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Tuffley grandmother's campaign to find 'lost' first five years of her life

By The Citizen  |  Posted: December 28, 2013

antonia

Antonia McKenzie

For most people sharing their earliest memories with loved ones is a cherished past time.

However, for Antonia McKenzie, 43, from Tuffley, the first five years of her life are completely blank.

The grandmother was adopted at the age of five and now she is fighting to discover what the first few years of her life entailed after social services lost her files, she claims.

“For 20 years I was looking for answers trying to fill in the gaps,” she said.

“Then I had my children so I put it aside while I raised them. Now they have left home it is time for answers.

“I literally have no idea what happened to me in the first five years of my life.

“It needs sorting out.”

Antonia knows she was born with the name Antoinette Refrina Donna Grierson/Byrne and she knows that she was born in Bristol and that her mother was 15 at the time.

But information on the next five years of her life are scant, despite the fact she has located both of her parents.

“I have spoken to my mother but she wasn’t much help to be honest,” she said.

“I met my dad in 1993, he lives in Canada.

“I was 23 at the time and when I found him he didn’t even know I existed so he certainly couldn’t help me fill in the gaps.”

Antonia's name later changed to Antonia Burcher when she was adopted.

She later took her biological father’s surname McKenzie.

Antonia claims despite following the official channels social services have failed to come up with the documents that would help her discover more about her early years.

She said: “It is my understanding they are supposed to keep these documents for 50 years.

“I put in an official request to see my documents a year ago but social services told me they couldn’t find them. Surely that is in breach of my human rights?

“All I want is to know about my life.

“I have children of my own and even grandchildren now. You hear some mothers saying how their children are just like they were when they were babies, but I can’t do that because I have no idea what I was like.”

She added: “You see all of this stuff from the council in the press about fostering and adopting and how they are encouraging people to do it, but if they aren’t keeping the records properly then something needs to be done.”

Delia Amos, service manager for fostering and adoption at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Our adoption support team are arranging to meet with Ms McKenzie personally to share all the information we have with her.

“As part of the meeting we will establish exactly what is outstanding so we can check our records and also request any relevant information from our partner agencies.”

Antonia says she has now submitted a formal complaint to social services and is still awaiting a response.

She also plans to take her case to the Information Commissioner.

 
 

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