Man who wants to add father’s name to birth certificate hits road block

Investigates

For nearly a year, we’ve been following a local man’s quest to determine his paternity and get his biological father’s name on his birth certificate. This week, B.J. Olson hit another roadblock.

B.J. Olson’s mother Linda knew her son’s father was one of two men. A blood test ruled out one of them. Years later when the State of South Dakota tried to collect support and medical bills, a blood test also ruled out the other.

But questions surround the accuracy of that decades-old test because the hospital where it took place closed after a federal fraud investigation. New DNA tests show that man, Howard Jacobson, is Olson’s biological father.

Now, all Olson wants is to get Jacobson’s name on his birth certificate. That request went before a judge this week.

Olson’s crusade started with a DNA test on Ancestry.com.

Olson: Yes. For me, my dad was discovered and died in the same day, Olson said in June of 2019.

Howard Jacobson was a 99.9% match to Olson’s DNA, but Jacobson died a decade ago. Still, Olson wants Jacobson’s name on the blank line on this document.

South Dakota law says proceedings to establish paternity must be exercised before the age of 18. However, Olson was hopeful that a different state law would apply, which says that parents or a judge can name the father on a birth certificate when the mother is unmarried.

Minnehaha County Judge James Power agreed to hear Olson’s case. In court, Judge Power called it a “very unusual” situation. He told Olson that the 1997 civil court case filed by the state, where the test showed that Jacobson was not Olson’s father, must be corrected first.

“I don’t even know if it’s possible. I’ve never heard of this.”

Judge James Power, South Dakota Second Circuit Court

Olson lost his plea in court to officially name Jacobson as his father.

“I don’t get why something that is so simple and so easy, that science can prove without a doubt, can be so costly and take so long to do when I already have the results. Why do I have to fight so hard to correct somebody else’s mistake,” Olson said.

Olson vows to keep on fighting for the right to name his father based on modern DNA tests.

“The thing I learned from all this is that if you need something done, you’re going to have to do it yourself. And apparently I need to change some laws,” Olson said.

The attitude reflected in the t-shirt he wore to court, “There is no quit in my DNA.”

Olson says he’ll try to get a change in the law passed to account for new DNA testing this legislative session. In the meantime, he’s raising money if he has to continue to go through the courts for legal costs.

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