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17.04.2007 Feature Article


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The DNA test results are in but, they're not good: You're not the biological father!

A MODERN-DAY science can unearth families' long-buried secrets and deepens anger and mistrust. In Ghana, men's infidelity is somehow accepted as a 'social norm', whilst women's infidelity is seen as a taboo, with scornful stigma. The emergence of DNA test, which is instituted by the US government, is to prove one's fatherhood, motherhood or biological relationship.

The US Immigration and Naturalization Service(AKA: The Home Land Security Administration) uses genetic (DNA)test to verify the biological bonds between US citizens and their overseas relatives ,they want to bring to the States.

The DNA test is by far the fastest and easiest way to guarantee families' reunifications. Ghanaian immigrants, living in the US have no option than to benefit from this most reliable scientific method of assessing parenthood. Back home in Ghana, the thought of one's relatives being granted a visa to the US is celebrated like winning a Lottery Jack Pot. Usually, the festivities for the 'good news' start from Ghana and end when the recipient of the visa enters the US.

One of the agonizing consequences, of the DNA test is that the quest for these joyful reunions is likely to lead to “unearth unexpected and sometimes, unbearable families' secrets”, which are only known to the mothers. Can you imagine your sixteen year old daughter failing a DNA test in Ghana while you're still married to her mother? .The emotional rollercoaster gets more intense and complicated when the petitioner is a forty-something year old individual, trying to bring his or her 'father' to the states; for medical treatment. Assume the father failed the DNA test. Further assume that the two parents are still married and the news of the failed paternity test eventually gets to them. How will this son or daughter manage this issue as his or her only known “father” is proven illegitimate? What about the credibility of the mother of this unfortunate forty-something year old son or daughter?

The emotional toll on the parties involved far out weights the benefits of the families' reunification. It can surely tear apart families with deadly consequence. The effect of these fallouts in our part of the world can be very devastating. Mindful of the fact that counseling services in managing these emotional cases are non available and if they are, they are not accessible to the majority poor. A friend of mine went through such experience, five years ago, but he's still dealing with the fallouts. This friend petitioned for his two teenagers —a boy and a girl. He did his DNA test, so did his kids in Ghana .The test is nothing more than a Lab technician rubbing the inside cheek of his subject with a tiny swab of cotton. To make a long story short, the tests results came in the mail, and it was 99.9 percent positive for the boy and 99.9percent negative for the girl. What this means is that he was only the biological father to the boy. So he went ahead and brought the boy to the states. But, how does he break the 'bad news to this poor, innocent girl who has nothing to do with her mother's unfaithfulness and wrong permutation of fatherhood? For five years, he still does not know how to tell her the bad news. Thank God, he's not married to the mother.

This is an emerging social problem that the average Ghanaian does not know how to manage. The problem is even more complicated, bearing in mind the serious ripple effect on the Ghanaian migrants and their relatives left behind in Ghana.

May I bring to bear that while we glory over the billions of dollar remittances, we also sit down to map out how to deal with the emotional pain and trauma some few individuals are going through and how to mange those whose parenthood are yet to be marked ”failed”?. Maybe, (just maybe,) the US government can do something to ease up the pain a little, on both sides of the Atlantic, by providing psychological counseling to the individuals whose lives will be ruined by a DNA test results.

The Ghanaian is already bedeviled with poverty but has to live in a society which has an unending and perpetual quest for material things. The same society is characterized by low integrity, lack of genuine remorse and in some cases lack of the truth on issues. The negative impact of the DNA test is tearing families apart and it is likely, going to make things to fall apart. We're talking about the tendency to resolve to homicide or suicide as the possible option. I'm not sure if we are ready for that. So the question is: do you want the family unification or the unpredictable DNA test result? This is a question which is loaded with uncertainties and emotional trauma, but it is only you who can answer. I dey beg you, oo. Good Luck!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi .Email:[email protected]
New jersey, USA

The writer's a social commentator, chairman of Asuom youth club (AYC), and the founder of Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment, Educational and Apprenticeship Programs, for the Youth of Asuom, in the Kwaebibrim District.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi
Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, © 2007

The author has 206 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: KwakuAduGyamfi

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