To The Father Who Doesn’t Know I Exist …


To be completely honest I never gave too much thought to the fact I didn’t know who my biological father was.

The thought would certainly fleet through now and again in the recess of my mind but most of the time it didn’t occupy much space and I could go years without even thinking about it at all.

The fact that you live overseas and you don’t know I exist has always made the challenge of trying to find you just too hard. My mum told me a name once. Literally. I asked and she cried and I never asked again because I was too scared to upset her. I’m not sure why she cried. If she was overwhelmed by the question or whether it was a painful memory. It was always shrouded in such secrecy that I never knew quite what to think.

Did you know she never told anyone who you were? Not her mum, sisters or best friend.

She came home to New Zealand at the tender age of 20, pregnant and alone. I can certainly understand how that would have been embarrassing for someone who was as proud as my mother was, who left with such big dreams of the life she was going to lead and then had that vision turned completely upside down.

The one piece of information I garnered from her was a name: James Maxwell. And that he was English. And the bus driver on the tour she was on.

Is that you?

She says she never told you as by the time she found out she was too far along and it was too hard to try and track you down.

I wondered in later years if that was true or she was trying to protect me from the knowledge that you weren’t interested in being a father. A young Kiwi woman on a working holiday back in 1981, I imagine young unwed mothers were not quite as accepted as they are today. Perhaps it was all just too hard. Or perhaps she really didn’t tell you, the way she never told anyone else.

I tend to believe the latter.

I spent today scouring old albums in search of a clue. They were old scrapbooks that she had painstakingly put together with cut out letters from magazines to spell the names of the places she had visited on her travels. She was young and ambitious and just bursting to break free of New Zealand and experience the world, chasing her dreams and passions of life in the big city of London.

I couldn’t tell from the albums anything but the fact that in the time period I was conceived she was likely on a Contiki tour through Scandinavia. Was this the tour you were a bus driver for? This was in May/June of 1981.

The albums are now falling apart, the scrapbook itself held steady but the photos and postcards are all falling out as the double-sided tape no longer has a hold to keep them in place. Some of the photos have things written on the back but nothing that was of any use to me. I find myself frustrated that she didn’t just tell me the truth before she died. She kept it a secret all her life and took that secret to her grave. Why?

33 years later I have finally decided it is time to try and find you. To piece together the story. Who are you? What nationality are you? What is my heritage? Do I have any half siblings out there? Did you know about me? Are you really my father or is it someone else entirely? Perhaps this name is even made up!

Today sitting in my dining room with the broken down albums and a letter all I had to go by, I questioned my memory and what I know. It’s so little to go on. Do I even remember the name correctly or has it warped with time? I’m pretty sure it’s correct but other tidbits of information I have learnt over the years could not be corroborated in the written word. I thought I learnt them in a diary but perhaps it’s some figment of my imagination or a long forgotten memory of a conversation that has grown withered with time until I can’t quite figure out where it came from.

I will begin my search today.

I don’t have high hopes but I feel like I am being urged to try, some kind of instinctual feeling I can’t explain.

So far I have spoken to a number of people and the story just becomes more sordid and complicated!

From what I have learnt I am inclined to believe that she wasn’t entirely sure which of her suitors at the time was the father. I believe she told one man, Per was his name, that I was his before retracting and saying she wasn’t sure and releasing him from any responsibility. Was THAT you? It would certainly explain the blue eyes my boys have, perhaps some throwback to the Swedish ancestry I don’t even know I have.

Or were you the Englishman she told me, James … or neither. Perhaps there was someone else she met on some sultry evening in the haze of romance and the sights of Scandinavia. She was certainly beautiful enough to catch many a mans eye.

How do you search for someone when you don’t know who to search for or even where to start?

I guess the best place to begin would be to trust. Trust that even though I was just a young girl at the time, that she was truthful in the name that she told me. That having seen me grow and develop into the child I turned out to be, she had seen something in me that gave her the confidence to name you as the father.

James Maxwell.

I will start there.



At the end of this story I asked for some help on social media to track him down and my post on Facebook was shared over 300 times and seen by 34,000 people all over the world! Thank you so much for all your help! Click here to read an update on what happened …


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72 thoughts on “To The Father Who Doesn’t Know I Exist …

  1. Wow, that is really intense! I can’t imagine how surreal that must feel, and I wish you all the best of luck in your search. The silver lining for you is that the internet makes us all so much more connected, and hopefully this will lead to answers for you. I will share the FB post for you too x

  2. There is a great group on Facebook called “Reconnect. Free”
    Lots of hard working people dedicating their time to finding others lost a ones.
    All the best for your search x x

    1. Oh how funny Toni! We could start our own Facebook Group! Haha. Sorry to hear about your dads death, the loss of a parent is a difficult journey. xx

  3. Wow! Scary and exciting. I guess you have a starting point – name and timeframe. I wonder if Contiki have records (of staff) going back that far? If it wasn’t the driver / someone working for the company they may have photos or info which could help in your search.

