By Gloria Ogunbadejo - Nigeria
A child's paternity has always been a topic of interest and many times of great contention in the African culture. In the western world if there is ever any doubt, a paternity test is the answer and the problem is solved. Within our culture, things are a little more complex than that. I have always been quite clear in my mind and unyielding about my position about a woman muddling or lying about the paternity of a child. I have always felt it cheats so many people and can lead to irreparable damage mostly in the life of the child. However, as I have gotten older and have had a taste of life's whip, I have mellowed somewhat, simply in the ability to have empathy that there are sometimes mitigating reasons for decisions to be made. Having said that from a moral point of view, it still feels very difficult a concept and in some cases it is unfathomable especially when it is just a deceit to cover up illicit activity. The letter I recently received from a reader is one of those complex situations when being judgemental feels inappropriate. What are your thoughts?
I feel odd writing you this letter but I have been reading your column for a few years and I think you are mature and responsible. Besides I enjoy the topics you write on. I have to implore you not to use my personal details. I don't mind if you share with your readers because I'm sure there are many people who are in the same situation.
I am in my fifties and I have been married for over twenty five years. I am a successful well-educated professional. I am married to an equally successful woman that I love very much. She is a few years younger than me but it's not a problem, we are well suited. We had been trying to have children for many years and had not been successful until five years ago when we were blessed with a beautiful daughter. We were so happy and felt blessed. I had a medical condition diagnosed two years ago which was challenging but we managed to get it under control. During the process of treatment it was discovered that I had a problem and it meant I won't be able to father children. I was devastated but worse than that my daughter's paternity was called into question. I did not say anything to my wife. I just prayed on it and asked God to help me contain my feelings for the sake of my daughter. I love my daughter and I decided I would be the only father she will know. Obviously my wife will not want the truth to come out for her child's sake.
She is enjoying a good life with me and I know she won't want to give it up. I am not a young man and my marriage has been good. I am wondering if I should just let it go and enjoy my children. I feel very differently about things this second time and it has been affecting my feelings for her. Though I love the child because I love children, but I do not feel peaceful and she has even made some comments about my behaviour since the birth of the child.
I would like your advice on what to do. I feel I should confront her about the deceit, but still let her know that I accept the children. I am worried if I send her away she could threaten to take the children along, since they are not my biological children. I was thinking it might be better for me to try to have another relationship that is honest. It is so hard because she is a nice wife, I don't have any complaints other than the children. I am thinking she might have done it to protect my reputation since she knows how much I want children.
Please I need your support because I am feeling desperate. I am happy to come and see you for counselling but please don't expose me to the world.
Name and some details changed for confidentiality