By some estimates, as many as 9 percent of children have misattributed paternity. That means that their biological father isn’t the man who raised them—and the children are never made aware of that (quite crucial) information.
Of course, paternity statistics are difficult to accurately assess, since you can’t easily perform a genuinely random sample. If a mother knows that her baby’s daddy isn’t, ahem, the baby’s daddy, she might reasonably refuse to take part in a survey, skewing the results.
Still, we know that it happens—and sometimes, the would-be father discovers the deception in the delivery room. Over several different threads, Reddit users shared their stories of parentage gone awry. For the most part, the stories come from doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who saw families react when they realized that their new baby obviously wasn’t the father’s biological child.
Needless to say, some of these stories are fairly…uncomfortable. We sorted out a few of the best, then edited them for grammar and readability. Strap in, because these get pretty rough.
1. Sometimes, you’ve got to make the best out of a bad situation.
Hey, infidelity happens; when you realize that you’ve only got a 50 percent chance of being a father, you might as well see it through before making any irrational decisions.
Reddit user Racheltower’s father is an obstetrician. She tells how a woman recently visited his office with her husband…and her boyfriend.
“They don’t know who the father is, and they can’t find out until the baby is born,” she explained, “so both men want to be there during doctor appointments and the birth.”
That seems like an incredibly awkward situation, but to their credit, both of the potential fathers stepped up to the plate.
“The two men were surprisingly cordial with each other,” she said, “but I’m betting they’ll run a paternity test before the umbilical cord is even cut.”
For what it’s worth, obstetricians can actually determine paternity prior to birth, but the current method involves a sampling procedure that could potentially endanger the fetus.
2. In this story, the parentage isn’t really up for debate.
User Idkjill is a nurse, and she shared one of the more baffling experiences she’s encountered on the job.
“Once, we had a couple come in—just them,” she wrote. “The father was black, and the mother was white. The father was so involved and so ecstatic about becoming a father for the second time with this women.”
“Nothing really seemed off until she started pushing. The baby girl came out completely white, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Usually, black babies come out a little pale, but this was just straight-out white.”
“We had to escort the father out for fear of him becoming violent, but he just sat outside the room, on the ground with his face in his hands. That was one of the saddest moments I think I’ve ever seen.”
The bad news: It gets much, much worse.
“Odd thing afterwards, though, the mom didn’t want the baby and wanted nothing to do with the ‘father,’ probably out of guilt,” she wrote, “so she left the responsibility of this baby and their other 2-year-old boy to this man—who didn’t even question taking on this child.”
While that’s heartbreaking, it’s good to know that those kids have at least one great parent. We hope he was able to move on quickly without her.
3. This story doesn’t reflect well on anyone involved.
Sometimes, these stories are so off-the-wall that we doubt they’re real—but for some reason, that doesn’t make them any less entertaining.
“My cousin was an obstetrics nurse in a central European country,” wrote Reddit user Thunder_bird.
Two pregnant women entered the nurse’s maternity ward, but unfortunately, one of the mothers lost her child during delivery. Naturally, she was grief-stricken; she told the nurse that she’d been trying for a baby for many years.
“She and her husband were overjoyed to carry a baby to term,” Thunder_bird wrote. “The husband was not present in the ward that day, but the lady said he would be devastated.”
The other lady delivered a healthy baby, but she was also upset; she already had four children and was unable to financially support a fifth.
“She did not want to look after yet another baby,” they wrote. “Her husband was very upset she was pregnant again—not that he was blameless, but that’s a different story. He was at work and was not at the hospital that day.”
“My cousin talked to the other nurses. No paperwork had been completed, so the staff put both women in the same room with the one healthy baby and suggested they may want to talk.”
“Forty minutes later, the lady without a child was holding the healthy baby. Both women looked happy and relieved. Few words were spoken, but the paperwork was written up by the staff to reverse the records of the two births … They were of the same ethnic background and had similar features, so the swap probably went undetected.”
Obviously, that story has huge ethical issues, and we doubt it’d be possible in American hospitals. Still, it sort of has a happy ending…right?
4. Sometimes, the baby’s appearance isn’t what indicates their parentage.
Reddit user Fuzzus628’s mother worked at a medical laboratory “many decades ago.”
“One day, another woman who worked in the building was visiting the lab,” he wrote. “During the conversation, she mentioned that she was blood type X, her husband was type Y, and their child was type Z. I don’t remember the specific types.”
Well, it’s good that those aren’t the actual blood types, since we’re pretty sure that type Z makes you a zombie.
“One of the younger lab techs blurted out, ‘That’s impossible,’ and the doctor in the lab just stared daggers at him. Luckily, the visitor either didn’t notice or didn’t care, and moved along shortly after. My mom still remembers it as one of the most awkward moments she’d ever been privy to.”
