Sign Of Times: DNA Storefront Opens

Laurel Leff PhotoFor Joyce Winston, her new walk-in paternity testing clinic at the corner of Sherman and Goffe is not just a business, it’s also a mission. She hopes the clinic will help men discover whether they’re “the daddy” so others won’t have to go through what she went through—twice.

On Monday, Winston (pictured), who previously ran a home health-care agency, will open the paternity testing clinic to provide one-stop shopping to deal with the problem summed up in the old saying, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe.”

The mother, “putative father,” (as lawyers like to say) and child can walk into the clinic, provide samples with their DNA, and know within 24 to 48 hours whether the man is the child’s father.

Winston said it’s just as important for a man to know that he’s not the father as to learn that he is.

“There are a lot of different situations where the father found out after he had a child that the child wasn’t his,” and yet he still had legal responsibility for the child, said Winston, who’s 39. Fathers who acknowledge paternity officially or ignore legal notices of paternal responsibility often have great difficulty undoing that determination—despite a negative paternity test.

“We want to make it so fathers can get testing early on before it gets to that situation,” she said.

Winston (who also owns nightclubs in town under her former married name, Joyce Bellamy) said she has personal knowledge of “that situation.” Two men with whom she was involved were told they had fathered children with other women when they hadn’t.

That inspired her to open the walk-in clinic to make paternity testing more available and more affordable. Most DNA clinics rely on 1-800 numbers. “Scheduling specialists” at DNA Diagnostics Center, a national company, for example, refer clients who call its number to “a certified facility, such as local hospitals, medical offices and health departments.” That takes more time and requires travel to a different location. “Here, if you need a test, you get a test,” Winston said.

She said she plans also to charge less than the typical $400 for a paternity test. DNA Diagnostics advertises $495 for a legal paternity test, but adds, “Call for Discounts!” Winston said her cost for a legal paternity test would be about $300, with an installment plan option. Clients will get the results upon final payment.

“Go Progress”

Laurel Leff PhotoWinston said she’d been a DNA examiner for about a year and half, then decided her business needed to be more public. “So we put up a sign so the community knows we are here.” The sign, which boasts, “DNA Genetics, Paternity Testing, Walk-in clinic, Results in 24-48 Hours,” went up July 15 although the clinic doesn’t open until Monday.

The neighborhood noticed. “When I saw the sign I thought, `Go progress,’” said Dresha Grier, who owns an eponymous hair salon around the corner from the clinic. “Why go through the waiting and the overpaying when you can find out right here in the community?”

Steven Stewart, 54, who sells newspapers across the street from the clinic, praised the location. “It’s the right spot—across the street from a high school in the ‘hood, as they say,” Stewart said, adding that a paternity test “can provide a lot of closure on a tough subject.”

Willie Penn, 44, and Greg Carter, 45, who were visiting a relative who lives down the block from the clinic, said there is definitely a need for such testing.

“A lot of my friends found out when their children were 20 or 25 years old they were not the father,” Penn said. “At the point the baby was born they didn’t bother to find out because they didn’t want to disrespect the mother. But it’s better to know at the beginning.”

Carter agreed: “Little kids become part of your life. You develop a bond and then you find out you’re not the father. It’s hard.”

Carter said that happened to him, but he worked it out with the child and his mother. “We sat him down, talked to him about the situation,” Carter said. Speaking of the child, who is now 30, Carter said, “he’s still mine.”

Lance Carpenter also had a personal reaction to the clinic across the street from where he sells newspapers alongside Stewart. The former Marine said he never knew who his father was. “My mother told me three different men were my daddy,” Carpenter recalled. The 54-year-old said he made sure he knew he was the father of his four children. “People should know about their background,” he said, adding “we need it in the community.”

There can be serious consequences for not knowing a baby’s background, lawyers advise. When an unmarried mother gives birth in a Connecticut hospital, a man can chose to sign an “Acknowledgment of Paternity.” The acknowledgment makes the man the legal father responsible for the child’s financial support. The man can change his mind within 60 days by filing a form with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. If he doesn’t do it during that time period, however, he has to challenge the paternity finding in court or before a Family Support Magistrate. The court will only reopen the paternity issue “on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the person making the challenge,” according to a Department of Social Services brochure. (Click here to read it.) In other words, even proving through a paternity test that a man is not the biological father may not be enough to reopen the question of paternity.

Domonique L. Parker found that out the hard way.

After he and his previous girlfriend had broken up, he discovered through an anonymous letter that the boy she had had during their relationship might not be his son. Two separate DNA tests, one Parker took on his own, the other court-ordered, established that the boy was not his. But Parker had signed an acknowledgment of paternity when the child was born and had not rescinded it. He therefore had to go to court to try to reopen the paternity question. A judge found there had not been “fraud, duress or a material mistake,” and therefore refused to reopen paternity. Parker is still considered the legal father, responsible for child support, among things.

