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My Girl’s Different

 

I know what you’re thinking, not another foreigner meets bargirl story with all the tale of joy and consequent woe. Read on, just a little bit more, because this story is a little different and has a bearing on you, especially if you are a foreigner in a relationship with a Thai lady who is young enough to be able to have children, and you’re old enough to still have and want them as well.

 

A hard-working middle-aged English expat meets an equally hard-working Thai lady; and by hard working it means she wasn’t, in this case, involved in the night entertainment scene.

A relationship begins and after a few months a happy little surprise is confirmed after a visit to the hospital.

 

The foreigner tells his family in England; the Thai tells hers. East meeting West is never easy, but everything seems to be working out.

 

The baby, a girl, arrives and it’s joy all around. Families from both sides visit and the future is looking good.

 

Of course, now the responsibilities begin. Cool heads are needed financially. Lots of lifestyle changes are required and priorities change. The foreigner, of course, earns the bulk of the income and refuses to get drawn into the “let’s spend it all on payday” mentality. He is looking at the big picture: the future, not so much for himself, as his little girl.

 

A homestead is slowly kitted out, it’s nothing flash, but comfortable. Babies, of course, need lots of care and attention. The new lifestyle change is so different from the heady days of a Pattaya newbie when he was the sexiest thing to saunter down Walking Street. But he welcomes the change.

 

The road is never smooth with opposite cultures and religious viewpoints. Very soon the strains on the relationship make it clear it will soon be over. As the relationship reaches its nadir, no arrangements have been made for the little girl caught up in the middle.

 

One day the foreigner goes to work as usual. He comes home in the evening to find his whole life removed. The car, the entire contents of the house, and, of course, the prize ‘asset’, his darling little girl are all gone.

 

Battle is about to be joined. He goes to the police and makes a report. Then the mud slinging starts. First, abusive emails, phone calls and SMSs. Lawyers are employed and some serious money starts being spent.

 

The little girl is shipped off to a village in Rayong province for a ‘better life’. The Englishman stays in Pattaya, as does his former girlfriend, but obviously no longer together.

 

As the girl’s father, the Englishman, investigates his rights regarding the child. None. He wasn’t legally married to the mother and, more poignantly, although his name is on his little girl’s birth certificate as the acknowledged father, he is not registered at the Amphur in Banglamung.

 

He wants to be responsible for his daughter, he wants to take care of her, yet when he asks the British Embassy what can be done, they can only suggest he reports the girl as ‘missing’.

 

Although he likes being in Thailand, the father decides it would be best to take his daughter back to the United Kingdom to give her the chance of good health care, a good education and be embraced by his huge family who would only be too pleased to help. He offers this to the Thai family. Not only is the offer callously and selfishly rejected, the email and phone abuse continues.

 

A month passes. Finally he is able to arrange to make a visit to see his little girl. He knows supplies must be running short for the baby. He is given vague directions but, with persistence, he manages to find the right village. As he expected, the village has no close medical facility, and no decent shops where his daughter’s needs can be taken care of.

 

Upon arrival he finds he cannot call his erstwhile Thai relatives: their mobiles are turned off. So he is left to scour the village hoping to find his daughter. The search proves fruitless and he is forced to come back to Pattaya alone. He feels gutted. It’s been four weeks since he last saw the one person he adores. It’s been four harrowing weeks of deep concern.

 

The abusive SMSs and emails continue. She’s going to inflict as much emotional pain as she can. The Englishman realises he has some awesome family and friends who rally around him. They have children of their own and genuinely understand the pain. They also understand that, whatever happens in a relationship, a child’s welfare must be paramount.

 

As he notes, there is often some collateral damage in a break-up, but why does that collateral damage have to be an innocent child? Can this get any worse? Do we have to wait until the little girl is physically or mentally suffering? How far does one need to go to get ‘even’?

 

Still his ex-girlfriend is an educated one; his girl’s different.

 

The above story is true. No names have been used to protect the identity of the writer and his daughter. It serves as a reminder of the need for foreigners involved in a relationship with a local female and, where there are children from that union, to ensure the necessary legal paperwork is in place. At least then, it becomes possible to involve the local authorities, your own embassy and, if necessary, the courts.