An early birthday present for a Russian adoptee- a sister

The best surprises in life come near birthdays. My grandmother’s sister was found alive 66 years after disappearing from her family a few days before my birthday. Photos of my grandfather’s grave in southern Russia arrived by e-mail on my birthday.

Now, I am the giver of a great early birthday present that I wasn’t sure could arrive in time. Two days ago, a woman born in Russia and adopted in the USA asked for my help. I was nervous because her 18th birthday would be in 3 weeks.

Hearing the stories of adoptees on Facebook, I know the 18th birthday is the big day for many adoptees who know of their adoptions to begin searching for their birth families. The adoptee I’ll call Anna said she only knew about her birth family from her adoption papers.

Thankfully, I kept up with my Russian from my childhood so I could absorb everything in her original and translated documents. Sometimes the tiniest details on legal documents are the most important.

Anna was born in a village and that village name repeats throughout Russia. I couldn’t find the region where her birth village exists. That was a major problem for the search until I read the official stamp to certify the documents.

I learned the exact location of her village from the stamp, giving me more hope the birth family could be found. I searched women with Anna’s birth surname who were living in the family village on popular social network Ok.ru.

Only three women had active accounts that allowed messages from strangers. I sent a simple message of looking for Anna’s birth mother who had a daughter in 1998 without saying this was an adoption search. I did the same on more popular social network vk.com.

A 20-year-old woman very quickly responded to my message. I almost didn’t contact her because I thought she would be too young to know anything.

But lo and behold, the woman I’ll call Svetlana was her full-blood sister and only sibling of Anna. Sadly, the mother is very ill and the father died three years ago.

The best advantage of this sisterly reunion is that Svetlana knows English. A common language and Skype will bring Anna and Svetlana back together as siblings.

Now, the countdown begins for Anna’s entrance into adulthood when she turns 18 years old in less than 3 weeks. She has been blessed with a wonderful American family and now she will be blessed with knowing her Russian family.

Two days ago, Anna wondered whether it would be possible to find her family. Now, she gets to look forward to her 18th birthday, knowing the best gifts this birthday will be her sister and the chance to acquaint herself with an armload of relatives.

Svetlana has lived most of her life as an only child. She probably doesn’t remember celebrating a birthday with Anna. Now Svetlana has her sister back and she will have many birthdays to share with her little sister.

Related posts:

On a journey to connect Russian adoptees with their homeland family
Love and Faith reconnect Russian adoptee with birth family after 16 years
Build the best mousetrap to find long-lost family this holiday season

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Great-grandpa thought his secrets would never see the light of day

My great-grandfather was given a great name by his parents- Tixon. He was true to the meaning of his name- quiet.

Hardly anyone knew much about his life even though he lived 89 years. He probably thought keeping to himself and not talking much would keep his life and secrets under wraps.

Then me, the nosey great-granddaughter, started questioning his life. Why didn’t he marry a woman from his village? Why did he marry my great-grandmother at 39 years old? It was awfully strange for a man born in the 1880s to wait so long to get married and have kids.

Then his secret marriage and child were finally revealed, thanks to a researcher I’ve known for 5 years in Kursk, Russia. I have pestered him for years to find other records on his family due to many village church records missing from regional archives. Finally, the researcher found duplicate church records.

Out came great-grandpa’s secret marriage to Clavdia in 1905, followed by the birth of his son, Constantin, in 1906.

For years, I have asked older relatives whether my great-grandfather was married before my great-grandmother. He kept this under good wraps. 

My great-grandfather even brought his younger daughter to a small city near his family village before World War II. Does this daughter, who is still living, know that she had a half-brother? Was the topic of another wife and child avoided during that visit? Did the wife and son die young?

These questions can’t be asked of the daughter because talking about the past just raises her blood pressure. This daughter also has the same problems with secrets. She won’t reveal the true identity of her oldest daughter’s father. I’m awaiting DNA test results to put an end to that mystery.

But my great-grandfather wasn’t quiet about everything. He complained his parents had too many children in a letter to his own children. After coming home after a long visit to Siberia to check for business possibilities, his childhood home was filled with more babies.

He wasn’t exaggerating about “this problem”. The last sibling documented in church records was born when my great-grandfather was 28 years old and his mother was in her late 40s. She gave birth to 12 children from 1880-1909.

Now, the assumption was that many of his siblings died young because he only spoke of three brothers and a sister in his letter to his two children in the USA.

Then, my researcher discovered a marriage record for Alexandra, a military record for Nikita and a baptism record with Kosma as a godfather of a nephew, all siblings never mentioned by my great-grandfather.

More information is on its way when my researcher has time later this year to look at more records. I refused to give up on learning about my great-grandpa’s family so soon enough I could be in contact with his family after losing contact during World War II.