What is it like having an unplanned child with someone you hardly know?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

When 40-year-old Emma swiped right on Tinder at work one night, she wasn’t expecting the first date to result in a baby, but it did. Once the initial shock of finding out she was pregnant had worn off, Emma found herself coming to terms with being bound to a stranger for the rest of her child’s life. She’s now co-parenting her 6-month-old daughter with a man she’s still getting to know.

In this episode of Insight, we hear from a number of women and men whose one night stand, fling or ‘friends with benefits’ hook-up accidentally resulted in parenthood. But is a ‘Tinder surprise’ baby just a modern label for an age-old issue that many face at some stage of their lives - an unplanned pregnancy?

While it’s undoubtedly a life-changing event for a woman, we also hear from men like Josh and Daniel who didn’t choose to be fathers and had to step in to the role much sooner than they’d hoped.

“[T]his is not in the plans. I'm not ready. I'm, you know, not prepared for this sort of thing,” says Josh of his initial reaction.

This Insight episode asks: what’s it like having an unplanned child with someone you hardly know?

Credits

Presenter: Jenny Brockie 

Producer: Alex Tarney 

Associate producer: Raveen Hunjan  

Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE:  Welcome everyone, good to have you with us tonight. Lucy, you found out you were pregnant at the beginning of this year. Where were you when you got that positive test result? 

LUCY:  I actually did the pregnancy test in the toilets at Central Station. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  In Sydney? 

LUCY:  In Sydney, yes, I was just finished a lunch with my sister and I had bought the test a couple of hours before, been putting it off and then I had a few hours to kill before I was going to work and I thought well, this is a great way to fill that time and so was in the, yeah, the main toilets at the Central Railway Station. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  On your own? 

LUCY:  On my own. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how did you react when you saw that it was positive? 

LUCY:  I - just complete shock.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Who did you think the father was? 

LUCY:  At that point a fellow that I'd been seeing for about six months and…

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you meet him? 

LUCY:  Through Tinder.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Was it a relationship yet or not? 

LUCY:  It was in every sense of the word other than he hated the term relationship.  But he had left in August, he moved over to the UK, so by that stage I'd sort of, you know, slowly come around to the reality that he was gone and tried to forge ahead regardless. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  But there was someone else? 

LUCY:  There was someone else, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And did you think it was possible he was the father as well? 

LUCY:  I think there was, there was a bit of a sort of like self - delusion, sort of trying to convince myself that it was better that the father was the fellow that I'd been exclusively seeing for six months as opposed to a fellow I'd been very casually seeing. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Who was this other guy, how did you meet him? 

LUCY:  Also Tinder.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you used contraception in the run up to this? 

LUCY:  I was always taking the oral contraceptive pill, condoms were used sporadically. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What were you thinking you'd do at that stage? 

LUCY:  At that stage I assumed that it was in the early stages and so straight away I was thinking of a termination. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And did you tell either of these guys at that early stage what was going on? 

LUCY:  I told my ex what had happened because at that stage my gut feeling was that he was the father and therefore had a right to know, I guess. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about the other guy, what about the more casual guy? 

LUCY:  Not until I was given my gestation period by the GP. So initially I thought it was the ex, the GP provided, gave me blood test to give me a gestation period to determine what sort of termination I would have.  Those blood tests told me I was eight weeks so that then switched from my ex to the casual fellow that I was seeing.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So, when you told the casual fling that you were pregnant, he reacted quite well?

LUCY:  Very well, he was really good, really supportive, he provided half the money, or half the quoted amount for the termination as well and offered, you know, a shoulder to lean on whenever, if ever I needed.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catrina, you met a guy on Tinder in June last year, you hooked up with him a few times.  Then you decided not to see him again initially. Why? 

CATRINA:  He had a girlfriend.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how long you had been seeing him before you found out he had a girlfriend? 

CATRINA:  Oh, I think it was, it was a month, a month or two and then my dodgy radar went off and I went and did some stalking and discovered he had a girlfriend.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  Stalking as in Facebook? 

CATRINA:  Facebook stalking, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you stopped seeing him? 

CATRINA:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Then you contacted him again and started seeing him again.  Why? 

CATRINA:  It was a very emotional time. I just found out my mum had secondary liver cancer so this was after my dad passing away four years ago from cancer, so I just basically thought screw this. Every, you know, every man for himself. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How well did you know him? 

CATRINA:  Very well in the bedroom.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Apart from that? 

CATRINA:  Like, I didn't introduce him to my friends, I didn't meet his friends, it was an arrangement of - you come to my house and then you leave, so!

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react then when six weeks later you found out you were pregnant? 

CATRINA:  I was in shock.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you tell him? 

CATRINA:  By Snapchat. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you say? 

CATRINA:  I sent him a picture of the pregnancy test, that was a couple of days later, and I captioned it with I know that this is hard, we need to talk soon, let me now when you are ready. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did he react? 

CATRINA:  He, he sent me, this all over Snapchat, he said, we can't do this.  I had to tell him to stop and that I wanted to see him in real life but he didn't want to meet up. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you consider a termination? 

CATRINA:  Um, it was in my mind as an option but I think it, finding out I was pregnant was a real light bulb moment where I had to decide who I wanted to be as a person and what I could and couldn't do and one of the things I decided I couldn't do was have an abortion. I've been with friends who have had abortions and I'm a big believer in this.  We let women say yes to abortions and we also need to be able to say okay, no, you can keep the child, that's okay.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you want to be a mum? 

