(NEW YORK) — In what may be a first anywhere, a “Who’s Your Daddy” truck is cruising New York City selling DNA tests to people who want to confirm their child’s paternity or even whether their parents are biologically related to them.
The brown and white RV, which is bedecked in eye-catching signs advertising its services, is more than just a moving billboard, according to driver and operator Jared Rosenthal. “The RV is set up to be a drug testing clinic and a DNA testing clinic,” he told ABC News. “It’s essentially a mobile office so while we’re working people will walk up and ask questions and sometimes even take a test right on board.”
Rosenthal, who works at mobile and clinic based testing company Health Street, came up with the idea for the truck himself. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said. “I couldn’t afford to rent an office, so I thought, we can convert the RV to a mobile office. People love the artwork — it makes them smile and they share it with their friends on social media and get in touch with people who maybe do need DNA tests.”
But it’s not all smiles aboard the Who’s Your Daddy Truck, which often plays host to the full spectrum of human emotions. “DNA really gets at a person’s identity, it gets to the core of their identity, who your parents are, who your children are, how you define yourself ethnically and culturally.” Rosenthal said, “The RV is a little more intimate than a clinic, clients tend to talk more. They tell us things, we experience some of these life-changing moments with them.”
Rosenthal brought up the story of one woman in her early 20s who came in for a test, only to find out that the people she believed to be her father and her three half-sisters was not related to her at all. In fact, the test revealed she was from an entirely different ethnic background. “When she found out her father wasn’t her biological father it totally rocked her identity to the core,” he said.
He recounted meeting an 18-year-old woman from another state who had contacted the man she believed to be her father living in New York. A DNA test at the truck proved it was true, bringing a broken family back together. “He began to form a relationship with this woman and it was great.” Rosenthal said. “They lost 18 years but they found each other.”
Drama aside, Rosenthal insists that the truck is much more than a mobile Maury (paternity testing is a common topic associated with the talk show hosted by Maury Povich), providing a service that is “very approachable, very accessible, and very available to the community.”
The DNA, drug, and alcohol tests, which range in price from $79 to $599 are available at the truck or at local health street clinics. Although based in New York, the organization has partnered with out-of-state clinics and the U.S. Consulate to provide testing in the event that one or more of the parties may live out of the state or country.
For more information on the Who’s Your Daddy Truck and Health Street visit their website.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Josh Friesen, Idaho State Journal
Magdala Louissaint, KPVI
Jamiel Lynch and Debra Goldschmidt, CNN