Hidden Paternity
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Hidden Paternity

Hidden paternity, also called false paternity, is defined as a break in one's male ancestral lineage in which a person believed to the father of a particular individual is not the biological father.

As of May 4, 2010, we had exactly 100 members in our Culpepper DNA project. The test results for 78% of  them match the general DNA signature of each other, and each of these individuals is now confirmed to be a descendant of the American progenitor, Henry Culpepper of Lower Norfolk, VA. Another 15% of our project members have matched one or more other Culpeppers, but they are not genetic descendants of Henry Culpepper. The remaining 7%, whose DNA is unmatched, had previously been believed to be descendants of Henry or of one of his ancestors. Thus, these project members have hidden paternity, and it probably occurred many generations in the past.

Hidden paternity can occur due to an individual's or ancestor's:

  1. Mother dying in childbirth and her baby given to a family, preferably where another mother had given birth and had 'natural' food available for both;

  2. Assuming the surname of a step-father without a legal adoption (the preceding reason is a specific example of this general circumstance);

  3. Legal adoption, the records for which have either been hidden or lost;

  4. Other instances of an intentional, but now hidden, name change;

  5. Conception while the mother is unmarried, and then prior to the birth of her child, the mother marries a different man.  In some instances, without DNA testing, no one may know who the real father is;

  6. Conception as a result of an illicit affair, and generally the father who raises the child is unaware that he is not the biological father;

  7. Conception out-of-wedlock and being given the mother's surname;

  8. Conception as a result of rape;

  9. Conception by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization; or

  10. Being switched with another baby at the hospital.


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Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015

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