Lets Talk About Paternity Fraud
Part Two: The Human and Medical Implications
Children are afraid of the dark. Adults are afraid of the light.
Ms. Betsy Keefer and Ms. Jayne Schooler have over 60 years of combined experience in child welfare issues. In their recent book, Telling the Truth toChildren, they convincingly report the devastation to people who have been deliberately lied to as children. While secrets can almost always be lethal, open communication rarely is. They also say, Every person has a right to know their own medical history.
Dianne Seltzer, a cancer survivor, in a recent interview with Lifetime said, They (immediately) mapped out our entire family background. She and her oncologist believe it was her accurate family medical history that saved her life. The Mayo Clinic reported in Family Cancer Syndromes (9/02), Talking with your family about cancer may be the one way to learn more about your own risks.
How can children who have been lied to about who their biological father know their true medical history and thus be fully armed in their lifetime fight against diseases? Imagine the horror of a recent case in California where a young child suffering from leukemia died an excruciating death after a transplant rejection from a strangers bone marrow. The child had eight siblings, none of whom shared her HLA type. Why? Because she was conceived by another man. No one representing the real biological family was ever tested. Her best chance was nullified because her mother did not have to share the childs genetic history with the hospital or the courts. No one asked the mother and she did not tell. She knew she could lose her child support.
Most Judges do not take the time to understand the depths of this human struggle for truth and justice. Nor with their training, do they fully understand the severe medical or psychological implications of their decisions for the children involved. Sadly, the actual voices of the father and innocent child, the victims of this fraud, are rarely given the chance to be heard in our courtrooms. It is relegated to legalities, court rules, and lots of money for the attorneys. Costs for these cases range between $25,000-$250,000 (and up) for the defrauded men with little chance to win. Ironically, it is the same men who have been lied to that are often humiliated with lectures on what it means to be a father while ordered to continue the support. Maybe it is time that the fraudulent mothers get the lectures and are asked to do what is right. Admit the truth and name the biological father.
To appreciate the human side of this matter, consider the following heartfelt testimony that Mrs. Kelly Nudelman gave to help pass paternity fraud legislation in Georgia. She is a mother and the wife of a husband caught in the web of paternity fraud from a former spouse.
For those of you that are parents, take a moment to think about the joy you felt when you welcomed your child into this world. The feelings are indescribable. And that is just the beginning. The love grows many fold throughout the years. Now think about how you would feel if you found out that child was not really yours. You were tricked. You were used. You had no part in bringing that child into this world. It makes you sick. Now you are a paycheck. Ive watched my husband feel this pain. Ive watched it tear his heart out. Never, again can my husband look at this child the same way. Never again will his relationship be the same with that child. And never again will our family have a normal life.
It is time we wake up to the real problem. Fraud is fraud. Lying "deadbeat moms" and "deadbeat bio-dads" should be held responsible. Governor Engler recently began a voluntary DNA testing program for babies born in Michigan. Mandatory DNA testing at all births would prevent this problem from ever occurring. (Privacy issues? Anyone who takes a bodily sample from you in a lab or hospital can already have your DNA information, if they want it.)
How can we truly celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day in a country that allows this kind of blatant injustice, destruction of families, and dishonesty? It will not end unless we act by writing and calling on our legislators to support paternity fraud legislation like MI HB 4635/4636. Some of us are being personally tasked with the fight for truth and have refused to tolerate lying to the children. The rest of us need to stop the silence on this epidemic and preventable human tragedy.
Dr. Damon Adams
Northern Regional Director
DADS OF MICHIGAN
Kids need both (biological) parents!
Dr. Adams can be reached at 231-932-0162 for questions or comments.