CATRINA:  Oh yeah, yeah.  I was 33 and I was like okay, haven't met the right guy, maybe not in my story line so let's just move on and get a career instead or start travelling.  I actually booked flights to Japan to spend some time over there and couldn't go on that trip anymore because I was pregnant, so. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you used contraception? 

CATRINA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  With this guy? 

CATRINA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE: All the time? 

CATRINA:  Um yeah, I was on the pill. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you meet the guy in person to talk about the situation? I mean Snapchat's one thing, did you actually sit down at any point with him and talk about it? 

CATRINA:  No, I really wanted to have a conversation and I pushed for it a couple of times but that was hard, trying to communicate and trying to get someone else to the table and say well, what are we going to do about this, when the only way they'll talk to you is over social media, like he said yes to having sex with me but he didn't say yes to being a father so I couldn't force that responsibility on to him.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So have you cut him out all together? 

CATRINA:  Yes.  So he doesn't have anything but that's his choice. Like I've never wanted him to not be her father or not to have an active role, that's his choice, if he chose later to step back in, then again that would be his choice but I'm not chasing him, I'm not asking him for anything. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nicole, you became pregnant four years ago after a one night stand.  Did you tell the father? 

NICOLE:  I have not, no. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why not? 

NICOLE:  Firstly I had a first name, this was the only time I met this guy, and I actually had no idea how I would find him even if I wanted to. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Where did you meet him? 

NICOLE:  On a night out, after I'd just moved to a new city. I had no idea where I was when I woke up in the morning. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you been drinking? 

NICOLE:  Yes.  I flagged a cab on the street and went home and didn't think anything more of it for about seven weeks and then, I just couldn't stop thinking about eating cakes, which was very strange for me seeing as I've never had a sweet tooth and I felt a bit nauseous in the mornings and I was scared and I did a pregnancy test and that was positive. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You had the baby? 

NICOLE:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Then late one night when your daughter was nearly one you put that guy's first name and location into Facebook. What happened? 

NICOLE:  I was scrolling for maybe about an hour and a half, and then all of a sudden there was somebody who looked quite familiar to me, wearing the same top that he had been wearing that night. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So how did you react when you saw him? 

NICOLE:  Um, I felt really sick, yeah, I felt sick. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why? 

NICOLE:  Um, because I had had to make the choice by myself to do this by myself and it had been that choice since the beginning. I felt an immense pressure to tell him, and I guess I felt sick because I didn't want to. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you tell him? 

NICOLE:  No. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And why didn't you tell him, why didn't you make contact with him? 

NICOLE:  Basically, doing a risk assessment, this is not an individual that I would want to introduce into my life, let alone a child's life. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Explain that a little bit more, why? 

NICOLE:  I don't believe we share the same value system. Quite a lot of things that I could publicly see on his profile were things that I would not, not the kind of person that I would hang out with in my life. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What sort of things? 

NICOLE:  Racial slurs, a lot of gambling.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you think he has a right to know that he's the biological father of your daughter? 

NICOLE:  I think that's a pretty loaded question because as much as he has a right to know, I also have a right to exercise the choices I make that affect my life and my child's life. And I feel quite confident that I've made the choice that will be the least disastrous for our lives. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  It's a really interesting question, I think, you know, this decision making process and who you tell and how you tell and whether you tell and so on. I mean what do people think about that?   Anyone like to comment on that? 

CATRINA: I think, sorry, to me, the not telling, I think it's alright because I've gone through a lot of counselling after my decision and you want, you want people in your child's life that's going to affirm them, the values that you give, you know, that she knows that whoever's in her life is going to reinforce the fact that she is loved and she's fabulous and if you're seeing things that are a bit questionable, I'm like well, he made the choice to sleep with you, he didn't make the choice to be a father.

So that's to me, yeah, yeah, exactly, and also the fact that I would have had to make, if I contacted him and he didn't want anything to do with her, I would have had to make the choice to either lie to my child, or be truthful with her and I didn't want to introduce any lie into our relationship. I feel really uncomfortable about that and the other option would be to tell her the truth and I couldn't imagine growing up believing that you are unwanted by your father. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How hold is she now? 

CATRINA:  She's three and a half. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And is she asking questions? 

CATRINA:  She isn't. She says things about her dad, like she would just say,  oh my dad took me to the beach and we built sandcastles and I'll just say oh okay, like did you have a nice day and she’s like yeah, great, and you were there and I'm like was I? So yeah, she's got an active imagination. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay, I wonder what some of the men here think about this?  The women are doing all the talking here, what do some of you guys think about, you know, what you should know? Yeah?

MALE:  Yeah, it does, it's obviously a very tough question, I think for me personally, I would want to be a part of the decision making process. It scares me to think that a fling that I might have had in the past could, that I've led to a situation where some individual has had to make that tough choice by themselves and that later down the track someone could come and knock on my door and say you're the father.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay, anyone else?  Any other men here like to comment on this from a male perspective? Yeah? 

