How To Tell if a Child is Not Yours:The Signs Are Everywhere

How To Tell if a Child is Not Yours

The best day of your life is the day your child is born. Nothing else compares, but now he’s five, and he looks just like your old neighbor. Do all children look like their parents? How can you tell if a child is really yours? I looked into establishing paternity and found out plenty of eye-opening information. Luckily there are several solid indicators, and at least one way to be absolutely sure.

Signs The Kid is Not Yours

There are lots of ways to check whether a child is yours. Before we get into that, I want to make sure you understand that the only way to be 100% sure is to get a DNA test done. More on that later. Some other indicators can help clue you in, so you know if you need to get a test done.

Questionable Indications

Children often have similar habits and behavior to their parents. Of course, there are two parents to consider here, so your bundle of joy may be more like her mommy than her dad. There are so many reasons people behave the way they do, and this alone is incredibly inexact. It’s unlikely that the way a kid behaves is any realistic indicator of paternity. Eating habits are like facial features, they might be a dead ringer for a parent, but it’s no guarantee.

As odd as this may sound, some parents use the toes configuration to decide whether or not they think a child is theirs. There are five categories of toes that may indicate ancestry: Celtic, Egyptian, Greek, Germanic, and Roman. However, there are plenty of things that can affect the pattern of toes.

Good Indicators

  1. Conception Date- Estimating the conception date is very simple. You take the day the baby was (or will be) born and subtract nine months. Obviously, this only works if the baby is right on time. While this method is inaccurate, it will still get you a good ballpark figure. If, for example, you’re in the military and were out of the country the month your youngest child was conceived, you are not his daddy. What that means for your family is up to you. If you sign the birth certificate, then the kid is yours until you prove otherwise.
  2. Eye Color- Eye color is a possible indicator of paternity. More often than not, if both parents share an eye color, that’s what the baby will have. However, between recessive genes and natural mutations and the eyes of the grandparents, a baby can have a very different color than the parents.
  3. Skin Color- Genetics is a very complex issue. Still, as a general rule, if you are dark-skinned, and your babies mother is dark-skinned, and your baby comes out obviously pale, Asian, red-headed or the like, then the kid might not be yours. Allow me to stress that this isn’t a perfect system. Albino children are as pale as they come, and they can be any race. It’s incredibly rare, but it does happen.
  4. Blood Type- A baby’s blood type depends on a very similar process to their eye color. Both parents donate what is known as alleles, which help determine which blood type the child gets. If both parents have O blood types, the child will have an O as well, but that’s only true for O-type. Any other combination has multiple outcomes possible.
  5. The Mother is Questionable- We don’t want to bag on moms, they have it hard. However, if your spouse, girlfriend or baby-momma spends most of her time sleeping around, there’s a pretty good chance the kid won’t be yours. Moreover, if she ‘refuses,’ or tries to delay a paternity test with guilt trips and excuses, then you have a right to be concerned.

Myths About Paternity Testing

A paternity test is science. It’s not a myth or a probability. However, because things have changed over the years, and also because not everyone has bothered to ask the correct questions, there are plenty of misconceptions about tests. We’ll go over the basics, so you know what’s real and what’s just a rumor.

  • Super Expensive- While a retail test only runs about $30 + the results fee from the lab, it’s not legal in court. Still, it’s a great way to tell if you need to pay more for an official test. You can get a court-legal DNA test for $200-500. That’s nothing compared to what it costs to raise a kid who’s not yours.
  • It Hurts- Things have come a long way since the early days of DNA tests. The preferred method these days is a cheek swab. There’s no pain involved at all. Before you even think to ask about the accuracy, a cheek swab or cheek scrape as they’re called, is exactly as effective as taking blood.
  • You Need Both Parents- Actually, you can test for DNA without the father, or without the mother’s consent if your name is on the birth certificate and you share custody. Testing with parental permission is entirely legal, and since you have to go to court to get your name off a birth certificate, the child is legally yours unless you’ve had custody removed. Testing without a father is harder, but you can use his parents to test as long as they share enough DNA. You’ll want both grandparents if at all possible.
  • You Have to Wait for the Baby to be Born- We’re not sure if this was ever true. If both parents give blood willingly, you can get the baby tested before it’s even into the second trimester. There are other ways to DNA test before birth, like amniocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) to take cells from the baby directly. These can be more dangerous and painful than a simple blood test.
  • No Confidentiality- While you can’t stop your hormonal, pregnant spouse from telling the world, you took a DNA test, the facility that processes it won’t say anything. Confidentiality is strictly observed, and they won’t reveal or publish your results. They might use the data in aggregate as part of a study, but that won’t identify you or your child. Aggregate studies only show, for example, how many 30-year-old dads were tested that year, or how often paternity was proven false in a decade.

Can a DNA Test Fail

The answer is yes, but before you jump to a conclusion about that, read on, so you understand how and why. Knowing more about how a DNA test works and what a paternity test is looking for will help you ask the right questions. It’s improbable that a test will get wrong results, but it could happen.

It helps if you think of DNA as a puzzle rather than the helix shape you’re probably more familiar with. If you can test the mother at the same time, it helps because her DNA will match the child to some extent. Resultantly, a lab can then eliminate that part and test the rest for matching ‘pieces.’ You can still check without her. It’s just a bit harder.

It’s not a perfect 50/50 blend. Realistically kids get varying amounts of DNA from each parent, but there’s always some of both. There’s no way to make a clone naturally. You have to have input from the father to help determine things like gender.

Daddy DNA

What a lab tells is whether the pieces of the child’s DNA and his are the same size or fit. The more pieces they test, the more accurate the result. Other men in the population can have some of the same DNA, and the test will only show if the man tested is a fit. This is mostly a non-issue since DNA is incredibly individual.

Unfortunately, if you’re concerned your baby’s mother cheated with your father or brother (especially if you’re a twin), it’s a lot more likely that there could be a failure. Even twins aren’t expected to be an exact match for one another, but it can be enough similarities to screw up a paternity test.

Can a Paternity Test Be Contaminated

Another way to ‘fail,’ a DNA test is contamination. You need to follow the directions exactly. Avoid any fails on your part by not eating, drinking (even water), smoking or chewing gum for an hour before the test. If you forget, wait a little longer or test again. Also, spitting on a cotton swab is not the same as swabbing your cheek. Do exactly what it says.

Cross-contamination can also happen. Never touch the collection end of the swab if you’re collecting from someone else, like your child. Contributing your skin cells from fingers might wreck the results. Other things that can mess with results are recent blood transfusions or any bone marrow transfusion. If you or the child has had these, a lab needs to know.

Can You Cheat a Paternity Test

Home testing isn’t allowed in court for a good reason. You can cheat a paternity test. Contaminating the test, or substituting one person’s DNA for another is possible. This is why you have to go to a bonafide lab and get tested by a professional who collects the swabs in person for a court case. A home test will still set your mind at ease if you do it carefully yourself.

Final Thoughts

Kids, even difficult ones, are a life-changing and wonderful thing. Raising a kid who might be a cuckoo-egg (from another nest) is something most people don’t want to do unintentionally. Adoption should always be voluntary. What’s more, once you’ve paid for doctor bills or even child support, you’re out that money. You can’t sue to get the money back. Plus, you’ll probably have to pay a lawyer and court fees to get your name off the birth certificate, and worse, explain it all to the innocent kid. It’s better to know for sure.

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