DNA paternity tests have in recent years become relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain. Virginia has a paternity statute which states that if any party to a custody proceeding petitions the court to order a paternity test, the court is required to do so. An adoption case falls under the category of a custody proceeding because the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court must enter a custody order upon acceptance of the birth mother’s consent. So, why isn’t a DNA test routinely done?
The answer is that usually neither the birth mother, the birth father nor the adoptive parents want it to be done.
The birth mother wants everyone to accept her statement. She may be hiding something. She may be afraid the birth father will seek custody if he is forced to go to a clinic and give a blood sample. Remember, if he seeks either custody or visitation rights, this may force the birth mother to retain custody or accept visitation. And she has already made the extremely difficult decision not to do so. Aso, if the birth father gets custody, then the birth mother will have to pay him child support.
Named birth fathers have no reason to seek a paternity test unless they want to parent. Although some birth fathers will say that they want a test just because of their desire to know if they have fathered a child, even if they do not intend to parent. Most of these birth fathers however, do not follow through. Birth fathers who don’t want the world to know about the pregnancy try to avoid the situation, and don’t try to make it more difficult.
Adoptive parents usually do not seek a paternity test because their primary motive is to reach the point of termination of parental rights as fast as possible. Since blood tests are done after birth, the child is usually already with the adoptive parents. They have already bonded with the child. The last thing they want to learn is that someone else might be the birth father, and that he might step forward and seek custody. Getting a court order requiring a paternity test is problematic because the case must be filed and a court date set. Then the order must be entered and a reasonable amount of time allowed to conduct the test and for the results to be reported back to the court. By the time all this can be done, the chld may have been with the adoptive parents for several months. By that time separation would be devastating for both the child and the adoptive parents.
It could certainly be argued that blood tests should be required in every case. But it should be pointed out that there have been a very large number of adoptions in Virginia with very few serious problems. Statutory changes are usually the result of something going wrong.
Also, it is probably still true that most people don’t have a lot of sympathy for a man who fathers a chld and then fails to take responsibility for either the birth mother or the child.