MALE 2:  I guess first it's important to acknowledge it's her body so in a way she'll be one who'll be carrying the child, that's a decision for nine months, it has more impact.  But at the same time I think to say that the man has zero say on the matter is going too far, so1

JENNY BROCKIE:  Okay, anyone else? 

MALE 3:  I disagree, I think that it's right that we have zero, zero input on the decision itself.  While I personally would want to have an input on the decision, I don't think it's something I have a right to because there's a risk associated with every behaviour, whatever it might be, and the risk that a man takes is that he might impregnate the woman. The risk the woman takes that she might be pregnant and what to do with that from there on, the woman is the one who has to carry the baby or not carry the baby, who has to go through the trauma of the abortion, or the non-trauma of the abortion, whatever it ends up being for her if she has an abortion or if she keeps the child.  Whereas as the man you're not the one who has to go through that which is why we should not have that decision made. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  But does that include not being told there's a pregnancy? 

MALE:  Well there's where I, that's where I think again I would like to be told. But at the same time, I don't think that that's something you can force upon a person. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you think your daughter has a right to know who her biological father is? 

NICOLE:  Definitely, if she chooses that, I don't feel that that should be my decision. Purely because I've decided that it's not somebody that I would like to be involved with, that doesn't mean that it's somebody that she won't want to be involved with in the future and I'll definitely foster that relationship if that's something that she chooses to do. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  That decision affects her childhood though, that decision of yours. 

NICOLE:  It does affect her childhood. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  It doesn't mean that there's not a father. If, you know, for argument's sake he did want to be involved? 

NICOLE:  Definitely. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  That she's growing up with without that? 

NICOLE:  Yes. So all I can do about that is give her the best possible childhood I can give her.  Our home is so filled with love, she doesn't lack for anything in that respect. She has really strong male role models around her in my father and my brother.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you'll only tell her when she asks? 

NICOLE:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catrina, did you tell the father when your daughter was born? 

CATRINA:  No. I think I was about seven or eight months along, I gave him the choice and like we'll either, you go on the birth certificate, you have visitation rights and you pay child support, or you don't go on the birth certificate, no rights, no child support. If you want to change that down the track, we'll get, you know, do a DNA test, get you on the birth certificate but it's up to you. And he chose option 2 and so that was it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So he chose not to be involved? 

CATRINA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you feel about that choice of his? 

CATRINA:  Disappointed, very disappointed. But at the same time I had, I respected it.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Lucy, the termination is booked, you've told your fling that you think the baby might be his.  What happened when the doctor saw you? 

LUCY:  I walked into the examination room, pretty much lay on the table and lifted up my top and doctor took one look at me and said there's know no way you're only eight weeks.  She then said, um, that she thought I was greater than twenty weeks and twenty weeks is the legal cut off for terminations in New South Wales. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So it was too late to have an abortion?

LUCY:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And at that stage, at that stage, everything changed, didn't it? 

LUCY:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Because it looked like your ex was the father, not the Tinder guy, the casual guy? 

LUCY:  Yep. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You then told your ex that you thought he was the father? 

LUCY:  Yeah, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Of this baby? 

LUCY:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did he react when you told him? 

LUCY:  Initially fantastic.  He phoned me, we had, you know, an amazing two hour long conversation. The next morning I sent him a message saying look, I just want to say thank you so much for being so, being so supportive and he pretty much wrote well I'm glad you feel like that because the next conversation we have will have a very different tone and that's when the accusations started flying. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So he was very angry with you? 

LUCY:  Very angry, yeah, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you try to keep in touch with him during the pregnancy? 

LUCY:  Yep, yep, so…

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what happened, what sort of response did you get? 

LUCY:  Well, after I found out how far along I was, I actually decided to go down the adoption route because basically, had that whole fairy-tale, you know, I'm going to meet the right guy, we going to be married or in a committed relationship, have a baby and that's how it works. So that's what I decided to do and I told him and he was very on board with that. So we did keep in contact throughout the entire pregnancy. He was very patchy with his communication. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did he question whether he was the father? 

LUCY:  He asked for a DNA test.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you feel about being asked for a DNA test?

LUCY:  I was offended because I knew that we were completely monogamous when we were together.

JENNY BROCKIE: How did the Tinder guy, the casual guy react when he realised that he wasn't the dad? 

LUCY:  Well I assume he breathed a massive sigh of relief. Once again I phoned him and told him and he was just really lovely. He was just like oh, okay, that's cool.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you want to see him again? 

LUCY:  Not particularly, no.  Not because of any negative feelings towards him, just okay, this is a soap opera chapter of my life that I think we should just close the door on. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Daniel, you were 20 when you found out the girl you had been sleeping with was pregnant. How well did you know one another at that stage? 

DANIEL:   Not that well at all.   

JENNY BROCKIE:  She told you she was pregnant over the phone? 

DANIEL:   Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react? 

DANIEL:   I was terrified, absolutely, yeah.  I was a full time student, I still had two years to study and I had plans to move interstate and we were both living at home so I felt that it wasn't a great, the timing was, yeah, not ideal. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You were living at home with your parents so did you tell them straight off? 

DANIEL:   I took a few days.  I, it was really difficult to keep it to myself.  They probably noticed some sort of behavioural changes in me and it got to the point where I felt like I was building a case in my head so I went through sort of financially how it would plan out and whether it would actually be possible. As soon as I could see it working, I broke it to my parents.  Or I decided to, and it almost came to like 5 o'clock on this day I'm going to do it. So I convinced myself and my dad was late home that day so I ended up telling my parents separately, which was a challenge. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were you, were you sure you were the father of the child at that stage? 

