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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Hi Jen, how are you? I had your help several months ago about writing to my baby's father. Now I feel that I need to write him another email regarding the DNA test.


Updates from previous situation: Our latest conversation was on the phone after he came back from vacation 6 months ago. He told me he needed time to think before we both jumped into any agreements. He explained that after any agreement has been agreed, then we could go ahead with the DNA test which should be straight forward. Basically, instead of securing a DNA test straight away after his vacation as he initially told me, he needed more time and preferred to sort out any agreements before having a DNA test. He emphasised that he was highly committed to this and asked me to wait until he was ready to get it touch.


Current situation: I'm graduating and leaving this country for good at the end of this month and would like to have a DNA test before leaving this country. I don't mean to rush him into any agreements (contacts, child maintenance, citizenship, etc.), it's just that it will be very inconvenient to have to purchase flights to come back for a DNA test or had to contact the UK embassy to collect our samples while we're in our country. I don't mind discussing and agreeing things after the test at all and I would like him to be on the same page and cooperate. Now I would like to write him an email asking for his cooperation.


What I have come up with so far:


Hello xxxxxxx,


How are things going? Hope everything is great. As I mentioned in our last conversation on the phone that I was expecting to be graduated in July, my degree has now been finalised and I'm graduating. We will be leaving the UK at the end of this month so I would like to inform you about the current situation and believe we should have a conversation regarding the DNA test.


I understand and respect that you need time to think before we come to any agreement and wish to leave the DNA test the last. However, it would complicate a lot of things for us if (my baby's name) and I have to return to the UK for a DNA test in the future. Therefore, I'm hoping that we could take care of it before we leave this country and would really appreciate your understanding and cooperation.


I would be happy to wait until you are ready to discuss any agreements after we take the DNA test so there is no rush agreeing to anything you haven't thought it through. For this reason, could we arrange a phone call this week to discuss about this please?


Kind regards,


xxxxxxx


I don't want to sound too defensive or make him feel pressured but instead, willing to cooperate (is that even possible? lol). I'm happy to wait to discuss things after the DNA test but not keep on waiting forever but I don't know how to put this nicely. For the record, it took him one year and a half to get in touch with me. He has been taking 6 months to think since our last conversation and no single contact until now.


Thank you in advance for your help. I look forward to hearing from you soon :)

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I fully expect Jen will go over the text of your letter with you. But I want to add a warning first: I think your guy is quite possibly a "flight risk." Who wouldn't try to get out of responsibility for an unexpected child if HE could, esp if he has foreign countries for protection?

Dr. Norman Brown :

So I suggest you DON'T make it explicit that you'll be leaving by the end of July, but just say that the necessity of your departure is rapidly approaching and you don't want to leave the DNA testing for the last minute, since that sort of anxiety could mess with your health and thus also not be good for the baby the two of you have created. Make it vague enough that it could be some time in September before you actually have to be in X for Y to occur. Then wait just 3 days for a response before placing a call to him (even if you're not sure you're going to reach him). Forget worrying about pressuring him, the guy is almost certainly trying to stall you and get away without ever providing DNA evidence. Also look into your legal options while in the UK, presuming that's where your child was conceived and born.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I've jumped in without much information, because I've been invited out to dinner and must go. So some of my adivce may be too hurried to be thought out well enough. However, my main thrust is this: Your letter can be as mild and respectful as you want it to be, but make "this week" a trip wire for YOU going into action and find out from legal sources what you can do and be ready to do it, even if he does make a call, but then tries to dance away from doing the test NEXT WEEK. And DON'T write "it would complicate a lot of things . . . if I have to return . . . " because that offers him ideas for how to make things so complicated that you'll give up. In short DON'T give him (all he has to do is stall you thru) JULY because then you'll be gone and without any rights to make him live up to his paternal responsibilities. If you let him think that he might be need to stall you thru August, then a response showing that he's going to do that would show you that he IS intent on getting away without the test. And above all GET LEGAL ADVICE where you are.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 882
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dear Rachel,

I've just read the question you asked for legal advice about back in late November. So now I understand that the Brit is trying to make sure that he doesn't have any legal or financial responsibility for your child, and that's why he's dodging the DNA test. And you want UK citizenship for your child, which is definitely a valuable possession. Your solicitor suggested an extensive affadavit signed by both you and your erstwhile boyfriend, so I assume you've proposed that and he won't go there until he's "thought through his options." So I wonder Where does his notion about "Doing the right thing" come from? Who's promoting THAT? besides you, that is.

 

He may know or suspect that even if you promise in writing to hold him harmless for any financial responsibility, he will become responsible at some later date, when perhaps your child wants to get some good British education or medical care.

