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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Hospitals ask: Who’s the daddy?

The Virginia Department of Social Services has recognized Culpeper Regional Hospital as one of the top hospitals in the state at getting unmarried fathers to voluntarily admit paternity of their newborn children.

The parents of three-fourths of the children born out-of-wedlock at Culpeper Regional have filled out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form before the mother and child leave the hospital. Culpeper ranked ninth among 63 hospitals in the state. Wythe County Community Hospital was first with an 82 percent completion rate.

Mary Washington Hospital ranked 34th with a completion rate of 67 percent. Stafford Hospital ranked 43rd with a 61 percent completion rate. The state average was 65 percent.

Virginia asks hospitals to talk to the parents about paternity after an unmarried woman gives birth. A state contractor visits hospitals to train workers in the process, and the state pays hospitals $20 for each paternity acknowledged. The state says that acknowledgement of paternity protects the rights of the child, including the right to any inheritance, the right to Social Security benefits and health insurance, and access to the father’s health history. Perhaps most importantly, it makes it easier to collect child support.

“We save thousands of dollars not having to go prove who the father was,” said Nick Young, director of child support enforcement for Virginia. “We think it’s good for society, good for health reasons, good for the children to have two names on that birth certificate.”

The number of children born to unmarried parents is growing, according to the state. Of the 90,000 children born in Virginia in 2009, about a third were born to unmarried parents.

(The website for the state’s Paternity Establishment Program can be found here. It contains a link to the ranking of Virginia hospitals.)


  • DNA Guy

    Kudos to the state for wanting to “right the wrongs” of the system but I see no mention of the state wanting to prove paternity through a DNA test. Without the DNA test the hospital may be convincing the wrong man to sign the acknowledgement of paternity. I realize that the welfare of the child is at stake but the hospital should be advising for a DNA test before trying to convince a man to sign. This may be less convenient for them but the truth is the truth and that is what a DNA test gives you. Nobody likes to be told a lie, especially about paternity, but it happens every day. If the alleged father finds that he is not the biological father and still wants to sign for the child at least he is aware of the facts.

  • Dugan McCallum

    DNA guy, very well put!

  • Erica

    I tend to disagree. I believe that if a DNA is pushed on unmarried couples, it should also be pushed on ones who are married. Married couples are just as likely, if not more, to cheat and lie about it. At least if a person is not married, they do not have their marriage, other children, homes, cars, etc. to worry about. If a man wants to take responsibility, he knows what he is getting into. On the flip side, there are tons of people in committed relationships, just not married who would never consider cheating. It would be offensive to them to have a DNA test pushed on them.

  • Lee

    While it is within the rights of a man to ask for a DNA test, I think that a streamlined process should be available to unmarried fathers who know a baby is theirs. If they all had to get a DNA test to prove it, we would probably have less men acknowledging paternity: DNA testing is expensive – runs about $400 to $2,000. Poor couples aren’t likely to be able to afford it on their own – does that mean the state should pay for a DNA test for each and every child born out of wedlock?
    Bottom line – men do not have to sign the acknowledgment, and even if they do sign it, they have 60 days to challenge it if they get information that the child is not theirs. By offering a streamlined process to establish paternity, the state saves lots of money and time, and more children get to have two parents on their birth certificate.

  • Paternity Test

    There are two main methods of paternity DNA testing that are mainly used today. These two methods are Polymerase Chain Reaction testing and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism testing. PCR testing is used in 98.34% of the DNA testing cases according to the 2004 AABB report and seems to be increasing over the older method of RFLP. PCR is a quicker method of testing and multiplies the amount of DNA material so that only small samples are needed; however this does lead to a risk of contamination. If you are going for PCR testing or ordering a DNA home test kit you should ensure that they are AABB approved and that they offer at least a 99% guarantee and test at least ten loci.

  • Mike D

    “On the flip side, there are tons of people in committed relationships, just not married who would never consider cheating. It would be offensive to them to have a DNA test pushed on them. ”

    With Paternity fraud approaching 33% in the US it is not uncommon for even married men to find out thier wives cheated. DNA testing should be as mandatory in EVERY birth in this country. There are lab tests that are done at birth and this should be one of them. The ONLY reason that there has not been a bigger push is because no one wants to embarass poor mom when the DNA test comes back and the man who is holding the baby is told he is NOT the father.

    Then she got some “splainin” to do. But hey waht the hell its ok to make a poor man pay support for a scandalous woman as long as shes not held accountable right? Thats why women dont want it. Because if they are found out thier child support meal ticket goes by by and they have to be accountable.

