Winona Varney was reunited with her mother through Facebook, writes Christopher Booker.
Winona Varney was reunited with her family through Facebook
For once, after all the shocking stories I have reported on the secretive system that allows social workers to seize children from loving parents for no good reason, to send them for adoption, I can at last report a story where a family torn apart for nine years has been reunited.
When Winona Varney, now a pretty 16-year-old, recently fell into the arms of her mother Tracey at Truro railway station, they had not seen each other since she was seven. During that time, she and her 12-year-old sister Daniella have been living unhappily with an adoptive family, who repeatedly told them that their mother was a bad woman who did not love or want them. But when, in June, Winona managed to track her mother down, via Facebook, a short time later the two girls and their mother were again living under the same roof.
This harrowing story began back in 1997, when social workers from Cornwall county council received a wholly erroneous tip-off that there might be drugs in the house where Tracey lived with her partner. The day after the birth of their first child, a boy, they were made to sign an agreement that they would “work with social services”. Tracey then had two daughters, Winona and Daniella; but their father, who had been in care himself, had a strong aversion to social workers and eventually threatened one with violence.
On the social workers’ insistence, in order to keep her children, Tracey left her partner. She and they were sent to a mother and child unit in Staffordshire, where she often had to protect them from abuse by other inmates. Eventually, though there was no evidence that Tracey had harmed them in any way, the girls were sent for adoption, on the grounds that they were “at risk of emotional abuse”. They were taken in by a couple in a nearby Cornish village, and Winona was given a new name. (Their brother, however, was returned to his mother, after a year in foster care.)
Year after year, unaware of her daughters’ whereabouts, Tracey sent loving birthday and Christmas cards to them. But this could only be done through social services – who never passed them on. According to Winona, she and her sister were constantly told both by social workers and their adoptive parents that their mother was “a horrible person” who didn’t love them.
Tracey eventually found a new partner with whom she had two more daughters. In June this year, Winona managed to track down her mother through Facebook, and they arranged to meet at Truro station. They couldn’t believe their happiness at being reunited and more secret meetings followed.
When Daniella was told what was going on, she was initially wary, because of the lies she had been told about her mother. But twice the girls escaped at night through windows for further meetings, until eventually Winona rang the adoptive parents to say they were both going back to live with their mother.
Winona is so angry about what has been done to them that she has opened a page on Facebook entitled “Anti-Social Services Forced Adoption – We Can Help!”, to join up with other children in the same plight. She pays tribute to the advice she was given by Ian Josephs, the businessman living in the South of France who, through his Forced Adoption website, has helped hundreds of families who have fallen into the clutches of this corrupt and secretive system.
Not dissimilar was the case of Tammy Coulter, taken away from her mother by Derbyshire social workers when she was only seven months old, after an accident left her with a bruised cheek. After time in foster care, she was put out for adoption by a judge who said that, thanks to delays by the social workers, she and her mother would by now be strangers. Only after 17 years did she find her mother again through the website Genes Reunited, and was able to return happily to her birth family.
In 2006, Tammy told a London audience, which included judges, lawyers and Harriet Harman MP: “Finding out you’ve been adopted is one of the worst feelings in the world, because you feel that all of your identity, everything you’ve known about yourself, is a lie.” She said she was speaking out “on behalf of children and parents who have also been through the secrecy of family courts and the injustices that have taken place, and the devastation of one decision that determines the future of a child”.
After nine years of misery, Winona Varney would agree. She says that after going to college, she wants to get involved in child care – “but certainly not as a social worker, because I have seen what they can do”.