DNA: Nemesis of Infidelity, Agony of Innocence

By Michael West

Unfolding dramas of paternity frauds seem to be endless. While we are still grappling with the Late Tunde  and Moyo Thomas’ issue, several others aresurfacing. It is becoming so scary that a reader told me on Tuesday that “Though I have no reason to doubt or suspect my wife but the fearful revelations coming out these days from different angles tend to make every woman a suspect.”

Short videos reeling out shocking revelations and confessions in which adults in their 30s were being told pointblank that they were actually fathered by men other than who they grew up to know as their ‘biological’ dads are stillgoing viral on social media. These unholy scenarios happened across races, colours, nations and tongues. The surprising thing is that Nigerians featured in one of such videos where a well-suited 30-something year-old Nigerian man who said his mother had called himon telephone earlier to say she has a confession to make regarding his paternity. He was shattered when his DNA result was announced that the man he knew as his father from birth was not his biological father. The stout,good looking dad in his 60s broke down into inconsolable tears on a television show. What a pain!

In another DNA live television show, a young woman of about 29 or 32 years old burst into tears when the DNA result showed that her dad from birth was not her biological dad. While consolidating her devastated and chubby daughter, her mom admitted knowing her “real” father when the show host asked if she knew who was responsible for her pregnancy. Surprisingly, she wasn’t remorseful about her action. The white mother in her late 50s had kept the secret till when her estranged husband has waxed too old to venture into baby making business. The old man wasseeing collapsing on the sofa where he was watching the oddity on the television. All these videos emanated from live television series in Europe and America.

In 2016, a Jamaicanbeheaded his wife, Karen Rainford, when he discovered through DNA test results that none of the six children was his. Karen, according to media reports, confessed to infidelity which produced the entire six children and begged for forgiveness. Maybe Mr. Rainford would have forgiven his promiscuous wife but when he remembered how she pestered and embarrassed him several times in public over the care and welfare of the children, he decided to judge the case in his own gruesome and fatal way by beheading his unfaithful wife.

Back home in Nigeria, the story may not be any different. A man died two years ago on account of discovering that his wife was not only cheating on him but told him pointedly during a brawl that “It is better for you to look for another woman that will give you children while you still have the strength to make babies.” She said so because “Latter day discovery that will shock you is under your roof.” He asked to know what his wife actually meant. One day, someone called to ask if his family wanted to relocate overseas because he saw his wife with the children at the embassy.  Confronting his wife over her visit to the embassy without his knowledge was the genesis of their separation. He later discovered that none of the four children was his. He couldn’t recover from the shock before his health condition worsened and he died five years later.

DNA test results have been a source of deep-seated hostilityand intense acrimonyin some large and polygamous families. Sometimes men of old knew when they were being cheated by their wives who gave them pregnancies that were not theirs. They feigned ignorance of the ‘smartness’ displayed by their women by playing along calmly in wisdom and maturity just to protect their name, status and public image. And,  also to avoid rancour in their homes during their lifetime. By so doing, they staved off controversy and scandal that could rubbish their public images. They usually bare their minds either in written documents or by the way they shared their estates. These are some of the reasons some wills are subjects of litigation in the courts of law.

I have read some scientific reports flying around on why some negative DNA results could be misleading.There’s also anotherexplanation on the possibility of how negative DNA results could not mean illegitimacy of the child whose paternity is under investigation.According to one of such scientific analyses, there’s a particular condition called “Chimerism.” It’s just one of those flukes of nature. This condition makes whoever thathas it to have two different sets of DNA in them. When a woman is pregnant with twins, if the twins are fraternal twins, i.e they were fertilized from two different eggs, sometimes, one of these embryo dies early in the womb and the surviving embryo then absorbs his or her twin’s cells, making the surviving twin to be born as a single baby carrying its own DNA and that of the twin that didn’t survive.

The pregnant woman and her husband will never know that the single child born to them was actually a fraternal twin whose brother or sister didn’t survive but whose DNA and cells were absorbed by the surviving child. Such individuals are called “Chimeras.”

Now if such an individual grows up and has a child, it’s very possible that the child will not take his or her own DNA but that of the other twin that has been absorbed. So if a DNA test is done for the child born by a Chimera, it will turn negativewhereashe is the authentic parent! The Chimeras are not so common but they exist in their numbers, nonetheless. Who knows if a few of the cases shrouded in mystery are indeed those of Chimeras?

In response to last week’s column, some readers asked if I was telling men to just accept any child as theirs because I advised men against “chasing shadows” in their bid to ascertain the paternity of their children. My take on it is that we have just one life to live. We should not allow anything that can lead us to early grave to exist in our lives. I agree that adoption is a different matter entirely because it is consensual. On both cases cited above, the betrayed dads promised to remain the real dads to their children regardless of the DNA results. That’s the way to go. It was a decision and pronouncement made in tears and in resolute conviction butthatwas the best way to respond to such heart-breaking discoveries. However, there’s a way to identify innocent women whose children’s DNA results turn negative. That gist is available for those who find themselves in such dilemma.

On the final note, the decisions of adult children caught in the web of paternity quagmires are the most important and ultimate determinant. Thousands of DNA results cannot change the choices of grownups about who they accept as dads. This is where the consolation lies. Yoruba says “eniomosi lo bimo” literally means ‘the real parent is the person who is accorded a befitting burial in death.’ This has nothing to do with biological link or blood line. There are many great parents in our society who enjoy immense care in cash, kind, warmth and presence including diverse celebrations just for being foster parents to many great and grateful children. There’s more to life than DNA results.

Quote:“The decisions of the adult children caught in the web of paternity quagmires are the most important and ultimate determinant. Thousands of DNA results cannot change the choices of grownups about who they accept as dads. This is where the consolation lies.”

 West wrote via [email protected]  08059964446

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