Challenges and effects of paternity test on marriages
In the olden days, the issue of paternity test was not prevalent, not because married women did not engage in extra-marital affairs, they did, likewise married men. In short, some traditions and beliefs condone the practice of married women getting pregnant outside their matrimonial homes and bearing the children for their husbands without any qualms. This is especially when it is discovered that the man cannot father a child. Even when a man is strong and capable to father a child, modern societies are replete with the stories of children being reared by non-biological fathers, so, the idea of carrying out paternity test to ascertain the true biological father of children becomes a major issue in marriage. The psychological trauma is better imagined when husbands, through paternity test, discover that they are not the biological fathers of their children. This ugly development has ruined so many marriages and homes with its adverse consequences on the society at large.
Speaking to The Guardian, a gynaecologist and medical director, Optimal Specialist Hospitals Limited, Dr. Chukwunenye Ugochukwu said there are a number of medical centres now offering DNA studies and paternity tests in Nigeria.
“They are over 10 and the list is growing. Even though educated Nigerians have known DNA paternity tests for many decades, I think, the knowledge became more widespread and more acceptable following the publication of Chief Abiola’s will. Indeed, there are many narratives that have tended to support the importance of DNA paternity tests. The tests are very highly accurate when properly done.
“The cost of the tests varies based on the location of the facility, location of the parties and the number of children involved. The range is from N50,000 to N100,000 or more, depending on the number of children involved. Some charge N50,000 per extra child. Historically, before the advent of DNA studies, physical, attitudinal and haematological methods were used.
“The physical methods include family birth marks, skin colour, colour of the eyes etc. Attitudinal methods include behaviour patterns, speech, locomotion, food preferences, etc. Surviving family elders tend to rely more on this method. However, medical science relied on determination of the blood group and haemoglobin genotype of parties, prior to the advent of DNA studies. Apart from these methods, some rely on their religious beliefs and practices. They consult with seers, who tells them who the father of the child is,” he said.
‘For Being Unfaithful, I Won’t Divorce My Wife For Our Children Sake’
From Tina Todo, Calabar
Some Nigerians have strongly discouraged the use of DNA test to ascertain the paternity of their children, saying it has destroyed many homes and left the children traumatised.
They said it hurts to find out that a woman has been unfaithful to the husband, but DNA should not be an option, because of the children involved.
A father, Victor Odu, said: “I strongly discourage it because any man who finds out that he is not the real father of his children through paternity test will not be able to preserve his marriage thereafter.
“I will say, as a man it is painful, but I still discourage DNA test totally. I won’t recommend it for any family unless issues concerning the children’s health arise. Doctors can help families by not disclosing such information to the public because it could destroy families.
“I think it is unnecessary. If a woman is unfaithful and the husband gets to know, divorce should rather come in before babies should come into such marriage because immediately that happens, the children or child will have to suffer. The child that you have catered for and that child knows you to be his or her father would come to realise that you are not his biological father because of a DNA Test. I would rather encourage women and men to live according to their marriage vows.
“If you suspect your wife to be unfaithful, you must try to understand why and then deal with it without a third party.”
On what he would do if he found out he is not the father of his children, Odu said, “If I happen to find out that the children are not mine, I will let my wife know that this is what I have discovered, but I will keep my family intact at the same time having express my disappointment. If she does not let it out, I will not let the story out, unless if she decides to end the marriage on her own. But I will not divorce my wife for that reason for the sake of the children.
“We all make mistakes, if I can be forgiven by God for my mistakes, why can’t I also forgive her and just move on.”
A marriage counselor who is also a teacher, Mr. Fabian Odu, said lack of trust in marriage is one of the major reasons why DNA test is demanded to ascertain the paternity of the children.
“It is lack of trust that causes a man to demand for a DNA test on his children, but I can kindly advice that DNA should not be an option. After all, people do adopt children if they know biologically that they cannot have children. Man and woman met in life and they have united themselves as husband and wife, they should forget about finding out who is the paternal parent of their children.
“For instance, to start looking for the DNA of my child, that shows that I don’t believe I am the father of my children. That is if the woman has been living a promiscuous life and the man is suspicious of her infidelity. I have cases where husbands have suspected their wives of cheating on them with another man and some even have doubt of being the father of their children.
“If I have made up my mind to marry a lady and along the line there is a baby, I will just accept that child as mine and we can start from there. If the man is in doubt, he can learn from the fact that people do adopt children.”