DANIEL:   She said 100 percent because I haven't slept with anyone else for two months and my, the last person I slept with was my ex-boyfriend and, yeah, it basically has to be you, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you talk about options with her? 

DANIEL:   Yeah.  After a couple of weeks I expressed my feelings towards maybe termination and, but I also mentioned that whatever her decision was that I would support her. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did you react when she decided to keep the baby? 

DANIEL:  Yeah, it was pretty, pretty hard hitting news.  I guess the way I responded was I tend to get quite - I tend to shut down a little bit.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you start questioning whether the baby was yours more once she decided to have the baby?

DANIEL:   No, my parents were very interested in having a DNA test because it all happened so quickly and the relationship between my ex-girlfriend and my parents wasn't great. So I was caught a little bit in the middle because my parents wanted that sort of confirmation and I can understand asking a girl for a DNA test can be quite offensive so I was really torn.  I was caught in the middle of that decision. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You decided give the relationship a go? 

DANIEL:   I did, yeah.  I thought we could make it happen and the plan was that once I'd finished studying, that I would move to far North Queensland, I would go up a year early and sort of get things settled in, start work and I bought a townhouse and just sort of get everything in the right place and they would move up a year after. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were you there for the birth of the baby? 

DANIEL:   I wasn't there for the birth, I was there shortly after. I was doing an outdoor course at the time and I wasn't in a position to sort of miss any assessments.  It would have held me back and yeah, I guess the decision was made that I would just see her in hospital shortly after. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was it like when you first saw the baby? 

DANIEL:   It was amazing, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Lucy, what was it like once you'd given birth to your son? 

LUCY:  Um, it was the weirdest week of my life really. The hospital that I'd delivered at, they were aware of my intention to adopt so they gave me the, they were fantastic, give me a private room so I wasn't going to be surrounded by, you know, excited new families and pretty much said I could stay there for, within reason, however long I liked, and I had access to the social workers and all that.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you tried to return to your life? 

LUCY:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You expressed breast milk and you saw him twice a week, you had that separation time? 

LUCY:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did you decide during that time?  

LUCY:  Oh, I couldn't do it. There was, at longest about four days in between seeing him and they were just awful days and all I thought well, if he's adopted, the most I'll probably see him is four, five times a year and it just wasn't, I just couldn't do it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you kept him?

LUCY:  So I kept him, yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE: You're ex had wanted this DNA test? 

LUCY:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You did that after your son was born? 

LUCY:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What did it show? 

LUCY:  Showed that he wasn't the father. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react to the news that he wasn't the father? 

LUCY:  I got the results in the mail and I sort of opened it as if it was a shopping catalogue, so I'm like yep, there is no doubt about it, this is just to have it on paper. So I read that line over and over again. I called the lab saying is there any chance that there's any inaccuracy?  I did absolutely everything.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what did this mean about who the baby's father was? 

LUCY:  So this meant that it was Tinder contestant number 2. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how had that all been so wrong?

LUCY:  So I found out that when your first ultrasound is done at the late stage that mine was, the dating period isn't completely accurate. Realistically I should have been told okay, we're guessing around this but just to let you know it can have a window of a few weeks. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And it was, it only took a few weeks for the likelihood to be one or the other? 

LUCY:  It would have been three to four weeks, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what happened when you contacted Tinder contestant number 2? 

LUCY:  He was, once again, he was incredible so bringing up Snapchat again, one of those annoying mothers who post, you know, photos on every social media platform and we are connected on Snapchat.  And so when I messaged him he said yeah, you know, I've actually subconsciously been expecting this message for a while. He had seen photos of my son on Snapchat and thought yeah, it's very likely that that is my child. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And he's now asked for a DNA test? 

LUCY:  He, very politely asked for it and referring to Daniel's comment about the whole DNA test, I think a lot of it is how the request is made because he was just like oh, yeah, I mean let's get one, you know, just make it official. I think more for his, probably for his parents' sake when he eventually tells him, tells them. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And where is that DNA test up to now? 

LUCY:  Just awaiting the results which should be very, very soon. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How are you feeling about that? 

LUCY:  So father hasn't met baby and he doesn't want to until he has that piece of paper in his hot sticky hands. So I feel like once this is done, okay, then we can start dealing with the day-to-day realities of what this all means. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Emma, you're 40 and you have a six month old  daughter. You met her father on Tinder? 

EMMA:  Yes, I did. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were either of you looking for relationships? 

EMMA:  No, just fun. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you have four other children? 

EMMA:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE: How did you react to the idea of being pregnant again? 

EMMA:  Um, shocked, I couldn't believe it,.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you let the guy know straight away? 

EMMA:  Yes, I text message him and say I was pregnant and he replied and said you're joking? Or are you serious?  I was like no, I wouldn't joke about a thing like that and we met up that day. He said he'd stand by me whatever I chose to do.  I did say to the dad you don't have to be involved if you don't want to, because I've done it myself before. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  On your own? 

EMMA:  Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Was he involved in the pregnancy? 

EMMA:  Yes, very much so. He attended all the appointments, the scans, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was that like with somebody that you didn't want to have a relationship with? 

