D.N.A. – Friend, or Foe?

May 7, 2006

Do you remember when D.N.A. was such a novel idea? I mean, despite the abundance of D.N.A. evidence in the O.J. Simpson case, he wasn’t found guilty of murdering his wife. Now, ANYONE can go online and purchase a D.N.A. test. I mean, even Maury Polvich centers his talk show around that very same fact…”Who’s your baby’s daddy?”

The American Academy of Blood Banks, says 354,011 paternity tests were done in U.S., Canadian and European labs in 2003, up 700% from 1984. A Google search shows more than 200 websites offering tests for as little as $115.

Florida legislators were scheduled to vote on Friday on whether to allow men to escape child-support payments and other legal responsibilities if DNA tests show they are not the fathers of children born to their wives or partners.

Changes in the law are driven, supporters and opponents say, by the increased availability of inexpensive DNA tests. The new laws are drawing opposition from children’s rights advocates, who say they cut off vital resources and can cause emotional damage.

“If her father asks for a test, what’s a 13-year-old to make of it?” asks Paula Roberts, a lawyer at CLASP. “Regardless of the outcome, is he saying ‘I really don’t want anything to do with you?’ We’ve now irreparably damaged that relationship.”

Washington state, Delaware, Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah have a law that give presumed fathers a period after a child’s birth, usually two years, to seek tests that can disprove paternity.

Which I think is fair.

My feelings are conflicted regarding this law. Because of what has happened to me personally (with both my children’s fathers), I’m afraid this will only give an “out” to those deadbeat dad’s who would do anything to get out of paying support.

My experiences:

1. My ex-husband, who pays $300/mth in child support, recently called to tell me that he put in a call to the District Attorney’s office. The reason? He wants a break from paying child support. I, in my best Tom Hanks “there’s no crying in baseball”, screamed, “there’s no breaks in parenting!!”

2. My son’s father requested a D.N.A. test, then sent someone else to take it. The result was that he was ruled NOT TO BE my son’s father. After a court order demanded he re-take the test, the results were 99.96%.

I mean, if a man isn’t a child’s father, he shouldn’t have the obligation of paying support. But, at the same time, how can a man sever parental ties? If I care for the child, feed it, nurture it, love it, doesn’t that make me the child’s parent, regardless of biology? Where do we draw the line?