Dad fights to keep his 'jacket' - Jamaica man struggles to keep son he grew although DNA proves he is NOT the father
Although a DNA test showed he is not the biological father of the son he thought was his, 46-year-old Patrick Mair* spent millions of dollars, fought with United States Embassy officials, allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to comb through his personal life, and went through the court system just so that he would be determined fit to adopt the boy and take him to live in the United States.
The process to adopt the child took 10 years, and was, at times, very daunting, but the sacrifices paid off and, today, the bond between Mair and the young adult is very strong.
Mair is not sure if his now 19-year-old son knows he was adopted or of the struggles he endured in his quest to adopt him because he has never told him, but as far as Mair is concerned, he is his son.
"He probably has a hint or an idea, but we never really sit down and declare all of this to him. He is quite happy and he acknowledges that I am his dad. I am not going to try to change anything about that," Mair told The Sunday Gleaner.
Mair learnt about his 'son' eight months after he was born. He and the child's mother had courted briefly, but then he left Jamaica to work on a cruise ship. He said they lost contact with each other until he managed to get her number from a cousin some time later and made contact again.
"I asked her if she had any more kids and she said yeah, and I said, 'In this hard time, you got another one', and I asked her who the father is, and she said 'you'," recounted Mair.
He said he went to see the child on his next trip to the island and his mother and sister took his son to live with them when it was determined that the mother's living condition was not suitable for a baby.
Mair provided financial support and visited the child whenever he got a break from work and could come to Jamaica.
He decided to try to file for his son when he was 9 years-old, but then the DNA test results derailed his efforts.
"I was just disappointed because I wanted to give him a better life," he said.
He said his son's mother had five children and was unable to provide for him and so he pursued his desire to have the child he believed he had fathered to come and live in the US.
Mair went through several interviews at the embassy, security background checks and medical examinations in order to prove he could care for him. The Child Development Agency (CDA) also conducted several home visits locally when he made a request to adopt him.
Mair said he became even more desperate to have his son come and live with him after he found out the boy was involved in bad company and was expelled from school two months before his graduation. The day the judge approved the adoption was one of the happiest days in his life.
"The judge was amazing. She told me that I wish I got some champagne and some balloons because 'I am downstairs trying these dudes for them to take care of their kids and you are here, doing a wonderful job like this'," Mair recalled.
Adoption Coordinator at the CDA Maxine Bagalue noted that there have been several cases in recent times where a man who was proved not to be the biological father of the child he thought was his actually tried to adopt the child.
She said several of these DNA tests were conducted on the instruction of the US Embassy because the fathers were trying to file for the children.
"Over the years, every month, we have at least one on our case load bringing forward, which was never the case a few years ago," she said.
"The mothers don't have any objections and some are even saying that the DNA tests are not right," she noted.
Information gleaned from a diplomatic cable sent from the US Embassy in Kingston to its headquarters in Washington in 2009 showed that at least 10 per cent of Jamaican men who filed for children between March 2009 and August 2010 were shown not to be the fathers.
Mair, who has found himself in this category, encourages these men to continue to support these children.
"If you have been a father for 10 years, you can continue being a father for another 10 years. You can't turn your back on these kids, you can't be bitter about it, you have to think about the kids, not just about the mom."
* Name changed on request.