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 don’t want to have a test done but I am not sure what my legal
rights are as a single mom. Can you help?
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 don’t have a doctor – get
one fast! The government takes care of mother’s 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
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 state–to-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 baby’s 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
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 hasn’t 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
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 doesn’t 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 can’t 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 Åü%Æ à¸æás E Àg@ €