Real Life

Lonely teen’s search for her Dad

Alice Holly was just eight years old when she told her biological father to stop coming to see her.

Now after a heart-wrenching 10-year absence, her dad is back in her life thanks to her efforts to find him.

Alice, an only child, was four years old when her mother broke the news that the man she thought was her father wasn’t her real dad. It was actually Wayne Kilpatrick – her mum’s childhood sweetheart.

The following paternity tests tore Alice’s family apart. Her mother’s relationship with her stepfather broke up, and her new dad, Wayne (41), tried to take over as Alice’s father figure. But she found it too hard to accept him.

“I was a mummy’s girl and afraid of guys. But I do remember all of his visits. He gave me a toy pony when I was four, and I’ve always kept it. But I think I was too young and shy.”

After four years of awkward visits, the timid Alice asked him to stop coming, which he did, leaving just her mother in her life, because her stepfather had also found it too hard to stay in contact.

Tragically, Alice’s mother died four years ago after a long battle with depression, and the absence of a father became much harder for the teenager to bear.

“That’s when I started regretting not having him around. I didn’t have either of my parents and I felt a longing to have a family. I had my uncle and auntie and grandparents, but they were more on the outside,” says Alice, who went to live with family friends.

“I didn’t go to school for six months. I stayed at home in my room all day and all night. I lost all of my friends because I was put into a new school. I had nobody.

“But I woke up one morning and thought, ‘I have to get on with my life.’ I couldn’t mope around forever, andI learned to accept that oum was gone. I’d spent all my life looking after her, and it was time to look after myself,” she says.

Late last year, Alice decided to take the brave step of asking the makers of the TV3 programme oissing Pieces to find her dad.

The team was able to track down Alice’s father just 20km away from where she was living. Alice is Wayne’s only child and he’d always carried photos of his little girl in his wallet, while Alice had always treasuredthe photo she kept of her father.

Wayne explained that the main reason he stopped visiting Alice was because her mother had warned him to not have any more contact with her. But he said, of course he’d love to see her again.

Alice admits she wasn’t prepared for their emotional reunion in front of the cameras in Kingsland, Auckland – she’d simply been told they were filming.

“They said, ‘There’s someone waiting for you at the top of the elevator.’ I was so scared – I had the shakes. But as soon as I saw him it went away. I thought, ‘There’s my dad. I don’t feel scared any more’.”

Since that day, Alice and Wayne have enjoyed many outings together, seeing each other once a fortnight and learning more about the past.

Wayne and Alice’s mother had known each other when they were growing up, and he’d come back into her life while Alice’s stepdad was away for two months.

Alice suspects that Wayne always knew he might be her father because he visited her on the day she was born.

“I think it was a bit awkward for my dad and my stepdad, because they passed each other in the corridor. My stepdad knew my mum was still in contact with Wayne because they’d been childhood sweethearts. It must have been awkward.”

Currently studying to become a florist, Alice now lives with a foster family, who are building an eco-village. She’s also taking part in the “I Am” protest against materialism to raise funds for water filtration systems in Africa. The challenge involves her being only allowed to wear 10 “I Am Alice” T-shirts for a year.

Now she has her dad back in her life, she’s also reconnecting with the rest of his family, after Wayne invited her to spend Christmas with his family.

“It was pretty awesome getting my dad for Christmas. I even got to meet two new cousins I’d never met before,” she smiles.

“It’s so nice to know that I have a future with my dad and his door’s always open.”

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