How did you find out about your daughter?My daughter was searching for me and she said her first attempt she found me, she went to my Facebook page and there were a lot of clues that I was her father. So she told her mother, then her mother started messaging me on Facebook and I started putting it together in my mind, thinking, something’s going on. Me and the mother talked, and then my daughter started talking, and I was ready to go see her and all that type of stuff so I immediately went. I have two other daughters in Georgia and I picked them up so they all could meet her. Because from the pictures and the way she looked, plus I remembered her mother, you know, from back in the days.
Did you have any idea you had a child?I remember in 1991 or early 1992 her mother was telling me that she was pregnant, and that she didn’t know she as mine or not and she had moved to Florida and then maybe somewhere down the line the father (who she thought was her father) took a blood test and they found out he wasn’t her father. So the search began, around when she was 11, trying to search for me.
How did social media help you find each other?But you know, back then, there wasn’t Facebook, or social media stuff like that wasn’t big yet. She says she always thought about me all these years. She finally just said I’m going to look for him again. I think one of her Aunts suggested going on Facebook to try and find me. It happened really fast; she added me as a friend and I accepted, didn’t think anything of it. But her mother had added me too, but before I had even accepted she had already messaged me. From the messages you can’t check their page without accepting, and I saw that she had one mutual friend, a name that I had just seen. I started putting it all together. And even after all these years I would always wonder if that was my child. So when I first started talking to her mother I was just excited. Probably a part of me wished that she was mine and from looking at the pictures she definitely looked like me.
Both of you were thinking and had that curiosity for all this time; mutual curiosity and persistence is what helped and used social media to your advantage.I’m glad and thankful for Facebook. That’s what made it so convenient for me, and that’s why I chose you guys, for the test. I had heard other people speak about it and now I’m telling my brother about it and online you can see where it is available and how much the kit costs, and it was right up my alley. So it’s not expensive at all to me.
Why was it so important for you to take the paternity test? Many people take it for child support, or financial liabilities; what was your reason?I had already accepted her as my daughter. Nine days after is when we took the test. So we took the test because she wanted to know, she wanted to have the knowledge and solve the mystery of it. It’s a good way to go, because even though you can do it for child support services, if you just want to know period, it’s so convenient and so easy and I was taking pictures of her swabbing and it was a big moment. But for me I already knew, but there was still that little voice that always makes you worry. I knew that if I wasn’t the father it would have devastated her, and it would have devastated me. So I’m glad it turned out and we found the truth. That’s why we did it.
How did you feel when you got your results?When I called for results, and you know they were quicker than they said, they said two business days. I got an email saying they received the samples and that testing would take two days but then I got them the next day. I was on the phone talking to Dominique and the chime went off for an email and it said [it was for my test], I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I didn’t tell her; I just told her I had to go do something real quick. It was a happy moment for me when I heard the 99.9% and I just couldn’t wait to call her. And then she called and she called me back and we have just been having a good time since then. It was a sense of relief on my part, and from her perspective, I would think it was too!
How did your family react to your new-found daughter?My other daughters embraced her from the get-go and they were just as excited to know that the test came back and that she was my daughter. Which is nice because many would think there would be jealousy going on, but you know I didn’t raise them like that. I would always talk to them in between the process and tell them, you know what’s going to happen right if the test comes back that she is my daughter right? And they said, yeah you’re going to take care of her like you do us right?
A lot of people testing for paternity usually can’t relate to the situation, but you can? Yes, another thing I share with my daughter is that I never knew my parents either. My father was murdered and my mother just didn’t raise me. I always vowed that if I ever had kids I would be the man that I wanted my father to be, so for Dominique to come into my world I gladly accepted her. I was hoping and praying that she was my daughter, and it turned out to be a beautiful story for me.
Did you have a father figure growing up?Not really. My aunt is the one who raised me. It was a good home. I played a lot, but I never knew what it felt like to know my parents so I didn’t know anything else. I never thought much of it, but I still felt neglected at times and other kids would tease me, sometimes about my situation. Kids say cruel things and I heard it all: “Your momma threw you in the trash;” “She didn’t want you,” and that made me an aggressive little kid ; it made me shy and I didn’t want to be around other kids because I thought they were going to tease me. I avoided a lot of people. When school was out for summer, I never tried to be around other kids. I just knew that if I ever had children, I wanted them to know who I was as long as I was still around. I just didn’t want my kids to ever have to go through what I had to go through . . . not knowing who my parents were.
