7 Years Since Meeting My Birth Parents
I will never forget revisiting Russia to meet my birth parents for the first time. To me that day is always a strong memory in my mind. I remember getting to Moscow from Auckland, New Zealand and throughout the entire time on the plane, I just kept on replaying emotions in my head. I really know exactly what to think. Before I left New Zealand, I spent a day with my family, just preparing for everything that was about to happen. I kept on saying to my parents ‘What if this happens?’ or ‘What would happen if something went wrong?”. I knew I had to always be prepared for anything that was to happen.
Throughout 2013 I did a lot of research and preparation. I also had to make sure that I had my Russian Passport all ready to go. As I was born in Russia, I was required to renew my passport that had expired back in 1994. See our I’m Adopted – Russia page here on how this process works if you are adopted from Russia. I remember getting my passport finally at the Russian Embassy in our capital, Wellington. It really felt like the key is now here for me to get to the Country I was born in.
It finally was November and I was ready to go! I had all my things packed and I was set. I got to the airport with my parents very early. About 7am. I checked in, stayed with my parents for a few hours, and then finally boarded the plane. Normally when you do go on a long-haul flight, you just fall asleep. I really couldn’t do that. I had so much on my mind. I didn’t know what Russia would be like in real life or what the people would be like. Ultimately, what my Birth Parents would be like. Saying Goodbye to my parents that morning was incredibly hard and I did ask myself a lot, “Am I doing the right thing?”
My parents knew that I didn’t want to upset them and I never would want to. I wanted to do this to find my connections in Russia, know who my birth parents are and learn more about my own blood. My family always told me as a child that it would make their lives if I ever found my birth family, likewise with my brother Andrei.
Russia was different. The first time going there.. All I wanted to do was explore. I had so much to see and learn about. The first place I saw in the daylight was Rybinsk. This is where my birth mother Tatiana lives. I landed in Moscow but the night before. We also left for Rybinsk the next day at 5am. It was a long drive.
My birth mother I knew I was on my way to meet her and she was nervous. She kept on saying on the phone to her friend Eleonora who had arranged the meet up, “I am not sure if I can do this. I am nervous and worried”. I remember saying to Eleonora, I will do anything to meet my birth mother. She brought me into this world.
Meeting her was awkward at first. We both were nervous. I had never been that nervous in my entire life. I had just got to Russia the night before and then by lunchtime the next day, I met my birth mother. It all felt like everything was happening very fast, including the time difference from New Zealand. To fly to Russia from New Zealand, it takes almost two days of travel. About a 17-hour flight and then a short 6-hour flight. It isn’t quick. New Zealand to be fair, is far away from everything else.
Meeting my birth father was another story altogether. After the long day visiting my birth mother, the next morning I was due to fly to Saint Petersburg to meet my birth father. Now remember back then I hadn’t ever been back to Russia and I was only 21 years old. Everything was new to me.
The meeting with my birth father, Mikhail was one of the most incredible moments in my life. I remember that day getting from the airport and then getting a taxi to meet him. He had been contacting me telling me that he is nervous, he is happy and he is excited to meet me. I knew no Russian at all back then and so the language barrier was defiantly a problem for me. I struggled with this but I knew that my focus right now was to meet my birth parents. My birth father met me with open arms. He held me up and he was just so happy to see me. He never knew I existed and so 2013 he always tells me was one of the most incredible life-changing years of his life, if not, the most.
Now my story is a long one. I have been back to Russia up to 7 times since then and so much has changed for me since that first meeting with my birth parents. Of course, you can always read my books, My Russian Side and I’m Adopted here. I have been back to Russia to continue my connection with my birth family while growing my entire family overall. My parents also got the chance to meet both my birth parents in 2015. This was another time that changed my life. Too many to count now. In 2017 I went back to my old Orphanage in Arkhangelsk, Russia for the first time to then going back in 2018 to take gifts to the children to my old Orphanage. In 2018 I also went for a Summer Holiday in Russia. Revisiting both of my birth parents again.
Thank you for these last 7 years of me sharing my journey to all of you. We know that having I’m Adopted is helping so many more people adopted around the world connect. Thank you!
For more of Alex Gilbert’s journey, you can visit his YouTube Channel at youtube.com/alexgilbert or you can Subscribe below!