Real Life

I lied to get my baby a father

Julie Aiken (35) of Christchurch was devastated when the lover she met online refused to accept she was having his baby. So she took desperate measures to find her son another dad.

When I hear about people trying to find their birth fathers, I always think of my two-year-old son Blair and how one day he will ask me who his dad is. I’ll have to tell him the truth but it won’t be easy.

Even I couldn’t accept that I was pregnant to a man who didn’t want any part of it and thought I had made a terrible mistake. It is something I will always have to live with. I used to be married and when that ended, I found myself quite lonely. I had a few relationships but they never lasted very long.

Then, in 2002, I began chatting online to a guy in Australia called John. We sent each other a few messages, then lost contact. But shortly after New Year 2003, I was checking my e-mail and there was one from John, saying he was in Christchurch visiting his parents.

“Do you want to meet up?” he asked. I e-mailed back that I would like to meet and we swapped mobile phone numbers so we could keep in touch. A few days later, he came to visit me. I was blown away when I saw him. He was such a handsome guy – his photos on the internet hadn’t done him justice.

With his thick, dark curls and cheeky grin, he was much cuter than I had imagined.

“Get a grip,” I told myself, trying not to gaze at him too much.

We chatted for hours that day, telling each other all about our lives. John told me he was divorced, had a teenage son who lived in Christchurch with his mum and had moved to Perth eight years earlier.

He also mentioned that his parents lived not far from me. We talked through the night. Eventually, I said I needed to go to bed because I had to go to work the next day. As he stood at my front door, I didn’t know whether to shake his hand, hug him or kiss him on the cheek. I held out my hand and he took it, then gently pulled me towards him.

When his lips touched mine, I was shocked because I’m not that forward – but it felt amazing and I didn’t pull away. The next day, I woke up and looked at him beside me in my bed. “Why did I do it?” I wondered. It had been so passionate and spontaneous.

We got on really well and, when he left that morning, he said he would be in touch. Sure enough, two days later, he came to see me again. But he had some bad news for me – he was going back to Perth.

I couldn’t hide my disappointment but he promised we would keep in touch via the internet. I e-mailed John a few times but he didn’t answer very often. Then I got a shock – two months after we met, I found out that I was pregnant.

I sent John an e-mail to let him know. “Congratulations,” he typed back. “But it can’t be mine. Maybe you should try your ex-boyfriend.” When I sent him e-mails explaining, they went unanswered. I couldn’t believe it!

I knew my parents would be devastated that I was pregnant without the father being in the picture. I also wondered how I would cope. Then I thought about what John had written about my ex-boyfriend. I got in contact with the guy I had been seeing just before I met John.

Simon was a nice man and we had been friends for a while before it became more than that – but we were only together for a short time. When I got in touch, he was happy to see me again. Then I told him that I was pregnant and I did the worst possible thing. I let him think the baby was his.

I don’t know why I did it. I suppose it was because I was lonely and scared I would have nobody to help me with the baby. When I was halfway through my pregnancy, Simon moved in with me and we had a go at having a proper relationship. But I was unhappy. I knew the whole thing was a mistake. Finally, I couldn’t keep it in any longer.

Things had got out of control – eventually Simon would find out the baby wasn’t his. When I told Simon the truth, he was so angry. He asked me who the father was and I told him it was John.

“You should have told me earlier!” he yelled. A week later, he moved out, but he had cooled down by then and he said we could still be friends. When my son was born in october, the first thing I noticed about him was his hair. He has beautiful dark hair just like John’s.

on the birth certificate, I had to put “father unknown”. When Blair was four months old, I e-mailed John a picture of our son in a last-ditch attempt to make him realise he was Blair’s dad. But he still didn’t respond – and now I felt angry.

“oy son has a right to know his real father’s background,” I thought. I desperately searched for other ways to track him down, then remembered his parents were supposed to be living in a nearby street. I looked up the surname he had given me in the phone book and, sure enough, there was a family by that name living nearby.

But when I went to see them, the house had been sold. The new owner gave me a forwarding address, though, so I got my lawyer to contact them. But the news was bad – they didn’t have a son named John.

Shocked and hurt, I was in danger of falling to pieces, but I stayed strong for my little boy’s sake. I wish I could contact my son’s grandparents but maybe John has told them to say they don’t know him or that I am lying or trying to get money. But I’m not that kind of person. I’m an ordinary woman and I want the best for my son’s future.

I’ve learned my lesson, though. No more men in my life. To other single women out there, I’d say, “Be careful.” It’s hard to be sure the details given to you by someone you meet online are true. In my case, the person paying the price is Blair – and that’s something I’ll always regret. As told to Sharon Course Photograph by John ocCoombe

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