I'm 21 and recently my ex girlfriend has contacted me to say she's had a child and she thinks he is mine. But it gets more complex because the boy is in care because she is not a fit mother (and I can vouch for this), he is also possibly being put up for adoption. She has told Social Services that I could be the dad when I know for a fact she did the horizontal tango with multiple people in the conception time-frame.

Social Services keeps calling me for a DNA test because he needs a name on the birth certificate. I'm in quite a good place financially speaking, but I still live with mum and dad. They would probably want him to live with me and be the main parental figure.

My main issue is that I'm 50/50 on whether he is mine - he does have some of my features, but I'm finding it so difficult to process that he might be mine. I feel as though I'll become a lonely poor exhausted stressed person who just goes through life day to day with no real purpose or friends, although I'm probably exaggerating this in my mind.

I'm looking advice, because I never planned on being a dad this young. I wore a condom, but it broke at one point - she said she was on contraception, but she might have been lying.

  • 59
    The father's name is not required to be on the birth certificate, especially if he is going to be put up for adoption. your options are either 1) be a dad or 2) don't. it's really that simple. if you don't want him then your responsibilities are over, someone else will take care of him. as the father you don't have any rights or responsibilities or privileges to that kid until a court tells you you have to take a paternity test, and the only way that will happen is if the mother keeps him and sues you for child support. Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 20:08
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    Lots of generic and/or USA based answers, but it sounds as if the poster is in the UK. I've answered assuming that he is. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 8:18
  • 13
    Just was gonna say the same. The OP contains a lot of law related considerations, where it would be helpful to know what country this takes places, since I think advice might be given more precise with that information.
    – Zaibis
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 8:25
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    Keep in mind, that if the child is meant to be put up for adoption the authorities would much rather have the consent of the father than an unclear situation. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 12:24
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    Don't sign anything without a DNA/paternety test! Would you trust her it's yours in the first place?
    – winny
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 13:55

15 Answers 15


Judging from your "Jeremy Kyle show" reference as well as your use of certain phrases, I assume that you are in the U.K., which has some impact on which answer is right as far as legal matters are concerned.

Legal Answer

I am not a lawyer and I don't live in the U.K., so take this with a grain of salt.

You mention that social keeps "ringing me for a DNA test because he needs a name on the birth certificate." The U.K. government attempted to pass a law requiring fathers to be named on birth certificates, but it seems that they abandoned said attempt according to the article. Not much else shows up about U.K. fathers and birth certificates/legal requirements, but that's just a routine Google search.

However, there is likely some pressure on "social" to get you to sign, especially since the U.K. government was trying for some time to get the names of fathers put on birth certificates. I would imagine, given that there may not be a law requiring you to do anything immediately, that it is possible that you can do nothing and the problem will go away (for now, and assuming an adoption takes place), but I am not familiar in the ways of U.K. bureaucracy. Talking to social without representation could lead to very bad things for you personally. As other people have answered here, get a lawyer if you don't want the child, and get a lawyer if you do want the child.

Can't afford a lawyer?

Yes you can. You can afford a lawyer way more than you can afford not getting a lawyer. Figure it out. Tell your family and then get the money to afford it. Borrow it. Panhandle for it. Get a lawyer.

If you refuse to take this advice... do nothing and see what happens. And by do nothing I mean do NOT answer the phone when "social" is calling.

Ethical Answer

I have been here, in this exact situation (22 not 21), and my first thought was for the child.

Now he's 12 and we have a great relationship and I couldn't imagine life without him. I was with the mother for far too long (do NOT re-enter a relationship with the mother) and it was unhealthy all around. But my relationship with my son? Priceless.

Why did this relationship turn out so well?

My first thought was for the child.

Seeing as you put this question up without a single word of concern or care about what is possibly your child being out in the world without biological parents, I would assume that you believe that he will be taken care of if given up for adoption and you aren't worried about his well-being. This is probably relatively natural for a lot of guys. If your first thought is for yourself, so be it. Do not become a single father if you can help it.

Family Answer

I was just thinking last night that telling my mother about pretty much this exact situation was the hardest most embarrassing thing I've ever gone through. Since then I've gone through hard, embarrassing things, and most didn't measure up. It made me stronger, and I don't think my mother lost too much respect for me seeing as a parent's respect for their child is mostly worn away during the average 8149 diaper changes it takes to get a baby through potty training.

Final Thought

"I feel as though if I'll become a lonely poor exhausted stressed person who just goes through life day to day with no real purpose no friends."