A mother and a wife, Mrs. Uslar Ikpali condemned the idea of women having children without a father.
Describing them as desperadoes, she said: “I am a proud woman; I am a proud mother and a proud sister. The issue of having children outside wedlock is out of it, but in the society where we find ourselves, there are women that are not married but out of desperation go out of their way to get children just to be called a mother.
“Also I have seen women in this town who have, one, two, three children for different men and at the end of the day they hold on to these children to be the father and to be the mother. I know of a family in Calabar where this has happened. She has two children and by the time the children became adults, they started asking their mother of who their father was and the woman couldn’t stand it because she couldn’t come to terms with that question since she wasn’t expecting it. And the two of them were having different names.”
“So for me, it is not the best. Another syndrome has also come in where women who can’t have children now go into buying children where they don’t know where the pregnancy came from but because they have the money and because they want the world to see them as mothers,” she said.
‘Loneliness, Rape, Promiscuity Could Lead To Unwanted Children’
By Olayemi Ajibulu
Also speaking, Jolasanmi Mary who has been married for 32 years said that married women give birth to children with questionable paternity to their husbands because they want to give them children by all means.
“Some husbands don’t know that they are infertile but the wives know and they get pregnant outside to cover his weakness and in order not make him feel he is not manly enough.”
Jolasanmi furthered explained that some women indulge in the act because they are adulterous.
“ If one man cannot satisfy a woman and she continues to sleep with so many men then she wouldn’t know the father of her child. To Ahmed Joke, rape can bring about such a situation, where the victim will not know who was responsible for her child.
In her words “If a married woman, per adventure, became a victim of rape, she might be too ashamed to tell people or go to the hospital to seek medical help, she would then claim that the pregnancy belongs to the husband.”
A mother, Akadiri Florence was of the view that peer group influence and laziness on the wives’ part causes women to give birth to such children for their husbands. “Some women who have friends that practice such act easily get influenced especially when they are too lazy to make money for themselves. They engage in adultery with rich men to get money and have children through them.”
Mrs. Bolade Ologunode disclosed that loneliness and high sexual urge make women to give birth to children with questionable paternity to their husbands.
“Some couples live far away from each because of their works. This would bring about loneliness for the wife as a married woman. She might easily cheat on the husband and pass a baby on to him as his, if she gets pregnant through her affairs.
“It is very rare for husbands to satisfy wives with high sexual urge, so the wives most of the time end up cheating which might lead to problem like this.”
‘Women Are Becoming More Unfaithful In Marriage Than Men’
By Maria Diamond
Some women have disclosed why some married women go to the extent of having children with other men and make their husbands responsible for them unknowingly.
Mrs. Teni Aderibigbe, a mother of five, said there are a lot of unethical factors that contribute to women making their husbands father another man’s child/children, and irrespective how anyone sees, it is wrong, especially if the man is not aware of it and had to put in a lot of love and resources in raising such children.
“Some women are promiscuous and hide under the umbrella of being married to a man who is never around to satisfy their sexual desire. So, they go out, have sexual intercourse with other men and take in. They return to their husbands who unknowingly meet with them too and naturally assume the responsibility for the pregnancy.
“The alarming part is the fact that some of this ‘promiscuous’ married women don’t even know the exact person responsible for their pregnancy because of numerous sex partners they have.
Aderibigbe added that in some cases, the woman would know she has become pregnant, but because of societal stigma, she keeps quiet about it and her husband will assume responsibility.
“As far as I am concerned, all these narrow down to immorality and infidelity, which is fast becoming the order of the day in our society. More women now engage in infidelity business that used to be the men’s misdeed.
“People no longer marry for the right reasons that would guide and keep them within the sanctity of marriage.
“More so, I think our society is conflicted and couples no longer value the sanctity of marriage. But obviously, its implication on women is more damaging,” she said.
Oke Okpalefe, a single lady in her late twenties, revealed that financial instability sometimes contributes to why some women would go to the extent of having extra marital affairs to get money from the other man, which eventually results to pregnancy, and because Nigerian society and culture stigmatizes divorce, she makes the husband take responsibility unknowingly to him.
“I think we need to revisit our cultural rules and societal norms that mandate a woman to remain in an ‘unhealthy’ or failed marriage.
