A YOUNG woman made an emotional 3,000-mile trek trip to Hartlepool to meet the mum she hasn’t seen for 17 years after the pair were reunited through Facebook.
Heather Wrench was given up by her mum Toni Young when she was just three-years-old due to difficult family circumstances at their home in Illinois, USA.
Heather was raised by Toni’s own adoptive mother, and having lost all contact with her daughter, 42-year-old Toni left the States in 2003 to set up home in Hartlepool.
But the pair got back in touch through social networking site Facebook, and Heather, now 21, made the decision to fly across the Atlantic to be reunited with her natural mum.
Carer Toni, who is married to town man David Young, 46, a joiner, said: “It was surreal watching her come through the gates at the airport because I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to see her again or have her in my life because I messed up so badly as a young person.
“It’s taken a while to become real in my head.
“I actually found her by trawling through Facebook, and I was delighted when she replied to my message.
“It’s great to have her here.”
Heather added: “I remember when I was a little kid speaking to my mom on the phone but when you’re that young it’s not real, it’s just like you’re being nice to a stranger on the phone.
“It made it more real to see her and see a person, there’s definitely a bond there. She’ll never replace my adoptive mom because she raised me, she was there when I was sick or took care of me when I was hurt.
“However, there’s definitely a bond there between me and her.”
Heather, who had a cancer scare five years ago, was keen to compete in the annual Race for Life after reading about it on the internet at home in the USA and was delighted to hear the run was taking place during her stay in Hartlepool.
And on Sunday her proud mum, of Ryehill Gardens, off Hart Lane, cheered on the sidelines as Heather came 12th out of 1,300 other competitors.
Heather, a physical therapy student at Millican University, Illinois, added: “I really wanted to do the race and I’m so glad I did, it was awesome.
“And as well as being for a great cause, it’s definitely given me and her something that’s just ours.
“I’ve never ran races in America so it’s something that just me and her have.
“My other mom got the experience of walking me to school for the first time, this mom got to see me finish my first race in Hartlepool and I came 12th out of 1,300 people.
“I didn’t even think it was possible! It was a great feeling.”
Heather came to Hartlepool on June 14 and is due to return home in the middle of next month.