What is misattributed paternity
Misattributed paternity is a situation when a man is incorrectly assumed to be the genetic father of a child. This circumstance is typically a result of multiple sexual relationships, such as sexual exploration without a committed partnership, polygamous relationships, or extramarital affairs. Different to adoption or donor conception, often misattributed paternity is either unknown to anyone in the family or is kept as a shameful secret by everyone but the child.
Despite being a relatively common phenomenon (1-4% of all births in Western societies), many therapeutic professionals remain unaware of how to support those individuals who learn about their misattributed paternity and their families.
Hello, I am Alyona Cerfontyne, a professional therapist, counsellor and a person with misattributed paternity.
In 2017, I took a genealogical DNA test "just for fun". When the results came back, something that I always believed to be part of my ethnic identity was missing - I was not 25% Armenian from my paternal linage as I grew up believing. This led me to some extra digging and, after my brother took his DNA test, discovering my misattributed paternity. This discovery has forever changed my life.
Being a therapist, an educator and an academic, I conduct research on psychosocial consequences of misattributed paternity and how to support those affected by it. I also see clients with misattributed paternity, helping them navigate the challenges the discovery brought to them.