10 Months On
10 months ago I wrote asking for help in respects to the cost of raising a child in Thailand. I write to update some lessons learned.
Firstly, I was overwhelmed by the huge response of emails I received. I wish to thank everyone for so generously writing their responses to me, some of which would have taken considerable time. Due to the large amount of emails I wasn’t able to respond to all of them and for this I sincerely apologise. I read all of them in full and was extremely appreciative.
There were a surprising amount of guys in a similar situation to myself. Averaging all the suggestions of cost, I found 7,500 (range 5,000 – 10,000 suggested by most) to be the most common.
A lot of other timely advice was given and as such I firstly decreased the amount given down to 10,000 baht/month (it has since climbed back up to 12,500 but this is ok). I also spend 2,500 on health insurance monthly.
Friday (2 years old) has recently now moved from Ubon Rachathani to Bangkok to live with Jae. One month ago I took a trip back to Bangkok and with the help of a Thai guy we visited the National Police Hospital and viewed the original DNA test documents. The documents are legitimate.
For DNA tests I would recommend the Police Hospital. It is fairly cheap ~15,000 baht but it must be done with all parties involved – that is mother, child and yourself. Enquiring at Bumrungrad Hospital DNA tests cost ~29,000 and it can just be you and the child.
The Police Hospital and the DNA office is an official no nonsense place and I cannot imagine any way in which someone could or would attempt to bribe all the workers there for a different outcome. I have full confidence in the results now.
Whilst there, across from me sat a rather nervous and unhappy Japanese man with his Japanese wife. He had impregnated a Thai lady and the Japanese wife was none too happy. She had obviously told him her thoughts but wanted to find out if her husband would also be a father to someone else’s child. I wondered if the response to this man’s infidelity would have been the same if he were from a western country. I surmise a western wife wouldn’t even hang around to find out the results.
I visited the Australian Embassy and whilst there a man in his early 40’s was at the counter asking for advice about where to get DNA tests and what place is recommended. He was saying he wanted to find out, and if it were his baby he wanted to take it back to Australia. He wanted to look after it. He wanted to make it an Australian citizen and take it home. He wanted to help and take responsibility. The embassy official stated they cannot recommend anywhere but did give him a list of hospitals he can go and have it done.
In him I saw myself two and a half years ago. It seemed him, as was I, were first-time fathers. The emotions that hit you and how you act are recognisable. You’re filled with an extremely determined attitude. To change your life, maybe clean up your living, take responsibility. To make large promises of big changes in your life to yourself. This doesn’t necessarily translate in to reality but it’s there. I chatted briefly with him and told him which hospitals I had gone to.
He asked if I had any advice. I told him what my brother told me, “Don’t make any big decisions quickly”. This was good advice. I was going to do the same as him. But now life has settled down and I’m glad I didn’t. I checked things out. I know I can make my child an Australian citizen with dual nationality and I can do this right up until she is 18 years old. (I don’t know what the rules are after that.) However, if I do this I am subject to the same laws that all Australian fathers are subject to and one of them is child support. Child support payments are complicated in Australia and involve combining both my wage and the mother's wage, then subtracting a set cost of living for both of us, calculating a percentage each of us spends with the child and a percentage of the cost of a child under 12 living within the combined income that we have and then finally produces a figure which would roughly be 30,000 – 40,000 baht a month.
If as the mother has been pushing so regularly I do make Friday an Australian citizen, the mother can then simply call legal aid here in Australia. They will enact a resolution to withhold a portion of my wages as I work for the government and hand them over to Jae. I fear that a mother receiving a free 35,000 wage per month would live fairly comfortably in Thailand and find no reason to work. Yet I am restricted to Thai laws and if I were to contest Friday living in Thailand and wanted her to come to Australia I would have to challenge this to change them to 50/50 rights I would need to go to court in Thailand. I don’t have the money, time and willpower to do this at present.
So I don’t plan to make Friday an Australian citizen until she is older and I am more fully aware if she’d like to be a part of my life.
Jae is a little more stable now. I don’t wish to demonise her, but she is still difficult to deal with. The greatest struggle is her lies. People in Australia will lie to get out of trouble or not get caught. Jae will lie to actively hurt you. This is very different and I’ve never gotten used to it. My second last night in Bangkok I hoped to meet them in the evening but things became difficult and busy and I asked Jae if she minded if I met her the next evening.