  • Steve S

    “While it is within the rights of a man to ask for a DNA test, I think that a streamlined process should be available to unmarried fathers who know a baby is his.”.

    A streamlined process? No fathers knows for sure if a baby is his or not. DNA testing is the very least a man should require before signing his life away.

  • Akhi 99

    So, it seems the state wants men to sign on the dotted line with little or no recourse (60 whole days). The state certainly doesnt encourage men to verify any hunches they might have (the state is becoming complicit in these frauds by discouraging men from getting proof of paternity(,

    The Women often don’t want child sup[port from the daddy, but from the richest of the men they have been lying to (or sleeping with). The state wants women to get child support notfoprm the daddy, but from the richest man she has been lying to,

  • DNA Guy

    Married or unmarried, if the hospital is going to be suggestive about having the alleged father sign for the child they can also be suggestive that they have the option to have a DNA test performed. If the hospital employees have received special training to make this program work, then they have become sales people using the power of suggestion. So, make a DNA test available, suggest that it is available and let the alleged father, married or unmarried, make an informed decision.

  • DNA Guy

    Let’s be clear for a moment about the logistics of DNA paternity testing. The best possible price on the market today for the test is $79, you can collect your own mouth swabs and you get results in 2 days or less. You can pay more and get results in under 24 hours. These prices exist from multiple labs and the hospitals would surely negotiate a better price. What the hospital charges is a whole different issue but the idea that the state will be burdened by the additional cost is ludicrous. Imagine the cost savings to the state on court proceedings and all that entails. Further, it is highly probable that the state or hospital will find a way to bill the alleged father and he may be more than willing to pay for this voluntary test if he is made aware of the facts about the small upfront costs of a paternity test compared to the long term costs of paying for another man’s child/responsibility for the next 20+ years. Once again, if the hospital staff is trained and encouraged to promote signing paper for the child, don’t they have a responsibility to promote and suggest a paternity test?

  • Shauna

    “It would be offensive to them to have a DNA test pushed on them.”

    It’s not nearly as offensive as being on the hook for two decades supporting someone else’s child. And I don’t see why it should be any more offensive than asking a guy to confirm that mom’s not lying by signing on.

    I’d be fine with requiring mandatory DNA testing for married as well as unmarried parents. But at least with married parents there are legal presumptions and responsibilities in place that fill in the gaps. Not so with unmarrieds. Offensive or not, it’s silly to pretend that unmarried and married parenting is the same. It’s not.

  • Jimbeaux

    I find this leading statement interesting: “…getting unmarried fathers to voluntarily admit paternity of their newborn children.”

    I wonder if the reporter CHOSE not to say how many mothers refused (or were unable) to say who the father was? 25% of the parents did not fill out the voluntary paternity form, but I suspect that the majority of those were not cases where a father refused to sign the form, but where the mother would not;/could not divulge the father’s name. The tone of the opening paragraph makes it sounds like fathers are owning up to the truth, where I suspect that fathers haven’t been the problem in the first place.

  • Jeff

    This seems more like an ambush for the married or unmarried couple having a child where the hospital is professionally trained to get him to sign the dotted line. I can say from my own ignorance that I had no idea I was being set up and thought I was doing the right and honorable thing when I became a paternity fraud victim. Let’s include in the education for everyone on not only signing the dotted line, but also the facts about paternity fraud and the long term impact and implication of signing the dotted line, if you find out you were set up. This has been the most destructive thing that has ever happened in my life and many others, including the child involved in so many ways. How anyone justifies this when they truly understand the overall impact is truly ruthless, cold, callus and uncaring. It is all about the money for the people involved in enforcing people to conform to these broken systems.

  • Paul

    Why, Erica, would DNA testing be offensive?

    Because since it began at least 10% of all all tested births to married women the child was not genitally related to her husband.

    Women’s apprehensions should not stand in the way of the truth. The child has a right to know who his father is. Many men would like to know about their children but are never told, or some other man is named.

    As for the Va. situation. They simply want the name of a man they can bill for child support. If they cared if the man had any relationship to the child they would impose DNA testing. They don’t care, they just want a name.

    Florida tried to find the fathers by having the girls post advertisements so that potential fathers could find their children. The woman’s movement shot that down quickly.

    Women have a time honored tradition of playing fast and loose with who daddy it for their benefit. When we have standard DNA testing of ALL childern well will finally act in the best interests of the child, not mommy dearest.