EMMA:  It just seemed normal because he was going to be a part of the baby's life. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did he offer financial support to you? 

EMMA:  Yes, he did. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you expect that? 

EMMA:  No, I didn't, that was his choice. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What about the rest of you, have you expected financial support when the baby's the result of a fling? 

LUCY: I haven't, no, even in my circumstances, no, but once this is all established that's not something that I'll be seeking. 

JENNY BROCKIE: If he's involved in the baby's life would that make a difference? 

LUCY: Yes, if there was an active involvement, maybe. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catrina, what about you? 

CATRINA:  No, I haven't asked him for money, I won't chase him for money, like he's chosen not to be involved. But I've just enrolled in a masters so that I can increase my earning potential so I can look after myself and my child.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  Daniel, did expect to pay or not? 

DANIEL:   I offered to when I was living in Adelaide I would just, it was, because I was a pull full time student I was working, living at home, I wasn't expected to but I paid for like food and wherever I could basically. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Emma, are you in a relationship with the father of this child now? 

EMMA:  No. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were you, did you continue a relationship while you were pregnant? 

EMMA:  Yes, of sorts. Up until the baby was born and then, yeah, we just, we just co-parent now. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And why did that fall apart? 

EMMA:  Um, he didn't want to complicate things. If we, if we got together, we’d get jealous or we fall out, then it's not going to work for the baby. We don't want any, any problems, any mess, so we are just co-parenting yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how's that working out? 

EMMA:  Yeah, good.  We, he's a great dad, he's brilliant, he has her two days a week, can't fault him in any way in that we, we don't always get along. But that's nothing to do with the baby.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Megan, you had a one night stand that resulted in an unplanned pregnancy when you were 20. What did you do the first time? 

MEGAN:  So I, yeah, found out you was pregnant in a Macker's bathroom, I did a test with a friend. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Not unlike the Central Railway toilet? 

MEGAN:  I'd just got back from living overseas for eighteen months, literally the night I got home was the night I fell pregnant and so yeah four or five weeks later I found out. And I wanted to keep the baby but yeah, sort of everything was going against me. I tried to call the father, left a message, never heard back from him.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what did you do? 

MEGAN:  I ended up having a termination which was really, really hard to cope with. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you respond to that? 

MEGAN:  Um, I was devastated really. Yeah, I mean it was the wrong, just so the wrong time. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  After that you started seeing someone else? 

MEGAN:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  When did you realise you were pregnant again? 

MEGAN:  So about nine months after I had the termination I met someone and after about six weeks I fell pregnant again.

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you react when you found out you were pregnant the second time? 

MEGAN:  I was devastated. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you used contraception? 

MEGAN:  No.  Sorry, the first time was a drunken night. The second time I'd just had Implanon removed because I was having side effects from it and the doctor had said it will take a week for it to wear off and I interpreted that as I'd be safe with contraception for a week and he meant the side effects would take a week to wear off.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You'd only been seeing guy for about six weeks? 

MEGAN:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you tell him? 

MEGAN:  I went over to his house, and I can remember just wanting him to say it, just him, like I physically could not get the words to come out of my mouth. It took about half an hour and then I finally, yeah, just said I'm pregnant. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Josh, you're that guy. 

JOSH: Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you respond when Megan came over to your house to tell you that, to tell you she was pregnant? 

JOSH:  Yeah, I remember she, she called me and just said I need to talk to you and at the time I thought oh, she wants to break up or something like that, and I was, I was, she coming over and I was also hung-over at the time.  So I was in bed and yeah, she eventually got it out and just from memory she didn't say she didn't want to keep it straight away. I just think she said I'm probably not going to keep it or something, maybe just to lessen the blow.  I was a bit shocked but at the time, as I said, I was a bit hung-over and thought well I can probably deal with this tomorrow and pretty much just wanted to go to sleep. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  When you kind of registered what had happened, how did you react?

JOSH:  I think I said, you know, well whatever you decide, I'll support you and, yeah, we'll I guess try and work it out as we go along. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you feel about the idea of her not keeping the baby? 

JOSH:  I wasn't too excited about it.  Yeah, there was definitely I guess a little bit, you know, this is not in the plans.  I'm not ready.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you try to convince her to have a termination, to not keep the baby?  

JOSH:  I guess I was clear that I was more for, yes, terminating the pregnancy. I guess I just seen it as, you know, not that hard a thing to do and we can just go, sort of get back on with our lives and forget about it sort of thing. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Megan, what was that like for you? 

MEGAN:  Um, I mean he says that I never felt pressured to have a termination by him. I always felt supported. I mean I understood that he wasn't overly keen on me going ahead with the pregnancy but I had to do what was best for me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was that? 

MEGAN:  It was to keep the baby. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And did you expect him to be involved? 

MEGAN:  Absolutely not, I had no expectations and I guess that was what I learnt from the first time to this time. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  When did things become more serious between the two of you? 

JOSH:  We, look it was still going to be, what, six or seven months till the baby came and we sort of both decided that we'd keep a seeing each other and see how it goes and…

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did it go?  

JOSH:  Well, there were definitely some tough times in there and look, I think a lot of it was just me adjusting to, you know, being in a more committed relationship. It probably wasn't, yeah, until after Tilly was born, you know, I could see that I wanted to keep seeing her and stay together and…

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you fall in love with her? 

