Jenny Deaves had always longed to meet her estranged dad, John. Her parents had split when she was just a baby, and her father was a stranger she knew only from photographs.
Originally published 11 July 2007
But the long-anticipated meeting with her father changed Jenny’s life in a totally unexpected way – they became lovers. Despite their affair causing a bitter family rift and the couple being charged with incest, they’re still together almost eight years on. Incredibly, they’ve had two children together and both remain unrepentant about their forbidden love.
“I don’t think what we’ve done is wrong and we’ve never been ashamed of it,” says Jenny, 39. “I don’t see John as my father and there’s no way we could have stopped what happened. We feel we were destined to be together – we’re soulmates. “It was very confusing at first, because I knew he was my father – but he never felt like my dad.” Jenny’s parents split in 1969 and from the age of one, Jenny was brought up by her mum, Joan, 60, and stepdad David. “Mum never wanted me to have any contact with my real dad,” she says. “But I couldn’t help being curious about him.” Eventually, at the age of 15, Jenny went to spend a week with John, now 61, at his home in Adelaide, South Australia. “It was awkward because we were strangers, but we soon relaxed in each other’s company,” she says. “I wasn’t attracted to him at that stage, though.” As John lived thousands of miles away, the pair only kept in contact through occasional letters and Christmas cards. Jenny went on to marry husband Michael and have two children, Samantha, now 15, and Alexander, 10. John married twice more and had another daughter, who he no longer sees. But in 2000, Jenny’s marriage ran into trouble – and the first person she turned to was her biological dad. “I felt very down about my marriage, and I also wanted my children to meet their real granddad,” says Jenny. “It was a chance to take their minds off what was happening.
Attracted to my Dad
“We spent two weeks together and it was then I started to feel attracted to him. I remember thinking he was good-looking, but I was confused. He was 22 years older than me – and he was my father.”
After returning to her home in New South Wales, Jenny, a full-time mum, desperately wanted to see John again. They remained in daily contact and he agreed to visit her three weeks later.
The family went on a trip to the zoo and stayed in a caravan. And, after staying up to chat one night over a few drinks, Jenny climbed into bed with her dad, as her children slept just feet away. “I thought we could innocently share a bed,” insists Jenny. “But when John rolled over to give me a cuddle, I wanted more.”
The pair began kissing, before having sex. She says: “I remember my brain screaming, ‘We shouldn’t be doing this,’ but I couldn’t stop myself. It felt wonderful and right – and I was relieved that what I’d been feeling was reciprocated. We didn’t use contraception, but I didn’t care.”
Later that night, John asked Jenny if she was OK with what had happened. “We talked for ages and neither of us were ashamed about what we’d done,” says Jenny. “I just held his hand and gave him a kiss. I was so glad he felt the same way and I had no regrets. Jenny slept with her father again the next night, before returning home to think about her future. But, less than a week later, Samantha, then nine, accidentally revealed her mother’s secret, blurting out to Jenny’s mum: “Mummy’s happy now she’s slept with Grandpa.” “That was when things got really bad,” recalls Jenny. “Mum confronted me and I confessed. She was horrified, so I left with the kids and headed back to Adelaide.”
'I couldn't share John'
Knowing her mum would not be able to keep her secret, Jenny was forced to tell her husband. He was disgusted and refused to see her again. Meanwhile John confessed their incestuous relationship to his shocked wife, Sarah*, 56. Incredibly, she suggested that Jenny came to live with them and share John with her. “I think she was desperate to save her marriage,” says Jenny. “But I didn’t want to share John, so I refused.” When both John’s wife and Jenny’s family threatened to call the police and have Jenny’s children taken into care, the couple went on the run. “We went to Western Australia where we wouldn’t be bothered by people,” says Jenny. “I was hopelessly in love, but we never mentioned to anyone that we were actually father and daughter.” Within a year, Jenny discovered she was pregnant. But their son, Jackson, tragically died from a heart condition in 2001, four days after his birth. “It wasn’t a genetic problem caused by a father and daughter having a child,” insists Jenny. Heartbroken, the couple stayed on the run for five years, until Jenny fell pregnant again in 2006. She says: “Having a daughter with my own father – and the risks that might bring – scared me. We didn’t tell the doctors we were related, but we had all the tests and knew she was going to be healthy.”
After Celeste, now 10 months, was born, they decided to return to South Australia to settle. The couple continued to keep their true relationship a secret from other people, but explained everything to their children, who accept their relationship.
But in October, the police tracked them down after John’s disgusted sister called the police. The couple were charged with two counts of incest and pleaded guilty in court. But they were still allowed to see each other because of the children, and will return to court for sentencing this month.
Jenny says: “We realise that, legally, we won’t be able to have sex. But we’re soulmates and will never be separated."
And John says: “We’ll stay together as a family and I don’t think what we’re doing is morally wrong. “My relationship with Jenny is the most fulfilling I’ve ever had – I love and adore her.”