A boy named Roman and his 6000 mile search for his brother and sister
Roman wrote a letter in 2014. It's posted on this website.
It took a long time for him to complete because he needed to improve his English. However, the subject of the letter has always been close to his heart - and the source of his deepest pain. He feels he needs to do something about that pain.
As a young boy, Roman was abandoned in a part of the Russian Far East that is called "Beyond Siberia." He was born in a very rural area, but later lived in a small village, still quite remote, in a congregate housing unit that had little heat and much filth. Neighbors, who were apparently just older kids, helped Roman collect some food, milk, or rubles. He collected tin and exchanged it for rubles or food. He begged on the street and at stores. When weather permitted, he stole potatoes from a field. He was head of a household for his younger brother Sergey and younger sister Anastasia, who he called Nastia. No father had ever been present. A young mother disappeared. Roman was eight years old, Sergey six or seven, and Nastia five.
Roman became sick with rheumatic fever. The state realized that he was not attending school and found him in poor condition. The three children were all declared orphans and shipped to the city of Birobidzhan, 200 kilometers to the east on the Trans-Siberian route. Sergey and Nastia were sent to the Home 1 orphanage where kids were often adopted and the facilities contain large retail-like windows for peering into nurseries. Roman went to a sanitarium and then to the Waldgeim home, outside of the city, the site of the first kibbutz in Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region. He was not marketed as an adoption candidate. When he was healthy enough, he would take a bus or hike into the city to see Sergey and Nastia.
At some time around 2006, Roman went to visit his siblings and was informed that that he would never see them again. They had been adopted by a family in America. Roman's separation from his siblings was unusual and created some disquiet among teachers in the orphan system. There would be no communication with his brother and sister. A little boy was left impossibly alone. There seemed no realistic hope for Roman and his siblings. A woman at his orphanage named Lydia Ivanovna took Roman into a small group of orphanage kids that she treated like her own. Then a gruff former Soviet soldier named Vladimir Leonidovich gave him a soccer ball. It was Roman's only possession.