JOSH:  Um, at some stage I did, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  I'm so glad you gave that answer. Megan what about you? 

MEGAN:  Um…

JENNY BROCKIE: When did the relationship start to change for you? 

MEGAN:  Oh, it was so hard because I was so young, I mean we didn't move in together until Tilly was about nine months old. We were really sure that we wanted to progress the relationship.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how's it going? 

MEGAN:  Good. It's been nearly ten years now, I think, got another three kids, yeah.  So yeah, it's going pretty well. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And I should point out Josh is Ballarat and couldn't make it here tonight which is why we have him there.  Emma, a week after having your baby you moved into a house you'd bought with his father? 

EMMA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  A father who didn't want to have the relationship? 

EMMA:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You bought a house together? 

EMMA:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Was this because of the baby? 

EMMA:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you started living together? 

EMMA:  Separate rooms. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Separate rooms? 

EMMA:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How well did you know one another at that point? 

EMMA:  Not very well at all. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how did that work out? 

EMMA:  Not very good.  Yeah, we're just two different people.  We didn't know each other. We didn't even get to know each other before Lilly came along. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how do you feel about having him in your life long term as the father of your child? 

EMMA:  It's something new to me. As my other kids' dad isn't around, he lives overseas and doesn't have anything to do with the children and I've got sole custody so it's pretty easy for me to just do what I want with the kids. With Lilly it's a little bit more difficult because I have to ask him. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Take another parent into account? 

EMMA:  Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Daniel, once the baby was born, how involved were you in her and her mother's life? 

DANIEL:   I'd say once or twice a week I was spending mostly weekends with them.

JENNY BROCKIE:  You moved interstate on your own for work when the baby was about two, the child was about two and you were apart from more than a year? 

DANIEL: Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  I think. 

DANIEL:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why, why did do you that, why were you away?  

DANIEL:   Well I finished my course and that's just, yeah, I'm not sure why, why there was a year's gap but maybe she wasn't ready to move and, um…

JENNY BROCKIE:  So were you in a committed relationship at this stage or were you seeing other people as well? 

DANIEL:   It was on and off. I guess we weren't that compatible so the relationship wasn't, wasn't that easy. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you moved away and just before she moved with you, to move with you, with the child…

DANIEL:   Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE: She became pregnant again? 

DANIEL:   Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you think that second baby was yours? 

DANIEL:   No, no.  So I had moved a year before her and in that time she came and visited on holidays a couple of times and the dates just didn't add up for, for that child to be mine, so. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So the mother moved to be with you and not long after that you split up and she left? 

DANIEL:   Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did you have contact after that with her? 

DANIEL:   We stayed in touch for sort of the next six months once she was back home and it got to a point where we stopped talking.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were you paying child support during this time for the first child? 

DANIEL:  So when she left that's when I started paying child support, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE:  So Linda, you started dating Daniel a year and a half after all of this. What did you make of it?  

LINDA:  I was of the opinion that, at the point in time he wasn't in contact with his daughter so he hadn't been for about six months. So I said basically the worst thing you can do is sort of fall in and out of this girl's life for the rest of her life because that's going to mess her up. You have to make a decision. Either you're going to completely step out, she's four now, she's young enough to sort, you know, forget about you, or you're going to make the decision to be a committed father but then you're going to be there and then you're going to there for the rest of her life and you're not going to decide later. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And Daniel, what did you decide to do? 

DANIEL:   I said yeah, I'm in, I want to do it. 

JENNY BROCKIE: So you reconnected with your ex? 

DANIEL:   Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Soon after that? 

DANIEL:   Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you were hoping from there that you would have a relationship with the child? 

DANIEL:   That's right, yeah, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were your parents on board yet? 

DANIEL:   No. We felt it was necessary, or just make life easier to have everyone on board, so my parents and family friends and just, just build the connections again. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how were you planning to do that? 

DANIEL:  By this stage they'd been through quite a bit so I said how about a DNA test just to confirm that everything's…

JENNY BROCKIE:  That the child was yours? 

DANIEL:   Yeah, yeah, would that make any difference and they agreed. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you get the DNA from the child? 

DANIEL:   So we bit the relationship with my ex to the point where she allowed us to take care of my daughter for a day. So we had a really fun day actually, we took her to the zoo and the aquatic centre, so we had a mouth swab and we played a game so that she wasn't really aware of it.  So we pulled out a few flavours of lollypops and we asked her to close her eyes, we said okay, guess which flavour this is, cola, you know, and then…

JENNY BROCKIE:  Mouth swab flavour? 

DANIEL:   Yeah, and then there's the mouth swab, oh, I'm not sure what this one is, keep guessing and then that's, that's how we did it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How did you feel about doing that? 

DANIEL:   We thought that that would be the best way…

JENNY BROCKIE:  Had you tried to do it by asking the mum? 

DANIEL:   That was, that was a no go zone.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And what did the DNA test show? 

DANIEL:   Came out negative, so. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And how many years had you thought you were the father of this child? 

DANIEL:   Five years, so, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What was that like for you finding that out? 

