Dear pastor d.m., my paternity is in question and my sibling wants a DNA test; I’m furious!
I am one of a dozen siblings in my family. I was told growing up that my dad was my biological father. I never questioned it, as he introduced me to his other children. But that was years ago when we were kids. Now we’re all adults and my paternity is being questioned. I posted something on social media about some other man being my father and my presumed siblings now doubt that I’m their father’s biological child. I’ve been approached by one of the oldest siblings about doing a DNA test, but I refuse to take one.
Why do I refuse to take a DNA test? The logic is simple: I was a planned pregnancy by both my mom and my presumed father. When I was born, my dad signed my birth certificate, assuming me as his child. He has paid child support for me for 17 years, though he and my mom never married. I was conceived during my presumed father’s marriage to this oldest sibling’s mother. My dad was never in the picture but the fact that he signed my birth certificate and paid child support says that he’s been invested all these years in being my bio dad. My mother says she believes he is my father, that she “knows” it to be true.
When my sibling asked me to take a DNA test with her father to prove that I’m his child, I flipped. What gives her the right to do that? Why should I have to submit to her demand and pay for a DNA test? I don’t need to prove to her that I’m her sister. Our father hasn’t questioned me as his daughter, and that should be good enough for her. She should accept it without hesitation because she’s accepted it all these years; why the sudden suspicion now?
To be sure, we have a brother that has done at least two DNA tests and confirmed that he is this older sibling’s brother. Both of them have submitted their DNA testing at 23andme, and that’s where they were confirmed as half-siblings. They are half-siblings and share the same father. But this older sibling has known about me for years. Why should I have to prove anything?
To make matters worse, this sibling has unfriended me from social media. She refuses to befriend me again until I undergo DNA testing. I hate the way she refuses to befriend me and accept me as her sister. My mother is also furious that she even asked me about a DNA test. This older sibling says that our father told her to ask me, but I don’t believe it.
Pastor D.M., what should I do? Am I misunderstanding this sister? Am I being too harsh on her? Is she wrong, am I wrong, or both? Any advice you can offer as a spiritual leader would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, A Concerned Sibling
take the dna test; the benefits
My answer to the DNA test is as follows: The best spiritual advice I can give you is that I think you should undergo the DNA test.
I understand your desire to not feel you need to prove anything to your sibling. You were told that her father is your father, and so you grew up with that being the information you knew. Your knowledge has been based on what you’ve been told, as is the case with anyone.
It’s unfortunate, but truthfully, her father should submit to a DNA test with you so that you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Since it’s likely the case that your father may not submit to DNA testing, the only thing you can do is undergo a sibling test. Since you’ve said above that your older sister and your brother have both submitted their DNA at 23andme, you can do the same. From what I know about 23andme, it’s basically a blind way of testing for family. What this means is that you’re not doing a sibling test only, but rather, tossing your DNA out in the company’s database as a way to meet more family. Let’s say that the 23andme DNA test says that you’re not your older sister’s sibling nor your brother’s. At least you can have the satisfaction of knowing that your DNA will lead you to your true biological family. There’s nothing to lose with a DNA test and everything to gain: recognition from your dad’s family if you are his child, recognition from your true dad’s family if you are not your presumed father’s child and your siblings aren’t your bio family.
But you will never know until you assert some humility and undergo biological testing, known as a DNA test.
your older sister’s reasons for paternity doubt
You may think your older sister is being a mean-hearted and cruel person, but she isn’t. She’s doing nothing different from what most families do and want every day. There are few individuals in the world that just accept someone as biological family without proof. And it’s her right to refuse to accept someone without a DNA test as her brother or sister. How can you expect her to accept you as her sibling when 1) she didn’t grow up with you because you two didn’t live together? How can you expect someone to accept you as a sibling when 2) your mother and her father never married? How can you expect her to accept you as a sibling without proof when 3) she only learned of you after the fact? These are questions likely in her mind that make accepting you without proof a problem.
You say that your mother and father never married, yet your father signed the birth certificate and paid child support for you. If you’ve ever watched Paternity Court, there are many situations in which men sign for children that DNA proves aren’t their biological children. Just because her father signed your birth certificate doesn’t mean that you are his child. It proves that he believes you are his; believing you’re his and you actually being his, however, are two different things. Signing a birth certificate is no proof of paternity. At the end of the day, Michael Jordan can sign your birth certificate, but that doesn’t mean you’re his biological child. It simply means that her father was willing to accept responsibility for you. Plenty of stepfathers have done that when they married the child’s mother, but again, accepting responsibility and being the biological father don’t always go hand in hand.
