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A father's love transcript

Darren

Yeah, we were at home, got the call and then Jess showed up with the two kids. It was a little upsetting, because I could see just by looking at them that they'd been doing it tough. Nearly brought a tear to the eye. It was a moment that I won't forget, that's for sure.

Jessie

I really loved getting to know Deklan and Dakota. They're amazing children. I could see how much they really loved their mum and how much mum loved them. And I was very careful in how I worded things to make sure that it didn't sound like I was blaming mum, and also that I wasn't judging mum for what was happening. It was just choices she was making at the time that I was really worried about. So when I first started working with Casey, I spoke really openly with her about what was happening and the choices that she was making and how those really impacted the children. Deklan and I spent a lot of time just chatting about what life was like for him. When I spoke to him about how happy he felt, he said he was a one. I guess, really highlighted what was happening for him and how it was making him feel. So, one thing that really stood out for me with Deklan was his sense of responsibility for his younger sister, and would often avoid going to school because he was worried about what was going to happen for Dakota during the day.

Deklan

Well, when I had to take care of Dakota, it was kind of hard, 'cause I was like eight, nine at the time. Sometimes come up to my room and start crying and I'd just have to try to comfort her, and it was kind of hard, but I just had to just stay strong for her because she didn't deserve it at all.

Jessie

He had a really big weight on his shoulders.

Deklan

When Jessie came around and she visited, I was really shy, 'cause I didn't know exactly what was going on. She made us feel a lot better. She tried to comfort us and stuff like that and tried to get me to go to school, and it was really kind and really caring, 'cause she obviously knew that me and Dakoda were going through hard times.

Jessie

Dakoda, she's a beautiful little girl. Every time I would visit her and her family, I'd leave with different colored nails. But I think, for her, it was really important that she got to know me as a safe person. What really stood out for me was how isolated Deklan and Dakoda were.

A large focus of my casework was Family Finding. They were lucky to have a quite a big family that they had sadly been quite cut off from It was really nice to be able to reach out to different family members, I guess, really send that message that there were people around them that really loved them and really cared about them. Through Family Finding, I was able to reach out to Deklan's dad, Darren. I think, as a society, we often have low expectations of fathers, especially single fathers, when there isn't an existing relationship that they have with their children. Often we don't explore that as well as we could, so I think it's really important, through my casework, that I was able to keep an open mind and reach out to anyone and everyone that could be a part of the children's lives.

Darren

When I got the call, ‘What's going on?’ And then she started to explain to me that the kids were being neglected, pretty much, and that they were anticipating removing the kids from their circumstance. Which was a shock because I didn't think it was that bad, and I was never led to believe that there was anything bad.

Jessie

Things were heading in a direction that we were becoming increasingly worried about their safety in their mum's care. So one morning I received a phone call from Darren and Darren said that he'd been thinking a lot and said that if the kids did need to come into care, that he would be more than happy to have both of them.

Darren

It was a pretty easy decision, 'cause I know how me son feels about his sister. I couldn't picture them apart. So I said, ‘Just bring her in ‘and we'll just do the best we can.’

Jessie

So, to receive that phone call was really reassuring. Unfortunately, Dakoda's dad wasn't in a position to be able to be a part of her life. Having that information about who her dad was and who her family was, is really important to pass on to her so that she knows where she's come from and who she is. Deklan and Dakoda held hands for the two hour drive to Darren's house, which was really beautiful and really highlighted their connection and, I guess, how much they rely on each other.

Darren

The fear in Dakoda's eyes was my very first thing I noticed. She clung onto Jess. What settled it for her was that when Deklan got out of the car and Deklan and I cuddled. I think that sort of settled her a little bit. She realised, ‘Oh, hold on, "I think I've seen this bloke before.’ Just the way she was communicating, you could see she was very shy, scared, a whole range of things. She needs something to break down those barriers, so I just made it a conscious effort to make her laugh every day. It was a goal that I'd sort of set for her and I to build our relationship. It worked, and it's still working today, after all this time. You know, I'm a better person to have her around. She's my little girl, she's my daughter.

Deklan

Me and Dad have created like a bond together because it's been a long time since we moved here. Definitely got to know each other a lot more. Even though we have our ups and downs, it's still good living with him.

Darren

When I first got him and we talked, I said, "Mate, all I want you to do is be a boy "and let me be the parent; you be the kid, eh?"

Deklan

He always reminds me and Dakoda that, well, we don't have to worry about anything like this. We've got a roof over our head and there's food on the table. And when we first come to live with him, he definitely reminded us, 24/7, that everything was gonna be okay.

Jessie

So it's really beautiful to see how far Deklan and Dakoda have come. Deklan was not going to school very much in the beginning, when I first met him, and he's now very committed to his education.

Deklan

Yeah, I'm doing pretty good at school and I've got a lot of friends. Yeah, I love school now, never had a day off.

Jessie

Dakoda has grown into a very confident, very chatty little girl. She starts big school next year. Casey, their mum, is still a really important part of their life. And I think it's been great for the kids to see their mum at her best self every week.

Darren

What stands out for me with Jess was the help that she gave me. She was there for me. I can't thank them enough for what they've done and saved these two kids. And everything's been a positive with them. Very grateful, very grateful.

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Last updated: 14 Dec 2020