That's life as a single parent for the first 3-6 months. You can make it much longer than that living exhausted and stressed without a purpose or friends. Is it worth it to you? What values as far as parenthood do you hold dear? Can you go through life wondering how it could have been but glad to be rid of the responsibility? A lot of people can, and that's fine, that's life, that's humans. But in the end, you are the one who has to answer this question.

  • 16
    Very good answer!
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 9:17
  • 2
    It is pretty much the same experience here. Having a relationship with someone that besides not being interested in you is also not interest in you getting first than her into a new relationship can be pretty unhealthy. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 11:41
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    seconded. this right here. you're not alone, don't be afraid to move forward and have a relationship with your surprise son. he's you. it's quite likely you'll have regrets if not..and stay away from the mental case who's proven unfit for care. my friend also was in a relationship far too long with his first child's mother, and now he has no relationship with either except support payments and grief.
    – NOP
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:10
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    "average 8149 diaper changes it takes to get a baby through potty training" is that an actual stat?
    – Shane
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 22:13
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    @JackArbiter I strongly reinforce your point about not becoming a single father. I have been with my wife since 15 years old (now 22 and 23) and would have crashed and burned many times over without each other's support. The issue isn't necessarily raising the child, it's the seemingly random issues that spring out of you from nowhere; illness, bankruptcy, crime, debt, home-loss, job-loss and many other things that could easily break a single parent, ruining the life of the child too. When there is a mother AND father (even if just a step-parent) you are MUCH harder to break. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 10:38

Bro, don't be afraid. How old is this child? I'm guessing baby. My for real advice (everyone is RIGHT on the lawyer part, but that's not a part of my answer, because they have already said it. I'm going to talk about the personal, emotional side.), is to forget the mother's role and who she is just for now while you deal with it. Put that aside and think of your own personal feelings toward being a father, and your life being different.

That's called the unknown, which I was terrified of too.

You won't be alone with that child around, you won't be miserable, and you definitely won't fail in life. Your feelings are normal for this sudden news. I lost my mind when I found I had a kid on the way. My life was over I thought. Not ashamed to admit, man I had a world-class hissy fit. For two weeks I went around yelling at the sky, falling to the ground, throwing my fists in the air, kicking trees, shaking and terrified. I laugh now though, but that was real serious back then.

I slept on the couch, bought like 50 dollars worth of pregnancy tests and kept being like "please, just test again". I asked everyone, total strangers, for advice, and found it hard to believe when they were just amused and said I'd do fine. It bugged me that they took it so lightly, and I thought they didn't even know. I never wanted kids; I liked them just fine, but not permanently around me for the rest of our lives.

Eventually I had to calm down and accept reality. Times were hard, and I was in school at the same time, and I was also alone most of the time taking care of the baby (she was there, but she had to work like 13 hour shifts, so it was pretty much me, homework and a baby for a long time. I worked part-time on top of school, switched to early morning so I could get home in time for the mom to go to work, then spend until like 1 am alone with the baby. No parents, no family support, just me and a baby).

Man, I played so many video games with that baby on my lap, read so many stories, and got pretty good at Black Ops 2 (the big CoD at the time) because she liked the knife kills for some reason (sounds bad, but she was super young and just saw shiny stuff. I stopped when she started becoming more aware of her surroundings, and played other games around her. Plus since I was in school she'd like to go through my books and see what I was up to. She loves reading to this day.)

The point is: Don't be afraid of life becoming horrible. It was a lot easier to deal with an unexpected kid than I thought, though I did have to adjust. Plus your parents have your back, and they won't let you mess up; they'll let you have some freedom while you cope and adjust from what you say. You might even find yourself being jealous like hey mom let me chill with my kid for a minute, we're about to rock this game that just came out. (BTW, Skyrim dropped about a year after she was born, and I tried to take her to the big release, but it was cold and rainy. She still got to enjoy it though; babies are actually pretty fun. They'll hang out and be like what's up even though they can't use words yet.)

I now have a second, he's two, she's five, and they drive me up the wall every day, but I'm in a much better place. I feel like I legitimately have real purpose now (that kid will be LOYAL to you like nobody else you've ever known; you can do no wrong in their eyes), and we all chill on video games, books, cartoons, comic books...and I totally use them as an excuse to get more games ;) Or to get out of stuff I really don't want to go to. "what come over to where when? Who's gonna be there? ....um naw man I can't yeah kid and all..."

People can hate on all that, but I'm the one who just read two kids two bedtime stories, tucked them both in, said goodnight, got on the computer to play some games, saw your post, and had to respond. It's cliche, but truth, when I look back and think to myself how it would have been to give up my first kid and how different things would be if I decided to NOT be a father...that's when my stomach starts to turn, and I feel a similar fear I felt when I found I was going to BE a father. Picturing her out there in the world without me, in someone else's hands, is something I can't handle. The rest of the people who said make sure you understand the consequences are 100% right, you'll be thinking down the line "...I wonder..."

