MyHeritage is all about reuniting families, so we were delighted to participate in the recent meeting of Ronald van der Voort (51) and his half-sister Anneliese (known as Anna) (70).
Ronald’s father - Cornelius Franziscus Staps – was born in Mönchengladbach, Germany, although his paternal ancestors were from the Netherlands. Cornelius’ marriage to a German woman, Anna Baum, produced a daughter, Anneliese.
After the marriage dissolved, he returned to the Netherlands and left his daughter with his former wife. He hoped that Anna would visit him, although that was wishful thinking – he never saw her again. In fact, he went to Germany several times in attempts to find her, but those efforts were in vain.
Cornelius’ son Ronald, born in the Netherlands, grew up longing for his sister. Following the death of his father, Ronald began searching again. He looked for years with no success; his sister had seemingly disappeared.
Even popular TV shows couldn’t help him. The only lead during this entire time was a small piece of paper given to Ronald by a sympathetic town hall employee. The paper bore only the name of Anna’s step-father. Although searches for that name were attempted, nothing was found.
Anna grew up with her mother after her parents’ marriage ended. All she knew was her father’s name and that he was German. She lived in her hometown until her teens.
During her teens, Anna decided to study in the UK as part of a school program. When she applied for her passport, an official told her that she could not obtain a German passport because her father was, in fact, Dutch. That was quite a surprise!
In England, Anna found her true love. They married and moved to New Zealand where – nearly 50 years later – they still live. Unknown to her, Ronald lived 11,000 miles away in the Netherlands and was trying to find his sister.
During his searches, Ronald found the Straps Family Website on MyHeritage.com and immediately saw that the site manager’s name was Anna. Ronald tells us that his initial thought was “That’s her, that’s Anna.”
He sent a message to her account, with great anticipation. To his shock and delight, Anna answered promptly, confirming her identity.
It was a fairytale moment. Ronald’s hard work had paid off and Anna finally had a brother, for whom she had also longed.
Shortly after their initial contact through MyHeritage.com, Anna flew to the Netherlands, and MyHeritage was part of the very special, very emotional meeting at the airport. Anna and Ronald are now in regular contact.
Ronald and Anna’s story is beautiful and represents what we do at MyHeritage: facilitating the reconnection of family from the past and present.
As for the meeting itself, let’s just say it was magical.