Ukrainian sisters reunited in United States
Adopted by families in Sweden and Indiana, the siblings spent more than two decades apart
Growing up thousands of kilometres apart, a Michigan City, Ind., woman had an unlikely and emotional reunion with a sister she didn’t know she had last month at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
The two sisters were both born in Ukraine. One — Leanna Hall, 26, now of Michigan City, grew up there and was adopted as a teenager in Porter County. The other, Nadjezda Lof, 23, was adopted at 4 and grew up in Sweden.
It took determination from Nadjezda, who is known as Nadia, and years of searching, dead ends, faulty paperwork and help from extended family in Ukraine to find her sister.
It was “the biggest Christmas gift,” Leanna said of their reunion. Nadjezda Lof, 23, kisses her sister Leanna Hall, 26. The two found one another after being placed in a Ukrainian orphanage and ending up in different adoptive homes. Lof’s cousin connected the two sisters via Facebook.
In 1992, Leanna was born in Odessa.
Her parents, Maria and Sergei, were heroin addicts, she said. Her maternal grandmother tried her best to give some stability. She once mentioned
she had a sister, who had died earlier, Leanna said.
Around age 7, she was sent to a Ukrainian shelter, and then an orphanage. At 14, an American woman living in Porter County adopted her.
She came to the U.S. with a picture that showed her grandmother and birth mother, Maria, as a teenager.
In 1995, Nadjezda was born three months premature. She was abandoned at the hospital. A few months later, she was sent to a different Ukrainian orphanage.
A couple from northern Sweden adopted her at age 4.
In October, Nadjezda went to Ukraine to appear on a TV show that specialized in lostfamily reunions.
However, most of her immediate birth family, such as her parents and grandmother, had already died, it found.
It located an older cousin, Dmitry, and gave her his Facebook page. The show said she had a sister that had been adopted in the United States, but had no other information.
On Nov. 5, her cousin sent a cryptic message to Nadjezda: Be online in one hour. His later message: I’ve found your sister.
Their reunion was even more amazing since Ukrainian siblings are generally adopted together. In this case, that was obviously muddled.