Parker, who manages a club, said he’s been devastated by the experience.

“I lived for him. Everything was about my son, my son, my son,” he said. He said he’s now not even supposed to tell the child he’s not his father. “What happens when he grows up and finds out I’m not his father. He’s going to hate me.” This “changes so much,” Parker said. “It’s like fighting a battle every day.”

Parker said readily available paternity testing is “something that’s needed in the community.” He added, “A lot of guys just don’t know.”

“Hard To Reopen Paternity”

Nationally, instances of “paternity fraud,” as it is known, are rare. It is higher among children born to younger parents, to unmarried couples and to those with lower socioeconomic status.

Saundra Huggins, a lawyer with an office on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden, said Connecticut courts are reluctant to reopen cases when the man has held himself out to be the father, even if it turns out that biologically he’s not. The cases tend to be complicated and depend on unique factual circumstances. Still, they convey the sense that judges consider it in the child’s best interests to expect a man who has acted like a father to continue to be the father. 

In addition to the problem of incorrectly acknowledging the child at birth, Huggins said, men can also find themselves in a difficult situation should a child’s mother file for public assistance. According to state law and as a result of a federal mandate, mothers who file for welfare must name the child’s father or risk being denied aid; the DSS support staff can help the mother establish paternity. If the putative father doesn’t respond to legal notifications that he has been named the father, either because he never received them or because he chose to ignore them, he can be named the father by default. At that point, he bears financial responsibility for the child.

“It’s hard to reopen paternity,” said Huggins, who once contracted with the state to represent fathers in paternity actions. “The father has a better chance if he can prove lack of notice.”

Winston, the DNA clinic owner, said her ex-husband was found to be a parent by default even though a DNA test proved he wasn’t the biological father. Winston said she hopes her clinic can help head off such problems. Men can take the test before they acknowledge paternity or ignore notices of parental responsibility.

“Being able to drive by and see a sign for DNA testing right on Sherman Avenue” could help, Huggins said. But men also need to get rid of their “go with the flow” attitude, Huggins said. When DNA testing is suggested too many respond, “`I’m straight. I don’t need it.’”

Huggins also would like to see the government be more aggressive in pushing DNA testing. Right now, government officials will ask men if they want testing, Huggins said. Instead, they need to be saying, you should get DNA testing. 

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posted by: Atwater on July 22, 2011  11:26am

This is one of the saddest NHI stories I have ever read. And we wonder why Newhallville, etc., are in such bad shape.

posted by: Ms. D on July 22, 2011  12:21pm

This is good Joyce I just hope who ever you have working in there keeps their mouth shut because if your employees are from new haven nine times out of ten they will know someone who comes in there!

posted by: robn on July 22, 2011  1:17pm

A technical question….so if a DNA sample is required, can that be something like a hair or skin sample or is it something requiring a stack of hootchy-girl magazines?

posted by: j on July 22, 2011  1:18pm

I agree. Is this what New Haven has come to?  Saddest thing I ever read.  There will probably be a line out the door.

posted by: sherri 48 on July 22, 2011  1:31pm

Excellent idea girl!!!

posted by: Newhallville84 on July 22, 2011  1:43pm

While congrats are due to Joyce for her entrepreneurial venture, I don’t agree with the residents quoted in this article who state this is a great addition to the neighborhood. I rode by this corner last week and was really distrubed that we have such an business in our already stigmatized community. I dare to say this will not send a positive message of responsibility but rather gives our people another promotion to be sexually iirresponsible why? BBecause they can rely on a cost-eefficient patnerity lab in their backyard. I think this business would have been best suited in a non-residential zone or even downtown New Haven or along a major corridor like Dixwell or Whalley. The NH zoning board thought this was OK? But did not want a boxing gym for youth just a few blocks away? That’s racism if I’ve ever seen it….another means to keep African Americans as a permanent underclass. WAKE UP NEWHALLVILLE!

posted by: anon on July 22, 2011  1:44pm

“We want to make it so fathers can get testing early on before it gets to that situation,” she said.

How about trying committed, monogamous relationships with decent girls with morals and class?

Yes, I know I am being simplistic, but the state of affairs in the AA community and this story makes me cringe.

posted by: DNA Genitics Lab on July 22, 2011  1:53pm

The stories above are very true and sad. Unfortantly there are many more and we would like to help to stop the vicious cycle. DNA Genetics Lab, Located@ 401 Sherman Avenue, New Haven, Tel:(203)624-0492 abbides by HIPPA regulations and all testing is protected by this law. Curently staff is from Norwalk, Ct and Is not familiar with anyone in the immediate area and all staff are under the HIPPA regulations and sign a contract of Breech & confidentiality.  All questions can be forwarded to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Website under .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 22, 2011  3:03pm

Another Three Card Monte.Plus DNA paternity test will not work with identical twins. Their DNA is Identical.

posted by: JAK on July 22, 2011  3:04pm

I agree, very sad.

