I Believe My Sons Father May Have Died

by Shannon
(New York)

But I cannot be sure it is not a person with the same name and birthday. This is a complicated story.

My son's father was an immigrant. I met him in New York in 1992 and the last time I saw him i was 7 months pregnant. That was 11/1994. He had just moved to NJ but came back again to see me. He gave me a Korean name to use for my son's middle name, wrote the due date down. He came with his cousin, who said he would pick him up the next day. I had to go somewhere in the morning, and how I regret not staying home, because he left with no forwarding address. Then I was in the hospital for a month. My son was born on 1/3/95.

I did not know his immigration status at the time. He lived and worked in Brooklyn, NY and had relatives there. I met one of them but he was only introduced as "my brother" - really his cousin- so don't know his name. I am pretty sure he got paid under the table, did not have phone bills in his name, etc. When I began to look for him I did not have much to go on, only his name, birth date and names of several grocery stores where he had worked, and some old addresses. The child support unit where I live found some people with the same name but different birth dates. They actually served papers on one of these people but of course they did not show up to court. I don't believe they did a comprehensive search. He had a driver's license in NY in 1994 but no one has ever found the record. I thought he was probably back in Korea since that is what he always said he was going to do. He had an ex-wife and son there and I think he wanted to get back with her. (they were really divorced).

I moved from the address where he knew me in 9/95. Over the years I searched for him. I have a Korean address which may be his, someone went there with his photo and people in the neighborhood said he had been there in 1995 but not since. Police did not know where he was and said nothing they could do. I have a friend in Korea who tried to get information from a government office but they won't look without proof of paternity.

About 8 years ago a PI found a SS # for someone of same name and birth date, which had been issued in NY between 1989-1992 (the right time frame). The current address was in GEorgia. I sent a letter there and a woman called me, who said she was his sister. She said he was in Korea and was married with children. From our conversation some details did not match, including the way she described his physical appearance, so I thought I had the wrong person. Now I realize she might have lied, did lie about certain things. I realize she might have been vague about his life in NY because she did not know the details of that. Now I regret I did not pursue it further. I sent her pictures of him after I talked to her and asked her to verify whether it was him or not but I never heard from her. She said she was going to ask her brother if he knew me and then called and said he did not.

Last month I asked another PI to do a search. He found the same SS#, different Georgia address. Also that the person had died in 2009.(51 years old). I told him that's not the right now but then I did some searching on the internet and now I think it might be. I found the SS# was probably issued in Brooklyn where he lived, the woman had a different maiden name and so was not his sister. She is an Korean woman with an American last name, She used to be married to someone in the military. She has 2 sisters who live near her in Georgia. I found property records with his and her names on them dating from 2000. They indicate he bought a house and they were joint tenants. They indicate he was not married in 2000 or in 2002 when he took out a 2nd mortgage. In 2005 he lost the house to foreclosure. Then I found their bankruptcy file from 2005. This indicates they were married. It mentions 2 children, one I know is her son from her first marriage, and the other I don't know if from her marriage or his (born in 1998). They were heavily in credit card debt and lost their house and car.

I felt angry when reading it because if that is the right person, he was supporting at least 1 child who is not his and not giving anything to mine, also he had an $1800 a month mortgage for a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house and was driving a BMW (leased for over $900 a month), over $150,000 in debt, including $800 to a jewelry store, American expresss travel, the BMW, the mortgage, personal loan). No savings, no health insurance, no other assets. Between them they made no more than $50,000 a year. Which is about what I make. Then she must have lost her job because in 2004 they had his income of about $2000 a month. After that they started living in a condo (a really nice one, I see the picture)built in 2005 and bought in 2005. She has moved up in the world. Her first address in Georgia that I found does not seem to be residence. It seems to be a nightclub. I looked up her ex-husband's address. She certainly lives in a nicer place than him.

And then he died. When he lived in NY he certainly did not have this lifestyle. He shared crappy apartments with other men, worked 72 hours a week and had few clothes or belongings.