Good luck!

  • 15
    Yes, 100%. I was one of those "I don't NEED a kid in my life, but if my partner wants one, I am glad to have one"-guys. MAN was I wrooooooong. My little angel is 1 year old, and there is not a second that I regretted so far :). I would say take the plunge and try. It's worth it
    – Patrice
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:50
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    This should be the top answer... Hits the nail on the head, 100%! Just like how I was 6 years ago Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 16:08
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    Wish I could vote twice on this. You brought tears to my eyes, @NOP. Good on you, man. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 18:38
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    I gave upvote number 8 and didn't really know what to say, but: Amazing story. Society's indoctrinated aversion towards children (and accompanying promotion of birth control) is the worst. Congratulations!
    – jobukkit
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 22:34
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    This is the kind of answer that makes me star the question. Fantastic picture of what it feels like to embrace being a parent.
    – Septagon
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 15:23

I'm assuming you're in the UK, based on the language in your post.

There are two things you need to deal with here:

1. Legal responsibilities

If you agree to have your name on the child's birth certificate, you will have parental responsibility as his father, regardless of whether he is biologically your child or not. Do not do this unless you are prepared to accept that responsibility. More information on parental responsibility in the UK is here.

I do not know if a positive DNA test would require you to register as the child's father. I strongly advise consulting a solicitor who specialises in family law. It may not be cheap, but it could save you a lot more stress and expense in the future. It might be possible to get legal aid or free legal advice; ask at your local Citizen's Advice Bureau.

The father's name is not required to be on a birth certificate at all. It is a legal requirement to register within 42 days of birth, but this can be done with the mother's name only.

If your name isn't on the birth certificate, that may not be the end of your involvement. The mother, or possibly the local authority, could attempt to get a parental responsibility order from a court. This is another reason to consult a solicitor. In this situation, social services are trying to act in the best interests of the child. That's only right, but you need to consider your needs as well and get independent advice.

2. Social and emotional fallout

Becoming a parent is hard for anyone; even more so if you are relatively young, have no good relationship with the other parent, and are not even sure if the child is biologically yours. From the sound of your post you are a responsible guy and handling this well, but no one should be expected to go through it alone.

Telling your parents is probably a good idea. If you live with them, they've very likely noticed something is up. If my son came to me with a problem like this, I'd do everything I could to help him through it, because I love him no matter what.

If you do decide to act as this child's parent: It's a great responsibility, but also more fun and satisfying than you can imagine. There are also reasons for you to walk away, especially if you are not the biological father. Only you can make the decision.

Regardless, it's more than okay to be afraid, stressed and worried. If you didn't feel this way, there would be something badly wrong with you. Please get advice from someone you can trust: If not a parent than another family member, older friend, or professional counsellor. Take care of yourself, and good luck.

  • 4
    No relationship with the mother, there ALL the reasons to walk way if not the biological father. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 6:19

Whatever you do, from the voice of experience, if the mother has shown to not be trustworthy, do not restart any relationship with the mother of the child; women often use the child to keep the father around in the 1st or even 2nd year of a child, under the guise of building a family, even if not interested in a long term relationship. (it is usually a waste of time)

Furthermore, often those relationships also have often the focus of eroding the position of the image of the father as a viable independent parent for the child, while building a more stronger case for an unfit mother. Frequently those relationships also have a focus as preventing the father from building a family with another woman, to prevent him showing he can provide for a more stable home.

More often than not they are self-desctructive, causing a further separation of both parents for decades to come. (I know several people with similar stories unfortunately).

Focus on the needs of the child, and honestly, forget the mother. Women may come and go, a son is forever.

As for being a father, while it does seem problematic right now, it can be quite traumatic losing a child. You might get second thoughts later on, or years later after giving up on a son.

On top of that, having a child early on life also means you will be relieved of that responsibility early on life, with the added benefit of having your parents around to help.

I would think about making the DNA test and possibly keeping the kid if the mother does not want him.

If somewhat the mother does want him, regulate visits on a court of law or try to get custody. When in joint custody, the first couple of years can be rough, for a single man, however it is so much easier with the backing of grand parents, hence the importance of getting them involved.

Nevertheless, they grow up very fast, and the situation improves quickly.

Talk both with a lawyer and with your parents.

