Story By: Anastasia Smirnova, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
These images show the Russian mother and daughter reunited 23 years after the mum had her child in a pram stolen by another woman.
Primary school teacher Olga Sinelnikova, 49, gave birth to her daughter named Maria and nicknamed Masha, in the Russian city of Tolyatti in south-western Samara Oblast region in 1996.
Just two months later baby Maria was stolen, as Olga’s mother, whose name is not reported, left her in a pram by a supermarket as she needed to do some quick shopping.
Olga said: “Masha was sleeping. My mother went into a supermarket, when she got outside five or 10 minutes later, the pram was gone.”
The shocked grandmother called her friend for help and the two women asked everyone around if they had seen what had happened to Masha and the pram.
Reports state the pram had been taken by a woman named Vera Luchina, who decided to steal Masha after her own son was stillborn.
Local media report Luchina had given birth to the stillborn alone in her house and nobody from her family members knew that her son had not survived.
She reportedly stole the girl to cover up her baby’s death and reports state for years relatives were surprised that the girl she was raising did not look similar to either of her parents.
Luchina named her ‘daughter’ after herself and even spent a year living around one hour away from Masha’s real parents.
The biological mother and daughter managed to find each other after alleged kidnapper Luchina confessed to one of her relatives that she had stolen Masha shortly before she died. The cause of Luchina’s death is unclear.
Olga contacted professionals from the TV show Zhdi Menya (Wait For Me) on Russia’s central Channel One which unites people that have lost each other for a long time.
Masha had a very distinct feature in her look, one of her ears is ‘elf-shaped’ and had a distinct birthmark which allowed the experts to identify her quickly.
Even though Masha, who spent her entire life named Vera Arapova, did not initially want to meet with her biological mother she eventually gave in.
She later said: “I always knew that I am different and do not look like anyone else in that family. But I would have never imagined a story like this.”
Russian media report that she has now moved in with her biological family.
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