Second chance at being a dad - US prison sentence robs him of chance to be there for his children, now he gets to be a father to his grandson
After missing out on his children's growing years while in a prison in the United States, Dale Hylton has been given a second chance of playing a father's role, with the State giving him control of his grandson.
Hylton had been locked up in a US prison for 12 years, leaving his 12 children to grow up in Jamaica without a father. He had left Jamaica in 2000 and was deported from the US in 2016 after his release from a federal prison for armed robbery.
When he came home, he found out that his daughter, who he had last seen when she was just seven years old, had become pregnant as a teenager, and the child she gave birth to was deemed in need of care and protection and taken into state care.
The child's father, who was reportedly twice the age of the mother, abandoned her when she became pregnant. The teenager was initially being assisted by her mother, who migrated leaving the young girl on her own.
According to Hylton, shortly after birth the baby, named Kevin Malik Williams, became ill, prompting the intervention of the then Child Development Agency.
"I remember when I came back she told me that she had a son, and I asked her if he was dead. Where was he? She told me that the State had him, and that's when I decided that I had to do everything to get my grandson," Hylton told The Sunday Gleaner.
He was later to discover that baby Kevin had been placed in a foster home in Montego Bay, St James.
Hylton said it took several trips to and from Montego Bay, and visits to his St Thomas home by the authorities, before they deemed him fit to take care of the boy. Since then, the two have been inseparable.
"When I came here and heard that my grandson was in state care I had to act. I didn't want to know that my blood was being raised by someone else in someone else's family," said Hylton.
"I feel really great having this baby boy with me, knowing that he is a part of the family. I am proud of him and I intend to nurture in him great things; not just good things.
"I want him to be an extraordinary person. I want him to be someone that people look up to in a respectful way," added Hylton. He said he is fully reformed, received an education, and learnt several skills while in prison in the US.
According to Hylton, while he regrets missing out on his daughter's childhood and not being there for her during her pregnancy, he is now ready to do everything to support her and the child.
Hylton also urged parents whose daughters become pregnant during their teenage years to support these girls.
"If you have your kid and you are spending a lot of money to make sure that child has the best life, and then she makes a mistake, it's going to hit you hard, but the thing is, it is still life and it is your responsibility to look out for that life and do your part," charged Hylton.