DANIEL:  I got quite, to me the best way to describe it is like an acute depression I think because a lot of the symptoms were I stopped eating, I couldn't sleep very well, I got quite sick. But it went away reasonably quickly and I think when I decided to, and contacted my ex about it, that helped me a lot as well. I think that's when I started to feel better. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  What happened as a result of all of that, given you'd paid child support and you know…

DANIEL:   So what we did from there was we did a formal test.  So the first one, yeah, we did a follow-up test and with that I now, my name's not on the DNA, on the birth certificate any more. I don't pay through the Child Support Agency anymore and my ex owes me some money, so.  

JENNY BROCKIE:  Kerryn-Leigh, you're 54 and 14 years ago you had a baby with, after a one night stand in New Zealand with a man called Rodney? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Yes. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  How much did you know about Rodney? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Nothing at all. I had been in Queenstown for about six months and met a man one night, Rodney.  He was there for three days snowboarding and um, one thing led to another. I asked Rodney home that particular night. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Now you'd just ended another relationship? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  I had and that's why I was in New Zealand and I had had two miscarriages in my previous relationship which I was really sad about and I was in a very, very low place and I just wanted to get up and on with my life and, and pick myself up because it's, you know, it was probably the lowest place I'd ever been. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you took Rodney home? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  I did take Rodney home.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And you found out you were pregnant? 

KERRYN-LEIGH: Yes, I thought I'd die. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  And had the baby? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  I thought, seriously thought I was dying but I was pregnant, yes, and I was 40 years old and I'm now pregnant to a man I didn't know.

JENNY BROCKIE:  In the years since, have you tried to find him, to find Rodney? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Very publicly. A year ago when my daughter was about to turn thirteen I had a conversation about, to another girl about the whole thing and she said well, have you tried Facebook, you know, social media?  And I said I've only got a first name, you know, and she said oh, it's a pretty powerful tool.  Anyway, that night I sat down and I opened my Facebook up ready to just have a little look and I thought why not?

JENNY BROCKIE:  So what response did you get to this? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  The next day I went to work and there were 4,000 shares, it was absolutely crazy. It actually…

JENNY BROCKIE:  Did it lead to anything though, did it lead to Rodney? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Well no, not specifically, but I do think it has because I have, like I have had - the response was unbelievable, honestly if I knew how to get in contact with him I absolutely would have. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why, why did you so badly want to get in contact with him? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Because that little girl, every Father's Day had to write a Mother's Day card, you know, so it was really tough. It's, you know, she didn't, she would say to me mum, why didn't you get his phone number and I say Annie, I didn't know you were in my belly. It was, you know, she's always good now, she actually is just, doesn't want to know about it. You know, the social media and the whole media became so crazy that she just said mum, let's, I don't want this happening anymore and we just went that's it. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  But you didn't find him and you still want to find him? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Not particularly, I did …

JENNY BROCKIE:  Oh? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  The right. No, it doesn't matter. I did the right thing by her and I did the right thing by him. Whatever the results would be would be up to, you know, the universe, so. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  You did look for all the Rodneys, look at all the Rodneys in Queensland at one stage? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Oh, look, you have no idea. I had kids come through my dad's name's Rodney and my sister, many kids, like it wasn't just, I have got photographs of Rodneys like…

JENNY BROCKIE:  Nicole, what do you think of this story? I mean given that you've done completely the opposite? 

NICOLE:  Well, I mean there may come a time when she wants to find him and I might it have to put out my own Rodney post. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Well you don't have to put out a Rodney post because you know where he is? 

NICOLE:  Well exactly, but I mean I don't know 100 percent.  I mean what I have is a face that looks vaguely familiar and the same top, so I can go straight to that source and ask but the answer might be no. Um, and that's something I'll have to deal with then and it is very real the possibility that she may grow up to hate me because of this choice that I've made. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Is that something you worry about? 

NICOLE:  It is definitely something you think about when you're weighing up your options. I mean I went through every possible outcome in my mind before. 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  She won't hate you. She won't hate you. 

NICOLE:  Yeah, hopefully. 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Not a chance in the world. Not a chance in the world. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Why did you say that with such confidence?  

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Because if you love your kids, you know, Imogen and I are so close, there's nothing missing in our lives. I felt it was my responsibility to do that but there's so nothing missing. You know, we are so, we've got a fabulous relationship and she wouldn't have cared if I didn't try and look for him because, you know, what we have. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Were you wanting to have another child? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Not, no, no, because I was forty years old. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So you didn't, you weren't wanting to get pregnant at the time? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  No.  I mean I did previously in the other relationship, most definitely, but that was, that door closed and I thought the door was closed. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Yeah, you've got a question? 

MALE 3:  I've got to say that I really want to second that as an adopted child myself and I have no idea who my biological father is, that what matters to a child is the love that they receive from their family. 

KERRYN-LEIGH: Yeah. 

MALE 3:  And that blood is really insignificant. 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Yeah. 

MALE 3:  So all of you guys have done an incredible job and as long as you give love to your children that's what matters. 

JENNY BROCKIE: Kerryn-Leigh, do you think you'll ever find Rodney? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Yes, I do.  It went too big, it went too far and so you know, one of those Johns has picked up on this, there was a few Rodneys that were, that fitted the description, fitted the place, had a daughter that was at that time fifteen, so, and people came through to me and said, you know, I think I might know who this and I said well then you need to go to him.

