ended the affair, and Tessa soon fell pregnant again. This time, her lover started to make nuisance calls to her home.

Tessa had no choice but to tell her husband. "I said to him, 'I've had an affair and you may not be the father of my children.' So with that, he went up the stairs, got dressed and left. And that was it," Tessa says in Women Who Live a Lie, a programme for the BBC's Five Live Report.

After a paternity test determined that her husband hadn't fathered either child, he broke off all contact.

"I kept this a secret because I thought that my worst nightmare would come true, that the family would be split. Which it has been," Tessa says. Her children, now five and six, never see the man they first knew as "Dad".

One of many
Tessa is far from alone in trying to keep this painful secret - and advances in DNA testing mean women may find it more difficult to maintain the lie.

Estimates suggest that 5% of the population may have a different father to the one they think they are related to, says Professor John Burn, of the Institute of Human Genetics in Newcastle.

He runs one of the UK's few paternity testing services, which carries out about 300 DNA tests a year - a third of results surprise those involved. But men should be cautious about trying to prove their suspicions, he says, for the truth is often unkind.

"There is a genuine Pandora's Box in these sort of tests, that once you've opened the lid, you cannot close it again; once you know this, you cannot unknow it. You must ask yourself, 'if the result goes the way I'm not expecting, can I cope with that?'

"To be suddenly told - or to have a child told - that the person they thought was a parent isn't can have profound implications on their perception of who they are. And if people have an established family relationship, these tests can sever it forever."

Truth will out

For years Angela lived in fear of just such fallout. For her youngest daughter Sally, now 17, is the product of an affair she had for several years. Angela told no-one but two close friends, and felt so guilty her marriage eventually broke down.

Angela on how she hid the truth for years
 "I knew the day had to come some time to tell my daughter, but I wrapped it away in cotton wool thinking not this year, not next year, maybe the year after. I was frightened I'd lose all three of my daughters," Angela told Five Live Report.

Angela on how she hid the truth for years

Many lie to "protect" their family
 Last month, her oldest friend finally snapped and insisted Sally had a right to know who her real father was.

So Angela sat her youngest daughter down for a serious chat. "My heart was bursting out of my chest - I thought that this was the moment in time that I'd going to lose her. I was sobbing when I told her that a long time ago I'd had an affair, that I'd got pregnant and that she was the best mistake that I'd ever made."

Sally took it well (at first - now she is beginning to show she is quite disturbed by the news), so Angela decided to tell her ex-husband - who reacted calmly - and her old lover, who agreed to see Sally when she's ready.

"I'm relieved, but my relief has hurt a lot of people," Angela says, her voice catching as she recalls how her eldest daughter branded her a slut.

"But my main concern is for my children. I hope they're strong enough and wise enough to know that people make mistakes, but they don't have to pay for it the rest of their lives."


The Women Who Live A Lie will be broadcast in the UK on BBC Radio Five Live on Sunday 18 May in the Julian Worricker programme from 1000 BST and again at 1835 BST.

The man I thought was my father and whose name I am proud to have today died when I was 9. I have a much loved stepfather. When I was 18 I was told that my real father is also still alive. Certainly this won't be discussed until after my grandparents die as it might hurt them. I don't judge my mother as I don't believe she has done any more wrong than any of us do in our complicated lives. She worried about telling me for 18 years. I wouldn't exist without this rather complicated story, so how can I regret it?
J, UK

For three years I raised a child - from birth - as my own. I was her Daddy. She was my daughter. Then I discovered that her mother was having an affair; soon after came the bombshell: she's not my daughter. Now, two years on, I am divorced. I am no longer allowed to refer to 'my child'; I am no longer recognised as a father. I have tried to retain a continuing relationship with the child of my marriage: but to no avail. There is no legal recognition of my status. Her biological parents want me out of her life, and there is nothing I can do.
David, England