That person probably should have realized the issue while doing Punnett squares in high school biology class.
5. Then again, sometimes appearance is a dead giveaway.
“My brother was doing his OBGYN rotation,” wrote user inkseep1. “In the first birth he assisted, the woman had her husband leave the room. That seems odd these days, but nevertheless, my brother had the husband step out for the comfort of the patient.
If you’re paying attention at all, you know where this was going. The color of the baby’s skin “wasn’t even close” to the skin tone of the father.
“There were lily-white parents and a very black baby,” inkseep1 wrote. “She wanted my brother to stay to talk to her husband, who is about to come back, and he bails on the whole situation. She was playing the odds all the way to the end.”
User CompanionQuandary has a similar story, but she actually stayed in the room to walk the parents through the uncomfortable moment.
“I am a nurse working in labor and delivery,” she wrote. “Most of the time, if the mom thinks the baby may not belong to her boyfriend or husband, she will just have their friend/sister/mom with them there for the delivery, then have the dad come to the hospital room after seeing the baby.”
“There are no guarantees because babies can change a lot over a couple weeks. Many African American babies have very light skin when they are born, which gets darker over time.”
“I have had a patient’s husband get upset about the baby being too light—they were both black—until his mom smacked him and told him that’s what he looked like when he was born.”
“Recently, I had something interesting happen. A girl comes in, in labor, with her boyfriend, sister, and a friend. The boyfriend doesn’t seem too engaged during the process, but that’s not uncommon. The baby is born and is fine, and the sister sends Dad to get some stuff.”
It’s important to note that all of the people involved only speak Spanish, and while CompanionQuandary speaks some medical Spanish to assist with procedures like deliveries, she’s certainly not fluent.
“As soon as the dad leaves, the sister is like, ‘I have a question for you,’ and then proceeds to say something I can’t understand at all. I try to clarify, but I’m just not getting it, so I offer to go get the translator.”
“She’s like, ‘No, I don’t want it to be official.’ She whips out her phone, and through Google translate asks, ‘How can we get a paternity test in the hospital?’”
“I then have to explain that we really don’t do that, but she can get one at CVS. They tell me that the baby doesn’t look like the mom’s other child with this guy, and it might be someone else’s, but they want to check before telling him. So I just apologize and tell them how they can get a DNA test at CVS, and that they cost about $50.”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked about paternity testing, but I just had no idea how you say it in Spanish.”
Some commenters felt that this mother was being unethical here, but CompanionQuandary warns against rushing to judgment.
“You don’t know anyone else’s life circumstances, so it is best to reserve judgment about the choices they have made or you think they may have made,” she explains. “Not every situation is cut-and-dry. Plenty of biological fathers leave and do not support their children, and women are not all lying villains. Life is very gray’ just treat people with respect and compassion.”
That’s good advice to keep in mind during these next few stories.
6. This one will make your blood boil.
“I’m a nurse in a level 4 neonatal ICU,” wrote user RavenousButterfly. “We service the sickest of the sick from our state and the surrounding states, so we see it all.”
A baby came into the ICU with life-threatening sepsis caused by herpes. In most cases, RavenousButterfly wrote, doctors try to treat herpes while the mother is pregnant, which greatly reduces the risk of serious complications.
“In this case, the mom didn’t even know she was a carrier,” they wrote. “So where did it come from? This is the awkward and sickening moment when everyone in the room realized where the herpes came from. Turns out, the father had an affair and contracted the virus from his lover.”
“So, yeah, while this woman’s baby is on the verge of death, she finds out her husband has been cheating on her and his cheating a** is the reason their baby is sick.”
That’s not quite a case of misplaced parentage, but it’s infuriating enough to make the list.
7. Sometimes, biology isn’t the most important part of the story.
“My fiance’s father is almost certainly not his biological dad,” wrote user Bagzilla. “His mom was just a genuinely terrible human being who didn’t even try to hide the fact she was cheating.”
“But his dad loved him from the second he was born, and when the mom decided four years later that she just didn’t want the kid anymore, she just gave him to his dad and rode off.”
We don’t know their situation, but it sounds like the kid was better off without his mother in the picture.
“His dad ended up getting married, and he tried for kids before finding out his sperm count was too low to ever father children,” Bagzilla continues. “They ended up adopting many years later.”
“He sat my fiance down when my fiance was 13 and told him the truth, and said that if my friend wanted to test, they would, but it was up to him. My friend cried, and told his father that he just wanted him to be his dad, and that was the end of that.”
Ultimately, the blood test wouldn’t have proved anything; regardless of biological parentage, the kid certainly grew up with his “real” father.
