Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I'm writing you because of an article I saw on the Jamaica Observer website, concerning a woman who, technically, kidnapped her son from his dad, and fled to the USA.
My situation is somewhat similar. Over two years ago, I had a relationship with an aggravating, obsessive female. We could not be near each other for five minutes without fighting, verbally. Around that time, she got pregnant, but we were already falling apart — at least I had made up my mind to walk away.
So, I walked away.
Around three months into the pregnancy, I went to the USA. Around seven months into the pregnancy, she told my family and me that she lost the baby and it was a girl. It has been almost two years and I haven't been back to Jamaica — I wasn't able to.
Recently, someone showed me a picture of a five-month, underdeveloped baby. It dawned on me that my seven-month-old baby, if dead, could've been buried or cremated.
So I reached out to the mom, asking for the truth. I needed closure, because for a while I was hurt whenever I would see toddlers' clothing. She told me, after a great ordeal, that she had a baby boy, and sent me a picture of him.
I had remembered that picture from her social media account. Back then when I'd asked about the paternal parent of the child, she claimed it was her brother's.
I had no reason to doubt her, because her brother's girlfriend was pregnant around that time.
Now I'd like some advice about this issue, or to begin the process while I'm here.
It is clear that the woman with whom you had an acrimonious relationship did have your child, and deceived your family and you about this fact. She has now admitted to you and sent you a photograph of the child she gave birth to — whom you conceived together.
What an unfortunate situation that you have been deprived of your fatherhood for the life, to date, of your child. Did you ask her what names she gave to the child on reporting the birth of the child to the registrar of births? On what date was the child born? At which hospital was the child born? Did you ask her for a copy of your son's birth certificate?
I am suggesting that you seek to obtain these facts because if she refuses to give you a copy of his birth certificate, you can, with those facts, apply for certified copies (at least two) of his birth certificate, and the search for it by the registrar of births and deaths office would be much easier and the office would be more certain that it has the right child.
You can make this application yourself; check the website or have a member of your family do it on your behalf.
If you intend to apply for a declaration of paternity so you can play a part in your child's life and give him your surname — to which he is entitled, as of right — and meet your obligations to him as a father as well as enjoy your right of access to him, then you have to submit a certified copy of his birth certificate with your application to the court.
You can either apply to the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica or the Family Court, which serves the parish of your residence here.
You can, in fact, have your application filed on your behalf whilst you are abroad, by a lawyer here who you must retain for this purpose. Your lawyer would prepare your application and your affidavit in support of it, which would state in more detail the facts you have in your letter to me, and which you must sign on oath, in front of a notary public, and return to the lawyer to file with your application. Thereafter, a date for hearing would be fixed by the clerk of court, (that is if your application is to the Family Court, which is what I suggest, as this would be done and determined quicker than one filed in the Supreme Court), and if you can attend court on that date, I suggest that you do.
The bailiff of the Family Court can serve the summons to the babymother — for her to attend court on the fixed date — with a copy of your application and affidavit in support.
If there is a possibility the she would deny your paternity to the court, then your lawyer can apply that a DNA test be done before the date of the hearing of the substantive application. Your lawyer would direct you on how you can obtain and submit your specimen for the test to be done, and for the mother to produce the child for his specimen to be obtained. I suggest that you take the whole responsibility for the cost of such a test. These are done in court-designated laboratories and the report is sent to the court.
This manner of eagling with this aspect will save you time and money, so that you do not come here to attend court for the hearing of the paternity issue and find yourself faced with a denial by her of your paternity, though she can be estopped by her ultimate admission to you and the fact that she sent you the photograph of your son in support of her admission.
Anyway, your lawyer would advise you and act on your behalf to ensure that your paternity is declared and that consequential orders to have your name and particulars as the father added to your son's birth records, and that orders are made for you to have access to him, and the court may make an order for your contribution for his maintenance.
If you cannot travel here to attend court in person, then you can authorise your mother or another member of your family to attend court on your behalf. Judges of our courts understand the difficulties and/or impossibility some individuals experience, which prevent them from travelling out of the country of residence to Jamaica for attendances in court. In fact, now some courts have communication facilities to enable individuals abroad to personally give their evidence to the court in real time.
As I said before, the lawyer you retain will advise you. You can, before retaining one, ask a family member to go to the Family Court of your parish here and ask the clerk's advice about your situation, and if your mother or another family member can attend court on your behalf.
There is really no reason why you cannot take steps to truly clarify your position and ensure that you obtain a declaration of paternity so your rights and obligations as a father are made clear to you and the mother.
And please, always remember that it is also your son's right to have a name and to have a relationship, but you as the hopeful father must clearly take definitive steps to achieve and ensure this relationship, which you definitively wish to have. I commend you for this attitude and determination, some other individuals in your position would have just walked away from the child with relief.
I am so happy you are not one of those but that you wish to be a responsible and caring father. So, I hope I have advised you sufficiently to enable you to act.
All the best wishes to you and your son.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.