There is no record that I have found on him between 1992 and 2000. I don't know where he was during those years. Perhaps went back to Korea and things did not work out there as he hoped. I am mailing away for the appliaction for the social secuirty card and his death certificate. Both are available to general public. The application will tell me an address where he lived at the time and may be able to trace his New York relatives from that. I have to find out if this is the same person. If someone I could believe would identify his photo as him or not him I could find out. But I don't know where I can find this impartial person. Should I go to Georgia and ask the neighbors? Hire a PI? Although it's too late for child support I just want to know for my own peace of mind. I feel both angry and grieved (because I never forgot him) and don't know if I should be angry at these people because I can't be sure it's him.

If it is him, do I have any recourse to SS survivor's benefits for my son? Or his "estate?" (which probably is not much of an estate).No idea if he had a will. I know this involves posthumous paternity testing and getting a lawyer. It has been done but it's difficult. I have no idea if he ever acknowledged paternity to anyone but me. (his cousin saw me pregnant but I don't know if he realized it). I don't know if his wife told him about my phone call. Even if I got no money, I want to know his family medical history and would like his name on the birth certificate - at last, some acknowledgment.

I hope it's not him. I don't want him to be dead and I don't want him to be this person. But I'm afraid it is.


Comments for I Believe My Sons Father May Have Died

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It is him
by: Shannon

I got pictures and it is him

Child Support Questions

Hi Shannon

Thank you for sharing your situation with us. We wish you well and understand that you may be in a time of grief. Yes you can apply for survivor benefits for your son. Now through SSA you will have to establish paternity. Was paternity ever established? If not then you can attempt to find a relative of his and they can be tested to help establish paternity.

Also pertaining to his estate, yes your son may be entitled to a part of it. Again, paternity must be established. It would be wise for you to seek some legal help in this matter so that you can understand what rights your child does have. Again we wish you and your son well.


by: Anonymous

I don't have $5000 for a retainer for a lawyer ... on top of probably having to pay for the genetic testing...and I do not qualify for legal aid so I will have to file the case myself. I need to find out if he had a will or not. Finding his relatives is going to be difficult as I don't know their names.

He probably has a daughter but she is a minor and getting a DNA test on her I am sure will require the consent of her mother, who is the next-of-kin (wife) of my son's father and the one who gave me misinformation 8 years ago. He also has a son who is an adult but no idea where he is. He has siblings, again no idea where they are. There was no obituary on-line that might have given names of relatives. His father might still be alive but might not be in the US. I researched the case law on establishing paternity of deceased fathers.

Most of the cases on line are in NY, where I live, because the law on this is apparently more restrictive there, but has been liberalized in recent years. In NY it seems you had to prove that a genetic marker had been administered to the father and that he had "openly and notoriously claimed the child as his own" during his lifetime.

The first part of the statute had originally been interpreted as meaning the genetic marker had to be administered during the father's lifetime because of the word "had" but this has been liberalized so that if there is a blood or tissue sample available after death (such as from an autopsy) it may be used. In my case there was no autopsy and it was not a coroner's case.

If there was a biopsy sample perhaps a lab might have it but I don't know if it exists, what lab, and would likely need the permission of next-of-kin unless a court would order it. The second part, that he claimed the child as his own, likely I can't prove, as he may have only admitted to me that he knew he was the father.

by: Anonymous

All the cases I saw had more favorable factors than mine, such as readily available samples from the deceased dad, or relatives ready and willing to test (even a twin brother in one case), and evidence that the dad told people the child was his own, in most cases had a lot of contact with the child and supported the child, without acknowledging paternity through the courts. But my son's father lived in Georgia (but lived in New YOrk when I knew him). So perhaps the law in Georgia applies... I don't think I have to prove the "open and notorious" claim there. I need to check with the probate court if he had a will (this would be public record). It is better if he does not. All the cases I saw were where the father died without a will.

I would like to make a trip to Georgia to look at the court records. The website from the county court has on-line records, but not detailed- shows what type of case, the names, when filed, the outcome. So I know that his wife filed for divorce once, but withdrew it. The actual documents are at the courthouse. If I could take a look at the divorce petition, it would have the date of their marriage (which I do not know) and the name and birth date of her daughter - I'd like to see if she has his last name or her last name. She has a son, too, but he is from her first marriage and has his father's last name. She kept the last name of her first husband and did not take the last name of my son's father. What I need to know is...do I file the petition in NY or in Georgia, or do I have the option of doing either.. I think I have to use a Uniform Parentage Act form.

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