A mother and daughter were reunited more than two decades after a terrible ordeal separated them.
Olga Sinelnikova (49) from Russia gave birth to her daughter, named Maria and nicknamed Masha, in 1996 but shortly afterwards the little girl was stolen from her.
The incident occurred while Olga’s mother, whose name hasn’t been disclosed, left little Maria in a pram outside a supermarket while she did some quick shopping.
“Masha was sleeping. My mother went into a supermarket; when she got outside five or 10 minutes later, the pram was gone,” Olga recalled of the horrific incident.
The shocked grandmother called a friend for help and the two women searched the area, asking everyone close by if they’d seen what had happened to Masha and the pram.
Reports state the pram had been taken by a woman named Vera Luchina, who allegedly stole Masha after her own son was stillborn at her home.
None of Vera’s friends or family knew she’d had a stillbirth.
Reportedly she stole the girl to cover up her baby's death and for years relatives were surprised that the girl she was raising didn’t look similar to either of her parents.
Vera named her “daughter” after herself and even spent a year living about an hour away from Masha’s biological parents.
The biological mother and daughter managed to find each other after the alleged kidnapper confessed to one of her relatives shortly before she died that she’d stolen Masha.
The cause of Vera's death is unclear.
Olga was able to identify Masha because one of her ears is “elf-like” and she has a distinct birthmark.
Even though Masha, who spent her entire life named Vera Arapova, didn’t initially want to meet her biological mother she eventually changed her mind.
“I always knew that I’m different and don’t look like anyone else in that family. But I would have never imagined a story like this.”
The mother-and-daughter duo have since been reunited and Masha now resides with her biological family.
Sources: Magazine Features