My mother told me on my 15th birthday that my 'real' father was someone I knew as a friend of the family. Actually it wasn't a complete surprise as children have a sixth sense about the way people behave with each other. It is now 35 years later and my biological father is dead, but STILL only my mother and me know the truth. The whole secretive experience has made it very much more difficult for me to form close and emotionally trusting relationships with women.
Steve, England

I am white, and married to a half-Sri Lankan gentleman. Our first boy was white, blue-eyed and blond. The second was to all intents and purposes Indian. Most people assumed they had different fathers - I got the cold shoulder from other parents on the school run, and gossiped about by social workers. It's only now that Paul and I have been together for 25 years, people are starting to realise we're an item and the boys are both ours.
Dorothy Dawson, UK

I can't condone the breaking of a trust, but fortunately not all situations end in the destruction of a family. A friend found that his daughter of three was not biologically his own, and while it put a strain on the relationship between him and his partner for a time, he put enough value on their relationship and family to want to stay together. It's been four years now, and not succumbing to pride and anger has left all three of them in a loving, happy family.
Michael, Australia

I have a friend who found out by accident the man she considered her Dad is nothing of the sort. This led not only to a break up of the family but also an argumentative relationship with her mother, whom she will never forgive for hiding her true parentage from her. She also knows her Dad is not her father - but he doesn't. She still sees him, and her biological father, but due to the way in which she found out she will never reconcile with her mother.
Kate, UK

I'm a divorce lawyer and deal on a daily basis with the fall-out of adultery (the term 'affair' makes it sound glamorous which it almost never is) and other manifestations of selfish behaviour by spouses/partners. The devastation that this breach of trust causes to everyone involved, especially the children, has to be experienced to be believed. There is always an excuse, some justification for this unacceptable behaviour, but ultimately it always boils down to an inability to put other people before oneself.
Mark Page, UK

Women should think strongly about withholding back the truth as to who their children's real father are. Obviously this is done for personal reasons as it could upset family units. But what about the medical implications this could have on their children later in life? Do they not have a right to know who their biological father is and if they have any hereditary medical history they should be aware of?
Tania Bradley, England

There is of course a way of avoiding all this heartache and deceit. This is for paternity tests to be conducted routinely on every newborn child. On each birth certificate would be written both the biological father (which will never change) and the social father (which may well change more than once throughout the life of the child). This system would bring transparency and confidence to all.
Roger Thomas, Wales

There is of course another way of avoiding all this heartache and deceit. Remain faithful.
Jim, UK

Paternity Fraud
UK National Survey

Paternity fraud survey statistics

Scotland's National Newspaper

96% of women are liars, honest

5,000 women polled

Half the women said that if they became pregnant by another man but wanted to stay with their partner, they would lie about the baby's real father.

Forty-two per cent would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, no matter the wishes of their partner.

Globe and Mail - Paternity Fraud statistics for Canada

Canada's largest
national newspaper

Mommy's little secret

The article contains info about children's identity fraud at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

December 14, 2002.

Includes interview with employees of Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who admit they deny children's identity information to husbands/male partners of mothers who want to hide the real identity of their child because they had an affair. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of The Child specifically supports a child's human right to have a relationship with both his/her biological parents. In addition, this article is proof that The Hospital for Sick Children ("Sick Kids") supports paternity fraud.

Further "Sick Kids" supports a mother's rights only, which they view, supersedes 3 other people's rights, namely, the rights of the biological father, the rights of the mother's male partner/husband and the child's identity rights.  Read More ..

BBC News logo

One in 25 fathers 'not the daddy'

Up to one in 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man's child, UK health researchers estimate.

Increasing use of genetic testing for medical and legal reasons means Read More ..uples are discovering the biological proof of who fathered the child.

The Liverpool John Moores University team reached its estimate based on research findings published between 1950 and 2004.

The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Biological father
Professor Mark Bellis and his team said that the implications of so-called paternal discrepancy were huge and largely ignored, even though the incidence was increasing.

