Caught In The Middle

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-30-2003
Caught In The Middle
8
Sat, 12-06-2003 - 1:37am
Hi I have a problem that I am hoping someone can help me with before I go crazy! My little brother and I (I am 25 & He is 21) have always been very close. I just found out that his on again off again girlfriend (She just turned 18)is pregnant. They broke up because she was not faithful to him. She had a rough home life and my parents let her live with them through the last year of high school. I do feel very sorry for her because of her home life or lack there of a home life. My little brother, Eric, has stated that he knows (or is pretty sure?) the baby is his. He doesn't want to get married because he does see a baby as a reason to stay with someone that he can't really live with. She has been chasing him like crazy and he has just been seeing her on and off. Then "boom" she gets pregnant. Eric wants to do the right thing. My mom is so mad it's not even funny. When they told her the news her first words were "you are going to have an abortion right?". No matter the situation I thought this was a pretty crude thing for my mom to say. I know by law they are both adults but Eric wants me to be some sort of stability through this because my parents are so p.o.'d about it. I am very stable in my life and don't think I can have children so I have offered to adopt the baby and raise it. Eric says this girl will never go for this idea. She is already discussing child support, which Eric says will not be a problem. He has a great job and I feel will provide for his child.

Here is my problem. How do I provide support to him without seeming judgemental. No, I am not sure it is his due to her past but I want to be there for him since my parents are so againist him. I would want someone to understand if this had happened to me when I was his age.

Please someone help. I feel like I have to referee this battle. I don't want to take sides but I can't leave Eric all by himself as much as I want to say it's not my problem. We are just too close for me to do that to him. I don't like this girl but I feel like that is not my choice. How can I convience my mom that being mad about something she can't change will only make things much worse? Or am I wrong for trying to make things better?

HELP, PLEASE??!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Sat, 12-06-2003 - 1:00pm
Tell your brother what you told us: That you want to support him but you need to make sure that the baby is his. Explain that this is not an indictment of his girlfriend, but that since you know she was not faithful, you (and he) needs to be sure that this baby is his. If he supported this child and then sometime later she tells him the baby isn't his, how will he feel? It is better to know from the start then a few months (or years) later.

Then support him. Simple. Don't get in the middle with your parents. If they ask you about the situation, tell them that you don't want to be in the middle and that if they have any questions, they need to call your brother. As soon as they see the test results I will bet you that they will get involved in a positive way. And if the test results prove your brother isn't the dad, then you know they had a point!

I just wanted to mention that unless you have a doctor's pronouncement (and even then you never know) that you can't have children, it is unhealthy to think like that. You are still young, think positively.

Ejkdmom Come visit my store: www.leorra.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Mon, 12-08-2003 - 1:49am

Time will make things better. Right now, emotions are high and your mom is dealing with lots of issues - one being that all

                  &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Mon, 12-08-2003 - 11:13pm
" And it's never been proven whether this beautiful little girl is his or not - but it doesn't matter. My BIL believes she's his, he pays child support and visits regularly. The benefit is that this little girl has a father in her life and doesn't know any different."

Ther problem with this "don't ask - don't tell" philosophy is that one day, when the mother has a fit over something, she will invariably say that the child isn't his. Then they will have to go to court and establish paternity. If the child isn't his, then he loses all rights...period. A child out of wedlock has no father other than the one established by law. If this was to happen, he could lose his "daughter" and there would be nothing he could do about it.

If the child was proven to be his, there will always be hard feelings.

It is better to find out now then to have something happen and find out later. Then you have to deal with more consequences. Now, all could go well and this never happens, but more often than not (a lot more often) this happens.

Ejkdmom Come visit my store: www.leorra.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Mon, 12-08-2003 - 11:26pm
Well what exactly is ur brother wanting u to do? Just be there 4 him emotionally? B-cuz I'd think that wouldnt be too hard, from the sound of it. Surely 1 day your mom will come around but if not, well, it will still be good for Eric and your niece or nephew to be that u care about and love them. Just my .02! Don't focus so much on your parents reactions, let them come around in their own time but be there for Eric and be a good sis/aunt thats all u can really do IMHO :-) Hugs, Rhiannon
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Tue, 12-09-2003 - 1:09am

Interesting that I just received today via e-mail a newsletter from my attorney. One item addresses the topic of a man having parental rights to a child and parental responsibilities, just as a biological father would:


"Act Like a Parent, and a Court May Treat You as One


"If you act enough like a child's parent, a court may decide that you're entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as one.


"For instance, a California man met his wife when her child was a baby, and he married her when the child was 22 months old. The child called the man "daddy" and believed that he was his father. The man put the child on his health insurance, asked that the child use his last name, and encouraged his wife to ignore the biological father.


"When the couple got divorced, he argued that hs shouldn't have to pay child support because he wasn't really the father.


"But the California Court of Appeal said this wouldn't be fair. The man had assumed the role of a father and had encouraged the wife and child to treat him as one. Since he had enjoyed so many of the benefits of fatherhood, the court said, it was only fair to saddle him with the financial burdens of fatherhood as well.