BUT maybe this lab will serve to remind men/boys that they can run but they can’t hide.

posted by: Antwone Hayes on July 22, 2011  3:40pm

Hellow im Antwone Hayes and im just finding out about this place and i dont know if my dad is my real dad :( it makes me sad and sick to feel this way i am really really sad and im a 10 year old boy just findung out my dad might not be my real my mom showed me this place to get blood work done and told me we could go here but my mom has little money and barely could affored getting food on the plate but i still love her she works realy hard out here struggling also if anyone out there could donate money so i could get a blood test me and my mom would be greatful or you can send it to the dna genetics and we have called joyce and she said it was fine so if anyone reads this please donate money for me and send it to dna genetics so my mom could afford it to find my daddy.

posted by: robn on July 22, 2011  5:25pm


Gosh thanks for that amazingly helpful bit of information. Although its a statistical improbability that a woman will sleep with both identical twin brothers and although all identical twins (men and women) only make up 1/10th of a percent of the world population, you’re comment should be really helpful.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 22, 2011  5:50pm

posted by: robn on July 22, 2011 5:25pm

Gosh thanks for that amazingly helpful bit of information. Although its a statistical improbability that a woman will sleep with both identical twin brothers and although all identical twins (men and women) only make up 1/10th of a percent of the world population, you’re comment should be really helpful.

True.But one brother can blame the other Brother and then what.Same thing in a murder case.

posted by: Lifer on July 22, 2011  11:27pm

I see a nationwide franchise of these outlets in the future with Ms. Winston becoming a multi-millionaire.
Sorry, this is a pet peeve, but it’s HIPAA, not HIPPA.

posted by: No 100 Percent Exact Replica on July 23, 2011  5:02am

While it is true that identical twins share the same DNA, it is possible for doctors and criminologists to use mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA), which is a more in-depth analysis, to differentiate between identical twins.  There are really no 100 percent perfect replica of humans.  Ask parents of identical twins.

The responses of some of the comments to the article is interesting. Some seem to be saying it is fine for men and women to be sexually involved with several partners at the same time; they just should not have this type of lab in the neighborhood because then others will know about this irresponsible behavior.  The fact is—they already know. Who is distressed by the fact that a man is claiming that his mother told him that one of three men might be his father? Where should that be hidden?

Maybe instead of worrying about the image of the community being affected by the lab, these concerns should be manifested in community action; teaching young men and women to behave more sexually responsible in parenting children. For accurate medical and psychological reasons and history, it is helpful for children to know who are their biological parents.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 23, 2011  3:07pm

You can get the DNA test for free.Go on the Maury Povich show.

You are NOT the father.

posted by: DNA Genetics Lab on July 23, 2011  10:01pm

The stories above are very true and sad. Unfortantly there are many more and we would like to help to stop the vicious cycle. DNA Genetics Lab, Located@ 401 Sherman Avenue, New Haven, Tel:(203)624-0492 abbides by HIPPA regulations and all testing is protected by this law. Curently staff is from Norwalk, Ct and Is not familiar with anyone in the immediate area and all staff are under the HIPAA regulations and sign a contract of Breech & confidentiality.  All questions can be forwarded to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Website under .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

posted by: cheryl king on July 23, 2011  11:24pm

Paternity Fraud is alive and well in Australia all the way to the top.

Cheryl King
Melbourne Australia
61 416031145

posted by: HAMDEN on July 24, 2011  11:04am

I think if this had of been on Whalley Avenue it would of been better. Not the right corner for this

posted by: Nissian Max on July 24, 2011  11:11pm

This has got to be a joke! Why is everyone in this article using an alias? ...  I think the DNA clinic is a good idea, but not in the hood. This is New Haven! Everybody knows everybody. So If you “aint the Daddy” you better believe everybody in New Haven gonna know that you aint the daddy, and probably before you know yourself. ...

posted by: Paternity Advocates on July 25, 2011  9:53am

Many have a concern about the location, but Yale New Haven hospital is across from Davenport Ave, St. Raphael’s across from Kensington Street, Jewish home is on Davenport Ave., Hill Health Center on Dixwell and Columbus….all known drug areas in the district of schools. Sherman and Goffee is not a well known crime area and it is not the hood. There are many working class people that live in that area from Whalley to Norton to Crescent. This was an excellent idea. It’s available, why not there? People are are afraid of what they don’t want to know. If we don’t make theses services available to ourselves, who will. Hospitals don’t do DNA Testing…You have to call a 1-800 number and now there is actually a place you can walk into and speak to someone in person and not just get a peice of mail, telling you the truth. I am pretty sure this company is bound by HIPAA..being that it is a medical facility. That is discrimination to say that, just because this is in this location there is a worry about confidentiality. You go to the clinic, like any other clinic. MS. Bellamy ran a Health Care agency for 11 years, I am pretty sure that her reputation for HIPAA compliance was met. There are schools in bad neighborhoods, but that doesn’t mean the teachers violate privacy. Good Idea and We are all for it!

