I met my Dad for the first time at twenty-three. It is probably the most profound & surreal moment of my life. I always knew one day I would meet him. Growing up I had seen photos of him & we looked very similar. Mum would also tell me I had similar traits to him. I reached out to him three times via letter & email & finally a linkedin message. I wasn’t giving up.. Finally he replied to me & agreed to meet. I wanted to hear & understand his side of the story & also his relationship with my Mum. I also had general questions around health & family. Other than that didn’t really have much interest in getting to know him too well.. Clearly he didn’t have any interest in meeting me so my expectations were pretty low. I was honestly prepared for a twenty minute conversation with him. When we met we sat & chatted for hours & it was so easy.. Like catching up with an old friend. The next day he wrote me this really long email about a lot of things. Guilt. Sadness. Regret. How memories he had repressed were coming back. The first six months after we met we did have a weird secret relationship. His family didn’t know about me. He would come to see me in Sydney. Take me to dinners & buy me nice things. Basically threw guilt money at me. He’d go on work trips to Melbourne or Adelaide & pay for me to stay with him for a few days. It did mean we got to know each other & hang out. It was our time at last & we had a lot of catching up to do.. Long story short. My parents met in Seoul South Korea in the late eighties. They dated. My Mum fell pregnant. He didn’t want a kid. Doctors told my Mum she could never have kids so when she fell pregnant she wanted to keep it. This might have been her only chance to have a child you know. She came back to Sydney to have me. My Dad said he would come back for the birth but sadly never showed & basically hid away in South Korea. Back then email and the internet didn’t really exist so it was hard for my Mum to communicate with him. Mum had to move on & raised me alone. What happened to her was very traumatic & something like that changes you. She is a very strong woman. Mum worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade so I moved around a lot & I lived in six different countries by eighteen. I probably wouldn’t have had that opportunity had my dad stuck around. We didn’t have a conventional Mother Daughter relationship. I was parentified a bit. Treated more like a partner or more played the role of the parent. Mum & Daughter relationships are turbulent on their own I think. We are close in some ways but very distant in others. She is very independent which has made me very independent. The older I get the more I see her in me. My Dad has a new family.. A wife & two kids. He never told them about me.. That was until he called me one day telling me his daughter had found all our texts & email correspondence. She confronted him & then she also had to keep me a secret from the rest of the family until he told his wife.. That never happened! A few weeks later on a family holiday in Singapore his wife discovered my login on his computer. Obviously that didn’t go down too well. But I actually think it is kinda funny. Haha! He kinda deserved it & really should have been honest with her from the start. It’s a pattern with him. He tends to avoid problems. He can be a coward. No surprises there. Unfortunately his wife won’t let me have contact or meet their kids yet.. My half siblings.. Who are now fifteen & seventeen years old. When she first found out about me she sent me a very hurtful email telling me to stay away from their family. She is scared that I will break up their family. A few months after this I met her once.. But It was not a very nice interaction & very tense. My Dad wants me to meet his kids but I have to wait until they want to meet me. I know they will have their own natural curiosity & for now my Dad just gives me updates on what they are up to. It’s now been four & half years since I met my Dad. He lives in Brisbane so I don’t see him much but we chat about once a week. Our relationship is not ideal but at least I have one with him now. It is still honestly better than what I ever expected it to become.
Sophie is a passionate visual storyteller at her company in Zetland, The Story Mill.