A technique that analyzes genetic material (DNA) for a variety of purposes, including paternity, evidence of rape by a particular person and other uses.
The technique, developed by Dr. Alec Jeffreys, a genetics professor at the University of Leicester in England, was created in 1984. Prior to that time, it was possible to determine who might have fathered a child and who could not have fathered a child, but no overwhelming paternal evidence existed. Genetic fingerprinting provides a certainty of paternity in an estimated 99% of the cases in which the biological father has been tested and has successfully been used in many paternity lawsuits nationwide.
The relevance of genetic fingerprinting to adoption is that if a birthmother wishes to plan adoption for her child but a man who alleges he is the father tries to block the adoption, genetic testing can prove whether or not the man is actually the biological father.
If she is not married to the man and he is not the biological father, his claims are generally considered less valid than if he is the biological father. (In some cases, the law takes into account an existing relationship a minor has with a parent figure.)
If the birthmother is married, the law generally presumes her husband is the father of her child, although genetic testing may refute this presumption.
Genetic testing can also be used to determine custody when various men contend they are the father of the child.
If a woman alleges she has been raped, the perpetrator of the rape may be identified through genetic fingerprinting. If the woman becomes pregnant and bears a child and then chooses adoption for her child, the identities of the birthmother and rapist birthfather will be sealed in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Find more information on genetic fingerprinting
©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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