NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — To his son and daughter, Antonio Davis is everything.
His daughter Antonia describes him this way: "By having him as my father, that's the best thing I could have, and I'm truly lucky to have him."
He says he wanted to be everything to another child too, a child that his ex-girlfriend told him she was pregnant with 18 years ago. Davis claims she immediately told him that he was the father, but he also realized she had lied about her age and was actually underage.
"I did sign the custody papers," Davis explains. "And I also thought the child was mine, but I was kinda force to sign the papers."
The mother left Nashville one month before the child was born, leaving Antonio searching for years. He paid his child support, but he always wanted to know for sure he was her dad. When he realized he had been deceived about his girlfriend's age, he was scared and never asked for the DNA test.
"Within 30 days, it was over and done with," Davis said after paying $500 last year for a DNA test. "I found out I was not the father of the child."
The problem: He had paid over $40,000 in child support.
"I was not relieved at all," he recalls of his emotions. "I was very, very, very hurt."
Davis still loves and cherishes his older daughter and son, but imagine chasing a child you wanted to love for 18 years, only to get a cruel surprise.
He says, "It was very, very hard looking for her all these years and then to find out I was not the father. It was a very big roller coaster I had to go up and down on."
Now Davis wonders what recourse he has. Yes, he can sue, but there's no guarantee he'll see any payback, and he's frustrated by a rule in Tennessee that limits how long a father has to ask for a DNA test.
His new passion is making sure others avoid what he calls the "paternity fraud he suffered for years."