How Do We Establish Paternity?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

hi, I really don’t know how to go about this but I’m 16 and my boyfriend is 14. The short story is that he was with a girl a while ago and he doesn’t know her surname. she had a baby and moved away with her family she told my boyfriend it was his and even sent him a few pictures at the beginning of the baby’s life but he hasn’t been able to see the baby. he doesn’t know how to find the girl without her surname and he really wants to know if the baby is his and if it is he wants the opportunity to be a dad. she changed her phone number and email and everything so he cannot contact her. he is getting really depressed about it as he might have a baby he doesn’t know and although he is 14 he wants to do what’s right and be a dad. I hope you can help?? any advice would really be appreciated. many thanks.

A: For 14, your boyfriend is quite the man. Unfortunately, he is also still a boy with limited skills and resources to help himself. He really needs his parents or some other adults to get involved. I’m sure that the girl is traceable, especially if he knows where the baby was born and where she used to live. The pictures may also help. He deserves to have his question resolved so that he can get on with life. Please urge him to talk with his parents or a school counselor or some other adult he trusts about locating the mother and baby and getting a paternity test.

Meanwhile, I hope you and your boyfriend are using protection if you are sexually active. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for teens in your boyfriend’s position to unconsciously try to “replace” the baby that was lost by making another one. He is in no position to be a father at this time. Please let him know that the most loving thing he can do for his child (if there is one) is to grow into the man he can be so at some point he can be a father who emotionally and financially supports his family.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Mar 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). How Do We Establish Paternity?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/03/26/how-do-we-establish-paternity/