Is this man morally responsible for this boy?

Last night on Dateline there was this story:

A man is informed that his girlfriend from years ago conceived a baby and says he is the father. He hasn’t seen her in years and has never previously heard of this child. Child suppot is withheld from his paycheck. He doesn’t protest too much as I gathered.

When the boy is about 5 the man is told the mother is in drug rehab and the boy will go to a foster home if the man doesn’t take him in. The man takes him in and they live together for almost 3 years. Cue the photos of little league and birthday parties at dad’s house.

Dad hears that it’s now relatively cheap to get DNA testing done, so he sends his and the boy’s off. Results come back… he’s not really the dad. Immediately he packs up the boy and sends him back to his mther (who is out of drug rehab by now).

For various legal reasons, the man still has to pay child support, even though he isn’t the biological father.

Question: Was the man an immoral scumbag for tossing the kid out when he discover they don’t share DNA? Or is he a moral paragon considering who did more than his share, considering he has no blood ties to this child at all?

Immoral scumbag: How can you toss out a kid arfter caring for him for 3 years and at least thinking of him as your son?

Moral paragon: He has paid for this boy for many years, will continue to pay support for him for many years, and even did the day-to-day care of him for years. All without having any biological responsibility for his birth.

Is it the mother who is the immoral scumbag for either not telling the truth, or not knowing who is the father?

I believe the courts have decided in the past that not-the-father is responsible because “it’s for the sake of the child”. That is, if it’s unfair to the child to be fatherless and have a drug-addicted mother, and it’s unfair for a caring man to be forced to care for a child that is not his, then the court will find that it’s better to be unfair to the non-responsible adult than it is to be unfair to the non-responsible child or the biological parents.

Here is an earlier, similar thread.

I would say at the very least that he is a fool for not insisting that paternity tests be done in the first place. Having said that, I would not kick out a child after caring for him for three years. I might shoot the mother, but not abandon the child.

If you’re talking morally (and that was your OP), I believe that once you take a child in, treat them as your own, call them ‘son’ etc, you’re a scum to give 'em the boot when the situation becomes inconvenient.

(it’s one of the reasons why I was very careful about dating once I became divorced. My son, now 18, had 3 different ‘step mommies’, and he was encouraged to treat each as a ‘real mom’ calling them “mom”, calling their relatives “aunt or grandma” or whatever. So, at the age of 6, he lost an entire set of ‘relatives’ when step mom #1 divorced his dad. )

Who is on the birth certificate? Isn’t that how it’s determined who owes what?

Personally, I think the guy’s kind of a scum. If only because that’s a really shitty way to treat a child.

But what about women who claim that Man A fathered a child, when they know it was really Man B who fathered the child?

Heres an example of which I am very familiar with:

My wifes friend was married to a G.I. She started screwing around on him with a coworker while her husband was in the field. She gets pregnant. Her husband, with whom she has always practiced the “withdrawal” method of birth control, is amazed but accepting of her pregnancy. She soon asks him for a divorce.

Her husband gets out of the service and goes back home to Missouri while the divorce is finalized. The wife gives birth, and names her husband as the Father on the birth certificate. It’s OBVIOUS to everyone that the baby doesn’t belong to this womans husband, as the husband is White and the lover was Hispanic. The baby doesn’t look anything at all like their first child. All the time she’s claiming that this is her ex husbands baby, she’s working side by side with the real father of the baby.

California, where this takes place, has a 2 year limit on fathers contesting paternity. This mother is getting “informal” child support payments from her ex husband, who lives in another state and has never seen “his” child.

Only after 2 years have passed, and the statute for contestation for paternity has lapsed, does this woman go to court and file for court ordered child support payments. Her husband, dumbass though he is for not requesting a paternity test sooner, is stuck for child support payments for 18 years on a child not of his making.

As I said, this is one of my wifes close friends. I’m quite familier with whats going on. The husband is on the hook for a child not even his, while the father of the child is left high and dry, not even paying a single dime.

In a case like this, I think there should be criminal charges brought upon the mother.

That’s the thing, though - it’s not unfair for the child to have only the drug-addicted mother. It’s detrimental. It’s unfair in the grand sense that we all deserve a fair shot at life. But that man isn’t his father, never was, never will be. So though the child certainly has a sympathetic claim to financial support, he never had a true claim to his not-father’s funds. I suppose this is why we have government-run support programs, but I’m not sure how or if they would come into effect here.

Lest you all think me a relentless hair-splitter, I do think it’s a rotten way to treat a kid. But oddly, I don’t find it especially rotten. It’s a decision I could see many men - despite themselves, if you wish - making the very same decision. (Whether that affects said act’s morality is a subjective matter, but there it is.)

I agree with you, Vorae. It’s a rotten thing for the kid. But I was raised with the idea of “responsibility”. If something is your responsibility, you take it on regardless of how much you don’t want to. In return, other people would take on their own responsibilities and not try to put them on you. In the OP’s case, it sounds like the man could have handled the situation better. In the case I mentioned last year, the man seems to have been tricked into accepting the burden.

It’s really too bad for the kid, but I just don’t buy the “it’s for the children” plea. Let the responsible parties take on the responsibility. If they can’t, then let the government handle it and spread the cost over 275 million people. But don’t punish a guy who is either a hapless victim ot whose “crime” is being a “nice guy”.

I’m wondering, though…exactly how could have that situation been handled better? Not to say it was a great, clever way to handle things, but that it was a shitty situation to begin with.

You’re gonna keep the kid or not. If so, great, no hassle. But if (as many men would do) you decide not to, should you really waste any time letting the kid think otherwise?

I dunno, but if anyone can think of a more “civilized” way out of that situation, let me know.