Back to the fact that your mother and her father never married. What makes you think that your mother was faithful? Whenever there’s a lack of commitment in a relationship, there’s room for unfaithfulness and infidelity. I understand that your mother has probably told you she’s been faithful to your sister’s father, but that isn’t necessarily true. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people to admit that their mother or faithful parent could have stepped out on the other person, but it happens. Your mother may not remember all her infidelities; from the sound of it, your father (and your presumed siblings’ father) doesn’t seem to have been the faithful type. Even in a case where there is a presumption of faithfulness, without a marriage and the marriage bond to tie father and child, the child could still end up not being the presumed father’s. Some children are shocked to learn that their presumed father, husband to their mother, isn’t their father, but at least there is an expectation of fatherhood. In situations where parents don’t marry, one cannot expect it. If there could be cases of cover-up in lifelong marriages, what makes you think that infidelity couldn’t exist in a relationship with no strings (and rings) attached?
You’ve admitted above that your mother conceived you with a man who was married at the time. So basically, your mother slept with a married man. That discredits her testimony or claims of faithfulness. Even if she was “faithfully” cheating with him on your sister’s mother, a faithful cheater gets no more credit than a “faithful thief” or a “faithful robber” does. Putting “faithful” in front of something immoral doesn’t make it good. Being faithful in your infidelity doesn’t make you noble. A cheater is still a cheater, no matter how “faithful” he or she may have been to a person on the side. Your mother’s testimony is discredited because of her immorality. Only a DNA test can somewhat redeem it.
calling someone else your father on social media adds to the suspicion
It’s easy to point fingers at your older sister because she is suspicious of your paternity, but you also play a role and must own up to your part in creating the suspicion. You can’t go on social media and claim someone is your true father, then become angry when your older sister questions your paternity. You’ve given her reason to doubt what you say! Evidence on social media can be used against you, even in a court of law, and her father could use it against you at a later date — should the DNA test state that you aren’t his child and he wants to remove his name from your birth certificate. Your social media post is grounds for a state-sanctioned DNA test.
When people already doubt you and what you say, you don’t add fuel to the fire and increase the skepticism. That’s not the way to win, and doing so only hurts you in the process.
Faith doesn’t take precedence over science
I am a person of faith and don’t take faith for granted. But I also believe that faith should have works as evidence, as the apostle James tells us in Scripture. I also think that science is good evidence to support the belief that God created the world and all that is in it (it’s called Intelligent Design). And I think that science is created by God to show us the truth. And in the world of science, our feelings don’t matter. The reason why so many humans fear DNA is because it tells the truth, no matter what. It doesn’t matter how you’re raised, what you’re told, what you think, and how you feel about it. DNA tells you the truth, regardless. It is the closest thing to God we can see in this creation He’s made.
As much as you have faith that your older sister’s birth father is your birth father, only DNA can prove or disprove that claim. And if you’re not willing to submit to DNA, you’re making a claim without evidence. The only evidence you have is a birth certificate, which proves his willingness to accept the fatherly responsibilities. However, no man can “sign” his way to paternity. No man becomes your father by simply “signing” his name to a document. He may be able to sign his way to being your legal father, but legal father and biological father are two different things. No court of law, no amount of legal documents, no matter the belief that a man is your father makes it so. The legal cannot make someone a “biological” father.
Your older sister is justified in her skepticism until a DNA test is taken by you. You may not want to hear it, and it may not be what you want to accept, but she is justified. She doesn’t have to accept you until the paperwork is produced. You don’t have to prove anything to her, however, but you should consider the fact that 20 years from now, your children (if you have any) may want to know who their biological grandfather is. It may not matter to you, but it may matter to them. And you may not have questions, but they may.
Your presumed half-brother has taken two DNA tests to confirm who he is. In the spirit of agreement, why can’t you? You are the only one that has the power to put an end to the skepticism and the doubts from your presumed father’s family. None of your siblings can take the DNA test for you; only you can do that. And so, if you don’t take the test, don’t continue to get angry with your father’s family. If you refuse to put an end to the doubt, how can you expect the doubt to end? You’re the one keeping the flames of doubt alive.
You can extinguish the doubt, but you have to face the possibility that your presumed father may not be your biological. And I think that may be the reason why you keep getting upset every time someone mentions DNA. I understand where your older sister is coming from. I was conceived in my parents’ marriage, yet I’ve still undergone DNA testing to find family I don’t know about. I don’t understand why some of my siblings refuse to submit to DNA testing as well, when they know they were conceived in adulterous relationships while my parents were married.
You can’t get a driver’s license without passing a driving test. You can’t pass a class without taking the final exam. You can’t work in the military without passing health tests and checkups. You can’t drive a vehicle that doesn’t have an inspection every year. And the same goes for biological testing. Your word of mouth, and your faith in your paternity are not equal to a DNA test. They are no substitute for DNA.
Without a DNA test, your paternity claim is just a theory without evidence. You might as well claim unicorns are your parents if you’re willing to claim paternity without a DNA test to prove it.
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