 

Now you have written or telephonic acknowledgement from him that he is the father of your child? What form is that in? It seems to me that you could offer to meet with a solicitor next week to discuss and then draw up an agreement that would spell out what are and are not his responsibilities with regard to the child that you have in common, and you could ask him to pay the fees involved. And cite the written evidence you have of his acceptance of "some" responsibility as a point of departure. He's clearly worried about unspecified paternal responsibilities, so the best thing you can do for both of you is to secure the British passport and set up an agreement that limits his responsibilities in the same legal transaction--but stop waiting around for him to show courage that he obviously does not have!

 

The offices of a British solicitor offer the protections that both of you need in order to get SOME of what you want.

 

Furthermore, before going in blindfolded into a negotiation with a solicitor, I'd advise you to ask another UK lawyer online WHAT guarantees of paternal responsibility you might realistically hope to achieve in an agreement (& affadavit) that also limits what the child's father can be responsible to provide. If that person says you can't count on ANYTHING, then you'll know where you stand. But you don't have to go into talking with this Brit that won't have anything to do with you since he got you pregnant assuming you have no leverage at all.

 

You should ask online the same kind of questions that your once-upon-a-time boyfriend should also be asking (like about responsibility for UK education or medical care when you're no longer there on a student visa)--so you'll know what he should know. Then you can offer him an agreement that he'll realize he can and Should accept. So he can get whoever's been leaning on HIM about doing the right thing to let go of him, and maybe the two of you can eventually continue a distant co-parenting relationship with mutual respect. By forming a relationship of respect between you, you are doing your child a BIG favor. Having a willing father is better than having an unwilling father. You're basically writing a divorce settlement, and you want the result to promote respect. And HE has lost respect thru the paternity he didn't know he was creating at the time you conceived your child together. So you have the ability to give him a more respectable place to stand vis-a-vis the people in his circles that know about his paternity: THAT's one piece of your power (and leverage).

 

He's been telling YOU to wait till he comes up with some facesaving way out for HIM. I'm saying YOU ask a solicitor what you should reasonably expect to get and NOT get from him and what paternal responsibilities you could therefore reasonably release him from in a legal agreement (which I'm calling "divorce & child-care" but the legaleagles must have a different name for it), that would accompany an affadavit (with or without a DNA test) that would secure a UK passport for your child.

 

I can respond with how I would revise your letter (which seems too weak to me, esp that one sentence) at a later time, since you're probably asleep already anyway. I know you have a primary advice relationship with Jen already. But I felt the need to respond, because as a licensed Marriage therapist, I need to know a lot of law, and that's not easily separated from the issues you're writing about.

 

So feel free to write back to me, or to both of us, but your letter involves both legal and couple counseling skills, so you need to launch that other legal question I've discussed above also.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 882
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dear Dr Brown


 


Thank you so much for such an invaluable advice you have provided. There is a lot of helpful information and suggestions I wish to go through thoroughly before writing you again to ask for further help with the email I'm writing and answering any questions you have had. So please bear with me.


 


Many thanks!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dear Dr Brown


Maybe I'm fooling myself that he finally wanted to take care of things as he contacted me first and told me after our conversation on the phone that he would secure a DNA test straight away after his holidays in my country.


Before he left to my country, he wanted to know ASAP if the baby is his but then when he came back a month later, he just wanted to think before doing the test. It confused me but I tried to be understanding as much as possible and so agreed to his wish.


When I mentioned I would be graduating in July and would leave this country straight after, he mentioned it would change a lot of things he had planned to do but didn't clarify in what way. He just said he still needed time to think and would get in touch when he's ready. I tried asking him about how long he might need but he couldn't give an answer. He simply told me it wouldn't take too long.


Regarding your question about his notion about "doing the right thing", he literally wrote that in the first email he sent to me in October last year (before we had a conversation on the phone, of course). He stated in the email that ".......I'd like to know if the baby is mine and if so, would like the opportunity to be there at some level........After such a long gap, i'm aware that the prospect of this might not be easy, but i want to do the right thing as a father and really want to work this out with you........" He wrote that although he actually left because I told him I was pregnant with him in March 2010; back then he kept saying "I don't know if it's mine, we've never been in a relationship".


I do not have any written acknowledgement that he is the father of my baby. I only have a recording of our conversation on the phone that he acknowledged that I'm most certain about him being the father.


I will seek advice from a solicitor both online and in person to discuss about my situation.


