Father-son reunion

The content on this webpage contains paid/affiliate links. When you click on any of our affiliate link, we/I may get a small compensation at no cost to you. See our affiliate disclosure for more info

Last updated on June 10th, 2017 at 04:29 am

Health minister Tony Abbott fathered a child out of wedlock in 1977; the boy was subsequently adopted out. In this week’s Bulletin, Julie-Anne Davies has the extraordinary story of their reunion:

Abbott spent some brief moments with his son after the birth but has only vague, half-recalled memories of the experience. “In retrospect I am appalled at how callow I was,�? he says, with calm honesty. “But you know, that’s the way it was.

“I went to the hospital, the nurses gave me Daniel and I held him for a while. I was psychologically unready for parenthood – that is the sad truth about me at that time. I just wasn’t ready for it.�?

Twenty-seven years later, on Boxing Day 2004, Abbott is ready. He dials Daniel’s number.

“Hi, is that Daniel? This is Tony Abbott.�?

Daniel answers with four words that take Abbott’s breath away.

“Thanks for having me.�?

Also in The Bulletin this week: more old-timey pictures. They’ll be on the site Tuesday.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/20/2005 at 07:04 AM
    1. Despite the shrill harping of feminazi’s that as Abbott possesses a penis, he is not fit to comment about abortion as an issue, this story alone gives him more than enough personal experience to be at least able to offer an opinion and have it considered without derision.

      Posted by Nic on 2005 02 20 at 08:18 AM • permalink


    1. he can have all the opinions he wants, as long as he doesn’t try to take us girlies back to the days of coathanger abortions

      pardon my cynicism, but this heartwarming story comes at far too convenient a time


      Posted by KK on 2005 02 20 at 08:33 AM • permalink


    1. I don’t share kk’s cynicism about the timing of Abbott’s story and I will read it with interest.  Well, I read Bully most weeks so no stretch there.

      However, I totally concur with her first sentence, and thanks for stating it, KK.

      Please note that John Howard said the following when interviewed on ABC radio by Monica Attard recently:

      “Well obviously I have always held the view that there are circumstances when it is absolutely justified and you’ve indicated some of those (eg rape). But I am not somebody who seeks to impose my own personal views on the rest of the community. I certainly believe that there are strong views held on both sides of the debate and I am very strongly of the view that people, women who are faced with a decision about whether or not to have a termination should have strong support no matter what they choose. If you believe in choice you have to accept that there should be as much support people who might choose to keep the child as for those who choose termination.”

      The ability to make individual choices is surely one of the great benefits of living in a liberal democracy.

      Posted by Major Anya on 2005 02 20 at 03:24 PM • permalink


    1. Conenient time, KK?

      Daniel went looking for his birth parents not the other way around. And do you think this story wouldn’t have got out anyway considering Daniel’s job at the ABC and the high-profile natore of the birth dad.

      Mind you, I think Abbott has to be very careful how he handles it from here on. It would be disappointing if he starts saying something along the lines of “If I’d supported abortion, Daniel would not be here today”.
      He doesn’t need to. The story speaks for itself and Daniel’s “Thanks for having me” line says it all.
      As Tim wrote: “An extraordinary story”
      As the dad of a little boy, I found it very moving. If it wasn’t for the fact I’m at work, I think there would have been tears from this softy.

      Posted by Haslem on 2005 02 20 at 07:32 PM • permalink


    1. KK, similar delusions to your’s were aired this morning after 3AW’s Neil Mitchell interviewed Abbott. They were ignorant and offensive.

      Posted by slatts on 2005 02 20 at 10:14 PM • permalink


    1. The story would not have come out with anything like such a splash had not Abbott wanted it to.  He and Daniel could have agreed to keep their relationship low key and see what happened.

      As a Liberal Party member, I am deeply concerned at the current attempt to undermine a compromise hacked out with much pain and angst three decades ago.

      And slatts, learn to eschew the grocers’ apostrophe, which is also ignorant and offensive.


      Posted by KK on 2005 02 20 at 10:36 PM • permalink


    1. KK,

      I too concur with your sentiments in the first sentence of your first post.

      I just don’t agree with your views on the timing. However, if Abbott goes on now to milk this to push his views on abortion, I’ll happily concede you may have been right.

      And with respect, the story would have been just as big without Abbott’s and Daniel’s consent. The media have images of both men and would have been champing at the bit to break the yarn.
      (Unless there are federal laws against identifying parties to an adoption, in which case you have a point.)

      Posted by Haslem on 2005 02 20 at 10:47 PM • permalink


    1. KK, a mere slip and hardly comparable with a paranoid slur on someone’s character.
      Haslem, had The Bulletin had gone quiet on it, the rumour mill would have still churned furiously and eventually the story would have got out, probably in a distorted form.