8. Blood typing is complicated…except when it isn’t.
“I’m a NICU nurse that was floating to the nursery,” user Mimimullen wrote. “A baby was born with a genetic abnormality, but was otherwise doing fine. The pediatrician was in the parents’ room discussing the follow-up type stuff for the baby—appointments with a geneticist, an orthopedic surgeon, etc.”
“At some point in the conversation, the mother asked what the baby’s blood type was, to which the pediatrician responded ‘A+.’ The father of the baby insisted that was impossible, as he and his wife were both O-. This was their third baby.”
“The pediatrician got totally flustered and came back to the nursery to verify the lab results. The baby really was A+. We even went so far as to redraw the baby’s blood and retest it. Nope, A+.”
“There is absolutely no chance that the baby belonged to that man. The husband left the hospital soon afterwards and didn’t show up again until it was time to pick up the mom and baby to bring them home. The mom spent the rest of the hospital stay lying alone, in the dark, mostly hiding under the covers.”
We should note that genetic mutations can actually cause these types of issues; two O- parents could potentially have a child with a different blood type. Those types of genetic mutations are extremely rare, but hopefully, this was one of those cases.
9. If you’re feeling disappointed in the human race, this last story should provide some relief.
“My aunt is a nurse in the maternity ward,” wrote Beachy5313. “She had a couple come in; they were both very black. The lady has the baby, and it is [extremely] white, like, totally pale, with no trace of any pigment.”
You probably think that you know where this one is going, but think again.
“They put the baby on her mom and the mom starts yelling about how this isn’t her baby, and how they stole her baby,” Beachy5313 continued. “In all fairness, you can be very confused during and after delivery, so it wasn’t stupidity. [She was] just sobbing and freaking out, and the father is just sitting there and looks very confused because he’s realizing that even if she did cheat, there is no way the baby would be that white. The doctor and nurses are trying to assure her that this is her baby, and that the skin usually darkens later.”
“Come to find out, when the father called his mom, she pointed out that they have a second cousin who is albino, and maybe baby got that gene. Turns out, that’s what happened; the baby was albino.”
That’s pretty much the best-case scenario for that unusual situation. Albinism, by the way, affects people of all races, and while it’s rare, one out of every 17,000 people has some form of albinism. While it’s a lifelong condition with several health implications, it usually doesn’t affect lifespan.
It can, however, make for awkward conversations in the delivery room.
10. Several of the stories came from children with complicated histories.
“Oh boy, I’m the illegitimate baby in this one!” wrote RikaBaF27. “Apparently, my mom and ‘dad’ were on a break, so she had a one-night-stand with a dude she just met at a party. Later, she tells my ‘dad’ that she’s pregnant with his kid, so they get back together so he can support her.”
“I was born pretty dark because my biological dad was very, very Native American. The nurses made comments about me being a dark baby, but I guess ‘dad’ attributed it to the bit of Native in my mom, even though she’s very pale skinned.”
“Anyway, this being Oklahoma, of course my ‘dad’ marries her to do the right thing. I was adopted by him after the wedding at about 10 months old. A month later, my brother was born—definitely my dad’s kid—and not long after that, they had a fight, and she drops the revelation on him that I wasn’t his.”
“No idea why it wasn’t more obvious, or [maybe] was he in denial. Both my ‘brothers’ are redheaded, light eyed, and pale skinned with freckles. I popped out the womb with dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes, and no freckles. Even the nurses were like, ‘What a cute Indian (Native American) baby!’”
“But during the divorce (after he had known the truth for a few years), he fought for me along with my brothers and eventually got custody of all of us. He planned on never telling me, but eventually my mom’s loud-mouthed, complete piece of [trash] sister decided to let me know during an argument.
“That was probably the first time I really saw my dad cry. He’s had periods of not being the best dad, but overall, I ended up getting all my most defining traits from him: his commitment to [making decisions], his maniac work ethic—which was how he showed love—and his strength to keep moving forward despite constantly getting [screwed] by any woman he trusts. I think he’s done looking for love. It makes me sad because he really deserves it. Maybe if my mom had been a better person, he would have had a chance at that.”
11. Unfortunately, some situations aren’t as easy to resolve.
“I know a girl who was pregnant with her boyfriend’s best friend’s baby,” wrote one Reddit user. “He found out there was a possibility about a week before she gave birth. I went up to see her once he was born, and [the baby] looked just like the friend. There was no question. I broke the news to her boyfriend, and he was absolutely devastated.”
“His parents were heartbroken and super pissed. They had bought the girl everything she needed, including a $500 car seat/stroller set. She refused to give anything back. She started up a relationship with the friend immediately after having their child, and they’re still together a decade later. But the kicker for me has always been that the boyfriend and best friend were next-door neighbors.”
