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Men not ready for paternity test grief

The Age, Australia, By Karen Kissane, May 20, 2006

MANY men who believe that paternity testing is their "right" and the best way to find out "the truth" are unprepared for the intense grief they feel when they discover a child is not biologically theirs, according to research.

They were devastated and did not foresee that the test might lead to the ending of their relationship with the child. One father, who had the testing done secretly, said: "The results ruined my life when my ex-wife then ordered the child never to call me 'Dad' again. And worse still, she is never allowed to see me again I still think of her as my daughter."

For most men who had sought the testing themselves, however, a negative result meant they felt they now had no financial responsibility for the child and were no longer fathers in any sense at all. While they often felt deep loss about a final separation from the child, "they were all adamant about the value of paternity testing".

The study, Paternity Testing and the Biological Determination of Fatherhood, is by Dr Lyn Turney of the Australian Centre for Emerging Technologies and Society at Swinburne University. It is published in the Journal of Family Studies.

Dr Turney interviewed 64 people about their experiences. Some had been tested, others planned to be.

Dr Turney reports that many who discovered that they were not fathers were so angry that they could not talk openly with their former partner or have a relationship with the child.

Dr Turney told The Age, "There are some men who can't disconnect their anger about the mother's deception and infidelity from their feelings for the child. The hurt is focused on the fact that 'this child is the result of something my wife or partner has done to me'."

Some who had been absolved of responsibility for an unplanned pregnancy by a mother who never told them about it were upset when they discovered it years later. One man said: "I was sad because I'd missed out on my son's life. And angry because it felt like, you know, something had been kept from me."