      Posted by slatts on 2005 02 20 at 11:02 PM • permalink


    1. Thanks for having me

      what a crock
      abbott didn’t have him, his mother did, and then he was adopted out
      it’s a ridiculous statement; had this child not been born there’d be no ‘thanks for having me’

      Tony Abbott is against abortion, and his girlfriend didn’t have one. That’s fine. Just don’t impose your values on me.

      Posted by kae on 2005 02 20 at 11:40 PM • permalink


    1. Here’s a couple of scenarios.
      Abbott’s son finds him. There’s a chance the media will find out. Abbott thinks, if I say nothing and the story gets out, at least I won’t be accused of exploiting the situation to further my anti-abortion cause. But the downside is that, as Slatts rightly points out, the story is distorted. So Abbott decides to talk it through with Daniel and Kathy and suggests they try and have some control over how the story is told. They respond to an approach from The Bulletin. Downside for Abbott is that he’ll be accused of exploiting his son’s efforts to find his natural parents to push his anti-abortion crusade (a crusade I don’t endorse). But at least he knows the story will be told as accurately as possible.
      That’s one scenario.
      Another is that Abbott, having been approached by Daniel and told “thanks for having me” thinks, you beauty, I’ll use this to push the anti-abortion crusade. Let’s cooperate with the Bully.
      Can’t buy the second one but that’s just a personal view. I can’t verify it.
      Though I see Abbott’s just come out saying: “I certainly don’t think that Daniel ought to become a political football. I would just ask people to respect his privacy and Kathy’s privacy on this issue.” (SMH on-line).
      There’s a third scenario, of course: Abbott cooperates with The Bulletin to get the story right AND to push his cause, and thinks ‘who cares what people think!’

      Posted by Haslem on 2005 02 21 at 12:02 AM • permalink


    1. Yeppers Haslem, I suspect you are right.  It’s in keeping with St Tony’s past performance.

      So slatts reckons it’s paranoid to distrust politicians’ motives in briefing out exclusives to the media.  Such breathtaking naievety can but be admired.


      Posted by KK on 2005 02 21 at 12:31 AM • permalink


    1. And just to quote…

      CATHERINE MCGRATH: Your face is all over the newspapers today, the story has become public. Are you concerned about that and concerned about your own anonymity now?
      DANIEL O’CONNOR: More the family’s, this is my worry.
      CATHERINE MCGRATH: And how does your adoptive family feel about all of this?
      DANIEL O’CONNOR: Probably a little bit nervous, I’d imagine. Yeah, I mean it’s a bit of an intrusion really. Everyone’s trying to figure out where they belong in the whole situation and it’s a complication that we could all do without, I’m sure.


      Posted by KK on 2005 02 21 at 01:08 AM • permalink


    1. Anyone over 50 knows only too well the heart break decisions that had to made before the 70s.
      ‘Decent’-  girls did not have sex before marriage,they we were to be seen as pure as driven snow, but their husbands to be, were expected to be experienced lovers-with whom did they gain this experience? and at what cost? and to how many?? There was no social welfare for single parents, no day care affordable at any rate- The shame on her and her child – the looks and asides to be endured-
      I have seen too much of it, the babies whose mums decided against all odds to keep their child received no support nor sympathy- finanial nor physical- men did not want to be lumbered with the seed of another man.
      I saw first hand the very terrible trauma to one very influential family when the girl was separated from her teenage sweetheart, forced into and abortion which went badly wrong- she developed gas gangrene- suffered dreadfully and survived, but without a uterous. Oh! and the Boy hanged himself behind his bedroom door.

      I don’t like the thought of abortion but sadly within my own family circle have seen a very depressed lass go through 4 abortions- conceived with men not fit to be fathers   and conceived whilst the lass in very depressed state and on Marijuanna. No job-unable to work and unable to afford ongoing psychiatric care because she is on welfare. But for very wonderful- but grieving parents she would be dead or on heroin. Should she carry a baby to term there would be another generation of confused depressed people.
      I don’t have any answers on either side of the equasion, so think it is better to let the pregnant girl make her choice without guilt and further censure and give what love and support we can

      Posted by Rose on 2005 02 21 at 01:55 AM • permalink


    1. Hmmm, kk, I hardly think it breathtaking naivety to recognise that sharp journalists—like Tim Blair on The Bulletin—would run with this story, regardless of any Abbott co-operation. And that anyone half decent—and I’ve been in the same situation as Abbott—will do whatever they can to make it a positive situation for all parties involved. In such a situation there are quite a few. If you have information of Abbott handing out an exclusive to The Bulletin, pray share it with us. Or are you just being naieve? I watched Abbott in two interviews tonight and his obvious delight in this bonus to his existence makes your pathetic assertions all the more despicable.
      War declared on the hating class.