In the US, the number of paternity tests increased from 142,000 in 1991 to 310,490 in 2001.  Read More ..

Paternity Fraud - Spain Supreme Court - Civil Damages

Daily Mail UK

Adulterous woman ordered to pay husband £177,000 in 'moral damages'

The Daily Mail, UK
18th February 2009

An adulterous Spanish woman who conceived three children with her lover has been ordered to pay £177,000 in 'moral damages' to her husband.

The cuckolded man had believed that the three children were his until a DNA test eventually proved they were fathered by another man.

The husband, who along with the other man cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the children's identities, suspected his second wife may have been unfaithful in 2001.

Sydney Morning Herald

Biology, not heart, provokes women's infidelity

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
January 15, 2009

BEAUTIFUL women who have affairs can now blame it on their sex hormones.

Women with higher levels of oestradiol, a form of oestrogen, not only look and feel Read More ..tractive, they are also more likely to cheat on their partners, a new study has found.

One-night-stands are not what interest these flirtatious females, who tend to have bigger breasts, relatively small waists and symmetrical faces as a result of their high levels of oestradiol.

Rather, they adopt a strategy of serial monogamy, say the researchers, led by Kristina Durante of the University of Texas.  Read More ..

Paternity Fraud & the Criminal Code of Canada

Paternity fraud: Is it or should it be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada?

You be the judge.  Read More ..

Independent Women's Forum

Who Knows Father Best?

Feminist organizations including the National Organization of Women (NOW) has objected to legislation that requires the courts to vacate paternity judgments against men who arent, in fact, the father.

Think about that. NOW wants some man, any man, to make child support payments. The woman who doesnt even know who the father is, should not be held responsible for her actions, is a sweet, loving, blameless mother who seeks only to care for her child and if naming some schmuck as father who never saw her before in his life helps her provide for the innocent babe, well then, that's fine.

Innocence is no excuse. Pay up.   Read More ..

ABC
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Broadcast: November 22, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

Last year, more than 3,000 DNA paternity tests were commissioned by Australian men, and in almost a quarter of those cases, the test revealed that not only had their partners been unfaithful, but the children they thought were theirs had been sired by someone else. Read More ..

Paternity Fraud

Sunday Times

DNA: Why the truth can hurt

The Sunday Times
Australia
March 27, 2005

IT sounded too good to be true and it was.

The fairytale that saw Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott reunited with the son he thought he had given up for adoption 27 years ago, ABC sound-recordist Daniel O'Connor, ended this week when DNA tests confirmed another man had fathered Mr O'Connor.

The revelations were devastating for all involved, not least Mr O'Connor.

Still reeling from the emotional reunion with his mother, Kathy Donnelly, and Mr Abbott a few months ago, a simple test of truth has thrown the trio into disarray a situation familiar to thousands of other Australians.

Paternity testing in Australia is a burgeoning industry.

The simplicity of the test cells are collected from a mouth swab grossly underestimates the seriousness of the situation.

Paternity Fraud Australia

Fathers May Get Money Back in Paternity Fraud Cases

18 March, 2005
FindLaw, Australia

Proposed new laws will make it easier for fathers to recover child maintenance payments if DNA testing reveals that they are not the child's father.

The Family Law Amendment Bill 2005 allows people who wrongly believed they were the parent of a child to recover any child maintenance paid or property transferred under an order of a court under the Family Law Act 1975 .

"The bill is intended to make it easier for people who find themselves in this position to take recovery action without the need to initiate separate proceedings for an order from a court of civil jurisdiction, such as a State, Local or Magistrates court," Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said. Read More ..

USA Today

Men wage battle on 'paternity fraud'

USA TODAY, by Martin Kasindorf, December 12, 2002

An acid sense of betrayal has been gnawing at Damon Adams since a DNA test showed that he is not the father of a 10-year-old girl born during his former marriage.