After taking ages to reply instead of just saying no, she said she was flying to see her father that night and so no, I couldn’t. I cancelled my evening and said I was would come to meet her instead. She refused and said she was at her sister's house now and that was impossible. I jumped on my motorbike and rode to her house anyhow. She was there and said she hadn’t left. She kept up this charade of flights and what not until it was time for me to go and as I cried saying goodbye to Friday she told me she lied and she wasn’t going anywhere – she just didn’t like me rearranging plans on her. So I saw her the next night as well to say goodbye.
Where once I would have been angry, I would have tried to tell her how these lies add up, they destroy trust. They destroy relationships. But they have been so many and so often that just another part of me quietly expels a terribly sad sigh and another piece of whatever respect remains breaks away.
Jae is now but was not all that stable in the past. She has scars across her wrists where she used to cut herself. She has a long term boyfriend who lives in Sweden. She had been with him for one year when I first met her. I didn’t know about him until a little later but I’m still completely surprised by him. He is a young, good-looking boy (more so than me) and has taught himself to speak Thai as well as being a lawyer in Sweden. Jae is a nice-looking girl and back home people would say she is nice. Not beautiful or anything but plain and nice. In Thailand you wouldn’t think anything much of her if you passed her in the street so I’m confused as to why this boy stays with her as he could definitely get someone very attractive with more to offer.
On finding out she was pregnant and that when I wasn’t going to marry her she wanted to keep her current Swedish boyfriend she threatened me with abortion. She eventually told him and the next month he flew to Bangkok. I talked to her about it afterwards, and he said he would continue to love her. He slept with her when she was 4 month pregnant. For the life of me I cannot understand. Why would you fly half way around the world to chat with your ‘girlfriend’ who has been sleeping around and gotten pregnant with another guy? I still don’t know – however she plans to move and live with him in the future in Sweden and take Friday with her. She has taught herself to speak Swedish.
It’s difficult. He still plans for Jae to come to Sweden as with Friday. He has visited them quite a few times and flown back to that small village 2 hours out of Ubon to visit Friday as well. At any moment Jae could up and leave and live in Sweden which is what she wants and this money I’ve been supporting them with and struggling to pay and to give to my daughter vanishes along with Friday. I would never know and I would never be told or given any forewarning of when this were to happen. That’s how Jae operates.
Other situations that I didn’t realise is when I’m back visiting Friday. I will go out with friends and there may be a lovely girl who shows interest in me. But I feel guilty and bad to do anything. Sometimes these girls indicate they want to come home with me to my apartment but I know I can’t give them any future so I feel bad and don’t. What do you do? How do I tell someone in a busy noisy club that I have a daughter who I don’t get to see often to another Thai girl – but would she still like to come back home with me?
No; it’s too heavy and too much baggage. Adults, men and women, from all countries can have flippant sex sometimes but as soon as children are involved things become more serious. Adults may play games with each other but as soon as there is a child only serious relationships must be looked at it feels.
As such I’ve stayed single for the last two and a half years. I don’t have sex because I feel bad when I do. If I don’t tell them I feel like I’m lying. If I do it scares them and they suddenly think they have to be a mother and claim they are not ready for all of that and leave. It’s pretty difficult. And then yet I don’t hardly get to see my daughter at all.
Do I wish my daughter hadn’t been born? Not at all. When I think about her I’m happy. When I visit her, she doesn’t know me but she reaches up her small hand to hold mine as she goes down the steps at her home. She breaks out with fits of laughter when I spin her around the room. She plants kisses on my face and gives a tiny hug before bed. She cries and laughs and I hold her in my arms as we walk through the park and she rests her head on my shoulder.
Sadly though I’ve only seen her all of a total of five weeks in the last 2 years.
If I could reverse time to that night where Jae said ‘don’t wear a condom I’m on the pill’ I probably would put the condom on. But I don’t dislike my life and I’m happy Friday’s here. It’s just that as Facebook says; life… “It’s complicated”.
Thanks for taking the time to send in an update. It sounds as though life has had its challenges for you. You're willingness to be part of Friday's life is admirable, especially as Jae seems so hell-bent on making things difficult for you.