Getting into anedoctal terroritory, women can be pretty much psyco into this territory - my ex after getting an unfavourable court order, made peace with me, and I suspect to just to start recording events with us. Otherwise it would not make much sense she afterwards often acting crazy like saying falsehoods, pretending dangerous things were happening for that to be taped, and inclusing locking herself in the loo pretending she was killing herself for recording me kicking down the door. She was pretty anoyed when I called my parents over in the middle of the night, and told them she tried to killed herself as basically there were witnesses. (wish was making this up, I even saw a small k7 tape at the time at her home, but naively thought she was recording uni lessons)

  • I am talking about a couple of personal painful experiences I had here. Moderation here is asking me to even post here more pertaining and personal info here, and being anonymous »and» public, I won´t do that. This post already did his job, feel free to delete it. Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 3:59

First off, I think you need to take a DNA test to find out exactly where you stand. This will end a lot of speculation in your mind one way or the other.

If you find that the child is yours, as mentioned in other responses, I guarantee that you will come to accept the situation, and eventually you will come to enjoy being a father. One thing I learned is that in terms of your age, you never quite feel old enough, or mature enough to become a parent, but when it happens it's OK.

You might not see it as such, but being a father can be a great thing.


I know it is easier said than done, but no sense stressing over unknowns. Just do the DNA test. If you are in the USA you could be court ordered, I do not know what they do elsewhere (and since you say "mum" I am sure you are likely not in the USA). I still suspect they could court order it. My point is, if you just go and do it, then you will know and then you sort out what to do. Anything you are doing now may all be in vain & living in unneeded stress since the test could well rule you out.

Now as to what to do if it comes back as your child. That is something you can only determine once you know. Right now, the way you feel may well change if there is a certainty to it. If your child is right now in foster then you need to do something about that. It is no way for a child to grow up. If your child is to be placed for adoption, best that it happens as early as possible, versus waiting on a father to sign off. If that child is to come live with you, again, better to be sooner than later. There is really no sense at all stalling on a test as all it serves to do is stall this child's life & that child is getting older every day without any answers.

I fully understand you are young. I get that. I also understand that this child is far younger & if in fact it is your child, they deserve respect in the way you conduct yourself. You don't get do-overs, so make sure that what you is something you can live with. This child may not be your own, but you can still care enough to get the test done & then at least put it to rest. Even that alone shows respect to the child dangling in the balance here.

And in the meantime you can contact an attorney. Here you can get free legal advice through something called "legal aid". I am not sure what they have where you live, but you can contact your local courts & ask to see if they have something like it.

  • I wish I could upvote this more than once.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 22:01
  • You also could not be court ordered... Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 11:22
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    @immibis, if a child (in the USA) is receiving any money from the government (insurance, food assistance, in state care) you will be compelled then via court order to submit for DNA if the mother has claimed you as a father. They want their money from dad. Mom can also court order you simply on a claim if she goes to the court with the claim. So IDK how it works elsewhere but I've seen men court ordered & I have seen it prove them as father & disprove it, but I know here they can & will court order you with & without the mom involved.
    – threetimes
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 15:39

There are some good answers above - particularly NOP's - but there is one thing that they don't mention in detail and that is your duty and responsibility as a man. Not a boy, a MAN. It is a man's duty and responsibility to provide for and to protect his children. Even if you did not intend to become a father, even if you were tricked into doing so or it was caused by a failure of contraception, that does not change the basic reality of the situation - there is a small human who needs your care, and it is your job to provide it. I would hope that your own father - who accepted his responsibility to you - would tell you the same. I recommend that you spend 3 1/2 minutes watching this video, from a man who can tell you the truth far more eloquently than I can.


First, get a DNA test. That's a no brainer to me.

If the child does turn out to be yours, then the ethical answer to me is clear: you're 50% responsible for the child. The fact that it may have happened via a condom break is irrelevant: your sperm, your responsibility. Put your name down as the father and take on the job of parenting. Lots of young men (and lots and lots more young women) manage this.


As a foster parent going through the last steps of licensing, let me give you my perspective. First let me say that I am in the US and it seems you are in the UK.


I know this sucks a little, but it may be worth it to get the DNA test. This is a tricky situation, and the laws in the UK are probably different then in the US in this regard, but there are a few very important things to know.

You have no parental rights until you can prove your the parent. That means that you can't "take" the child, not can you "give" the child for adoption. You can't "fight" the mother because she is unfit. If you don't take the test and get parental rights you have no say, what so ever, in what happens next.

At the same time parental rights come with parental responsibilities. You may have to pay child support, you may have to pay bills of some kind, you may be pressured into taking care of a child you don't want. This is important. And should be considered.


