A case of the Dreaded Lurgi hasn’t prevented me from reading the papers, as per usual.
As I was wiping snot off the monitor, I came across this article, describing the controversy about these ‘do it yourself’ DNA kits. It is not quite at the ‘do it yourself’ stage, but it is well within the reach of nearly everyone now to have a DNA test, and any questions parents might have about the paternity of their children can be solved.
It is rare that this is an issue, mostly done in the wake of marriage breakups. The fact that it can be done, however, does not mean that it should be done. An old and wise rhyme tells us, “Mother’s baby, Father’s Maybe…” and sometimes it really is better to not know, as Tony Abbott is finding out.
Consider this fellow:
John, from NSW, was one of Muir’s clients. In his case, the test showed he was the biological father of all of his children. He asks to remain anonymous, but explains why he wanted the test.
“My wife has had numerous affairs,” he says. “She admitted to one in particular [that] occurred about the time she fell pregnant with our first child. I love my children with everything I have. I am their father irrespective of who the biological father is. I am the one who loves them, cares for them and the one who would lay down my life without a split second’s hesitation to protect them.”
The question, then, is: Why have the test done?
John says he wanted it done for peace of mind; because of his right to know, the argument commonly advanced by men’s groups; for the wellbeing of his children, who might one day need the correct biological information to enable them to have a lifesaving transplant; and to ensure that the biological father lived up to his responsibilities.
“Every one of the men my wife had affairs with knew she was married. Every one chose not to practise safe sex. I cannot express my disgust at their actions. They made their choices and were going to live with the financial consequences of their actions, just as I have to live with the emotional consequences of their actions.”
Now, John here found that he was indeed the father of his kids. Lucky fellow. What, perchance, would have happened if he had found out otherwise? He says he would continue to be the father figure to his kids. But could he be sure his feelings for his kids would continue as before?
We do not know how old his kids are, but I suspect they are of an age that they would notice the difference in John’s attitudes. It may well have been an emotional trial for them that they really should never have had to endure. Their mother has clearly made some very bad choices (or not) but the kids shouldn’t be made to pay for it.
Infidelity is a killer in any relationship; precious few relationships can survive it. It is bad enough for kids to have their parents seperate without this sort of speculation; with 80% of the tests coming out as ‘positive’ (i.e, the father is actually the husband), it does not seem to be worth the immense stress it would cause to the parent child relationship if the test actually came out negative.
I’m not suggesting that this technology should be banned, or anything like that. There are cases, often involving adoption, but also in medical situations, where these tests are very helpful. However, I would suggest extreme caution should be exercised before taking this step. Sometimes, I would suggest, it really is better not to know.