Polish children dumped by parents heading for BritainBy Jason Lewis in Wroclaw
Published 29 July 2006
The terrible legacy of the mass migration encouraged by Tony Blair's open door to job-seekers from former Eastern bloc states joining the European Union can be disclosed for the first time today.
A Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal that parents are dumping children in Poland's state-run orphanages before heading to London.
Even more tragically, some youngsters have killed themselves after being left with elderly relatives - while others have turned to drugs and crime when they were abandoned by their migrant mothers and fathers.
An estimated 600,000 Eastern Europeans have come to Britain since EU enlargement in 2004 - 300,000 of them from Poland.
And while other established EU countries, including Germany and France, imposed strict quotas on how many they would allow to work, Mr Blair decided to give these new citizens unrestricted access to Britain's labour market - encouraging thousands of poor and unskilled Poles to take a chance on a new life in the UK.
Little Ania Siebielec is one of those suffering the consequences of that decision. This sad little girl - two last month - was abandoned at a Polish orphanage because she stood in the way of her mother Sylwia's dreams of a new start in Britain.
Ania (right) was left in Poland by her mother Sylwia (left)
While the other children at Orphanage Number One in the city of Wroclaw in southern Poland laughed and played in the sunshine yesterday morning, Ania sat withdrawn.
"Two months ago Ania's mother turned up here," said Jolanta Dutkiewicz, the orphanage's director. "She showed us a one-way bus ticket for London and said she wanted us to take Ania.
"She gave us no choice. She said the girl's father was in prison and there was no one else. She said if we did not take her, she would simply leave her at the bus station. She brought the little girl into our office, handed us a few clothes and then simply left. She said she would call when she was settled, but we have heard nothing.
"We have no address for her, nothing. It was like the girl was an inconvenience standing in the way of her getting a better life. There was no thought about what it might do to the little girl."
But Ania is not alone. Her story is being repeated across Poland. No one is yet prepared to put a figure on how many children have been abandoned as their parents seek their fortunes abroad.
Polish politicians are more concerned with stemming the flow of key workers leaving their nation than with the youngsters they leave behind.
But last week The Mail on Sunday found at least a dozen deserted children in a handful of orphanages we contacted.
Add to this at least two cases of children committing suicide after being left at home by parents who found work in Britain and it seems a widespread tragedy is unfolding.
Earlier this year in Wroclaw, the 14-year-old daughter of a professional woman who had gone to work in London as a highly-paid City PA killed herself.
The girl was being looked after by her 17-year-old sister. But after becoming depressed when work pressure prevented her mother returning home, she jumped from an electricity pylon.
Some of the children left behind are abused or become involved in drugs. "They get into trouble with the police, the courts intervene and they end up in an institution," said Richard Zielinski, chairman of the Polish Crisis Centre for Mothers and Children.
"No one yet knows how many kids are affected, but there are hundreds already. It is not yet an avalanche, but more and more children are being abandoned by their parents because of fairytale stories about the riches to be earned in Britain and other Western countries.
"Many mothers I have come across hear fantasies of how much money they can earn simply cleaning houses in Britain.
"These are not highly educated Poles who can and do find good jobs in the EU. These people have very little. They are often living on state handouts here. They are desperate to get a better life but they know they can do nothing with their children in tow."
Beata Rostocka, a social services manager in Wroclaw, said she despairs of this harrowing trend. "We often get phone calls from mothers and fathers saying they are going to the UK or Ireland to work and asking if we can provide for their children's safe-keeping," she said. "It leaves me aghast."
But it is not only ill-educated and unskilled workers who are guilty of abandoning their children in order to seek a new life.
The official said that earlier this year a trained nurse asked to drop off her 18-month-old daughter and two-year-old son at an orphanage so she could take up a contract in Ireland for a few months.
"The mother didn't seem to realise how terrible this was," she said. "Orphanages are not warehouses."
In the city of Katowice, orphanage director Halina Kurasz tells haunting and similar stories. "I've seen several cases, mostly in the past six months," she said. "There is one mother who left six children so she could separate rubbish in Germany. The youngest child is four, the oldest is 16.
"Sometimes she comes back and takes the older children off to Germany for a bit. But it's only the older ones. If she took all six children, that employer wouldn't want to hear from her.
"This year two other mothers left children to go off to Italy. One of them left her daughter promising she would come back and get her soon. But she phoned at Christmas to say she wasn't coming after all.
"The girl was terribly upset. We looked for her father but when we found him, the girl didn't want anything to do with him. Another mother went away and never even phoned. She left three children. One of them was only a toddler.