"The same legal principle can benefit men who want to have parental rights. For instance, a Georgia man was not the father of a child, but he was listed as the father on the child's birth certificate with the mother's consent, and generally acted as the father when he married the mother. After the couple separated, he made voluntary child support payments. He later sought custody of the child.


"A judge refused to consider his request for custody, since he wasn't the actual father. But the Georgia Supreme Court overruled this decision and said that since the man had spent years acting as a father, the law should treat him as one.


"Other courts have applied this principle not just to stepparents, but to live-in boyfriends, gay partners, and others who have played the role of a parent."


(Source: Family Law Legal Matters, Piedimonte & Associates, P.C. newsletter, Dec. 2003. Some text submitted from www.lawyersweeklyusa.com.)


OK, so now I'm REALLY curious, and sought web resources to back up my attorney's newsletter. I didn't find specific links (it's a jungle out there and I nearly got lost), but here's one of interest that I did turn up:


http://www.abanet.org/family/advocate/goodman.doc


"... Courts are all over the map in their treatment of the disestablishment of paternity. The results in many cases contradict others, and the legal standards depend on the individual circumstances. Such inconsistent decisions put pressure on state legislatures to address these issues. Though most new legislation has not passed, the volume of bills introduced in this area illustrates policymakers' commitment to grappling with paternity issues. As the use of DNA tests to establish and disestablish paternity spreads, so too will fundamental questions about our legal and societal ideas of fatherhood. These disputes will be the center of intense debates as legislatures across the country struggle to deal with them."


So what does it all mean to the OP's situation?


Just as you said, "A child out of wedlock has no father other than the one established by law."

                  &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Tue, 12-09-2003 - 7:40am
"But personally, I doubt she would try something like that, after all, she might lose the child support payments that he's voluntarily making to her right now."

Women do this all the time. They get remarried and decide they don't want the other guy in their life anymore. She gets ticked at him for some reason so she pulls this. He decided he wants custody....etc, etc.

My point is that unless you are declared father at birth, then it is a crapshoot. The cases you discuss are interesting, but still in the minority. Why take the chance?

Ejkdmom Come visit my store: www.leorra.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Tue, 12-09-2003 - 10:13am

ITA with you: <<>> The risk isn't worth it. I don't understand why many men in this situation don't want to establish paternity - is it because they want to believe the child is theirs, and they are so afraid of finding out otherwise? We tried to get my BIL to have the test - offered to pay for it if he couldn't - but he refused! I just don't get it.


It's like my FIL, who's had some health problems for years but won't go to the doctor about it. He's afraid they'll find something "wrong." Well DUH, if there's something wrong, it's already there! Wouldn't he rather *know* what it is so he can do something about it? NOT seeing the doctor won't make it go away!


Same thing with the paternity question - the child is either biologically his, or it's not. And even though my BIL's daughter is already 5yo, I've still tried to encourage him to get the test, then go to court for establishment of paternity - even if the test results are negative. He can still petition the court for father's rights NOW, while the mother is willing, to ward off potential problems in the future (like the mom getting married and wanting him out of the picture later). But he doesn't want to know, and gets angry with me when I suggest it. Doesn't he realize he stands the risk of losing his little girl forever??? Grrrrrr! I don't get it!


Hmmm... This is a great question for the Understanding the Opposite Sex board

                  &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 12-09-2003 - 11:12am
Well, I can very much sympatize with you on the situation on several differnt levels. My advice would be to be there for your brother, give him emoitional support that he will need. (This is only if you can do this and will not totally begrudge it. But it sounds like you are very close and that this will not be a problem for you.) Secondly, I would VERY MUCH encourage him to have a paternity test. This will be not only for your brother's peace of mind but also for the baby. If your brother is the father and he wants to take a more active roll as a father than just paying support then be there for him, b/c this will be a long difficult and tiresome road for him. It will probaly only get worse as the baby gets older and if his ex girlfriend marries or finds a new love. This way everyone knows the situation and the lines are there and often times that helps a great deal. Also the baby has a right to know the medical history of the "sperm donor". There are lots of heritary and genetic disorders that run in families and I think that the baby and the baby's mother should have this information, it could prove to be VERY useful in the future. Also a DNA test will prevent the girlfriend from getting upset and weilding accusations or your not the baby's father or blackmailing your brother at her will depending on her emotions at the time. This way your brother will know if he is or is not the father and what role he may or may not want to play in the baby's life. It will also help in keeping accusations and minipulations at a low.

Yes, your parents will be upset for awhile...maybe even after the baby is born, let them feel there own way and come to their own feelings and conclusions on this. You may want to speak to them and express to them that you are worried or concerned about your brother and if they could try not to be so negative or down on him about the situation. I know the comment that your mother made about having an abortion may not have came out or been said but it was an option and the girlfriend is very young...there are a million reasons why mom said this...dont be too hard on her for this...

Also, dont be surprised if during the preg. if your brother devlops feelings for the ex girlfriend. It could happen, anything could happen...

Also, take care of yourself and try not to let this become or take over. Remember you can give all the support and love to him as you want just dont take on his battles.

Good luck, I hope things work out for you all........my thoughts and prayers are with you...