Rachael Johns never grew up questioning who her dad was or where she came from. She knew those facts well.
Her dad lived somewhere in England, half way across the world, and her parents met working together at a TV station. They were not married and they never had plans to. They weren’t engaged, and technically, they weren’t even dating.
They were, for lack of a better word, a ‘thing’ for about four or five years. And then she came along. The product of their secret affair.
“It was a relationship that happened over many years slowly and it was on-and-off for about four or five years before I came along,” Rachael tells Mamamia from her base in Perth.
“I can’t remember ever not knowing about where I came from. I grew up without a father figure obviously, and you notice that on Fathers’ Day and at some school events, but I had a grand dad. Honestly, it was one of those things where you don’t miss what you don’t have.”
It was 1979 when Rachael's mum realised she was pregnant and, far from seeing a future where her partner was ever going to be in the picture, she packed their bags and moved them from England to Australia.
Though she can't remember a point in time when she was explicitly told about her origins, Rachael says she never grew up wondering. Things were OK. She felt loved and well-adjusted, and felt the occasional pangs of curiousity about her father and the four half-sisters and brother who never knew she existed.
"It's not like my mum ever condoned affairs, she knew that was wrong, but she was never ashamed of me.
"Theirs was a love affair, he was unhappily married and 13 years older. She never asked him to leave. I was my dad's dirty secret, and that caused a lot of issues down the track. His wife suspected but never knew."
For 17 years, Rachael's siblings had no idea she existed. That was, of course, until she decided to chase her father and her family down.
"We didn't have the internet back then. It was just so lucky that I found him. We went down to the state library, looked at the phone book and he hadn't moved or anything so he was pretty easy to track him down. By that time, my mum's loyalties lay with me, so she was worried it could end up not very nice and I could end up upset."