Please kindly response with how you would revise my letter. I really didn't want to keep waiting around for him to show his courage but as you mentioned I would like my baby to have a willing father rather than an unwilling one who might use parental responsibilities to sabotage us in the future. That's why I have been allowing him to dictate how things should go as I absolutely don't want any harsh feeling between us so we could co-parent with mutual respect in the future. However, I'm not willing to sacrifice my baby's best interest along with his dastardliness (not sure if this is the right word, please excuse my English) either. So please help me.


Please don't hesitate to let me know if you would like to know any more information in order to help me revise my letter.


Thank you so much. I'm truly grateful for your support.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dear Rachael, I'm in a hurry now, to go visit with the pastor of my Unitarian church in Atlanta, about, among other things, volunteering to give free individual and marital counseling to congregation members--from an attitude similar to my presence on JustAnswer: at my age (70) it's the phase of life where I make use of the opportunity to give back to the world that "brought me up" and esp enabled me to outgrow the limited upbringing my mother & father could offer, and the 10 colleges I've studied at (California (4 schools, incl. UCBerkeley & Stanford), Vermont (2), Michigan, Tuebingen, Mainz, Berlin). A world that included, besides USA & Germany, Italy, Britain, Greece, Spain, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel, Holland, Bosnia, Mexico, Arab and Indian students at my aviation university in Florida (23 yrs) and other places and people who've provided valuable lessons.

 

So I will read through your letter again and reply this evening (my time, so probably too late for you). But you could think about a revision of your own in the mean time: with a key underlying theme as you've noted: What you have to offer him, and through him to the child you've conceived together, which IS a concretization of your relationship for probably longer than you both shall live, is RESPECT, and an artful and sincere expression of that intention could do more toward setting the course for your future relationship than any handful of solicitors with a crowd of Bobbies trailing in their wake.

 

I think it would be even better for YOU to write the first version of this new theme into your letter, because it's your relationship, and I'm better at revision what you write than at writing up your attitude in my own words. Your English is impeccable, and shows the same concern with mastering a foreign language as did my own mastery of German over 3 years of undergrad and graduate study in Germany in the 1960s.

 

I'm curious about what your native country is, if you would care to mention it. Your present letter has erred on the side of Respect, so you have what it takes for this theme, and it will be my honor to work some artfulness into your sincerity, or to start with what you have now--your choice.

 

 

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 882
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dear Dr Brown


Thank you for your response and for sharing your wisdom and inestimable experience. I appreciate and am grateful for your support for this matter. I will draft the first version of this new theme and hopefully will finish it before you are back to check on this again.


Have a wonderful day!

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dear Rachael, I have decided not to wait for you to compose your version, because when I started working on it, I discovered more and more complexities. I now realize that you should have my version of your letter in advance, so that you can ask a Brit solicitor online a few of the key questions arising from my approach, and then let him or her take your inquiry further from there. Here's my key question for a solicitor: If your baby's father (I've assumed it's a boy, because a boy would probably have more appeal for his father) swears out and signs an affadavit stating that he BELIEVES he is the baby's father, could he then be held responsible for something some years hence, IF the child is in the UK and needs legal or financial assistance, AND IF the father does not want to accept any responsibilities and therefore argues that he was MISTAKEN about his possible paternity when he signed the affadavit? Would subsequently disputing the veracity of the affadavit enable him to dodge any and all paternal responsibilities without jeopardizing the child's British citizenship and passport?

 

Now here's my version of the letter, quite a long one.

 

 

I mentioned in our last conversation on the phone that I was expecting to be graduated in July, and the arrangements for granting my degree are rapidly approaching completion. After rethinking what you said about needing time before coming to any agreement, I now realize that it's time to come to an agreement now, this month, before the time remaining before my departure gets too short.

[Notice that I'm not giving away WHEN you're going to leave, because I don't want to telegraph him how long he needs to leave the country for this time. I think you should also ask online if you can legally compel the guy to take a DNA test by arriving at his door with a policeman and a court order. You need to know how much power you have if he tries to lie his way out of accepting responsibility, and you know whether there's any chance or not that anyone else could be the father.]

 

I assume that you don't want to set yourself up for any future financial responsibilities regarding our child or any obligation to meet him face to face or to make or maintain any distant contact unless you should choose to do so voluntarily at a later date. For my part, I do not wish to compel you to accept any responsibility or obligation against your will, because for me to leave this country with an adversarial relationship to you could damage cooperation between us, however minimal it may be, and thus also add unwanted difficulties to our child's future.


