October 22, 2023

How common are ‘surrogate’ fathers?

How common are ‘surrogate’ fathers?

By Bunmi Sofola

I was recently in the office of an old schoolmate when the arrival of a girlfriend of his was announced by his secretary. “Let her come in,” he instructed. Akin and I briefly worked together a few decades back.

He’d done fantastically well for himself since he graduated and we’d remained good friends over the years.

When his visitor was shown in, she looked in her mid-thirties and was a bit embarrassed to find me in the office. After a decent interval, Akin reached into a drawer of his desk and passed a bulging manila envelope to the woman. A tall very pretty lady with glowing skin, she thanked her obvious ‘benefactor’ with a kiss and a hug, slipping a slim envelope on his desk as she left, I was curious.

Akin extracted two photographs from the envelope, looked at them interestingly for a while, then passed them to me with an  arrogant smirk, they were photographs of a very cute infant. “My son,” he informed me proudly. I didn’t know what to make of this revelation.

I knew Akin’s wife, was aware he had been married for almost 20 years and had three lovely children. Had he fallen into the trap of the second wife syndrome?

“Not a chance,” he laughed. Iyabo (his lady friend) is married. He told me she was married for over five years without getting pregnant.

“When her husband and in-laws became too anxious about her childlessness, she came crying to me,” he continued with his interesting story.

“She is an old girlfriend, you see. When she was getting married, I encouraged it – I told her I wasn’t a two-wives material and I supported her financially through all the ceremonies of the marriage.

She did have a few ‘accidents’ when we were together, so I knew she was fertile. In spite of that, I supported her when she had fertility investigation and the gynaecologist said she was ok. It was then the husband’s turn to be tested but Iyabo told the gynaecologist she would rather the husband didn’t know about the investigation as she didn’t want to make him feel inadequate. So the gynaecologist arranged for her to come to his clinic any time they both had daytime sex so her husband’s sperm-count could be checked for potency.

It was when his sperm was examined that it was discovered his sperm count was very low. Iyabo confessed she suspected that could be the problem when she didn’t get pregnant before and after they got married. If she did involve her husband in any investigation, springing a pregnancy on him could be very risky. It was then it dawned on me that she wanted me to father her child. In other words, she did plan everything long before she sought my consent.

“The husband is a very decent man with a good job. He loves Iyabo and she couldn’t have settled for a more considerate man. I wrestled with my conscience for weeks. In the end, I relented. If I couldn’t marry her after all she had meant to me, I would do the next best thing. Luckily, her husband is dark just like me and look at the wonderful son they now have! The man was over the moon when the baby arrived, and their marriage is rock solid. With her in-laws off her back, she can concentrate on building a strong home.”

And the money he slipped her, was it conscience money? “Don’t be silly,” he scoffed, “I give her financial support from time to time – just as I did before she got married. I am sure a lot of you girls go back to your exes to touch them for cash whenever you are short! In spite of the so-called financial independence of most women, a lot of them are not as independent as to leave an infertile husband and embrace motherhood alone. I learnt some men, knowing they are infertile, have encouraged their wives to play the field with the hope of their getting pregnant and a few wives who went abroad to be artificially inseminated with donor sperms have ended up producing as quirky a result as mulatto children!”

Not too long ago, some well known names were publicly linked with paternity disputes. With reckless dimensions sex is hurtling, no man can really beat his chest that all his children are his. “And have you noticed that some of these hybrid children actually have a striking resemblance to their supposed dads?” sneered Jade, a close friend when a few of us had our usual chinwags in her house. We’d called to wish her a happy birthday she refused to celebrate because her 15- year-old daughter just flunked her mock exams and might not be recommended for the WAEC, she explained:

“Take my uncle Billy for instance. We had a family get-together recently and he brought his nine-year-old son. The old man is in his mid70s and the wife, his third. He only had a child to his name from a fling he had in his school days, and with all the gang-rapes going on in their days, only heavens know who that one’s real dad was! Anyway, he came with his wife and new son and it was as if the little boy was a crown jewel! My uncle followed him all over the place, confessing he was so attached to the boy that, God forbid the boy should peg off before him – he would simply commit suicide!

In the mean time, the boyfriend whom his loving wife had had for ages, had been telling anyone who cared to listen that but for him, my uncle wouldn’t have had an heir as the first child, now married is a female. What could the family do about this embarrassment? Nothing. All you have to do is compare the boy’s looks with the braggart and see a striking resemblance. My uncle’s saving grace is that he is fair too, but not as chubby cheeked as his so-called son.”