Every year, on April 25, the UK celebrates National DNA Day, and recently it marked 63 years since scientists’ discovery of the double strand molecule called DNA that carries the genetic legacy of living things. Those findings have since paved the way for decades of DNA discoveries, and today, we can literally use DNA tests to tell us about all kinds of things, including the real parentage of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Earlier last month, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, 60, who’s also the most senior cleric in the worldwide Anglican Communion revealed that he’d received a shock of his life when he discovered that his biological father was not who he thought he was after the Archbishop’s DNA paternity test indicated that he was the son of Sir Winston Churchill’s last private secretary, the late Sir Anthony Montague Brown.
Archbishop Welby had believed his father to be whisky salesman, Gavin Welby who died in 1977. His mother, Lady Williams of Elvel, confirmed she’d had an affair with Sir Anthony just before she would be married to Welby in 1955. Apparently mouth swabs had been taken from the Archbishop to be compared with hair samples from the hairbrush kept by Sir Anthony’s widow and the result showed a 99.977% probability they were father and son.
How Paternity Testing Works
DNA paternity testing is the use of DNA profiling (known as genetic fingerprinting) to determine whether two individuals are biologically parent and child.
According to medical minds, you get half your genetic information from your mother and half from your father. To carry out a paternity test, scientists take a pinprick of blood from the child, the mother and the supposed father. Half the DNA fragments that make up a child’s genetic [STR] profiles come from the mother and half from the natural father. If the child’s genetic [STR] profile contains fragments that can’t be matched to the supposed father, he can be ruled out as the child’s natural father.
This science comes to Uganda in an era such as this where since the emancipation of women, recklessness and permissiveness has so increased in families that men neither trust their women nor the true paternity of the children they give birth to. This has since left only the DNA Test as the last resort for clarity. There are however many additional life circumstances that prompt people to get a DNA Test and here are some common reasons people go for their DNA Test:
To establish rights to an inheritance: Situations can arise in inheritance cases where unknown or known, but disputed, children of a dead father or mother can file a claim to an inheritance. To be absolutely certain whether the child (minor or adult) in question is an heir to the inheritance, having a legal DNA paternity test completed will clear up any doubts and ensure those who are entitled to an inheritance are treated fairly in the case.
To identify a biological vs. Adopted Parent: Sometimes children raised by adopted parents or were conceived through donor conception tend to have a desire to find and identify their “biological” father. Similar to cases where a married couple have divorced when a child is young and the child is raised by another man who may assume a father’s role, there is often a need, once the child grows up, to meet and have a relationship with their biological father. DNA paternity testing is important step in helping adult children discover their “real (biological)” fathers.
To establish ancestry: Some people want to trace their historical past and their link to certain family lines. In this case they can take a DNA sample from themselves and provided the other party is willing, take a DNA sample from them and identify common DNA traits.
To establish legal paternity & child support: Where a mother files a legal paternity case against a man for child support or where the presumed father files a legal case against the mother for custody or visitation rights – because the mother is denying him access to his child, it is important to identify the biological relationship between the man and child in question.
To obtain Life Insurance & Social Security Benefits: When a father is deceased and legal paternity has not been established or paternity is being questioned, life insurance and social security claims may require proof of a child’s paternity. In these types of cases, a doctor/nurse would be court ordered to obtain a DNA sample. The DNA sample would be given to a laboratory to conduct a legal paternity test. This would be 100% proof of his paternity and cannot be disputed by a court or the child’s mother.
To confirm sibling relationships: When two or more people believe that they may be siblings for example a brother or sister, a DNA paternity test on each sibling will determine if they indeed share a common father; but, this will not tell them who their father is. In order to confirm who the fathers of the siblings are, the presumed father must submit to a DNA paternity test.
True identical twins, however, do share the same father since they have identical genetic codes and come from the same egg.
For work purposes: Some people work in a high risk environment such as the military and wants to be able to identify their remains if the worst was to happen such as an explosion or fire, and only some small human remains are left. It can make identification of those remain easier. They can take a single genetic profile test which they take alone and save the results with family members or authorities.
DNA Testing Child Age Limit
There is no age limit or minimum age that a child can take a DNA test, as the process uses painless mouth swabs for the sample collection process.
It is also possible to conduct a DNA test on an unborn child, with a paternity DNA test being performed while pregnant, for example. However, doctors warn, with alternative methods being risky it is important that a non-invasive prenatal DNA test is chosen, in that the sample collection is conducted after 9 weeks of being pregnant.
Impact of DNA Testing
Although there is no age limit for the DNA testing of a child, it is important to consider that DNA testing results may have significant effects on a number of people including the child and their siblings. DNA testing should be conducted with the children’s best interests in mind. If a child can understand the issues involved, their opinion should be taken into account when deciding whether or not the test is in their best interests, during a child support DNA test, for example.
It may also be important to consider the impact of sibling DNA tests, where test results reveal whether or not two children are half or full siblings. What’s more, when considering DNA testing it is important to use a company with high quality service and standards.
If you do not wish to discuss the issues with a company before making the decision of whether or not you should take DNA test, then it may be useful to seek independent advice or counseling.