"Dear daughter, I want you to know how hard I’ve tried"

DAVID* is a 33-year-old father from New South Wales. He was in a relationship for three years before moving in with his girlfriend. They had a baby, who turns five later this year.

He says his girlfriend struggled with mental illness and severe anxiety and the relationship was over before their daughter was born. Visitation was agreed before he moved out, but he has not been allowed to see his daughter since.

She was one week old. Five years later, he still hasn't seen her.

He believes authorities should be empowered to ensure both parents see their children. An ex simply saying, "No, I don't want my child to see them", should not be enough reason to keep children from their parents.

Here, he tells his story.

DEAR daughter,

It has been years since I held you but there are some things I want you to know.

From the moment I knew you were coming to this world I changed as a person. My stomach fluttered and I talked to you when you were growing in your mum's tummy.

I hardly slept in the weeks before you arrived I was so excited. I cried when you were born. It was, by far, the happiest moment of my life.

It was a bit surreal just before you were born because I knew then that I was going to lose you. I knew the breakup was coming and there was some grief hitting me in waves.

Life doesn't often have happy endings like we read in books. I wish it did, but there's no point in pretending life is something it's not.

It was best for your mum, me, and you that I didn't stay living with you. The last couple of months before you arrived were very tough. Your mum was really struggling emotionally. The police were called a couple of times. Some nights I slept in the car down the road.

It was all very distressing and stressful; I didn't want that for you.

So I left. You were one week old and I cried as I drove away. It was agreed that I'd come and see you the following weekend. But your mum changed her mind.

My darling daughter, I want you to know how hard I've tried.

Your mum decided I wasn't to see you for at least 12 months.

We went to court and it quickly spiralled into more than I could afford. You really want to know? One day cost me $2,000. I hoped we would get everything sorted that day, but we didn't. Each extra day was going to cost $3,000.

All the love in the world doesn't magic up money - I just didn't have it.

I saved as much as I could, moved back in with my parents, I got a lawyer and we went back to court. But the system doesn't help dads who are desperate to see their children.

There was so much anger directed at me, it was best for you that I didn't make anything any worse. I've written to you often and I want you to know that there isn't a single day that passes when I don't think about you. You're on my mind when I brush my teeth in the morning, I daydream about the day I'll put my arms around you again.

Never, ever feel unloved.

I wish I had the money to take this on and fight in court right now. One day you and I will sit down and talk about the system. We'll talk about how broken it is and how, no matter how much you end up loathing your partner, you have to try to do the right thing for your children. There's so much for us to talk about, when you're older.

Don't ever think I didn't try to call, because I did.

You are my precious daughter and I will always be here for you.

I'm working as hard as I can. I'm saving money. It's money that opens doors. I'm going to get back into court when I have enough and I'm going to fight to see you at least once a fortnight.

I can't wait to hug you, to kiss you on the forehead as I wish you good night. One day we'll curl up together on the lounge and watch movies, we'll run around in the park, we can even go surfing if you like.

For now, I have to be patient.

For now, I have to wait and save.

Sometimes I feel angry that no one will help, but I know it doesn't do any good. We'll talk about anger too, and putting that to one side like bitterness.

There is a conversation that needs to be had about this broken system. We'll have it one day as we walk through the park.

Until then I have to keep hoping. I have to be patient and I have to trust that we'll get there in the end."

* Name has been changed to protect identities.

News Corp Australia

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