Dannielynn, meet your daddy --Larry Birkhead.
“I hate to be the one that told you this,” Birkhead began, while addressing the media waiting outside a Bahamas courtroom yesterday, “but I told you so.”
“I’m just happy to be starting a life with my daughter,” Birkhead added noting the DNA test proved he was the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby Dannielynn within 99.9 percent.
Birkhead and Smith’s companion Howard K. Stern both claimed to be the father of the child.
A hearing is scheduled for Friday at which a judge is expected to discuss who will raise 7-month-old Dannielynn. Howard K. Stern, who has been caring for the baby since Smith’s sudden death in February, said Tuesday he wouldn’t fight for custody, but a lawyer for Smith’s mother, Virgie Arthur, indicated she might.Separately, a hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in the Bahamian Coroner’s Court to check the status of an appeal filed by Stern that stalled the inquest into the death of Smith’s 20-year-old son, Daniel.
Birkhead said today he did not want another legal fight.
“We might go from one fight to another, but I’m hoping that’s not the case because, you know, there’s only one dad, and I have no problem with anyone that has good intentions being allowed to visit the baby and see the baby and be a part of the baby’s life,” he told NBC’s “Today” show from the Bahamas.
Birkhead said, however, he has no intentions of sharing custody of the child.
“It would imply that I’m unfit as a parent, which I’m not,” the Los Angeles photographer said. “I’m looking forward to giving Dannielynn everything that she needs and all the love and support.”
Stern said Tuesday he loved the baby despite the DNA results and would support Birkhead.
“I just want to say that I’m obviously very disappointed, but my feelings for Dannielynn have not changed.” Stern said after leaving the courtroom. “I’m not gonna fight Larry Birkhead for custody ? I’m gonna do whatever I can to make sure he gets sole custody. As far as I’m concerned Larry can come over to the house and spend as much time with her as he wants.”
Photo: Howard leaves the coutroom (AP)
Stern said he wanted the transition between himself and Birkhead to happen gradually so as not to stress the seven month old more than necessary. While it appeared as if Stern was prepared to give up custody of the child, the lawyer said he would not be leaving the Bahamas to return to live in the United States.
?I?m gonna stay in the Bahamas regardless,? Stern said. ?I?m not gonna leave Anna or Daniel here alone. I wouldn?t do that.?
The third party in the paternity case, Anna Nicole?s mother Virgie Arthur also spoke with reporters following the hearing.
?I?m too excited,? she said through a smile. ?All I care about and all I?ve ever cared about is the safety and well being of my granddaughter Dannielynn. I look forward to working with Larry raising my granddaughter and do what?s best for her.?
Meanwhile, back in California, attorney Debra Opri, who fought on behalf of the photographer over baby Dannielynn released a statement in support of her former client.
“I am very excited and happy for both Larry and Dannielynn today. I am very proud of him and our six month legal fight,” she said in the statement.
“Dannielynn is quite possibly the most adorable baby I have ever seen. My prayers and best wishes will forever be with Larry and Dannielynn as they travel down the road of life together,” she added.