A lot of people will tell you that if you did the deed, you should pay the price and settle to take care of the kid. I'm not one of those people. I think your should be a parent. But being a parent means doing what is best for the child. Right now your question is very selfish and self-centered. Your worried about your ruined life and reputation and not the life and well being of a tiny little baby.

But back to what that actually means. If you find out your the parent, there are a ton of options. You could raise the kid your self, but if you don't feel like that is the best option then you can put the child up for adoption. You can place the child in foster care, where (at least around here) foster parents are thought to "co-parent" which means that you would still be able to be a part of your child's life, even if your not a good care giver now.

The point is that morally you need to suck it up, and be a parent. You need to put that child's needs first. Even if that means that you have to have arguments with your parents about how you don't think you can take care of the child, and want to give it up for adoption.


So if you take the test, and you are the parent, there are some options. You need local resources to help with this. Different options are available in different areas. I can tell you what is available here. You will need to check on what is available there.

  • Adoption - This is not the love story that everyone says it is. First if you don't get legal responsibility as a father, then the courts can not terminate parental rights. Which means that the child will be harder for someone to adopt. They will need to go though a longer process where the child is placed in foster care, then a search is done for relatives, then after a few years the court may terminate rights, allowing the child to be placed for adoption. However at this point the child is 3-4 years old, and it's much harder, the older a child gets, for them to be adopted. If you do have parental rights you can voluntarily give them up, thus reducing the court and legal time to just a few days (if mom gives up her rights to).
  • Foster Care - Honestly this one gets a bad rap for many reasons, but the truth is that foster care is wonderful and may be just what you need. (again this may be very area dependent) We have a lot of children in foster care that are in your exact situation. The parents are too young, or not ready. So Foster parents step in and agree to be the parents for a few years. Then when your ready, you can take over being the parent if you want, or give up your rights, if you want. Many children in care are there for just that reason. We, as foster parents, are tought to "co-parent" which, on the surface, means that your child will have two mom's and two dads that love them. It makes for some sticky social interactions, but it's worth it in the end. You don't have to be "Dad" in the common sense. But you still get to be part of that child's life.
  • Relative Placement - This is where your parents say, "no we will take care of the baby". Your parental rights are lessened, and they are turned over to the grandparents. "Your off the hook" in the same way as if you got a divorce. You will probably have to pay child support, but your child gets to stay "in the family".

A note on foster care

I can't stress enough that this is location dependent so see what's around you. But foster care is not like it was historically. There is a strong emphasis placed on Permanency and Normality. Permanency meaning that the child is not moved around, that they stay with one family. Normality meaning that the child is treated like a normal kid and not a special kid. Most kids in foster care do need some extra help with trauma, because of what brought them into care, but other then that they are treated just like normal kids.

Co-parenting is a big part of foster care here. They want foster parents to include bio-parents in as much as they can. Frequent visits, doctor appointments, staying the weekend at the bio-parents house, school appointments, vacations, etc. While the bio-parents can just vanish, they are strongly encouraged to participate. It's even a legal requirement to get their kids back.

It's much more like the child gets an extra set of parents then anything else. Yes as foster parents we are the "parents" but as the bio-parent you are the "Parent". It can make for some interesting interactions, but at the core, every one of those interactions is focused on what is best for the child. Do not rule this option out if it is available to you.

A note on adoption

Adoption is not the rosy story that every puts out there. It's still an option and you should consider it. There are some things though that your should keep in mind.

  • Many adoptions fail. Usually because the adopting family has unrealistic expectations. At least around here the failure rate is around 55%. Mostly because the adoption families thinks they are shopping and can return the "goods" when there's a little something wrong. It's sad, but it happens quite a lot. That's not to say that there are not great adoptive families, because there are, but there are also families that "return" the baby after the third night of all night crying instead of trying to work through it.
  • With out a clean TPR (termination of parental rights) adoptions are damn hard. No one wants to invest years into an adoption only to have it fall apart at the last moment because some sister of one of the maybe dads demands a halt until pertinent can be established, and if she turns out to be the aunt then she want's custody. If you want to give the child up for adoption then take the test, so you can create the best chance for that child to be adopted.
  • A lot of adoptions fail because the homes (that the child would go to) are not up to "code" or the adoptive parents don't expect to be "investigated" as heavily as they are. It very jarring (trust me) to have some random stranger walk into your house and start rifling through your drawers and cabinets, pulling stuff out and going "this can't go here" but that's exactly part of the process. Along with them making sure for the first years that you didn't go put that stuff back. As foster parents we sign up for that, but adoptive parents don't realize that it's part of what they go through too, even after the adoption has gone through.