“Marriage is not supposed to be a do-or-die affair. It is a ‘union’ and if either of the party no longer feels good about the other, they should be allowed to go their separate ways and move on without being stigmatised,” she said.
Mrs. Tina Okwuchukwu said: “Some women are nymphomania with insatiable sexual urges, these kind of women have a sickness and are not supposed to get married at all, because no one-man can keep them satisfied.
“However, because we live in a society where if you reach a certain age and you’re not married, a war is waged against you by not just your society, but parents, family and friends.
“So some of these women with issues that ordinarily should be kept at bay from marriage pending when their issues are resolved, just run into it to hide, therefore perpetrating acts of infidelity which leads to random paternity of their offspring,” she said.
Apparently, for men, the issue of DNA paternity is a difficult, vital and detrimental one which plagues any family with its shortfalls, as Tajudeen Sadiq, a father of three said, if he finds out that he is not the father of his three children, he would literally murder his wife and face whatever consequence fate bestows on him.
“There are no two ways about it, no justification whatsoever, I will sap life out of her unless she manages to escape.
“To find out that the life I thought I had built through so much input and effort for the family, and even posterity after 16 years of marriage was never really mine? I will not survive it, not in this part of the world.
“Where will I start from again? Where will I put my face? How would I breathe again? There’s only one seemingly reasonable solution to me, it is either I commit suicide or murder,” he said.
Kachi Anadi, a father of two and married for 5 years said, he is not sure what his actions would be, should a DNA test prove he is not the biological father of his children, but it’s most likely to turn out bad, unless there is a divine intervention.
“However, if that actually happens, I hope that I can handle it with sane bravery that would not get me in trouble.
“It would be nice to be able to calm down, divorce the woman, walk away and move on, but, that kind of situation would naturally attract the ‘spirit’ of anger which usually results into casualties,” he said.
Mr. Adekunle Arowolo, a father of five who has been married for thirty-five years reveals that, the paternity of a child is not fathomed by a factor as simple as DNA test, as there is more to fatherhood than biological fluid.
“I have raised a thirty-four year old son who lives abroad with four younger siblings whom are all grown. Should a DNA test come out negative today, I would hurt, but most importantly I am old enough to know that fatherhood is not about whose specimen formed a child, but who actually raised the child” he said.
‘Women Lie About The Paternity Of Their Children To Cover Their Infidelity, Save Their Marriages’
By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
According to a psychologist, Dr. Raphael James, “a man can only detect that a child is not his by the behaviour of the mother of the child and not from the child, reason being that the innocent child may not have any behavioural partner that will single him or her out to a particular father. Even, if the man suspects, say based on the relationship with the wife or the mother of the child, he may not completely be convinced because a child will most likely exhibit the behaviours of the people in his/her immediate environment.
“Chances are the man will believe that the child is his because the child does most things like him, since kids do what they see more than what they are told to do.”
On what is responsible for a woman putting a man’s child on another, Dr. James said that there are several of them.
“The lady may be pregnant as of the time of getting married to Mr. A, meanwhile because she was dating Mr. B and was already pregnant, she may not want to disclose the pregnancy in order not to miss the opportunity of getting married. In another development, the lady may have had sex outside her matrimonial home and she took in but had to save her marriage by putting the child on her husband. We also have cases that out of love for an ex, she may want to retain his memory in her life, as such she gets pregnant for the ex and puts the child on the man at home.
“All the cases I gave are in situation where the man at home may not be aware of the whole situation. There are women who believe that because a guy is good looking and a celebrity, they may decide to have a baby with the man with the hope and belief that the child will grow up to be a super star. After all, it is assumed that it is garbage in, garbage out. The woman may also discover that the husband is impotent and may not want shame to befall him, so in order to protect her marriage and her home, she sneaks out and get a baby and brings the baby home. There may be a case of forced sex, like a rape situation in which the woman out of fear of being condemned may decide to keep it to herself and have the baby for the man of the house. Some men will know from day one and may play along to protect their names and others even do talk to their women to go out and do it and bring a baby home.”
He said that love of an ex, impotency, rape, catching fun outside the matrimonial home, extra-marital affairs are some factors responsible for such situation. On how a man should react when he finds out the true paternity of his child, Dr. James said that it will defiantly hurt any man, but from the psychological point of view, excitement kills, whether positive or negative.
