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Monday 8 July 2002

Counting my blessings

The news today was full of the story of a British couple who have been receiving IVF treatment for fertility. Recently there dreams and prayers were answered when the woman gave birth to twins. Unfortunately their happy event was somewhat marred by the fact that they were white and the twins were black. I can't imagine the heart stopping, world shattering pain they must have experienced when the happiest moment in their lives was ruined by the realisation that these were either not their children or not the man's children.
There are 2 possible errors, either the woman's eggs were fertilised by the wrong man's sperm or she was implanted with fertilised foetuses from complete strangers. What do you do? Do you love them like your own? Do you reject them out of hand and try again? Do the real parents have any rights?
But the deeper issue must be worrying the minds of the 22,000 couples per year who have received IVF treatment. In this case the mistake was obvious because the babies were a different race to the parents. How many times has this mistake occurred and not been noticed because there is no obvious difference?
I read somewhere recently that, as an experiment, a number of couples were chosen and their children DNA tested for comparison to the Father. In something like 25% of cases (figures of the top of my head so don't quote me on this) the children could not possibly have been fathered by the man they considered to be Daddy.
But if this information were to become known to the Father's in question, what would it achieve? There is something to be said for the old adage "Ignorance is bliss". If you believe something, don't question it. If you have a son or daughter and you believe that they are yours, do you really need a DNA test to confirm that.
In my case things are very clear cut. I know that I am not the biological Father of either Chloe or James. But I am James' Daddy by dint of the fact that I have brought him up since he was 3 months old. Chloe chose to, and asked me if she could, call me Daddy despite the fact that she has a Daddy who plays a regular (if not frequent) part in her life. And I couldn't love either of them more even if it was my genetic material that created them. People, friends who know the score and strangers who don't, say that they can see me in James. Not in his looks but in his mannerisms and character and that perhaps is our true inheritance from our parents.

July 8, 2002 11:58 PM | Stuff of Interest

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