"Something changes in your heart," says Adams, 51, a dentist in Traverse City, Mich. "When she walks through the door, you're seeing the product of an affair."

But Michigan courts have spurned the DNA results Adams offered in his motions to stop paying $23,000 a year in child support. Now, Adams is lobbying the state Legislature for relief and joining other men in a national movement against what they call "paternity fraud." Read More ..

BBC News logo

Who's the Daddy?

Up to three million Britons may be wrong about who their real father is , experts claim. But using DNA paternity tests to discover the truth can cause its own problems.

BBC, U.K., May 16, 2003

Dad's got blue eyes, Baby brown...

When Tessa found out she was pregnant after fertility treatment, she felt a mix of delight and doubt.

This wasn't simply pre-baby nerves - she suspected that her husband might not be the father. For Tessa had started sleeping with a colleague when the stress of the ongoing treatment became too much.

Keen to build a family with her husband, she let him believe the baby was his. But her lover threatened to reveal all if she ended the affair, and Tessa soon fell pregnant again. This time, her lover started to make nuisance calls to her home.

Tessa had no choice but to tell her husband. "I said to him, 'I've had an affair and you may not be the father of my children.' So with that, he went up the stairs, got dressed and left. And that was it," Tessa says in Women Who Live a Lie, a programme for the BBC's Five Live Report.

paternity fraud in Jamaica

Would you wear the jacket?

THERE IS A story I used to find hilarious in my high school years about a not too bright man. He was light skinned, his wife was of similar hue, but their first child was born with very dark complexion (darker dan Bello, blacker dan Blakka).

When the man wondered aloud about the baby's complexion his wife assured him that the child was born dark because the child was conceived in darkness (they had sex with the lights off). The man accepted the explanation. Because he loved his wife dearly, he also ignored the fact that the child had other obvious signs of resemblance to the young dark skinned man who did their gardening. To fix the problem, the husband put flood lights, strobe lights, spotlights and forty other lights in the bed room so there would be no more darkness to create dark babies.

Children's Identity Fraud
Paternity Fraud

Duped Dads, Men Fight Centuries-Old Paternity Laws

United States

"Duped Dads, Men Fight Centuries-Old Paternity Laws"

"Supporters of paternity identification bills point to a 1999 study by the American Association of Blood Banks that found that in 30 percent of 280,000 blood tests performed to determine paternity, the man tested was not the biological father." Read More ..


AABB logo

Download / view pdf file
American Association of Blood Banks
Parentage Testing Program Unit
Annual Report Summary Testing in 2001

Volume of testing 310,490 for the 2001 study

The Supreme Court of Canada -
Cour suprême du Canada

Big win for child identity rights.

Father wins right to be named on birth registration forms. Read More ..

Paternity Fraud

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Tricked 'fathers' may get bill's help

Michael Lautar was devastated when he learned his first wife was cheating on him, and then crushed to discover the then 5-year-old girl who called him "Daddy" wasn't really his daughter.

Next came the sucker punch.

Lautar is under court order to pay nearly $800 a month in child support and other expenses, despite the fact his ex-wife has admitted in Allegheny County court papers that Lautar is not the girl's father. The child was born during their marriage. After the couple divorced, the mother married the girl's biological father. The mother, the father and the daughter live together in Moon, according to papers filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

"I'm stuck in this rip-off, this fraud," said Lautar, 40, of North Strabane. "It's paternity fraud, is what it is. ... And the state is enforcing this fraud." Read More ..

New Zealand

Lack of DNA Paternity testing abuses Dads and Kids

New Zealand Child Support Reform Network.

Press release:
10 November 2004

Lack of free Family Court Ordered DNA Paternity testing abuses Dads and Kids.

"The Labour Government is abusing fathers and children by failing to legislate for free DNA testing to establish paternity", is how Jim Nicolle, spokesperson for the New Zealand Child Support Reform Network, responds to United Futures call for Family Court Ordered DNA paternity tests.  Read More ..