posted by: Paternity Advocates on July 25, 2011  10:09am

There are many teens and young women, who have slept with more than one man at a time. In the urban population this happens a lot. Most times if the girl is not sure, she will blame the man she is with or the man who is in a better financial situation and sometimes she will find out how far along she is at her first initial doctor visit and still won’t tell the truth or the baby can arrives and she clearly see’s this young man can not be the father…but without DNA, she can’t be totally sure and the young man is taken to court for child support, locked up, loses his job from being locked up, quit his job because now he has to sell drugs to afford the child support. Men don’t usually know their rights and don’t realize when a woman goes into court and says your the father and you don’t show up you are made the father by default! This all happens in the Urban community, so why not find out the truth in an Urban community. Paternity fraud has to be stopped! There are many mothers suffering because they have to take care of a grown son, that can’t take care of themselves because of child support issues for a child that is not theirs. Until a Bill is passed….now young men have no reason to not act on paternity right away, there is no excuse. We appreciate the efforts of someone making these services available!!!

posted by: ImJustSayin on July 25, 2011  2:10pm

I would hope that just as there seems to be such a real need for paternity DNA testing, we also need to realize that there is a greater need to (1)refrain from having unprotected sex, (2) refrain from having multiple sexual partners, and (3) refrain from having sex with ANYONE if you are not in a relationship where commitment is demonstrated by MARRIAGE!!! Let’s think more about the health (spiritual, emotional, and physical) of ALL concerned - particularly the children when we consider satisfying our ‘urges’ far more important than being responsible. I am not a prude, but we ‘in the hood’ need to get our priorities straight. If there is a question about paternity, then that proves one thing ... YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE HAD SEX WITH THAT PERSON!!!! so how about we start working with our young people right there! I am not bashing Ms. Winston’s business. As a matter of fact, I applaud her for bringing what she thinks is a much needed service to the community. We might disagree on what services are needed but I applaud her entrepreneurial spirit of thinking and doing. But I am speaking to the need to avoid having to use such services. And for those that say ‘we can’t stop people from having sex’, I am not saying that… but we can help people, especially our young people, make better decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Let’s stop limiting ourselves to being reactionary in addressing problems, but let’s be proactive and address the issues BEFORE they become problems. That’s a service that we can provide FREE - we just have to care enough to at least start the procress, or join with someone who is already doing something

posted by: MsK on July 25, 2011  2:33pm

As much as I agree with preventing men from falling into these paternity/child support traps due to “default paternity” and other nonsense, shouldn’t we spend some more time figuring out how to prevent women/girls from being so promiscuous that they have to question paternity? Shouldn’t we focus on building trusting and loving families?  This is an ugly bandband-aid for a huge problem running deep in our community. This clinic only feeds on stereotypes and stigma.  Thank you Ms. Winston.

posted by: Parenity Advocates on July 25, 2011  9:49pm

“The clinic only feeds on stereotypes and stigma.” Absolutly untrue! The clinic actually provides a service! This clinic can’t control the enviornment but it can provide a service to help, correct problems that can arise from a larger problem. Who in their right mind would want to stop a service that is going to help the community and keep it affordable? To the I’m Just sayin person….you are right! I agree. Start all of this before it starts but once the problem does arise now it needs to be addressed… good comment. More education needs to be provided…but also what about that 30 or 40 year old cheater who knows better. I have a feeling this is going to be of a great help to this community. It may even reduce crime and people quitting jobs and young men going to jail. This is something new so it’s not a stigma. A stigma is saying a business might not be good for the community because you consider it being in the hood….in which Sherman and Goffee is not the hood and nor has it ever been…what it is is in a urban area.  Now I know where to refer our clients. Thanks Ms. Winston.

posted by: cheryl king on July 26, 2011  8:04pm

IN addition to the long term deceit and fraudulent child support these women have created against unsuspecting men, name me one woman ( after being exposed ) who has voluntarily refunded or even tried to refund the years of child support she has extracted from the duped dad. Mens lives are destroyed and these women do not back down. It makes me ashamed to be part of the same gender.
Google has all the info on our own plight.
key words are Liam Magill - Justice Susan Crennan - Paternity Fraud - High Court of Australia

Cheryl King - Melbourne Australia

posted by: Morris Cove Mom on August 3, 2011  9:12am

It’s a sad day for all when such a business is needed, but it seems that it is.  Good luck to Joyce for trying to address a need.  If only we could stop this not-knowing before it happens, that would be another thing.