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DNA Testing May Lead to Surprises


Many people in Tennessee have been giving and receiving paternity tests as gifts. This has led to new discoveries about family relationships. CNBC estimates that anywhere from 0.8% to 30% of the time, men identified as the father of a child are not the biological father.

The natural assumption in these scenarios is that women tricked men into thinking they were the father when they were not. However, this is not always the case. In a significant portion of these instances, couples faced fertility issues, resulting in a male donor being the biological father.

More people are discovering this because of the prevalence of DNA tests. Not only do these tests help people to pinpoint their racial heritage but they also help them to identify close relatives. This is when many children discover that they are not as closely related to each other or their parents as they at first thought.

Most people say they were happy to learn the truth but it did lead to difficult discussions with parents. When the parents already passed, children are often left trying to make sense of a family secret. Some then focus their energies on connecting with other half-siblings potentially fathered by the same donor.

One of the ethical concerns these discoveries raise is anonymity for donors. Donors may now find that children they never knew existed may try to reach out to them and connect after another family member — sometimes the children they raised — decide to take a DNA test. While some may be open to this, for others, it could become intrusive. Experts believe it may be difficult to find a solution that suits all parties.

CNN adds that in cases where a child’s biological paternity is in question, parents may decide to do DNA testing to uncover the truth. Sometimes parents are happy to receive confirmation that the father raising the children is also the biological parent. In other instances, fathers may learn that they were tricked into raising children that were not biologically their own.

When this happens, it often puts children at a disadvantage as they may lose the emotional and even financial support of a father. This can have lasting negative effects, especially if they never reconnect with their biological fathers.