“Most men may not get to know until at old age and at that point the best one can do is retain the love you have had on the child, knowing full well it’s not the child’s fault. If the child before then called the man father, he should remain a father to the child, even if he will sue for divorce from the wife, that way he lives long without crashing out of earth. It will be painful, in fact more painful and may lead to sudden death if the man rejects the child and the mother, starting life all over with memories of the old life may kill faster than any other aliment one can think of, but accepting it in good faith without pretense will give happiness, mostly if the man is sure he is not impotent. But then, if he is impotent then there is no need to make news out of it as it may backfire on him.”
He added that since it is not the fault of the child it is important to treat such children as they are biologically theirs or assume they have been adopted since adopted children are also given similar motherly and fatherly love and attention.
To Gbenga Bada, “As crazy as it sounds, I guess I will fall into a deep state of mental rebooting – if there is any word like that – after which I will brace up the incident and politely request the kids be taken back to their biological father. I won’t bother asking the reason for the action, but will most likely move out of town and relocate to another state or country and start afresh. Knowing my kind of person, I am sure it will take me several years to give another woman a chance let alone think about marriage because I doubt if I will ever get married again.”
Mrs. Opeoluwa Okulaja gave a number of reasons a woman would deny or lie about the paternity of her child. It could be to cover up her infidelity. The shame it would bring to her, her family and even the child that could be viewed as a bastard. In our culture, when there’s no child born in a marriage, who gets blamed – the woman, when she knows she’s not at fault and the man is refusing to go for tests, pressure mounts and she gets pregnant via another man. She would now claim it’s husband’s child.
Ndubuisi Okeafor said: “If I find out my kids are not mine, I will feel so pained, but I won’t kill anybody. It is just that life has taught me another lesson. While Julius Adih said that he will get to the root of the matter to find out if the problem is from him or otherwise.
Francis Denedo said, “I will still take the child, my wife can carry the guilt but the love for the child might wane if the child grows up to act strangely. Every family has a trace of semblance in their DNA – rascality, criminality, and madness among others. When kids exhibit certain types of attitudes, the father’s heart will always be broken and he would recall the act done before the kid grew up. It will also rub off on the mother, his wife. Forgiveness is one thing, but forgetting is another issue altogether.”
‘Efficacy Of Peaceful Conversation To Douse The Tension’
By Henry Ekemezie
Recent trends in sexual health, especially in Nigeria, revealed that unprotected sex and multiple partners are comparatively common occurrences with a large proportion of conceptions still unplanned.
However, the implications of paternity test are majorly disrupting relationships, homes, and marriages. Victims of this crime ‘father or child’, stand the risk of depression, and mental health problems.
Speaking Azuka Chukwuwike said: “It doesn’t seem like there are any good solutions to problems like this. On the one hand, a mother who lies about the father of her child is utterly reprehensible and people behave badly sometimes for an incredibly wide range of reasons. So for me, the real issue here is what laws to create, amend and repeal so we can prevent or settle these terrible situations as equitably as possible.
Benedict Chika said: “The best way to settle this is having a peaceful conversation with the woman on how to deal with the situation and also get to know the man responsible so as to come up with a conclusion on the child’s welfare. The child is the major victim in this matter.
According to Adebayo Ayeni, “Well first of all I will send my wife packing, although something like this will never happen between my wife and I. Technically, the real father of the child needs to be invited to talk about the matter, but I would also love to continue a fatherly relationship with the child.
Tosin Akintoye, self-employed said, “the only solution is to commence divorce proceedings, however, I won’t agree that Nigerian women are the most unfaithful. Our environment doesn’t give us that free hand and we are family oriented.”
Emeka Kanu, a clearing and forwarding agent said: “Most times, such issues could happen if the woman has multiple suitors or partners, she eventually gets pregnant and hooks it on the most viable propitious suitor.
“It could also occur when a woman might be tempted to explore if there is fault with her husband. In Nigeria, where every infertility issue is a woman’s fault, we can’t blame her much for her extensive research.”
Yomi Sanyaolu, self-employed also said: “There is nothing you can do. It is a cruel fact of life. We do not choose our parents, we are not aware of what goes on before we are born.
“I became a father to the child the day he/she was born, then I am the father biological or not. When a man decides he is going to love a child like his own. That is true love for that child and is also a cruel fact that a lot of men do not want to raise another man’s children, especially boys,” he said.
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