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.
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