Finding Family, Repairing Broken Links with MyHeritage DNA

Finding Family, Repairing Broken Links with MyHeritage DNA

Nikita Volkova grew up under tragic circumstances. Born prematurely at 22 weeks, she was not expected to survive. Her mother, an American citizen visiting Canada, was deported shortly after the birth, and lived the rest of her life believing her daughter had died.

Nikita was adopted, but her adoptive mother died. She spent her childhood and adolescence in and out of group homes, foster homes, and even living on and off the streets. For 20 years, she tried to search for her mother.

When she finally learned her mother’s name, she was hit by a double tragedy. Not only had her mother died three years earlier, it turned out that her mother had also been denied the opportunity to know her biological family. Nikita had been taken from her mother and given to an American family against her mother’s will.

“I made a vow to her that I would find our people,” she says.

Thanks to MyHeritage, she was able to fulfill that promise and repair not one, but two broken family links. She discovered her mother’s mother was still alive, and in October 2018, they were finally reunited. Watch the video of their reunion here:

When Nikita learned her biological mother had died, she was heartbroken.

Nikita’s biological mother, Heidi Shuford

Nikita’s biological mother, Heidi Shuford

I was three years too late. I just screamed and cried, and cried and cried. I know the desperate loneliness that comes from not knowing who you belong to. 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.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. Says Lydia,

I went a couple of times to see the baby. 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 also tested. “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. 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 not having anyone at all to having cousins, aunts, grandparents, and all the family I have always wanted.

Nikita spoke to her grandfather almost daily after finding them, and in October 2018 she finally met them.

Nikita and her grandmother Lydia meet for the first time

Nikita and her grandmother, Lydia, meet for the first time

According to Lydia,

I am so happy I found her — we found her.

I think that this is as good an ending as anyone like me could ever have hoped for. 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.

Said Nikita,

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

I have closed a circle for my mother. I did what I said I was going to do — found her mom.

Have you made any wonderful connections via a MyHeritage DNA test? We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below!