Thirty-nine years ago, two baby girls were switched in a hospital in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, but the families have just discovered the truth.
The Lashtur family of Raleigh, North Carolina has found their daughter, still living in Russia, after a lifetime of rumors that there may have been a switch.
The family moved to the United States in 1999, but while living in Russia they had heard rumors that baby Tatyanna, Vera Lashtur's daughter that she brought home from the hospital, may not be hers, says Anatoliy Lashtur, the son of Vera and her husband Nikolay Lashtur.
"The rumors came from neighbors and people we knew," he explained. One of their neighbors was also good friends with the other woman that was in the hospital the day Tatyanna was born, so this neighbor was able to witness both girls growing up.
The neighbor made the connection knowing that the girls were born in the same hospital on the same day, and knew that both mothers were having issues with their babies refusing to eat and crying a lot.
"The rumor has been going on forever, but we couldn't find them. It was difficult," Anatoliy says, explaining that the family they were trying to search for had moved around a lot, and they could never find them based on the leads they had.
"Sometimes we would search and wouldn't find anything at all. So, we thought that the rumor must not be true," Anatoliy says.
When living in the United States, Anatoliy said that the rumors died down, but that every time he visited Russia since 1999 that he would try to search for the truth.
Recently, the rumors had started up again, Anatoliy says. His parents traveled to Moldova to search but continued facing difficulty in locating the constantly moving family.
But, this time they found a strong lead - a name.
Tatyanna and Victoria, Anatoliy's sister, located Valentina Suman on Facebook and contacted her.
Anatoliy was the last to find out about the discovery of Suman.
"My mom asked me to come over. I knew she hadn't slept for days. She opened a laptop with two baby photos and pointed at one, asking me to tell her who it was. I told her it was Victoria, my younger sister. It looked just like her," he says, but that photo was one that Suman had sent of herself as a baby.
"When I saw the picture, I knew it was my sister," he says. "In my heart, I knew it was my sister."
Suman called a Russian television show that handles investigations with DNA testing, and the show took on this switched at birth story, flying the Lashtur family to Russia to find out the truth.
Previous to contact with the Lashturs, Suman didn't have any idea that she may have been switched at birth, but she had been told throughout her life that she didn't bare many similarities to her family.
On October 4th, the show confirmed their DNA test and that the women were switched at birth.
"I had chills. We were all hugging and crying," says Anatoliy of the moment the results were revealed.
Anatoliy told ABC affiliate WTVDthat he assured Tatyanna that she was his sister and that the DNA test didn't change that for him.
"The only difference is we gain a sister and you gain like three sisters and more brothers," he told WTVD about his conversation with Tatyanna about the DNA test results and the new family they gained because of it.
Now, the Lashturs have started a GoFundMe and are fundraising money to bring Suman and her family to the United States for the holidays.
Anatoliy hopes that all of their family can join them permanently in the United States in the future, but for now, getting visas is difficult.
"At least we can try to bond together and enjoy whatever time we have left together," says Anatoliy.
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