      Posted by slatts on 2005 02 21 at 06:23 AM • permalink


    1. Having grown up in those bad old days I can say that I do not wish to see a return to anything resembling the prohibition era.
      Having been through something similar to Tony’s story I can say that I do not see any joy in abortion, and I am married to a very fine woman (and mother) who sees no joy in it either. If anything, more opposed than most.
      I heard Tony interviewed today and felt he dealt very well with this issue, and showed no wish to use it as a sringboard to propel his case on abortion. He even acknowledged that there was a middle course that needed to be steered on the issue.
      I felt this reaction was unnecessarily harsh from kk:
      he can have all the opinions he wants, as long as he doesn’t try to take us girlies back to the days of coathanger abortions

      Posted by blogstrop on 2005 02 21 at 07:32 AM • permalink


    1. Kae said: … “had this child not been born there’d be no ‘thanks for having me’ “

      No comment necessary. Words fail.

      ‘The story would not have come out with anything like such a splash had not Abbott wanted it to.  He and Daniel could have agreed to keep their relationship low key and see what happened.’

      ‘See what happened?’

      Are you seriously aware just how stupid that comment is?

      The standard of debate plumbs new depths, that is just a spectacularly stupid comment.

      Idiotic comments like these make you wonder what people are thinking. And why.

      Posted by ilibcc on 2005 02 21 at 07:46 AM • permalink


    1. Tony Abbott was interviewed on ABC last night; and a good, even handed interview it was.  At no point was the abortion issue raised; it was entirely devoted to Abbotts own views and feelings on having children at various stages of his own life.

      I dont think there is any real connection between Abbotts’ political position on abortions performed and his adopted son.  The adoption was more to do with his realisation and admission that at the birth he didnt have what it takes to be a father; he lacked that emotional maturity even with his second child and describes himself at that time as ‘callow’.

      He had maintained contact with the mother, and they had always wondered what had happened to their boy, and the reuniting was a wonderful thing.

      Those that believe that this is all part of a highly orchestrated political manouevre probably shouldnt risk getting out of bed in the morning.

      Posted by rog2 on 2005 02 21 at 04:06 PM • permalink


    1. well let’s just see what emerges about how the Bulletin got the inside track on the story, while other media organisations just had the bare facts

      anyone who thinks my coathanger reference is harsh is obviously too young to remember the days of backyard abortionists before Menhennet


      Posted by KK on 2005 02 22 at 04:31 AM • permalink


    1. kk – I have seen a woman with what was then called a septic abortion which was carried out with fencing wire.Also an intellectually handicapped girl who was raped in an institution.Have also accompanied 8 girls to theatre in one afternoon and heard of a baby left in a kidney dish in a pan room to die.All sides of this issue are terrible. People should not be allowed to use abortion as a contraceptive – several times.However the fact remains that more affluent women will always be able to purchase medical treatment and poorer young women will suffer.Adoption is shockingly traumatic for girls too – the best solution is to encourage contraception ( many young girls now opt for depro provera injections every six months). Ultimately however it is the women who suffer and the women should make the decision. There are so many kids now requiring fostering, often 3 from one family, that social services cannot keep up with them and they have an awful life there are so many drug addicted mothers(and fathers).What is the point of bringing more unwanted children into the world then leaving social services and a dwindling number of foster carers to clean up the resulting sad mess.

      Posted by crash on 2005 02 22 at 12:28 PM • permalink


    1. Just don’t impose your values on me.

      With all due respect,
      Some might say that terminating a feotus is a form of imposing your values on another person.
      With somewhat more permanent results.

      Posted by RhikoR on 2005 02 22 at 07:21 PM • permalink


    1. With all due respect,
      Some might say that terminating a feotus is a form of imposing your values
      on another person.
      With somewhat more permanent results.

      some might also say that a foetus is not a person – I am one of them.

      can anyone tell me what is meant by using the term with all due respect? I am not sure if it is said with respect, or as a putdown, it seems to be used often.

      Posted by kae on 2005 02 22 at 07:38 PM • permalink


    1. I’d like to add to my previous post that asked by a young woman for advice (and freely giving advice to my niece), I make it clear that a woman never knowingly get herself into the situation where this type of decision needs to be made – always take precautions.
      It’s not an easy decision – to give birth or terminate, be a mother or adopt out. It’s not a decision that is easy because there are many factors to be taken into consideration. However, I firmly believe that the decision should be the woman’s and, if she is in a stable and loving relationship, a couple’s decision.

      Posted by kae on 2005 02 22 at 07:52 PM • permalink


  1. I also think it’s great that Tony Abbott and Kathy and Daniel have met – Tony and especially Kathy will now no longer wonder what this child that she (or should I say they?), gave up looks like, takes after, etcetera, (as will Daniel), it’s heartwarming, but enough is enough.
    I can’t wait to get home and get my Bulletin to see what light, if any, is shed on this news item.

    Posted by kae on 2005 02 22 at 07:57 PM • permalink