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What is Home Paternity Testing?

Article Details
  • Written By: J.S. Metzker Erdemir
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 29 April 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A home paternity test is a DNA test that can be done at home to determine a child’s biological father. The test samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis and the results are sent back to the family. Home paternity testing, when performed correctly, is exactly the same as a legal paternity test in terms of how the samples are taken and analyzed, as well as the information it provides, but it does not carry the same weight in court because the sources of the samples cannot be legally verified.

DNA is the unique genetic material found in all biological organisms. It determines our species, how our bodies function, and many of our characteristics. A child’s DNA comes in equal parts from the mother and father, though a child may not show exactly 50% of each of his parents’ characteristics. While small changes in DNA are possible from environmental factors such as exposure to carcinogens, the DNA that shows parentage is the same throughout our lives.

In the US, over-the-counter home paternity tests have recently become available in drugstores. Many people use home paternity testing to get peace of mind or to satisfy their curiosity about a child’s or their own paternity. Home paternity testing might also be used by people who were adopted to ensure they’ve found the correct biological parent, or by people who have given up a child for adoption to assure themselves a child really is their own. The results of over-the-counter tests are just as reliable as DNA paternity tests ordered by a court, but can be done in private without engaging in any legal action. As with any product, a consumer should do his research first, and make sure the company who makes and analyzes the home paternity testing kit has a reputation for reliability and accuracy.

A home paternity test kit comes with testing swabs, instructions, and special protective envelopes to mail the samples to a laboratory. The testing swabs are similar to cotton swabs, and are used to scrape mouth cells from the inside of the cheek. For each test, a sample is taken from the child, the alleged father, and ideally, from the mother. A mother’s DNA is not required for a home paternity test, but having her DNA available simplifies the process of comparing and analyzing the DNA.

After taking the samples, the swabs are sent to a laboratory for analysis. Results from over-the-counter home paternity testing are usually relatively fast, and are returned via mail, phone, or email. Companies that make home paternity tests claim to do their utmost to protect people’s identity and anonymity.

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