Saturday, October 15, 2005

Paternity Fraud

Do you all remember Amber Frey?


The message therapist who was dating Scott Peterson, the guy convicted of murdering his wife and unborn child?

Sure, you know the one.

The "I'm shocked SHOCKED to learn that Scott Peterson is a married man while he's boinking me" Amber Frey. seems that little Amber Frey, the innocent little Modesto CA country girl-turned Fresno massage therapist who got innocently caught up in the web of deceit, love-triangles and MURDER had a little secret:
FRESNO, California (AP) -- The former mistress of convicted murderer Scott Peterson is back in the spotlight after a DNA test showed that her first child was not fathered by the man who was paying child support.
Anthony Flores, 29, has been paying Frey $175 a month for nearly four years, his attorney, Glenn Wilson, said Wednesday. The father of the 4-year-old girl is actually Fresno restaurant owner Christopher Funch, Wilson said.
Ok, now that I've had a bit of fun playing CNN, or Fox, or the NY Times for that matter. On to the real topic. Amber's misadventures as a fraudulent child-support collecting mom brought this bit of information regarding paternity fraud to my attention.

From "Knowledge is bliss"- Towards a society without paternity surprises, by Barry Pearson:
A good indication that [paternity fraud] exists is the disquiet about paternity tests! Those who criticise the availability of these tests do so because they have no doubt that a proportion of tests will bear bad tidings. Here are items from various sources, in various years, and in various countries. This material suggests that about 1 in 10 children have surprising paternity.
HOLY COW! Ten percent?! That's a big number. If this is true, there are literally millions of children walking around in the U.S. where the old joke, "everyone knows who there mother is but you're never sure who your father is" is no joke!

Wow. Maybe I'm naive about this. But it seems like a shockingly big number to me.

So what's to be done with this information? Should tests be given to prove paternity? Should children be told if it's found that the father they've known all their life is really not a biological father? These are very big questions that have to be answered by men and women ..... apparently a lot of men and women, whether they know it or not.

Pearson concludes in his survey of the studies on paternity fraud:
In the UK, across the Western world, and elsewhere too, a proportion of children born have a paternity that would be a surprise to the husband or male partner of the mother. This fact has shown up many times: in paternity tests for child support and other purposes, during diagnosis for genetic disorders, unexpected pregnancies during fertility treatment, research that involves sampling blood groups, unexpected results during tissue-typing, etc. A minority of women and men "play away" [only the British would put it that way], and sometimes the result is a child.

The proposition here is that this current generation should be the last generation in which a significant number of children are born that have a paternity that would be surprising to the husband or male partner. There is surely no doubt that this is a desirable objective. The claim here is that the means to achieve this now exist, and that what is now needed is to focus on achieving this objective, rather than allowing current problems of surprising paternity to continue into the next generation and so continue to hurt both children and their parents.
So Pearson advocates DNA testing for all children and parents to verify paternity.

I have to agree. It may be delicate balance between the best interests of a child and protecting a father's rights. The issue, particularly when discussing older children where this information comes to light, can appear to be and either/or proposition with few winners. Either we protect the child's relationship with their father, or we protect a father's right to know who his children really are.

Without getting too detailed arguing opposing points of view, let me propose this. I contend that it's not an either/or issue. I think it's in the best interest of children and both parents to know the true paternity. The fact is that secrets will kill the health of a family. And I'm not talking about needing to know the genetic material from which a child comes for medical reasons.

People deluded themselves into thinking that important familial information can be "kept from", fill in the blank, and it's harmless. But the truth is that information shapes and changes how people interact. If you know something that is of importance to me that I don't know, how you interact with me will be changed. And inevitably, my responses to you will be different vs. my reactions to you with the secret information in my knowledge.

Play this out over the lifetime of a child growing up in a family with a secret that large and you have a disaster that will follow that kid the rest of their lives. And note that I'm not even talking about the effect of paternity fraud/secrecy on the relationship of the adults involved. Their secret knowledge inevitably helps shape their relationships, changing them forever as well.

Surely eliminating dynamite secrets is a very tough daunting task. And in the most delicate of situations, I would not recommend disclosure without professional help and counsel. But if parents really care about the health of their family, they will take on that chore willingly if paternity is in doubt. Usually through the pain emerges a family that is much stronger and grounded in truth.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Counters
Site Counter
eXTReMe Tracker