Now I understand financially this man's probably thinking I'm not stepping forward, and I don't blame him and it's not about finances because that's, we've got that covered. You know, it's definitely not about money. When she was little I'd tell you, I absolutely could have done with some help because it was really tough. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  But you wouldn't expect it now? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Not now, no, no.  She's fourteen, we're, we're, you know, we've got our lives on track. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  I'm sure any Rodneys watching who were in Queenstown fourteen years ago are going to be wondering right now. 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Yes, well they can step forward. It's really on Facebook, you know, it's easy, easy to find me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Yes? 

MALE 4: I've just got something interesting Jenny for the mothers who've decided not to include the fathers in your child's life, what if the father came looking for a potential child or the child used, Kerryn-Leigh? 

KERRYN-LEIGH:  Yes. 

MALE 4:  Kerryn-Leigh's scenario when she went looking for Rodney. What if Rodney came looking for a suspected child or the child went looking for the father? 

NICOLE: If the father came looking for us I would open that channel up because that's that his decision that he's made. This is a person that I expressly told that I was not taking any oral contraception and made the choice to carry on. We were both extremely drunk so not saying that excuses anything but there is haziness in the situation.  But yeah, I had not been taking contraception for about two years due to side effects that it gave me and there is no way I would have entered that situation without telling somebody that. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  So did you go into it thinking you could get pregnant and accepting that idea?  

NICOLE:  No, I went into it expecting that he would be wearing a condom because I had told him that I wasn't taking oral contraceptives.  I believed him to be wearing a condom when we had sex. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Zoe, you're 19, what did mum tell you about how you were conceived? 

ZOE:  Um, that when she was living in Greece she met my dad and knew him for about three weeks and then I was conceived. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Pip, you could have cut ties with this man that you saw for three weeks, why did you keep him in your daughter's life, even though you hadn't been in a serious relationship with him? 

PIP:  Well, in a way that was more to do with him because when I did discover that I was pregnant and I did my pregnancy test in Greece, and it wasn't 100 percent sure what the package was saying but I was pretty sure it was a yes, so when you went to speak to him I was very clear.  I was 33, I had wanted to have a child all of my life and there was no other choice for me but to have the child. So I was very clear. I said look, you don't get any choice so you don't have any responsibilities and here's my parents' address in Australia and that all, but he wasn't happy with that. So then I thought well then what?

So I think I also had that thing you would like the child to have the birth father in their life if that's possible so I gave it a red hot go. So I left Greece when I was five months pregnant, came back to Australia, had my daughter and then he came over when she was three months old and then we stayed in Perth for a few months and then finally I took Zoe back when she was seven months old, ostensibly to live happily ever after.   Within 48 hours I knew I'd made a hideous mistake but I did, I stuck it out for the eight months and then you know, I came back to Australia where I've stayed ever since. But we have always maintained contact. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Maintained a relationship? 

PIP:  Yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Zoe, what's your relationship like with your biological father? 

ZOE:  Um, it's pretty good. You know, it's not particularly close because we also don't live in the same hemisphere even and we're not very similar people. But we get on well, like I've spent some time with him, and it's like a nice sort of friendship, like a very sort of casual easy going type thing.

JENNY BROCKIE:  And Zoe, what if you hadn't known who your biological father was? 

ZOE:  Um, I think I would have been curious and I do sort of feel like it is nice to know, I don't believe there was anything lacking in my life in terms of like parenthood or whatever.  Like I was given good male role models and also like my mum just really brought a lot of love into growing herself and me like together and just raising me properly, did really well. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Daniel, did you feel like a dad for those, how many years, six years? 

DANIEL:   Yeah, five years, yeah, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Do you still feel like a dad? 

DANIEL:   Absolutely, yeah. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Even though the DNA test says you're not the father? 

DANIEL:   I think it less just because you know, life goes on, but I still love her, Linda and my door is always open if she ever comes looking, she's, you know, welcome. And I'd love to make that, you know, reconnect that relationship again.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Megan, you married Josh and you've had three more children, do you think you've been, you'd still be together if you hadn't had those kids? 

MEGAN:  I think, you know, if I hadn't fallen pregnant with Tilly, my eldest, it would have made it a lot easier to break up, but I'm glad that you know, we pushed through.  We were both very young when we met so it doesn't take a lot to break up when you're so young. But because of Tilly and because, you know, we really wanted to make it work, we worked really, really, really hard. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Josh, how do you feel about your family now? 

JOSH:  I couldn't be happier to be honest. Yeah, I think it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Catrina, your daughter is four and a half months old. What will you tell her when she asks about her father? 

CATRINA:  I'll just show her the show. No, I think that's something we'll have to figure out as she gets older. Something I have to come to terms with first because of course she didn't come out of the best situation, but she's the most beautiful child and I don't regret it at all.

JENNY BROCKIE:  Lucy, your son is six months old? 

LUCY:  Yep. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  As you wait for that DNA test and the results of that, what do you make of the past year in your life? 

LUCY:  Really the focus has just been on raising him day by day and yeah, you know, I wouldn't change a thing either in any way whatsoever. 

JENNY BROCKIE:  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, thank you to all of us for sharing your stories tonight and that is all we have time for here but I'm sure there's a lot to talk about on social media. We'll be back next week stay tuned now for Dateline. Thanks everyone. Thank you.