"I have closed a circle for my mother...I found her mom." Nikita Volkova, Canada

Nikita Volkova was born in Canada under unusual circumstances. Her mother was an American citizen, and she gave birth to Nikita prematurely, at 22 weeks. It’s very rare for a baby born at that stage in the pregnancy to survive, and Nikita’s mother was deported back to the USA shortly after the birth. She lived out the rest of her life believing that her daughter had died.

Tragically, Nikita’s adopted mother died, and she had been alone ever since. “Group homes, foster homes, and a lot of years off and on the streets,” says Nikita.

“I searched for my mother for 20 years, to no avail,” she says. Finally, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, she was able to learn her biological mother’s name. A quick Google search later, Nikita had her heart broken twice: she found her mother Heidi… in an obituary. She was three years too late.

“I just screamed and cried, and cried and cried,” she says.

She learned something striking about her mother: she had also been adopted, from an orphanage in Germany. “It seems there’s tragedy in the DNA,” she says. “My own mother was effectively stolen from her mother and placed for adoption. She wanted to keep Heidi, but her mother would not allow it, and mum was adopted out to an American military family.”

“I know the desperate loneliness that comes from not knowing who you belong to,” says Nikita. “My mother was no stranger to it herself. I made a vow to her that I would find our people. That they would know what happened to her, one way or the other.”

Nikita took a DNA test and with the information she learned, she was able to find a long-lost older brother. The next day, she uploaded her DNA information to MyHeritage. “I was told that a lot of Germans used the site, and I thought, what harm could it do? Maybe I’d find someone.”

“I wasn’t optimistic,” she adds. “With mum already having passed, I’d assumed the same would be for her mother.”

Her MyHeritage DNA matches led her to a cousin, and she explained what she was looking for. Shortly thereafter, she received a message from a man named Joseph Cook.

Meanwhile, Joseph and Lydia Cook, an elderly couple living in North Carolina, had always wondered what happened to the daughter Lydia had been forced to give away when she was in her early 20s.

“I went a couple of times to see the baby,” says Lydia. “The fourth time, they didn’t let me see her anymore.”

One morning, they were watching television and saw a show that featured MyHeritage. Joseph thought it sounded interesting and decided to sign up and get his DNA tested. Later, Lydia got tested, too. “We didn’t think much of it,” he says.

Then, Joseph saw that someone was trying to contact them through the website.

“We get this girl on and she starts telling me, ‘My mother was born in Hanau, Germany, in 1957, and her mother had given her up for adoption’… and then everything just fell into place,” says Joseph. “I said, ‘Well, you’ve got the right phone number. This is your grandmother.’”

After a lifetime of being completely alone in the world, Nikita had found her family.

“I’ve gone from no family to more family than I know what to do with,” says Nikita.

Nikita spoke to her grandfather almost daily after finding them, and in October last year, she finally got to meet them.

“I think that this is as good an ending as anyone like me could ever have hoped for,” she says. “I am truly grateful for your site and for you all bringing someone who had lost all hope of happy endings, a happy ending. Rather, a happy new beginning.”

“I hope I was able to bring my mum some happiness,” she adds. “Her life, like mine, had so few moments of happiness. This was the least I could do for her.”

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