"These are mostly young mothers without any support from family or anyone. By the time they bring the children to us they are at their wits' end. They are ashamed to admit to their poverty."
She added: "I think this is only the beginning of the phenomenon. For years the men have been going off from Poland to work in other countries. But now it's the women."
Waldemar Wieczorek, head of social services in Darlowo in north-west Poland, said: "This is a new, very serious problem. It is against the law for people to just dump their children in this way.
"But we would never refuse the children help. We try to find another family who might look after them for a few months."
Adas Solek was a bright, studious 14-year-old. Earlier this year he killed himself while staying at his grandmother's home near Krakow.
His businessman father and his mother had both given English lessons to local children. A few months before the tragedy they decided to make a new life for their family in Britain - intending to bring Adas and their three other children over later.
Athletic and popular at school, Adas was found hanging from a mountaineering rope that belonged to his father. A note to his parents, written in English and given to his best friend the day before, read: "I tried to warn you, but everyone ignored me. I tried to say it loud and clear."
His friends said Adas had wanted his parents to come home and was fearful of the changes they intended to make to the family's lives.
Local child-care professionals say the impact on the children is likely to be severe and long-term. "You cannot just toss your children into an orphanage," said Warsaw-based psychologist Katarzyna Korpolewska.
'They feel abandoned'
"Even if you do have 'genuine' grounds, it still comes as a severe shock to them. They do not understand they will be left behind for just a short period of time; they think they have been abandoned for ever. The child will invariably never recover from the experience."
In the majority of the cases the absconding parents will not find it easy to recover their children. They will find themselves before a family court and may have relinquished guardianship for ever.
Back at Orphanage Number One, Ania sits forlornly on a swing surrounded by the laughter of other happy, playing children.
The local authorities have applied to have her made a ward of court. Her mother will be stripped of all parental rights and the process of putting her up for adoption will begin.
Last night The Mail on Sunday tracked down her paternal grandparents, Aniela and Ryszard Siebielec, to a tiny flat in a village 20 miles from Wroclaw. They share the two-bedroom home with their older son, his wife and two daughters.
Aniela Siebielec is horrified by what her daughter-in-law has done. "Sylwia never told us what she was doing," she said.
"She told us she was going to stay with her brothers in London. One of her brothers, Robert, who washes dishes in a bar, told her she could make a lot of money. He told her to come over.
"Sylwia assured us Ania was being looked after by a friend. We cannot believe she would be so heartless and take her to an orphanage. I am in my 60s, I have a heart condition, I could not look after Ania. But I cannot believe a mother could feel so little for her child that she could do this.
"We have had no contact with Sylwia since she left. It was only by chance that we found out what had happened to little Ania. Since her mother has so little feeling for her, perhaps this is for the best. Perhaps she will be found a new family and get a better life."
Last night the authorities confirmed they intend to put Ania up for adoption. Director Dutkiewicz said: "Her mother has given up all rights to her daughter. Most normal people could not even contemplate abandoning their children."
The Mail on Sunday traced Robert Siebielec to his lodgings in West London, where he confirmed he had housed his sister after her arrival. Now, however, he has reported her missing to police in Acton.
He said: "She always told me she intended to go back to fetch Ania. She said she had no prospects in Poland. Now she has disappeared and I am very worried about her."
At the orphanage, Ms Dutkiewicz said: "We are trying to give Ania all the love and affection we can.
"She doesn't smile, she can barely speak. She does not really play with the other children. Ania doesn't ask for her mother. She is a very frightened and confused little girl.
"Once the courts have done their job, we will try to find her a new family. We will try to find her love and someone to cherish and protect her. It is what she deserves."
'I dumped my two-year-old for £3 an hour'By Martin Delgado
Published 13 August 2006
The Mail on Sunday has located the Polish mother who abandoned her two-year-old daughter at an orphanage to make a new life for herself in Britain. Two weeks ago we revealed the plight of little Ania Siebielec, who was dumped by mother Sylwia at a state-run orphanage in Wroclaw.
Yet in the three months she has been here, the 32-year-old dressmaker has been reduced to part-time cleaning jobs at £3 an hour. Sylwia, who lives in a £60-a-week rented room in Brentford, West London, said: 'I wanted to come to London because my brothers are here and they said I'd be able to find a job.
'My husband Leszek is in prison (he is serving four years for robbery) but he refused to sign the document allowing me to take Ania out of Poland. So I went to the children's home and the director said she would take Ania as there was no alternative.'
Jan Mokrzycki, chairman of the Federation Of Poles In Great Britain, said: 'I am shocked that any mother could treat her child in this reprehensible way.'