The definition of fatherhood, do you think it includes needing to live under the same roof?No. My daughters are all close; we don’t live in the same state. There is still a strong connection, we talk, Skype, text. They don’t have to worry about finances or anything. In my situation, my aunt raised me. She isn’t even my biological mother. . . her sister is. Even if she would have come around for some school clothes or acknowledged it was my birthday, or Christmas. I would have had so much more respect, not that I disrespected her but I never had any sort of insight on her. All she had to do was be there partially. I knew she didn’t want to be the full time, obviously, which is why I grew up with my aunt, but she never was. And I’m not in the household with my daughters but they call me, and they tell me about their school. They know they can count on me, because I’m their father. You don’t have to be in the same household, I would have loved that, but you know me and their mother didn’t work out, but we have that relationship where we can still both be parents and both raise them. As a kid, we need to see our parents setting examples that set a good foundation. My aunt would take us to church and do some chores. Our elders teach us the basics we need to make decisions later on. I think with girls, when they don’t have their father setting an example of what to expect, in my opinion I think they’re the ones that have a higher chance of choosing the wrong men to date or be around. I treat my daughters like a gentleman, and so they know how I feel or what I would expect from another man to treat them. I treat them with love, and that what I hope and expect from someone else. We all need to know how to be a parent, it’s much more than a title you get.
How does one become a father to someone they didn’t know even existed?Never have a dull moment, learn about each other, and soak each other up. Admire each other and you accomplishments. I’ve told her how lucky we are that we were able to find each other, because a lot of other people never get to meet their father. Or I could have been deceased, another situation is I could have been married and I could have been scared that my wife didn’t want to have to do anything with a child from a previous relationship. In my opinion, even if I had a wife, I would expect her to understand that I can’t have one of my children be outcast. I would not understand someone who wouldn’t want to take on the role of being a parent. Everybody deserves to know who his or her parents are. I never knew mine, Im not sour about it, but I just make sure my kids know me. Family needs to reach out, just like mine is, and welcoming her and being excited, it makes I easier to catch up that way.
What advice do you have for all the people out there who haven’t taken a test yet because they are scared, nervous, or afraid of judgment?My answer is if you really want to know, just go and do it. I just wanted to find out, it was something that I needed to do. And here comes an affordable and easy way to do it.
Why wouldn’t you get all those questions answered without going out of your house?I even went online and looked at reviews and checked it out, I saw good reviews because people say what they feel and I liked it. The DNA test will just assure you and clear those doubts. I’m glad I took it before I have no regrets to know OFFICIALLY. They should just do it, to just stress myself out EVERYDAY not knowing, You know, everyone has different situations, you may not be set up like I was and not everyone will react how I did, but if you want to know, and you think it is as important as I thought it was, then you should definitely do it. I know I was a little worried as well, I was nervous but don’t worry about it, if you have to be low-key about it, then you can because of how it is set up and how IDENTIGENE does things. You swab, put it in the mail and it’s gone, the rest is through the phone. It’s great to use it, no going to the doctor, just from home. We made sure to follow all the instructions, it was so clear to follow you know, no eating, nothing, makes it easy to not mess it up. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter the situation, if your situation involves you wanting to know then you will just do it.
How was your experience with us?It made my day to know. Even the people I called for results are so friendly. When I first was going to mail it off I called that first day and they explained it to me, they were so friendly and it was easy to get along with them and it was a good conversation. The things I was told over the phone, was exactly what happened. It was a great experience. I even had to call back because I was kind of worried saying, “Ma’am we swabbed 3 days ago and it’s been in the pack and we just mailed it today.'” She said it was okay because it lasted six months. Just everything was great and helpful. Especially at the very end when I called for results, and the emails that are sent.
What was the hardest thing for you to grasp or understand?When the lady first read my results I thought I wasn’t the father, I heard the “not excluded” and my heart kind of sank, it scared me, emotions were high and I froze up, but I heard the 99% and I said, “So I am the father?’ and she said ‘Yes!” I was thanking her so much as if she was the one that tested us! I immediately called Dominique, she was nervous too! I would say that was the most confusing thing, but it lasted half a second. She called and gave the password and three minutes later, she and I were talking together again!
Why did you want to share your story?I want to share my story because it feels good and I want someone else to hear it, or maybe they need to hear it. If not teach a man to be a better father because there was no way I would deny her, there is no such thing as it being too late to be a father to a child, no matter what age or time. I hope more people can use this test to find answers like it has helped me. I would advise [your test] to anyone, I promise, any situation I recommend it. It’s affordable. You can’t put a price on this new relationship with my daughter, and even if it is to prove to someone you are not the father, I know that is a situation that can relieve so many these days.
Thank you Randy for all our heart-felt and honest answers. We hope that your words can inspire many to find out the truth.
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