“She moved into his house after coming home from the hospital. So her ex-boyfriend and his family had to see them basically every day, raising this child that they had believed to be his for the entire pregnancy. I can’t even imagine.”
In a later comment, the Reddit user clarified that the parents did a DNA test shortly after the baby was born, so there wasn’t any question as to whether the “best friend” was the father.
12. In some cases, the baby realizes what’s wrong before the doctors.
So, we cheated. This one doesn’t happen in the delivery room—nor the same decade as the birth.
“I’m a [surgical] nurse,” wrote andybent25. “I had an older male patient who was in for anemia with critically low hemoglobin levels, receiving a few units of blood.”
“I’d been taking care of him the last couple of days, and his daughter was visiting at the time with the patient’s wife and him. We had to do our two-nurse identification process for the blood, where we go over the name, ID numbers, and blood type for confirmation before hanging it on the patient.”
If you’re paying attention to the other stories in this article, you know where this is headed.
“When we were going through it, the daughter stops us and asks us what blood type we’d just said. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but I told her again, and she got really concerned we may be hanging the wrong blood.”
“She said that couldn’t be right, because she was an anatomy professor, and there was no way the crossmatch could be right. She was AB, and she knew her mom had blood type A, so her dad couldn’t possibly be A.”
“I didn’t think much of it and went back to the doctor to ask him for another crossmatch. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, she might not be his daughter, then.’ We ordered another crossmatch, and sure enough, it came back as an A blood type.”
“She just sat in the corner really quiet [for] the rest of the day with a really sad look on her face. Her mom and dad didn’t really get what was going on, but I know [the mother] had some idea.”
13. When the story involves teenagers, you know it’s going to be rough.
“My (ex) girlfriend delivered a baby while I was in the delivery room, and turns out it wasn’t mine,” wrote Nope_Thats_Not_Me.
“She was 16, I was 15. All along, I was under the impression that this kid was mine, and [it was] time to be an adult. I took all the classes, read the books, worked every night [and] weekend to save whatever money I could as a 15-year-old.”
“I finally get the call she is in labor, so I have somebody rush me to the ER. Luckily for her, it wasn’t a long labor—only about six hours—but there was a complication: The baby came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. The doctor assured us it was going to be okay, but the nurses were prepping for things to go South.”
“The baby comes out, it’s a light shade of purple, and the nurses immediately take the baby and put on the smallest mask you have ever seen (to help it get oxygen, I guess). I was too panicked to ask a lot of questions. They [say] they need to keep the baby on watch overnight, so I stay in the room with the ex.”
“The next evening, baby is back in the room with us, and all seems well. The ex is asleep, and the same nurse from the night before comes into the room and beckons me out.”
“She states that, at risk of her losing her job, she has to break some harsh news to me; that kid is not mine.”
“She said that while it wasn’t obvious at this stage, over the next few weeks, it would become clear this kid was mixed [race]. Since both of us were white, it was a high probability that it wasn’t mine.”
“Queue a mixed bag of emotions. [I promptly woke] the ex to get a little clarification. Come to find out, she knew the chances, and was just hoping it was mine because it worked better for her.”
“Apparently, her father was old-school racist, and she didn’t want to have to deal with that. I left the hospital to collect my thoughts, and a few weeks later, I was served with child support papers. One DNA test and about six weeks later, I am 0.0 percent that kid’s father.”
“Wherever that nurse is now, I hope your life is amazing. I understand that you were not supposed to get involved in the personal side of things and keep it professional, but you saved me a lot of additional headache.”
14. Sometimes, these stories actually turn out alright.
“A friend of mine has a good one,” wrote notmebutmyroommate—we’re guessing this is about her roommate, but we can’t be sure.
“[The] dad passed out during the delivery, and when he came to, the nurse handed him a baby girl that was several shades darker than him or his wife. The baby was also apparently conceived under such circumstances that he knew he was the father.”
“So this guy was walking around delivery trying to figure out who’s baby he had. He was popping his head into random rooms, asking if anyone had misplaced a baby. This continues until he ran into his great grandma, who proclaimed that baby girl is the spitting image of her late husband.”
“No one has ever told him that his [great] grandpa was black.”
While a baby’s complexion often matches that of one or both of their parents, this isn’t always the case. As The Daily Mail notes, “it is possible, though fairly infrequent, that dark-skinned parents give birth to a pale-skinned child, or vice versa, if their own parents or grandparents [have a different skin color].”
In other words—and we probably don’t have to say this—don’t assume that skin color is a telltale sign of an infant’s parentage.