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"They're not my children, but I feel like he took them away from me."

I wasn’t there when they were born. I didn’t choose their names, or see them take their first steps, or cry at the gate when they had their first day of school.

But they are still my children.

When I first met my daughter, we talked about tennis and school. She was shy and sweet and clearly loved being by her dad’s side as he chatted with me at a friends’ BBQ. I didn’t know that a year from then, I would be tucking her in at night, helping her with her homework and telling her every day that she was beautiful.

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I didn’t meet my son that day, he was busy playing with the other kids, yet when I did finally meet him, he was so full of joy and love that I could hardly believe my luck that I got to spend my life with such an amazing kid. He’s the kind of person who lights up a room. He is generous and loving, affectionate and bright, and he adores being with others. I hope he is always open to love and continues to see the world for its possibilities.

ALSO READ: “To my daughter’s step mum: I never wanted you here, but this is what I have to say.”

It took some time for my daughter to let me in. She’d been hurt before, she was cautious without ever being rude, and yet when we made it through, her love would pour abundantly. She is smart and ambitious, sensitive and thoughtful, and I know that she will achieve whatever she sets her mind to.

I fell so in love with her, and with him- I couldn’t wait for them to get home from school so we could hang out. I missed them so much when they were at their mum’s and I cherished every movie night, table tennis match, cooking adventure and family gathering.

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parent playing with kids“She is smart and ambitious… I fell so in love with her” (Note: this is a stock image.)

Having them in my life made everything better. I was part of a family- a noisy, chaotic, joyous, fun family, and it only made my desire to have more children stronger. I wanted to add to our little clan of four, and they too were dreaming of a little brother or sister.

Unfortunately, their dad was unsure. Afraid of the worst case scenario, he wasn’t able to see our future the way I saw it, and eventually, it was time to let go.

Saying goodbye to my son and daughter was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. We cried in each others’ arms, none of us wanting to let go. I told them that I loved them, that I will always love them, and I will always be their friend. And I meant every word.

Months on, I’m still struggling, and even more so because their dad has decided to relocate to Adelaide, which makes a relationship with the children even more difficult.

Nobody really talks about it, the loss of step-children. My counsellor called it “disenfranchisement”- if they were my biological children I’d be fighting for them in court, but what rights do I have?

Some might argue that they’re not my children, that they are lucky still to have two parents who love them, that one day I’ll have my own children, but that doesn’t mean that I loved them any less. It doesn’t make the pain of losing them any easier to bear. It doesn’t mean that biological children I have in the future will replace them in my heart. It doesn’t fill my new house with laughter and it doesn’t erase them from my story. I loved them as if they were my own, and they loved me. I played a huge role in their lives and now? Now what?

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They are lucky, they are part of a strong and loving network, so I’m not worried about them receiving love from all angles. All I can do is try my best, to keep my arms open for them, in case they need me. To wish them well at Christmas and on their birthdays, to hug them tightly when we do cross paths in the street and to pray that they are happy and well.

After all, they are my children. And I will love them, always.

Flick through for some famous celebrity step and former step-parents…

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