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Paternity Test For Unsure Dads

DNA testing has been wonderful for identifying inherited diseases, and now it's being used more and more in paternity cases as well, sometimes with surprising results.

Health Contributor Dr. Emily Senay reports for The Early Show.


"I cried. There was a lot of emotion; it felt like a death," recalls Morgan Wise about his reaction to learning he was not the father of his youngest son, Rauli.

A DNA genetic test uncovered the truth: Rauli, one of four children from Wise's first marriage, had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

"So the question came up with my older sister, with her kids. She was going to have them tested to see if she had the gene and passed it on to her children," he explains.

"We had family members concerned, and so I just said, 'You know, I'll just get tested,'" he says.

Both parents must carry the gene for a child to have cystic fibrosis. To everyone's surprise, Wise did not have the gene.

This meant he wasn't Rauli's father. DNA testing is virtually 100 percent accurate.

The news was devastating. "It was like someone had called and said that, you know, you lost your boys," he says.

Rauli was not his biological son and the other two boys were not either. Only his 14-year-old daughter Carli was biologically his.

"I still look at them, you know, the same. You know, I wonder whom they belong to. But as far as my love for them, I still love them," he says.

"He's still the father. He just doesn't want to be the 'check-in-the-mail' father," explains Robert Miller, Wise's attorney.

Miller is trying to reopen the divorce case so the biological father can be located and help support the boys.

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Since Wise has always been considered the father, he must continue to support the children or go to jail.

"The legal point was that now we have a father, required to pay child support, for children who were not biologically his," explains Miller.

DNA testing for paternity is now readily available and widely advertised and can only lead to more cases like this in the future.

"I do now advise future divorced husbands if you want to do DNA [testing], do it now. Because if you're not, you can then resolve it prior to the divorce," he says.

While DNA testing must be done in a licensed lab to be admissible in court, there are home DNA kits that can be purchased to get the same answers, and it's easy to do.

A cotton swab is used to rub the inside of the cheek, and then it's put in an envelope or vial and sent to a lab for testing

The average cost is $300 to $400.

Testing blood is often preferred because you can get a sample of adequate size. But testing saliva is just as accurate. And if you're dealing with people afraid of needles or who have had a blood transfusion recently, saliva is fine.

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