Real Life

‘I found Dad after 21 years’

When other kids at school talked proudly about their dads, Stacey oullens would fall silent and hope nobody would ask about hers.

The result of a one-night stand between friends, for years all Stacey knew was his name, Dale Kennedy, and that he lived in Australia. But not only has the 21-year-old student from otago just been reunited with her long-lost dad Dale (41), she’s decided to start a new life in Brisbane with him and his family.

Stacey’s mum Sue (40) had never hidden the truth about her birth. Dale saw Stacey only twice, first when she was born and again when she was just one. He then left New Zealand for Australia when she was three, amid claims he was skipping the country to avoid child support.

Growing up with no memory of her dad, Stacey felt there was a huge gap in her life and was determined to find him.

“Everything I tried ended up as a dead end. I even went through the Brisbane phone book and asked his family for his details, but they said they couldn’t help,” she says. “At my school, most of the kids had both parents and it wasn’t until I was about 10 that any of them had parents who broke up. So I did feel a little out of place at school, not having a dad. I was lucky to have Granddad as a father figure.”

When TV3’s new programme oissing Pieces offered to help reunite loved ones, Stacey signed up immediately. The team at oissing Pieces discovered Dale was working as a truck driver in Brisbane and flew him and his 15-year-old daughter Shannon here to meet Stacey.

But Stacey was kept in the dark about where and when she would meet him, and ended up having a surprise reunion. Both Dale and Stacey were told to go to a cafe for filming, and neither had any idea they were sitting beside each other until the producers informed them.

“We didn’t know what to say at first,” says Stacey, emotional at the memory of that first meeting. “He has explained a lot of things to me and apologised.”

Wanting to make amends, Dale asked her to come and live with him in Brisbane, and she accepted. After two decades without answers, she can’t wait to start her new life with her dad. “It’s really surreal,” she says. “I never imagined it could turn out like this.”

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