These are my highest priorities: 1. to establish an agreement between us that allows you to acknowledge to yourself, to those close to you that know about our child and to me (but not in any other public way) that you may have unintentionally fathered a child, so that you can maintain the respect you want for yourself vis-à-vis all those people who matter to you; 2. to obtain British citizenship and a British passport for our son, so that he is eligible for all the benefits that are rightfully his,. This requires that he was born in the UK and that you either submit a DNA test jointly with our child or submit a legal affadavit that you believe you are the child's father-because your affadavit can substitute for a DNA test to allow a British passport to be issued under the discretion of the passport service; 3. to allow me to give my permission for a husband that I may eventually have to fully adopt my son without requiring your permission, though I do promise I will inform you of that if it should happen; and 4. to increase the likelihood that you would be receptive and respectful if and when our son should desire to contact or even meet you to satisfy his curiosity and settle the meaning to him of having been the accidental son of a British citizen.

I want to make it clear to you that I do not want to trap you in any way to become either publicly, legally or financially responsible for our child. For that reason I have gotten the advice of a British solicitor that the UKBA would exercise its discretion to grant the infant a British passport on the basis of an affadavit from you in lieu of a DNA test. It seems to me that if there were no DNA test, the chances of some question of public, legal or financial responsibility for the boy coming up in this country are very slim. However, it would be wisest for us to meet together with a solicitor, so that we could work out an agreement that would guarantee to you what you want and to me what I want, as well as promising our son the best protection for his future that British citizenship can offer under the present circumstances-namely that we do not have a relationship. I hope you'll consult with a solicitor on your own, so that we're both well prepared to negotiate and sign an agreement that satisfies you and me and provides the best that we can for our son. Then we can part ways again, perhaps even for the last time, with each of us being proud that we have done the best we can by each other and for the child we did not intend to conceive but are taking the best measures we can to shepherd towards a respectable future with confidence in himself, because both of his parents wanted that for him.

 

[I expect you'll want to discuss many parts of this.]



Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 882
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.
Dear Rachel, I appreciate your generosity in response to my version of your letter. I've erred on the side of including more considerations rather than less, because 1. you can show run all of them to a solicitor as well as my further concerns in the first paragraph before the letter and 3rd paragraph bracketed after paragraph one of the letter; and 2. once you have announced all of these concerns to your child's father, they can never be forgotten without first being addressed. I've dealt with too many stories from grown up adoptees not to know how important it is for most of them, sooner or later, to find out whaat kind of a person their biological parent was and if they were loved by him or not. Your chickenhearted BF may be well aware NOW that he wishes conception had never happened (and he may blame you for it, no matter what the actual circumstances were). But regret, blame and avoidance are all water under the bridge, since the child does exist and will grow up into a fully functioning adult, all the more careful and loving for the quality and consistency of love directed his(her) way. And regret, blame, avoidance, cowardice and shame are all transitory conditions that he could change by maturing into his own opportunity to contribute positively to the child's development by showing his love and devotion in whatever ways are open and acceptable to him. That means YOU can help this guy redeem himself and serve your child by luring him into some cooperation now or later, so that his own mental and emotional investment in his child contributes to his own maturation into full manhood. As first a teacher, then professor, and then psychotherapist, I had hundreds of opportunities to practice at fatherhood before my only child was born when I was 45. But raising my own child from infancy has had been immeasurably more impact than any of my other "fosterings" and "mentorships."
I recommend you explain to your baby's father that you understand how his embarrassment about becoming an accidental father might make him feel like withdrawing from and avoiding any relationship now or in the future. But the child will NOT be inclined to feel ANY resentment or any other emotions that would foster his feelings of regret and shame (unless YOU choose to bring him/her up with your own resentment that he abandoned you and is still reluctant to shoulder his own share of responsibility. But if you exercise that resentment, you'll only poison yourself and your child and erect another emotional barrier to his/her positive relations in adulthood).
This is an important point to clarify for him: For if your child is not fed resentment against his absent biological father, s/he will be more inclined to IDEALIZE him because of the distance and mystery. SO a little bit of kindness and interest expressed through letter or email contact will go a long way towards enabling the child to build a valuable and valued supportive image of its father. Thus the positive response you can encourage from his child to anything he offers (contact, money should not be a primary requirement unless he offers it) will reward him more than he could have expecdted, and hence show him that there's far more to be gained thru a correspondence engaging in mutual interest and respect, so his shame can be melted away through the mutual rewards that are natural to loving. It might seem unfair to you, that you'll spend enormous time and energy being both mother and father to the child, yet all he has to do is a communcation or two each year (or more or less) to become an object of worship in the kid's imagination. You won't need any of that resentment if you marry and your husband adopts your child, for then his biological father's attentions will not be the only fathering he gets, and your job won't be as difficult. I wish you every success in your education-enabled career and a future rich in international relations.

Norman Brown

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