I Might Be a Father, But I’ll Never Know for Sure

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About Andy Bodle

Andy Bodle is a journalist, scriptwriter and blogger who has written for the Guardian, the Times, the BBC, and ABC. He lives in mortal fear that his greatest achievement will remain winning Channel 4's Countdown in 1993. You can read more on his blog, Womanology, and follow him on Twitter: @_Womanology_.


  1. I know it is semantics- but as a Father it galls me to have accidental sperm donors refer to themselves as Fathers.
    This should have been titled “I may have a Baby Mamma in the States”

    • Sorry, I didn’t realise being a father required a Masters degree, official ratification by the Paternity Board and a raging sense of superiority.

      I’d have taken the responsibility, if I’d been able to.

  2. No being a father requires changing diapers, teaching a child to read, ride a bike, toss a ball…..
    It often doesn’t require passing on one’s genes.
    Her kids have a Father.
    And is it possible she was beating around the bush about having an STD?

    • Creating a baby does not make one a mother or a father. Mothering or fathering does. I always referred to my step-dad who actually helped raise me as “dad”. Similar for adoptions: the persons who raise them are the “real” parents; the others are the “biological” parents.

      • The thing is, I never had the *opportunity* to be anything other than a biological father. That’s kind of the point. This wasn’t your usual case of leg over, leg it. (And no, it definitely wasn’t an STD.)

        • Sir, you might be total sucess in terms of evolution. You might have passed your genes and some other man is fooled into taking care of your child believing it to be his own. While I admire your luck, I have no sympathy for you because what you both did in morally unacceptable. You have nothing to worry and care about. The husband is the biggest loser in this saga.

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            I don’t think he’s looking for sympathy. He’s merely telling a story. He doesn’t go, “That was great! What luck I had!” he just recounts the story. He wasn’t trying to get out of taking care of a child. As he says above, he would have.

      • Armchair semanticians: What’s the short word for someone who comes into a long article about paternity to talk about what makes someone a “real” vs. “biological” father?

        Oh yes: a troll.

        • Well, I’m not a troll. Just thought it might add to the discussion. We’re working on establishing a new parental rights law here in California for men in these types of situations. Right now women hold all the cards: we know (more than the man) when we’re most fertile, we can chose to never tell him or ditch him making him wonder (as in this case probably), or force him through the courts to support a child he may have never wanted.
          As far as the comment that the author was “immoral”, by whose standard? He was breaking no oaths of committment.
          I agree with Lars that truth is important. Children should be informed at whatever age is appropriate for them if they have been adopted, fostered, or raised by anyone other than their biological parents. Sometimes the biological parent who’s been out of the picture can return and a relationship can be built. Somtimes, bioligical parents don’t want to know or be there.

    • So do you believe that it’s of no consequence at all who the biological father is? How about for the children? Sure – actually bringing up the children is of major importance, and most likely the children *will* always think of this man as their father. But if they have another biological father I believe that matters, too. To everyone concerned.

  3. Sounds more like the harm caused by BS family court laws.

    And anyone who sires a child is that child’s father. I don’t care if you raised him or her. I don’t care if the child calls you daddy. Parentage is decided by genetics, nothing else. Like it or not.

  4. Thanks for sharing the story. To some extent, there’s an element of that for every man who’s been in a short-term fling or a one-night stand – or at least for many men. At some point you realize that the correct answer to “do you have children” is “not that I know of”: A friend of mine not too long agohad an 18-year-old show up at their door saying “you’re my father”.

    The question is what that means? In your case, the knowing that there’s a “maybe”, and the uncertainty that goes with that is jarring.

  5. PastorofMuppets says:

    Yes, you absolutely should contact her two sons on Facebook. Let them know that when they were children (and while their father was out of town working to provide for them) you bent their mom over a piece of furniture in the family home and banged her so hard your condom fell off.
    I cannot imagine any circumstances under which they wouldn’t greet you as a hero. And for sure it would bring them closer with their mother.
    If knowingly sleeping with a married woman because it was “intoxicating” weren’t enough to label you a severe narcissist, the fact that you would even consider contacting her kids seals the deal.

    • A highly selective and distortive reading of the piece. Do you work as a lawyer, perchance?

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Pastor of Muppets, there is no reason for Andy to destroy a family.

        I do think that work can/could be/maybe has been done by Andy to figure out what made him make such a bad choice at that time. But note the words “filofax” and “pay phone” and put this into some historical context. This was a *long* time ago.

        • PastorofMuppets says:

          I agree. He doesn’t need to destroy a family.
          But obviously it’s something he’s considering/has considered because, apparently, his need to know whether he impregnated this woman matters more than the damage he would cause by contacting her husband or children on Facebook.

