After welcoming her daughter Tatyana into the world in March 1978, Vera Lashtur felt that something was amiss. Others did, too, as gossip about the little girl began to spread among Vera’s neighbors and acquaintances. But it wouldn’t be until almost four decades later that the truth about Tatyana was revealed.
And it all began when Tatyana was a newborn. For many weeks, the baby would cry non-stop; when it came to feeding time, meanwhile, she struggled. On the surface, it may have seemed as if the little girl was simply a fussy child. As it turned out, however, there may have been a more disturbing reason why she was being so difficult.
Then, as time went on, Tatyana became the subject of some alarming hearsay from those around her family. Indeed, it seems as if somebody knew something – or at least thought that they knew something – that Vera had never previously considered as a real possibility.
And the gossip centered on the assertion that the girl with whom Vera had left the hospital was in fact the baby of another woman. The two infants had somehow been switched at some point, it was alleged. Perhaps someone working at the medical facility had made that mistake.
What’s more, the theories about Tatyana may have been lent some credence simply because of their origins. Indeed, the speculation was spread by “neighbors and people [her family] knew,” as Vera’s son Anatoliy would explain to ABC News in October 2017. Still, Vera and her husband Nikolay would eventually dismiss the rumors as just that.
Then, in 1999, the Lashturs were preparing to leave their native Moldova and start new lives in the U.S. It was during this crucial year, though, that someone who had been living near to the family chose to speak up. And that individual had had her own concerns about Tatyana.
Specifically, the neighbor had had her suspicions since learning that another local girl, the same age as Tatyana, had cried all the time as a baby. That child had also experienced the same feeding problems as the Lashturs’ daughter. But also, as the girls grew, their faces told a story.
“She knew us,” Anatoliy said of the neighbor in a November 2017 interview with Inside Edition. “She knew the other family, and she knew that both kids were having problems after the hospital.” He added, “As they grew up, I guess she could tell that the other kid looked a lot like our family, and the kid that we had looked like their family.”
So, wanting to put the rumors to bed once and for all before they headed Stateside, the Lashturs went in search of the other girl and her family. Their efforts were in vain, however, and so they moved to the U.S. without any clear answers. But, still, they never forgot about the story. And whenever the clan made subsequent trips back to Moldova, they would carry on with their inquiries.
In August 2017, however, the Lashturs finally made a breakthrough. Almost two decades after their search had begun, a person in Moldova told them that the woman they were looking for was called Valentina Suman. So, Tatyana – now an adult in her thirties – and her sister Victoria took to Facebook to see if any individuals of that name were on the social network. And, as it turned out, the lead would be a fruitful one.
After Tatyana had found Valentina on Facebook, moreover, she asked the stranger to confirm her age and place of birth. These details, as it happens, matched Tatyana’s own. Then Tatyana requested some baby photos from the other woman. And what the snaps revealed was astonishing: Valentina, it turned out, bore a remarkable resemblance to the other members of the Lashtur family.
“My mom asked me to come over,” Anatoliy would later tell ABC News. “I knew she hadn’t slept for days. She opened a laptop with two baby photos and pointed at one, asking me to tell her who it was.” He added, “I told her it was Victoria, my younger sister. It looked just like her.” That picture, however, was one that Valentina had given to the Lashturs.
Anatoliy would further explain the discovery to Inside Edition, saying, “We knew in our hearts that [Valentina] was our sister based on the pictures. She looked exactly like my younger sister.” He continued, “And [Tatyana], she kind of looked like [Valentina’s] mom.” But there was only one way to confirm the hunch.
It wasn’t until October 2017 that all of the pieces of the puzzle would eventually fall into place. That month, both the Lashturs and Valentina’s family were invited to appear on a Russian TV show that had offered to investigate the Moldovans’ story. The production team also said that they would give Valentina a DNA test to remove all doubt about her origins.
And when the results of the test came back, they revealed what the Lashturs had been suspecting. Namely, there was a 99.99 per cent probability that Valentina was Anatoliy’s biological sister. “[The day the DNA test result was revealed] was the first time we had the opportunity to see our birth sister Valentina and hug each other, cry together,” Anatoliy later wrote on a GoFundMe page. “Also, that day was the first time [that] my sister Tatyana had the opportunity to hug and cry with her birth family.”
It turned out that Valentina and Tatyana’s moms had shared a room at the hospital where the two girls had been born on March 27, 1978. Nurses had taken the babies away for baths, however, and mixed up the children upon their return. Vera had subsequently been handed the girl who grew up as Tatyana Lashtur; Valentina, meanwhile, had been given to the other woman.
As for what had happened to Valentina in the years since? Well, as Anatoliy would write on GoFundMe, she became a mom herself. Specifically, as of October 2017, she is raising her 16-year-old daughter Andrea as a single parent. Valentina has even taken on responsibility for her five-year-old nephew Nikita; when her younger sister couldn’t cope with looking after him, Valentina stepped in to raise him as her own son.
Anatoliy would also tell Inside Edition that both the Lashturs and Valentina’s family were all glad to have finally learned the truth about the two women. What’s more, he doesn’t hold any grudges towards anyone about the mix-up at the hospital. And, perhaps attempting to make up for lost time, he now calls his biological sister at least twice a day.
Plans are in place, however, for Valentina to join the Lashturs in person again. In fact, Anatoliy created a GoFundMe page to that end in October 2017. In particular, he hopes to raise enough money to cover the costs involved in the Moldovan’s relocation to the U.S. And Valentina’s nephew Nikita hasn’t been forgotten, either. Indeed, although Anatoliy has admitted that it would be “almost impossible” for Nikita to join his aunt in the States at this time, he nevertheless wants to donate some of the GoFundMe total towards the little boy’s upkeep.
So where does that leave Tatyana, who for 39 years believed that she was a Lashtur? Well, Anatoliy has insisted that he still considers her a part of the family. Indeed, he told Inside Edition, “I talked to her, and I told her [that] nothing changes between us. The only difference is [that] I gain a sister. We are brother and sister.” He added, touchingly, “We love her, and nothing is ever going to change that.”