Mon | Dec 4, 2023

Negative DNA result crushes US migration hopes for teen

MP Heroy Clarke to bring motion soon for testing to be conducted at birth

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2023 | 12:05 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter

THE JOY of living the American dream as a legal immigrant became a nightmare after a young teen found out the man he called daddy was not his father, following a DNA test as part of the filing process. More than a week after the results were...

THE JOY of living the American dream as a legal immigrant became a nightmare after a young teen found out the man he called daddy was not his father, following a DNA test as part of the filing process.

More than a week after the results were obtained, the parties involved are angry and puzzled as to what is their next move.

The Gleaner obtained copies of two DNA exams conducted on separate children and only one of the boys is the biological son.

A relative close to the situation told The Gleaner that tongues are wagging in the community where they are from.

“People know say the father a file for them a while now. One get through and the other didn’t, so people going to ask who is the father. Is a big embarrassment. They were expected to leave this summer and begin a new life in the US. The likkle boy is asking questions,” said the relative, who requested anonymity.

Heroy Clarke, member of parliament (MP) for St James Central, said in November 2021 that he would move a motion for DNA tests to be conducted at birth.

This week he told The Gleaner that his plans are still on stream and it’s just a matter of time before he moves the motion.

“The intention is still high. The minister with responsibility will say (when), but it is on the order paper. That much I know,” he said.

This latest case, in which unexpected paternity results have prevented the migration of a child, follows a similar circumstance that came to The Gleaner’s attention last year.

That matter was connected to a family from the Maxfield Avenue area in St Andrew.

“The man deh a farin and decide fi tek up the teen girl and boy. The DNA say the girl is his but not the boy. The girl in America now and the boy who is 16 just deh pon di road. I don’t know what him doing with himself,” said a resident of the community who is aware of the case involving the children whose identities The Gleaner has opted not to reveal.

Clarke said issues such as these are aplenty in communities across Jamaica.

The MP, who is also a justice of the peace, has had to deal with the aftermath of a number of cases and provide recommendations to families.

According to Clarke, however, none of these situations should have turned out as they did.

“That was one of the situations that came to mind. Growing up in the country and also as an adult, you would hear stories or have information that you are privy to and not able to release but you know it happens,” he said.

Clarke said it was time that the matter be dealt with upfront.

“Take the bull by the horn. My argument is that the kid wants to know. It is the child that suffers most. After all these years, the man that he has called ‘daddy’ is not his real father and all the promises that were made to him are now shattered somewhat,” Clarke said.

Some choose adoption

He said that, in some cases, two of which he has been involved and had to lend his signature, some men after the fact desire adoption.

“I was asked to write a letter for a man that has been the father figure of a girl, only to find out at the filing stage that he is not her real father. He still, however, wanted to go through with the filing process,” Clarke said.

Clarke said this DNA motion will help many in different regards by way of an early resolution.

He expects it to become a deterrent in cases where children are sexually abused and also in matters of child maintenance.

More than a decade ago, data contained in a sensitive diplomatic cable sent from the US Embassy in Kingston to its headquarters in Washington outlined that one in every 10 men who turns up at the US Embassy is told the DNA test proves that he is not the biological father of the child he is filing for.

The diplomatic cable, a copy of which was obtained by Wikileaks and accessed by The Gleaner, also suggested that the percentage of men filing for children they did not sire – colloquially called ‘jackets’ – could have been higher if some applicants had not abandoned the paternity process in midstream.

The embarrassing information on the number of ‘jackets’ was contained in a diplomatic cable captioned ‘Fraud summary’ and covered the period March to August 2009.

According to the leaked diplomatic cable, the US Embassy in Kingston “often requests applicants to undergo DNA testing because their fathers’ name is either not on the birth certificate at all, or was added many years after their birth”.