You had sex, you may have made the baby. You should find out. You need to "man up" and do what is right for that child. You never should have had sex (even with protection) if you were not prepared for the consequences. However, "what's right for the child" may very well not be you. And there are options and help out there should you need it or want it. Those options will be much better for the child if they have proof that the father doesn't want to be involved, then if it's a big question mark. Do what's right, take the test, then make decisions. Tell your parents, ask your friends, and seek support from local sources. Your not important any more, only the child is important. Take that mind set, suffer though the awkward conversations, and understand that there are options, and it doesn't mean an end to your life, though it could mean a change.

  • "You never should have had sex (even with protection) if you were not prepared for the consequences." - Off topic, but for some reason I have literally heard nobody say this except in the context of "I may have accidentally made a baby". Or in other words nobody gets told it before they think about having sex. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 11:26
  • I say it all the time, but I have been labeled "weird".
    – coteyr
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 23:54
  • @immibis we tell this to our children - and they are far from the age where that would be a real risk.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 6:17
  • @immibis You must not hang out in conservative circles then... ? Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 0:10
  • @ReadyToLearn Clearly not Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 0:18

I want to add my response here, because it seems like most of the answers you've received already are telling you you SHOULD take on the responsibility of being this baby's father, if it turns out he is yours. I am ALSO going to tell you that, but I want to honestly address what you give up in becoming a parent, so that you really understand the magnitude of the sacrifice. Because even if everyone says you should do it, you are the only one who can decide whether you're able to meet the challenge. Based on my experience, adopted parents can be great, or they can be terrible, just like with biological parents. If you think you won't be terrible, then it's a far safer gamble for your child if he grows up with you. But anyway, here's my anecdote about becoming a (primary) parent, and the things it did to my life that I didn't fully consider beforehand:

Babies (especially small babies) are a huge amount of work. They generally need to eat every couple of hours (with my son it was 8-9 times per day). They also need a new diaper at some point after they eat, so that's about 8 diapers per day. When they're awake, they cannot be left alone, because they are so incapable of anything that even in very safe conditions they can find ways to injure themselves. They do sleep frequently at first, but never long enough for you to get really engaged in a mentally demanding project, so for the most part the best you can do while they sleep is to rest yourself, or maybe start a load of laundry and catch up on dishes. Or possibly read for a bit, or watch a movie with headphones on. Maybe the worst part, though, is that sometimes babies cry and cry and cry, and they can't tell you why, and you can't figure it out, and there's just no way to make it stop for a while. You'll also, of course, have to get up frequently during the night (that's the classic cliche of parenting that we see in all the shows and movies), and if you're the only parent, you'll be the one getting up every time. When the baby becomes mobile, he'll arguably become more work, even though his eat/sleep/poop cycle will be at less frequent and longer intervals. These are just some of the effects having a baby has on your private life, but the impacts on your public/interpersonal life are in my opinion even bigger.

Especially at your age, you likely don't have many (maybe any) friends who are excited about hanging out with babies. Even if they are excited about it, you'll only have a couple of options for hanging out: they can come to you and chat/hang out while you take care of the baby and do baby things, or you can meet them out at a park to walk the baby - as long as it happens before baby's 11am nap! - or you can talk to them on the phone for brief intervals. If your parents are available and willing to help you, you might be able to go out in the evening to a movie or a bar, but on the days they can't help you, you'll be stuck at home basically from 7:30pm on. Over time, your friends will get used to the idea that you can't hang out with them, and they'll probably stop asking. You and they will just be living in different life phases which are hugely incompatible in a lot of ways, and there's not much you can do about that. Your really GREAT friends, though, will find ways to stick around, and will keep reaching out to you - so you'll also find out who those people are.

Emotionally and psychologically, this is all much easier to deal with if you love your baby. But no matter what anyone says, there is no guarantee that you will, especially at first. You have a difficult situation in which you openly acknowledge that you do not want the baby, and that will make loving him a lot harder. I had postpartum depression after my son was born, so I can relate to this. I did not love my son. Dealing with his needs on my own every day pushed me to the absolute limits of my patience and far far beyond. I could see the person I had been absolutely disintegrating, and I couldn't see that any experience I had with my baby was worth that total destruction of myself. There was one occasion where I had to put him in his crib and go lock myself in my car in the garage so I wouldn't hear him screaming anymore, even though it wasn't safe for me to leave him alone. There was another time I got so frustrated that I kicked a hole in my bedroom wall. Another time I considered drowning myself because then I'd never have to be so tired again.


