Below Deck Sailing Yacht star Jean-Luc "J.L." Cerza-Lanaux has come forward to confirm he is the father of Dani Soares' baby
"As the year 2021 came to a close. A new year in 2022 begins with high ambitions and positivity. My silence on social media has been intentional and much needed. I used that time to focus on what was important to me and my mental health," he began. "I can't let 2022 go any further without sharing some beautiful news. An international DNA test that was done awhile ago was no small feat. I'm happy and proud to say Sweet and beautiful Lilly rose is my daughter."
Cerza-Lanaux, 26, went on to share that he and Soares, 33, have been learning to co-parent as best they can given their busy schedules.
"Dani and I have been working and communicating together to the best of our ability; given Dani is a full time mother and worker, and I being gone for extended periods of time not knowing when I will step back on land. This is imperative for the sake of our daughter as she needs both parents in her life," he explained.
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"With that being said, going forward, I will no longer feel the need to explain myself to anybody, when realizing people only understand from their level of perception," he continued. "I am thankful for my friends, and family who have stuck by my side through thick and thin. As I look forward to this new year with new opportunities, I will be striving to be the best man and father that I can be. God bless."
Following the birth of Lilly in May, rumors had been swirling that deckhand Cerza-Lanaux was the father, ever since a preview for the Bravo show's season 2 reunion showed Soares saying that her baby's father is keeping a distance from her and his offspring.
"He thinks it's not his child, he doesn't want to have anything to do with it," Soares said in a teaser for the episode back in June.
"I'm not going to badmouth anybody because my daughter is going to see everything that I'm saying, everything that I'm doing and I don't want her to see things going back and forth on social media or things being said in a moment of anger," Soares told PEOPLE at the time. "As I said, the door's always open, but you need to do more than just talk. You need to actually have some action, do some action."
"The father was part of it, I didn't make her alone," she added of her daughter. "So, if he wants to be part of her life obviously [he can]. But he needs to do more than talk."
At the time, Cerza-Lanaux tried to "clear the air" in an Instagram post, hitting back at Soares' reunion comments in the process.
"While others are off chasing their 15 minutes of fame, I am working on a yacht in Central America and heartbroken to have to hear about the baby's birth on social media and read headlines like 'Dani Soares Says Her Baby's Father Doesn't Want Anything to Do With It,' Cerza-Lanaux wrote. "All I can say is if she's mine, I want to be involved 100%."
"As someone who grew up with parents who weren't together, I wouldn't wish that on any child," he added. "Not looking for a pity party. Just want everyone to know how strongly I feel about this, especially the haters who are so sure I am neglecting my responsibility. No one wants to know more than me if this is my baby girl!"