Last week, I was so thrilled to start a search for the birth family of a Ukrainian adoptee named Sarah.
I thought this would be an easy case. Sarah gave me her mother’s full name and the village where her mother lived 18 years ago. Finding that village on Google Maps was easy with having the village’s region and neighborhood.
My challenge of bringing Sarah emotionally home to her family appeared when I only found one woman registered for the village on popular social network Odnoklassniki. That woman only accepts messages from friends so I messaged a woman in the next village for help.
It took 3 days to get a response. I explained the situation with Sarah and I was immediately given a phone number to a relative named Valentine. All she knew about this adoption was that there was a girl born 15-20 years ago.
My friend in Moscow, Katya, reached Valentine 3 days later on his cell phone. It was a quick call, due to the expense of international calling. Valentine confirmed that Sarah had 2 siblings and she had been left at the maternity hospital.
Even with Katya’s knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian, she could hardly understand Valentine. She asked him to message me on Odnoklassniki. We waited 48 hours and he never contacted me. Then I recruited my cousin, Tatyana, in Kiev to reach out to him.
Valentine didn’t answer his cell phone when Tatyana called three days later. She messaged him my profile page on Odnoklassniki. Sarah was feeling rejected again by her family but this was a language and lack of access to Internet problem. I was screaming in my head “Get on the freakin Internet and message me!”
With all this waiting, I was joking in my head whether I needed to contact a Moldovan on the other side of Ukraine. It has taken an American, a Russian and a Ukrainian to get this far.
Thankfully, it only took two more days to finally talk to Valentine on Odnoklassniki. He confirmed my suspicions from the database of all Ukrainians on nomer.org that the grandfather had lived in the village (but he died recently) and told me the family has lived 86 years in the village.
Valentine provided me with the names of Sarah’s four aunts and one uncle, but he doesn’t know anything about her father nor the whereabouts of her brother and sister. Much of what Valentine wrote I couldn’t understand even with using Google Translate.
Thanks to crafty searching , I found an aunt on Vkontakte. I put the name of the family village in Russian and then site: http://www.vk.com in the Google search box and the aunt appeared as a result.
I had already tried to find anyone from the village on Vkontakte, but “no one” existed. The aunt appeared through my crafty searching because she put the family village as her hometown, but not as her current location.
I messaged her immediately upon finding her and the waiting game restarted. It took 4 days to get a very excited message from the aunt. She provided me with the names of Sarah’s brother, Vladimir and sister, Svetlana, who is attending college.
Sarah jumped on finding her siblings on social networks after I didn’t have luck. She sent me a link to a girl, whose page I viewed before as a possible cousin. Once I went through her photos and saw she had a brother Vladimir and was friends with the aunt, I had some hope they were siblings.
Having problems sleeping at 5 a.m., I finally messaged the girl whether she had the same mother. She responded immediately and I informed her that she has an older sister. Svetlana is shocked, but overjoyed.
Yesterday, Sarah was wondering whether she would ever find her siblings. Today, she added a sister as a friend on Vkontakte and saw a picture of her mother with the same nose and chin. She has some closure and a new beginning with her family.
* All names were changed for privacy. Search was done for free.
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