Annette Nay, PhD

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Forced Paternity Testing
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright 2004

Dear Annette Nay,

I am a soon to be mom and 19 years old. I am having a problem with this guy wanting a paternity test before the baby is born.

I have cervical cancer and I am at high risk during this pregnancy. He has showed no interest in this little girl yet. He doesn't call or even go to doctor visits.

I dont want to have a test done but I am not sure what my legal rights are as a single mom. Can you help?

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Dear Soon to be Mom,

Your first move should be to get legal & medical advice.  Both are free if you look in the right places. Call around to lawyers that do paternity cases in your area. Ask who takes on pro bono cases (cases done for free). As far as medical goes, if you dont have a doctor get one fast! The government takes care of mothers with no money. You just have to apply. Also in some areas there are free clinics. So in both cases get the help you need now!

When you see you doctor ask whether a paternity test will actually hurt your pregnancy, do to the cervical cancer and you are at high risk anyway.

Legally, I believe paternity testing is not done until the baby is born and even then the child has to be a certain age before they will attempt it.  This would render the testing at this time, a non-issue.  Laws vary from stateto-state, and I am not a lawyer, so get the legal help you need, so you can be sure of your rights.

A second point you need to consider is how involved you want to dad to be in your babys life?  If you want any help from him, emotionally, financially, etc. then, eventually, it will be the right thing to do, to prove paternity to assure the father and you that he is the father of this child.

If proven to be the father, he does have a legal obligation to support his child. There are states like Utah that will make the father maintain his obligation. Also there are organizations that help moms make the dead-beat dads pay up.

The fact is that even though the father hasnt been attentive up til now does give you some hope that he is beginning to care and will eventually grow up and realize his responsibility to his child. This is not to say that things will ever work out between the two of you. A child is not the cement of a relationship, but most often in cases like these, it is an agitation.

The third thing to consider is how you are going to handle the stress you have now with the pregnancy, during the delivery, and afterwards whether you keep the baby or give it up for adoption.

It would be a good idea to enroll in a Lamaze class which teaches natural childbirth. This is not to say that you should have your child without drugs for the pain. Each woman will have to answer this question at each birth she has. She needs to consider what will be best for her child and her in each situation.

What Lamaze will do for you will educate you as to what will happen to you at each stage of the birth so you will not be scared witless of the unknown. Also, and just as important, is the relaxation and breathing techniques they teach. If practiced, these techniques will help you not only in birth, but throughout your life in coping with painful or stressful moments whether they are physical or emotional. I have personally, eliminated headaches, coped with high or daily stress, and even put myself to sleep with the relaxation and/or breathing techniques. I highly recommend it.

It is tough to have to grow up all at once. You are only 19 and will have to quickly acquire the maturity of someone at least 21. That may not sound like it is not that big of a jump, but at your age, there are a lot of tasks you need to complete to be a whole person. You have to learn who you are and who you want to be. This is also the time that most people learn to turn their thoughts from a me oriented world to the love, concern, and care of others. At this pivotal time there are worlds of difference which you will have to learn immediately.

More growth is needed if you decide to keep the baby. This is very difficult, because you do not have the education to support your baby, even if you become the most nurturing, mature 19 year old in the world. There is also the fact that having a child will certainly hamper, but not totally eliminate your chances of getting a husband. 
At 19, you should be getting an education, become more socially adept at handling men and life situations, learning to meet more demanding obligations and deadlines through organizing your life and be disciplined enough to force yourself to do things you should and/or need do even when you do not want to do them.

Whether you choose to be a mother at home teaching your child or have a career, you need an education to fall back on, depending on what life throws at you. An education will help you raise your child better and be able to help him/her with his/her schooling. Make sure you get a good education.

For the poor, there is the Pell Grant that pays for your books and tuition. For the smart, there are scholarships. For the middle-class, there are student loans, that will eventually have to be paid back, but the interest is low and usually doesnt start to accrue or payments begin, until you finish college. So there is no reason you should not get a good education. Do it!

Of course having a baby and needing child care is a problem. First, you have to decide whether you or someone else will raise your child. If you cant afford child care and are poor, the state has child care money you will need to apply for. If you are middle-class to rich, you will need to pay for the care of your child while you go to school and/or work. In any case someone else is raising your child. Make sure that this person is of good character and will teach your child good values and morals. It would be best that you were this person, but at 19, you probably will not have that luxury.

You also have the option of giving your child up for adoption. This will always be difficult not only at the beginning, but throughout your life, as you contemplate the where-about and welfare of your child.

With people wanting newborns and the open adoptions, you can basically choose the parents you want for your child and even negotiate visitation rights for your child and you, with the adopti%sEg@ DB`k,ɯy/P


 


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