January 25, 2010
Former U.S. Senator John Edwards’ admission of paternity regarding a child not conceived by his wife brings to mind Ruth Padawer’s New York Times Magazine article, Who Knew I was NOT the Father, published a few months back. Padawer described the dilemma of Mike L. whose DNA proved he was not the biological father of a girl that he had raised from birth. Mike was extremely conflicted because he still loved his daughter deeply. However, upon learning that his former wife was about to marry the alleged biological father of their child, he asked the courts to relinquish his child support payments. Surprisingly, they refused. Mike continues to pay child support to his former wife and his daughter’s biological dad and he is not happy.
DNA tests have proven that 40% of children are born outside of marriage and the number of paternity tests has increased by 60% in the past decade. With a swab from the cheek, life can change dramatically. Most states require an unmarried couple to complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) before the baby’s birth certificate is signed. However, there is a growing movement to have mandatory paternity tests done, even for married couples.
Life is indeed, messy. Most state-appointed judges will NOT let non-biological fathers to stop paying child support in the “best interest of the child.” According to the courts, if a man acknowledges paternity and a bond has been established with the child, it would be disruptive for that relationship to disappear. It is now recommended that a presumed father, biological mother or biological father challenge paternity before the child turns 2. This would allow for any discrepancies to be resolved before deep parental bonds have formed. However, there are men who dispute this proposal stating a man may not discover he is not the child’s biological father until years later.
As an obstetrician, I have witnessed the heart break on both sides of the fence. Sex is not a benign act. It can and DOES bring forth creation. It is therefore prudent that everyone act responsibly and HONESTLY. Children shouldn’t suffer because of misguided adults.
December 2, 2009
However, what Woods and I DO have in common is our public visibility. As a public health employee, my life is an open book.
A few years ago I had to report a former boss for inappropriate behavior based on several patients’ complaints. The case “blew up” because of his notoriety as both an elected official and a physician and I ended up with the media on my doorstep. The reporter, camera crew and satellite truck remained parked in front of my home for almost three hours, reported the 11:00 o’clock news and then finally left. Although I didn’t speak with them that night, I knew that I would have to do so the next day. “Never say ‘no comment’” was the advice that I had been given from a law enforcement agent who was investigating the case.
When I reported to work, a public information officer suggested that I participate in an elaborate scheme to avoid the media. And when I flatly refused, she told me that “I was on my own.”
The maintenance man and a secretary accompanied me as I walked out the door and faced the paparazzi. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. However, I was polite, non-judgmental and advised them that I was leaving the matter in the hands of the courts. My former boss lost his medical license and was removed from political office by the Governor. He faced criminal charges and the case dragged on for years.
In the court of public opinion Tiger, a lie unchallenged becomes the truth. The media is NOT going to go away.