          Let’s be clear … I’m not calling Andy a bad guy because he made a mistake and slept with a married woman (though the fact that he got off on the fact she was married makes him at least amoral). I’m calling him a bad guy because all these years later he even for a moment wonders whether he should contact her sons and tell them about it.

        • I know, the part where he’s running around looking for a pay phone!

      • PastorofMuppets says:

        Ah, lawyer bashing. How original.
        Sorry that your cry for sympathy isn’t working out as you hoped.

        Also, the paternity numbers you cite are significantly inflated (though useful for your piece, no doubt).
        Read: Anderson, K. (2006). How Well Does Paternity Confidence Match Actual Paternity? Evidence from Worldwide Nonpaternity Rates Current Anthropology, 47 (3), 513-520 DOI: 10.1086/504167

        • I know better than to put out a cry for sympathy on the internet. Too many narcissistic, judgmental pricks out there. I just wanted to share my experience in case it was useful for others, and maybe get some advice.

          Your pathological need to put others down suggests you have some self-esteem issues. I implore you not to worry – lots of people have trouble expressing themselves with any originality or articulacy.

          • PastorofMuppets says:

            Andy says:
            “Your pathological need to put others down suggests you have some self-esteem issues”

            Preceded by:
            “Too many narcissistic, judgmental pricks out there”

            And followed by:
            ” I implore you not to worry – lots of people have trouble expressing themselves with any originality or articulacy.”

            Oh, the irony.
            Though a guy who’s willing to consider destroying a family to find out if he knocked up a married woman in the 1990s probably shouldn’t be labeling others as narcissists, you know?

            • See Justin Cascio? THIS (PastorofPuppets) is what a troll looks like. It’s someone who adds nothing of value to the conversation while simply trying to stir up trouble.

              Wanted to add a note to Andy. I really enjoyed your writing style and the story. It wasn’t about morality, it was about power and lack thereof. Condoms aside, mistakes happen. Men should have as much right to knowing about a pregnancy as women. You never were informed nor given the opportunity to decide to parent or not. That sucks.

            • wellokaythen says:

              Dang, I was going to try to nail the author for the irony of using “articulacy,” which I thought was not a real word (ironic, right?), except I looked it up and it is a word, used here quite correctly. Troll attempt thwarted.

            • That’s ironical.

            • Ironicness? Posted from under a bridge.

  6. I can sympathize with the author, wondering? That’s because for me sympathy isn’t something that “runs out”. If it were a finite resource, I might conserve it in this situation. But it’s not.

    The woman was kind of a shit, huh, including her cryptic phone call BS. She let the author believe several things that weren’t true. It’s hard to imagine that she had her husband’s blessing for any of this, given her behavior when she feared being found out.

    So she’s a shit, and the author became aware of that and was “intoxicated”. And now he’s had a long hangover that may never go away.

    The author may not have broken a vow but he consciously participated in someone else doing so. To him I’d suggest, own that mistake and the consequences. I don’t think you deserve them, and I am sorry for the mess you’re in because I doubt you wanted any of it. I hope you learned to trust your instincts, in this case your anger that had you walking away that night you found out the truth hidden within her lie.

  7. Oh let’s lighten up on Andy.
    By the new orthodoxy he may be a victim.
    Let he who is without sin…..
    At 26, who amongst us would not have F*ed a snake, too.
    Truth be told I know I did; more than once.
    The silver lining is that the stranger she brought to the home where her children slept was a gentleman rather than an axe murderer.
    Goodness, I hope that she can’t be found because another dalliance didn’t do her and then do her in.
    The poor guy was, at the least, coerced with sins of omission and, by some of the strict definitions rattling around; he may have been raped by an older more experienced person.
    I’d like to think he hadn’t got out of bed that morning to hang horns on a brother and that he was just looking to get it wet the night he slept in another man’s bed.
    I’d like to think that in the 21st Century right minded people ask for the blessing of both spouses before intruding on a intimacy.
    I would suggest that contacting the Father, whose wife he rutted, or his children, at this late date, might not be a positive experience for any of the parties.

  8. wellokaythen says:

    There are paternity rights but also paternity obligations. Even if you don’t want to know or aren’t sure, your fate is not entirely in your own hands. I suggest reading up on child support law or talking to a lawyer about what could happen to you legally and/or financially. Even if you don’t pursue it, she might pursue it someday. You may need to be prepared for a subpoena and a bill at some point in the future….

    (Although if you and they are in different countries this may not apply so much.)

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