There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Loving a baby is just like building a long term relationship with any other person, and as they get older, babies have more and more substance as people. Even if you don't love your son at first, eventually he will start to show you who he is on the inside, and you will not be able to help but love him, as long as you're there, and paying attention, and you receive what he gives you in terms of his thoughts and feelings and understanding. For me, this started happening around 18 months. My son is a compassionate little guy. He could tell when I was upset and he would pet my hand and smile at me and come give me hugs. He also was interested in things, and seeing his curiosity allowed me to remember what it was like seeing a butterfly or touching tree bark for the first time. Also, once he was able to understand the dangers of stairs (around age 2) he became a lot less work, because in many day-to-day situations he was able to watch out for his own safety. Our relationship became far less one-sided. Of course I still had to do everything for him, but "everything" at age three now no longer includes holding his fork for him, or changing his diaper, or picking up his toys. We can read together, and play soccer together, and sing together. We can even go out to the (child appropriate) movies together. And I love love love love LOVE him! Yes, it is still sometimes frustrating that I can't say yes when my friends ask me to be in a band or a play, because I just can't make that kind of time commitment, but they can come over to my house and my son goes to bed early (and stays there! Which not all kids do) so we can do grown up things after that.

As far as how being a parent has changed me: 1) I am much more diligent and on top of everything I need to do, whether it's related to being a parent, caring for my home, caring for myself, doing well in school, or doing well at work. 2) I am hugely more patient and even-keel in all situations. 3) I think and act towards long-term goals in a much more focused and achievable way. 4) I am happy.

I would say that becoming a parent, particularly when I accepted being a parent and embraced that role, it allowed me to become an adult in ways that no previous experience ever had, and I suspect no other experience really could have. I am very glad that I pushed through the horror of the first 18 months, and every day with my son gets better and better.

So: if he's your son, you would be depriving yourself of a golden opportunity if you give him up. However, expect that before it becomes a wonderful thing, all your worst fears about it will likely become real experiences for you. It will be HUGELY helpful to you if your parents are available to help-particularly if your mom doesn't work many hours or something like that.

Good luck.


Children cost time and money that is a fact. However, it is also true that they can be cheaper than friends (eating in with a baby is cheaper than eating out), and that they are more rewarding than most any friendship you will have if you care enough to do it right.

If you become the father you will end up directing most of your free resources to the child. You have to decide if this is more worthwhile than whatever you do with your free-time and money now.

However, psychologically, I don't know how I could live the rest of my life in peace if I had a kid and let them be adopted by another family; it would eat me up. This is why a lot of parents who give their kids up for adoption later want to reconnect; at that point I would surely want to have a better answer to their question than "you were inconvenient". Parenthood is no picnic, but I would choose it over a life of banal entertainment any day and certainly would choose it over living the rest of my life in a prison of regret knowing I could have been there for my child but wasn't.

I am personally the father of 4 boys (ages 6 - 0). My wife and I had them starting when i was 22 and she was 21 and didn't have grandparents around a lot. Never read a parenting book, but I think things are turning out just fine. With just 1 boy and grandparents to help you will be able to manage just fine.

Of course this all assumes the child is indeed yours.


There is a lot of good advice in the existing answers here, but there are two things I would like to add.

  1. Parenting is extremely rewarding, and like many people have said here, you may find it's worth the sacrifice. But be sure it's what you want. If you really, truly don't want to be a parent, then the best thing for your child is to have someone who does. Don't get forced or coerced into it, and then live the rest of your life resentful of your child. That's not fair to them.

  2. As the father of adopted children, I can testify to how hard it is for them not to know the identity of their birth fathers. If the child is already in the care of the state, and being placed for adoption, then I would encourage you to go ahead with the paternity test. That way the child will at least know who you are, and maybe (who knows?) sometime in the future will want to have a relationship with you.


I notice the woman is saying that you might be the father, not that you definitely are the father. If you are certain you don't want to have anything to do with the child even if you are the father, I would suggest that you just tell social services that you are sure you aren't the father and they had better check with the other possibilities.

However, your comment about being 50/50 on whether the child is yours suggests that you may have some ambivalence about the situation, and might want contact with the child if he is actually yours. In this case, I second the advice to get a paternity test and legal advice. However, I'd add some advice that others haven't noted.

I'd suggest that you try to get a paternity test for your own knowledge only, so that you will still have some freedom to decide on your next steps without immediately accepting legal responsibility.

In the US, you could do this by buying a paternity test, doing the swabbing yourself when you have few minutes alone with the baby, and submitting the samples without establishing a legal chain of custody. The test would not be admissible in court, and if you do it right - check with your lawyer on this - might even be considered privileged information that you wouldn't have to reveal at all. Things might work somewhat differently in the UK, but your lawyer should be able to tell you if there's a local equivalent.

