His grief after supporting a ‘jacket’
BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, July 29, 2013
MEN who have been supporting ‘jackets’, and who find out the truth years after the deception, endure emotional distress tantamount to the grief experienced with the loss of a loved one.
Just ask 35-year old St Ann resident Carlos O’Meally, who said when he found out he had been supporting a boy for six years who was not biologically his, the pain hit like a tonne of bricks.
“I was devastated,” O’Meally confessed to All Woman. “Worse, the mother had been putting me through a lot of emotional stress because no matter what I did for the child, she said I was not doing enough, and so it was really hectic. You know when you are in a bad dream and then you wake up and realise that you were dreaming? That’s how I felt.”
O’Meally explained that while the child was not living with him, the fact that he grew up without a father made him ensure that he was there as much as possible for the boy.
“From he was born I was taking care of him. Regardless of his not living with me, I tried to be there for him physically when I could as long as I was not at work.
“I work in Kingston and live in St Ann, so when I could, I would bathe him, change him, put him to bed and all of that. Then when he got older I would take him from his home to mine and let him spend the weekends with me.”
But despite this, he said the child’s mother would still complain and demand more.
O’Meally said he found out the child was not his when he decided to get travel documents for him.
The issue of paternity had been raised by a close friend of the mother, and so he did a DNA test.
“The first time her friend asked if I was sure the child was mine was when he was a newborn. I told her yes, I had no doubt. Then when he was three, she again mentioned it,” he said.
The DNA test was done when the child was five, two years ago.
O’Meally has since explained the situation to the child and asked the mother to change his name and let the child know his real dad.
“I have gone and looked for him since, but in terms of responsibility I have ceased support,” he said.
Now O’Meally said that even if he was to get married, and is told by his wife that she is pregnant, he would get the child tested.
Marlene Pottinger Gyles, counselling psychologist, said for a man to learn that he has a ‘jacket’, the emotional distress is a blow to his ego.
“The first emotion that comes to mind is betrayal,” Pottinger Gyles said. “And out of that is anger. For many men it is really a blow to their ego. You have always felt that you have been in charge and no other man can take your place in the child’s life, so to speak, but then suddenly you find that you have been so wrong all this time.”
Pottinger Gyles said while each man will react differently, many still own up to the children they’ve raised for years.
“For some men, this is the child that has been their son or daughter and they have had a relationship and they will continue seeing the child as their own because they have always been the father figure,” she said.
“They have provided the financial support, the emotional support, and that kind of tie they really do not want to let go of.”
Psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj believes that paternity fraud is one of the best kept secrets among women. However, it is a secret that is becoming increasingly difficult to hide with the prominence of DNA testing as a requirement for certain procedures such as United States migration. This is mostly when much of what is hidden comes to light.
Chief forensic DNA analyst at local DNA centre Caribbean Genetics, Compton Beecher, confirmed in a previous All Woman story that a number of men in Jamaica were indeed supporting jackets.
“I couldn’t give you a percentage, but it is disturbingly high,” said Beecher when pressed to provide statistics.