The CRC View: The Relationship Counts More than DNA
For centuries, legal systems have struggled with issues about parentage because they are so fundamental to the healthy development of innocent children.The “common law” required that a child born during marriage was legitimized in order to preserve the child’s heritage.Many children born in marriage now are not children of the husband, but they are part of the family.  We see parents now who are so angry at each other, so toxic, that they will subject a child to a DNA test to taunt the other parent.  Or they will allege that the child “may not be yours.”  How long can we who advocate for children allow these angry acts by parents?
Let’s flip it over and examine the other side.Say you have raised and loved a child and the child loves you back, but as a strategy, the mother alleges you are not dad.  Genetic testing shows you are not the father.  What if you were excluded but you still loved the child and wanted to parent?  Would you have no recourse?

Worse, what if you were the unsuspecting husband who parented a child not knowing it was not genetically yours, only to have your spouse, when it was to her advantage, remove you from the child’s life, and demand genetic testing?

Conversely, what if a man suspects he is not the father, and asks for a genetic test, even though the child may be 10 or 11 years old?  What kind of message does this send to the child?It is obvious – I don’t want you, I don’t love you, and I no longer intend to support you emotionally or financially.

This whole issue goes to the fundamental question of “What is a father”.  We know that anyone with sperm can make a baby; but a father is a treasure.Why should we take one away?How can he be replaced?

Should lawmakers use science as an excuse to avoid the complex issues?Shouldn’t judges look at the relationship of the child to the parent?

Under this approach, if the child and the parent have a long-standing relationship, DNA could not be used to end the relationship.

On the other hand, if a mother has hidden the child for five or ten years, and suddenly surfaces asking for child support, and DNA says “Joe” is not the dad, there is no relationship – and then of course stranger “Joe” no responsibility for a child that DNA says is not his.

There are lots of families where the father knew he may not be the biological father or even knows he wasn’t the dad, but signs the “acknowledgement of parentage” form in a hospital or elsewhere as a form of “poor man’s adoption.”

We are not surprised that there are few voices speaking out for the innocent children who loved the only man they ever knew as daddy, only to lose him as the adults use the poor child as a weapon in their own war to destroy each other.

CRC fights for a child’s right to two parents, not to two parents providing they are the mother and the biological father regardless. Consider the interloper in a marriage who seduces a man’s wife, or the wife who seduces another guy. Should he be later allowed to demand genetic tests? Yes, if he had a relationship with the child while mom and dad were separated, as happened in the famous Michael H case, where CRC filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of biological dad’s right to a hearing to determine if he could have access (visitation) with the child.

But should he deny a genetic test if he had no relationship with the child? What if the husband loves the child and accepts the parenting role? For how many years?

If we support the “biology rules” concept, then all men who want to parent a child regardless of marital status, should be required to take a genetic test or adopt the child formally. At least the poor child will have certainty from day 1 when the adults act crazy later on.

But if we support the child-focused “relationship” approach, we will look to see if there is indeed a child-father bond. If there is, DNA should not be allowed to end the relationship, not should testing be forced on a dad who wants to continue parenting the child.

In a day and age where testing is supposed to be able to prove with virtual 100 percent certainly “who is a dad,” this relationship approach may not sit well with some fathers and mothers.

But one person who will be happy to continue the bonding that has already been established will be – the unsuspecting child.