Discussions on child support and parenthood normally revolve around the fathers who aren’t paying or being a part of their kids lives, but we can’t ignore the unfortunate reality that some men out here get got, plain and simple.
No, I’m not talking about Meek Mill’s definition of being played because he randomly gave the mother of his child cash to take care of some things and still expects to be slapped with a court order for child support on top of it. I’m speaking on women who perhaps know a child isn’t a particular man’s, or at the very least are uncertain of their child’s paternity, yet aren’t upfront about that uncertainty and allow men to raise or provide for their child unaware of those doubts.
It’s hard to say how often these situations occur, but whenever I hear a case of a man finding out years down the line that he actually isn’t the father of a child whose life he’s been involved in, my immediate reaction is why didn’t he just get a paternity test? But as I relayed that same reaction to people today when discussing Ne-Yo’s Behind The Music special, I realized demanding a paternity test likely isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Over the weekend, Ne-Yo’s Behind The Music special aired on VH1 and the network got to the bottom of a paternity situation many probably never even knew existed. When the singer first signed to Def Jam, he was apparently involved with a woman named Jessica who became pregnant with what he thought was his child. Years later, he found out that wasn’t the case, telling VH1:
“Jessica called me, balling crying. I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ And all she could say is, ‘He’s not yours, he’s not yours.’ She just kept saying it over and over and over again, to the point where I dropped the phone. Chimere’s not mine. That hurt ’cause I had attached myself to this guy, you know. This is my son. I’m looking at him and I’m picturing I’m gonna be old, and he’s gonna be — this is my son! It’s not my son…. I didn’t care who the father was. In my mind, I was still Chimere’s father. I was there when he was born. I saw him when he first came out. I held him. He was my kid.”
One could look at this as an innocent mistake – as innocence as not knowing who the father of your child can be considered — but the next details that follow make this mix-up seem a bit more calculated. Ne-Yo told cameras:
“In the state of California if you put yourself out there as the father, the mother can then come after you in court like you’re the biological father so we settled out of court for what I thought was an ungodly amount of money. Shortly after that Jessica and Chimere vanished. [So you're not in touch with him now?] No. Nope.”
I’m sure in Ne-Yo’s mind, losing the money was secondary to losing his first son – biological or not, but I can’t help but think could a paternity test much earlier on have prevented all of this hurt, or at least lessoned the blow? From the way the story was told, it seemed Ne-Yo got a paternity test at his mother’s urging. She puts me in the mind of Usher’s mother, Jonetta, when she said on the special:
“I strongly felt that she was not the right person for my son. I had suspicions immediately.[...]In the back of my mind I’m kind of keeping score and checking things off and then of course when the time came for me to put in my two cents, I gave a couple [of] bucks.”
There’s obviously a step here before paternity tests, which is knowing who you’re sleeping with – particularly unprotected — but it seems Ne-Yo did think he knew this woman. He claimed her as a girlfriend, although according to his sister things moved between the couple at a much faster pace than she approved of, saying, “One month he was calling saying, ‘Oh, I’m dating this woman,’ and then the next month it was, ‘Oh, we’re going to get a place together.’” Clearly the next month or two later it was “Oh, she’s pregnant,” but the question is, can you ask a girlfriend to get a paternity test?
Most women would say no, likely in unison, as the ladies I questioned today did. I hypothetically posed this scenario to a few women who said they would act a monkey fool if a man ever asked them to get a paternity test. I, on the other hand, am not quite as adamant about the foulness of that request. I would certainly be somewhat offended and admittedly beside myself if a man I was in a committed relationship with responded to my announcement of my pregnancy with something along the lines of, “I need a pregnancy test to know it’s mine.” But if a man and I were careless early on in our sexual relationship and found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant, I couldn’t be totally mad at his request. And truthfully, I’d prefer we get any paternal doubts out and settled sooner rather than later. If concerns over how involved a man was going to be in my child’s life ever hinged on questions about who the dad was, I’d rather take the loss to my ego and put his mind at rest, with the assurance that once a test revealed 99.9999999% assurance he was the dad, he needed to be ready to fulfill his expectation to the utmost degree. I can’t quite imagine how that conversation would go and how I’d keep my hurt feelings in check but I don’t think men should always be expected to blindly follow a woman’s word into the world of paternity. I believe there is a right way to request proof of paternity, I’m just not completely sure what that is.
How would you react if a man demanded you get a paternity test to prove he’s the father of your child? What do you think is the best way to handle these situations?
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
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