If the child isn't yours, you don't have to worry about it any more. If the child is yours, but you aren't ready to be a full parent, at least you'll be able to release your rights to adoptive parents who are ready for and want a child. Or you might change your mind and decide that you want the child after all, especially if your parents are willing to help out with the child care.

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    Good idea. I doubt he'll have time alone with the baby unless he gets more deeply involved, but if that happens it might be worth trying. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 2:50
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    He knows that the baby has some of his features, which might mean he has had time with the baby. If the girlfriend were taking care of the baby, I'm pretty certain she'd happily accept an offer to look after it for an hour or two some time so she could get some errands done. If the baby is in foster care, he might possibly get some time alone with the baby by telling social services he wants the time to 'decide if he thinks the baby is his' or something like that.
    – Warren Dew
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 2:55
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    Now I get where you're coming from. When he said she "has contacted me to say she's had a child and she thinks he is mine" and then he mentioned the features, I took it to mean he has not met with her, but that she had sent him pictures (i.e. she waited until the baby was born and then sent the pictures to the most likely candidate for father). We don't know, and may never know, but I still think that is most likely the case. However, I still think your idea is a good one. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 6:30

It very much sounds like you are not ready for the responsibilities that go with parenting. Everything in your message is "me - me - me", and it appears you aren't considering this kid, who might well be yours. I hate to be judgemental, but I'm going to guess that at this point in your life you are not a good choice to raise a child, and that adoption may very well be the best chance for this child to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. Please consider that.


before you do anything, I want you to think about something. Right now you have a gut wrenching feeling, that this may or may not be your kid. If you do nothing, then you are going to have that feeling for the rest of your life. I personally do not think I could live with that feeling, and possibly dying never knowing. Money, time, dreams, all the things we cling to right now, will mean nothing once you are older. All that will matter to you is family.

On the flip side, if it is yours, you are going to have good days, and bad days as a parent. I knocked someone up when I was 21 as well. Ok, I am happy I have the kid, I love the kid, but at the same time, nearly every hope and dream I had for myself, I had to throw out the window in order to provide and look after my kid. Your life ends the instant you are a parent and being a parent is a really big ask, but it could be the best thing to ever happen for you as well.

It really is hard when you are still a kid, and are having a kid. But for me, I would have to know if its mine.

I dont know about england, but it is actually "rape" if a partner tells you that they are using contraceptive, and is lying (reference: http://cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/rape_and_sexual_offences/consent section on "conditional consent"), so if it is yours, you should be able to have her locked up for rape -> and even if you did not want to do this, you HAVE to, to help others who are also going to fall victim to this.

It does make life harder if the mum is an unfit parent and a S|ut. I do not know if she will make life miserable for you later on, if she tries to get the kid back. Some moms do fight for custody, etc.

If it is proved not to be your kid, well, I guess it is good. You dodged a bullet, and if the child gets adopted by a loving family, they can all have a great life.

I wish you all the best, regardless of what lies ahead.

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    "Stealthing" is being defined as rape in some places, but can you provide a source for other kinds of deception regarding birth oontrol use and rape? It seems a very important point. Thanks. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 14:11
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    In English law, it's rape. See Crown Prosecution Service guidance to sexual consent, which explains it very well: cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/rape_and_sexual_offences/consent (sections "conclusive presumptions" and more so "conditional consent"). Asssange's case pivoted on this point and the web link quotes the President of the Queens Bench, a high level judge indeed.
    – Stilez
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 15:38
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    @Stilez. Do you have a more specific citation supporting your statement that lying about contraception creates rape out of otherwise consensual sex? Is that true whether the male or female is lying? Are there cases that have ruled that way? Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:43
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    See link. I don't think a more specific citation than the UK's public prosecutors' guide and the explicit statement of one of the higher ranking judges in the country, is needed. It would apply equally to both genders because the offence (crime) isnt defined by gender or body parts. It's defined purely as deceit as to the nature of the sexual act - its intended nature, intentions upon participating in it, or conditions which one party knew untruthful. A possible situation that a condom would be worn, but in fact wasn't, was enough to get a valid extradition case in R. v Assange. So yes.
    – Stilez
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:50
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    @anongoodnurse Read the section on 'conditional' consent. The crown document makes it clear that sex is legally nonconsensual even if consent is given, if consent is given under false assumptions. That includes if partner is claiming to use birth control when he or she is not (possibly what you mean by 'stealthing'), or if partner pretends to be male when she is in fact female or pretends to be female when he is in fact male; all three of these examples are explicitly given in the text Stilez links to. You may not like how the law works in the UK, but that does seem to be how it works.
    – Warren Dew
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 2:20

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