Should I do a paternity test?
Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
I have no idea when and how I have become so addicted to reading your column. I do look forward to it every Tuesday. I am a Jamaican citizen living in Jamaica. My fiancée is a citizen of the United States and we have discussed the possibility of getting married soon.
My reason for writing is that I have two children who I love to death. Their mother has, however, given me reasons in the past to believe they are not mine, and while I cannot live with that being true, I know if I get married to my fiancée a DNA test will be required. My question is, would you recommend me doing that test before I place their names on file as my children, and where are the United States embassy-approved labs?
I await your response!
Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate your support of this column.
You are absolutely correct that if you or your wife file petitions for your children, the US government will require a DNA test to prove paternity. The DNA test is required in instances such as yours where the father and mother of a child were not married when the child was born, and in particular where the father's name was added to the birth certificate after the child was registered. Your US-citizen wife would only be able to file for US residency for your children if you marry her before the children are 18 years of age.
You should do the DNA testing locally at a facility in Jamaica to dispel or confirm your suspicions before any filings for the children begin. Or you can visit the US embassy's website www.kingston.usembassy.gov, or the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services website at www.uscis.gov to find the US-government-approved testing labs. The US will only accept results from their approved labs as being authentic evidence of paternity.
You are on the right track to determine the paternity of the children before beginning the filing process. It can be very disappointing to the children who think they are going to migrate then realise they cannot. Even more devastating for children is to find out that the person they believed to be their father turns out not to be their parent. It brings hurt and resentment to families. Children also have a right to know the truth about their biological parents, if possible, as it can often aid in medical treatments later on.
Be very sensitive with the children if the DNA tests report you are not their father. You should engage the services of a psychologist to assist with breaking the news to the children. I can tell from your letter that you will not love the children any less if they are not proven to be your biological children, and I wish you the best.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises law in Florida in the areas of immigration, family, criminal & personal injury law. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org.