Many adoptees become curious about their birth families and hopeful their questions about their separations from their families will be answered. The challenges of some adoptees from the Russian-speaking world is facing that their Russian language skills disappeared or were never developed.
Thanks to the Internet, these adoptees can find their families with just as much success as adoptees from the English-speaking world.
The most important step is getting the adoption papers from the adoptive parents, who should have papers written in Russian and English. Adult adoptees who can’t get their papers from their parents or the courts can obtain them by requesting their Alien File from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Download Form G-639 from this website, have the form notarized and mail it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, National Records Center, FOIA/PA Office, P.O. Box 648010, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010. Put down “needed for personal records” for the reason for obtaining the file, which shouldn’t cost more than $25.
Alien Files will have the documents adoptive parents submitted for their children to live in the USA. Some files will be filled with great information: parents’ birthdates, birthplaces, old addresses, siblings’ names and birthdates and even information on relatives who helped care for the children.
Once all the papers are collected, it is important to get support from other adoptees before the search begins.
Here are Facebook groups for these adoptees:
Once adoptees are ready for the emotional side of the search, I highly suggest creating pages on vk.com and ok.ru, the two most popular social networks in the Russian-speaking world, using the full birth names. Then post childhood pictures near the time of the adoption and list the birthplace as the hometown.
I would do the same on Facebook. This page could help find siblings.
Then the search for birth families can begin (with the help of Google Translate, if needed). Vk.com has incredible filters for searches. It has about every village in the former USSR listed under the region filter. Adoptees will need to know how to spell their birthplace, neighborhood and region in Russian (found on birth records).
The challenges of finding family come when users who could be family block people who aren’t friends from sending them messages or those users haven’t logged on for a longtime.
That issue can be resolved by contacting their friends who live in the same town. Just send a simple message of “I’m trying to reach Svetlana Ivanova. Do you know if her parents are Sergey Ivanov and Tatiana Ivanova?” to a friend. If that friend is helpful, she could have her friend contact you. (This just worked in my latest adoptee reunion case.)
The most important thing to remember is to assume nothing. Don’t assume older or younger siblings will know about you. (Parents could have told that you died young or at birth.) Don’t assume siblings will share both parents. Don’t assume all children were sent to the orphanage and were adopted. (Sometimes older siblings will be sent to relatives because they were “too old for adoption.”) Don’t assume that relatives will have the same information. Don’t assume your story will be believed. (Be ready to share a scan of your Russian birth certificate. This had to be done in a case earlier this year.) Don’t assume your family doesn’t live at the same address anymore.
But most importantly, don’t give up. Keep trying and someone will be thrilled to have “a new sibling or cousin.”