    Good luck!
    Deborah recently posted…The secret to weight lossMy Profile

    1. They do I think but they refuse to tell me anything so that avenue is not one I can venture down. This is just the beginning though, I will do more searching as new avenues come to light!

    1. I have contacted them Malinda and they told me they could not give me any information of that nature whatsoever (in no uncertain terms!) so that is a dead end.

  4. I just had to comment to say wow, I am so impressed with how you wrote this post and the story that you have shared. All the best and I hope you find some answers xx

  5. Good luck on your search sweetie, I hope you find what your looking for. My cousin had a baby boy three years a go and no one in our family, including her parents or sister know who the father is. I only hope that when the time comes she will tell her little boy who his daddy is. Best wishes xx

  6. Thinking of you – such a big, brave mission you are on. I’m so sorry that your mother never told you more while she had the chance. We will likely never know our children’s biological parents in China and I worry about the loss they will feel – I really don’t know where we would begin in searching, but we will cross that bridge in the future. I’m sure you held your partner and boys extra close on Father’s Day grateful that your boys will grow up knowing their Dad. X
    Kathy recently posted…Adventures for the soul travellerMy Profile

    1. Yes Kathy, it is extra hard when you have no idea where to look or what to look for. I’m not super invested in it, interested yes but it’s not consuming me. I hope your kids will feel the same, they may not even be interested in finding them so I would just cross that bridge later as you said.

  7. Ahh Haidee! This post is something pretty special. You’re a brave woman. I pray to God that you get some leads and some answers. I have quite a few English friends and I have shared your FB post. Good luck xx
    Renee recently posted…Dream chaserMy Profile

    1. Strangely Jodi not much! I don’t have a whole lot of emotion invested, just curiosity. I guess when you don’t know something you don’t feel too emotional about it.

    1. It really is isn’t it Janet! I have a blog post in the works about what I wish mum had told me before she died. Most of them are how to cook certain meals I loved! Haha.

  8. Good Luck with your search. It’s a weird feeling when you don’t know where part of you is.

    I have two parents, alive, who are not present in my life. It’s weird, having kids and feeling so connected to them, yet my parents I am so separate from. I spoke to my Father for the first time in 19 years a couple of months ago. I have no idea what to do now. I was curious and the curiosity is gone, but the emptiness is still there. My mum lives a few suburbs away, she hasn’t met my 21 month old son.

    I hope you find what you need. Hugs. Zoe xx
    Zoe | A Quirky Bird recently posted…Testosterone Treatment And My Teenage AngstMy Profile

    1. I have read your story on your blog Zoe and feel for you, I commented on it at the time. Hugs to you lovely lady! Take it one day at a time and fill the emptiness with people who love you for you. xx

  9. Oh wow, you are so brave and if I was in your position I would want to start searching too. Honoured you linked up to #brilliantblogposts with this, thank you and I hope you find your Dad x

  10. My heart melts when I read your article, Haidee. I know it’s not that easy to live without a father especially when you’re a girl. I am very close to my father rather than my mom (but of course, I love them both). But don’t give up! I know you will find him. Just have faith and continue to work it out. We’ll help you share this link on FB. God bless you!

  11. I will totally share this for you on my Facebook. I come from the UK and also grew up without a dad. My mum told me who he was and there were some photos but he never wanted anything to do with me. He was also overseas and I met him when I was older but it was such a disappointment. But you know, I don’t regret that heartache for a minute because it gave me closure. It was like an important part of my life with loose ends that needed to be tied up. It was my choice to say thanks, but no thanks. I wish you luck on your search and really hope you find what you’re looking for! xx
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…The Ultimate Rabbit Hole #35My Profile

  12. Good luck to you hun, I really hope you find some clues. It is a brave post to have written.

    I’d like to ask your permission to share this post on my blog on Sunday, I do a weekly #WhatIRead post and would love to get the word out for you. You’d be included with five other bloggers. If you’d prefer I didn’t, that’s not a problem.

    I live in the UK, have shared your facebook post, and will do all I can to get the word out there for you. xx
    Morgan Prince recently posted…What’s So Great About Florida Anyway?My Profile

  13. All I can say is that it is amazing you reached out and had the success you had to gain some closure. Is there a third part to the story? Already it is a beautiful testament to family ties.

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