Raffling babies like fish fry tickets

I had an encounter with a gentleman the other day. He had been told that he was the father of a child by a woman he had a brief relationship with. Scared, but also ecstatic, he started offering monetary support while the woman was pregnant. But it's been months since the baby was born and he's yet to see the infant, and the mother has told him that, even though the baby is his, he has no money and so she has "given" the child to another man who's better able to support her and the baby.

He's broken-hearted and has no clue about the next steps to take. The mom has stopped taking his measly $5,000 per week, has blocked his number, and told him to move on.

This man's story isn't unique; in fact, as far back as many of us can remember, Jamaican women have been raffling babies like fish fry tickets. The ones who don't really know the fathers, or even the ones that do, will give the babies to the men who are wealthier, look more like the babies, have a better standard of life to offer, or who are their main men at the time. This is unfair to the actual fathers, some of whom aren't even made aware of the deception until years down the line when their spawn seeks to connect the dots to their heritage.

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How heartless is it for a woman to deny a man and his child knowledge of each other. How heartless to put a man in that position of hope, of knowing that he has sired a child, his heir, and then tell him to go on and live his life, not knowing what will happen to his child. There are indeed men who want to be fathers and who want to be in their children's lives, and that choice should not be left up to an opportunistic mother alone.

Until we take away that power from women who believe that because they're the incubators of the babies they have 100 per cent right to them, things will never get better. It takes two to make a baby and whoever the actual father of the child is, that man should be given first dibs on raising his child. He shouldn't have to go through legal and other hoops to enjoy what is his right.

Jevaughnie Smith is a second-year communications student. Send feedback to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

JEVAUGHNIE SMITH

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