‘My son doesn’t resemble me’: A confused father asks if his son is really his

We often receive tricky questions from concerned parents, and we reach out to experts to help us answer them whenever we can.

This father reached out, concerned that his boy is perhaps not his biological son:  

“I am a father but my son doesn't resemble me with any body feature, can this be a sign that he's not mine? I am really confused and this always worries me a lot.” 

Confused Dad

Dr Yvonne Holt, Chief Medical Officer at Next Biosciences, advises that the best way to find out if a child is really yours, biologically, is to do a paternity test.

According to the company “DNA paternity testing determines the biological father of a child. We all inherit our DNA from our biological parents — half from our mother and half from our father. A DNA paternity test compares a child’s DNA pattern with that of the alleged father to determine if there is a match.”

We asked her what a paternity test entails, and she provided some helpful answers.

What does a paternity test entail?

The test entails doing a finger prick test from the alleged father and child. This is a simple prick to the finger and a drop of blood is placed on a special card.

This has to be done by a nurse or doctor who will also act as a witness to the test. The mother / legal guardian must also be present to consent to the child having the test.

How much does a paternity cost?

Next Biosciences charges R2595.00 for a paternity test. Parent24 did some research and it would appear this is a fairly standard price.

Our research also seems to indicate that free paternity testing is not an option in South Africa.

Where do I go to get a paternity test?

Next Biosciences can courier a test kit to the client for them to take to their local doctor/ nurse, or the client can collect the kit from our facility in Midrand and we can perform the test here. You can call (011) 697 2907 and speak to Clare.

Alternatively, browse the National Health Laboratory Service list here for your nearest branch: nhls.ac.za/diagnostic-services/paternity-testing/.

Depending who you use, the time required for completion of the test can be between 5 days and 4 weeks.

Can I get a paternity test without the mother’s knowledge?

No, you cannot get a paternity test that will stand up in a court of law without the mother’s consent.  

It is important to note that in order for paternity tests to be admissible in court, the tests need to be performed by an accredited laboratory. The testing procedure is required to follow a strict chain of custody, which oversees the process for sample collection and identification of the tested parties.

This is not necessary if the outcome is for personal knowledge purposes only.

How accurate is a paternity test?

It is 99.9% accurate: a DNA test is the most accurate method available to test the paternity of a child.

If the result shows 99%, does that mean the child is maybe not mine?

There is that possibility, but it is extremely unlikely that the test is wrong. It is important to do a detailed test where they check between 16 – 25 genetic markers.

The more markers they use, the lower the margin of error. The test can be trusted. 

Is any emotional support offered during this process?

If you do the test through your local doctor, they will be able to offer some emotional support. Next Biosciences have a genetic counsellor on board who can further explain the test results to you, but for full emotional support, one would have to go to psychologist.

Compiled for Parent24 by Elizabeth Mamacos

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