US Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long reunited with Siberian parents
- Long travelled to the Siberian village of Tem to meet her biological family for the first time
- Her biological parents were teenagers when they had Long and were convinced they could not cope with caring for her
- Long was adopted by an American couple and grew up in Baltimore
- She has won 12 gold medals at three Paralympic Games
By Alex Ward
PUBLISHED: 08:12 EST, 16 December 2013 | UPDATED: 08:39 EST, 16 December 2013
This is the heartwarming moment that US Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long met her Siberian parents for the first time after they rejected her because of her disability.
The 21-year-old posted the image on Twitter with the words ‘Meet my Russian family. I love them more than words can say. My heart is so full’.
Long travelled to the village of Tem in the Irkutsk region of Siberia to meet her biological parents Natalia and Oleg Valtysheva who gave her up to a grim orphanage, convinced by doctors that they could not care for their ‘crippled’ baby.
'My heart is so full': U.S. Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long (centre) was reunited with her biological parents Natalia (second from left) and Oleg Valtysheva (first from right) and her siblings (first from left and second from right) in Siberia after the couple gave her up because she was 'crippled'
The couple, who are still together today and went on to have three other children, started dating when Natalia was just 16-years-old.
She told the Siberian Times: ‘My little girl was born pre-term and I was told that she would be an invalid for life and that she would be unable to walk.’
'Life changing moments': Long shared her excitement about her family reunion on Twitter with her 11,400 followers
Warmly welcomed: Long travelled to Bratsk, visiting the orphanage before meeting her family who learned of her identity after Russian journalists traced the Siberian family members down
The baby, who the couple called Tanya, was then adopted by American couple Beth and Steve Long from the orphanage in Bratsk and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland.
Natalia said: 'What a worthless thing am I? I kept thinking of her all the time… but then I learned that Tanya was adopted by an American couple.’
The Siberian couple had no idea that their biological daughter gone to be a world champion swimmer until Russian journalists tracked down the couple after Long's success at the London Paralympics last year.
Long said she had always known that she was adopted but had never known the true identity of her biological parents.
Given away for disability: The Valtyshevas, who were teenagers when they gave birth to Long (pictured as a toddler), were convinced by doctors that they could not cope with their 'crippled' daughter
One of the most successful American Paralympians: Long (pictured at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics) has won 12 gold medals at three Paralympic Games
Growing up in America: Long (pictured as a baby, right, and as a young girl, left) was adopted by American couple Beth and Steve Long and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland
Thought of her all the time: Natalia and Oleg (pictured) did not know that Long had grown up to become a world champion Paralympic swimmer
Long, who has won 12 gold medals at
three Paralympics, was born without heels, ankles and fibulas as well as
most of the bones in her feet, a condition known as fibular hemimelia.
Her legs were amputated when she was just 18-months-old and she learned to walk with prostheses.
Before she met her parents in Siberia, Long visited the orphanage in Bratsk on the trip she called ‘life changing moments’.
Natalia and Oleg had their second daughter Nastya a year after Long and despite being born with a similar condition, infantile cerebral paralysis, but they decided to keep her.
They also now have twins, a boy and a girl.
Long's mother works as a cleaner in the village school and Oleg drives a logging truck.
During their reunion, Natalia gave her daughter the local delicacy of pickled cucumbers.
Long gave her mother a necklace and a Russian-language bible to Oleg, her father.
Long was just 12-years-old and the youngest competitor on the U.S. Paralympic team when she won three gold medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Greece.
She is currently the world record holder in 13 Paralympic events.
MOST WATCHED NEWS VIDEOS
MOST READ NEWS
Colorado NewsGet the latest Colorado news, sports, weather, entertainment, business & political news and more from Colorado Newsday.
Rate this article
|PHOTOS: Plastic Surgery Celebrity||Awkward family photos|
|UPDATED: Faces of Meth||PHOTOS: Celebrities all a-Twitter|
DALLAS, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Chloe Grace Moretz thinks her upcoming film If I Stay is more than a love story meant for an exclusively ...
- Spoiled teen takes parents to court
- Man who 'killed wife while hallucinating on marijuana edibles and painkillers asked son, 7, to kill him so he could be together with her again'
- Man who DELIBERATELY sabotaged Starbucks pay it forward line that had gone on for 10 hours
- State trooper who threatened to Taser polite Bengals lineman during traffic stop fired for conduct unbecoming a state employee
- DOMINIC SANDBROOK on savage murder of James Foley that confirmed his worst fears
- Pregnant woman drives kids into ocean in Florida
- Is one of these British extremists Jihadi John? Three potential Islamic State 'Beatles' emerge as MI5 'zeroes in' on murderer of U.S. journalist James Foley
- Fully intact female DEER found in belly of alligator caught in Alabama
- California woman arrested for trespassing after 'sneaking into maternity ward using incredibly lifelike baby dolls'
- Nicki Minaj's dancer 'gets bitten by 6ft long snake' while rehearsing for MTV Video Music Awards
- New Jersey man 'raped a woman in her SLEEP after inviting her to his apartment'
- Germany sues Swiss bank for £65m over 'millions that went mission after fall of Berlin Wall'
- Paul Ryan says he'd love to see Mitt Romney run again in 2016
- Freshman girl, 18, in critical condition after being impaled with golf club at fraternity party on the second day of college
- 'I've killed a lot. And if I need to, I'll kill a whole bunch more': Racist, sexist, homophobic speech from St Louis County police officer in Ferguson who pushed CNN's Don Lemon live on-air
- Drummer for renowned 'little orchestra' band Pink Martini found dead from gunshot wound: Death ruled a suicide
- Ex-Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is living with a priest after moving out of the home he shared with his 'exhausting' wife
- LA's newest top billed celebrity! World's largest rubber DUCK sails into tinsel town to headline Tall Ships Festival
- Couple stole little girl's iPod in Aurora
- Mexican couple arrested after keeping their 10-year-old son in chains all day
- Heavy rain delays rescue in Hiroshima where 51 people are still missing two days after landslides
- 'This is a direct invasion': Russian 'aid' convoy crosses into Lugansk as Ukraine insists 'they are military vehicles under cynical guise of Red Cross'
- Kim Kardashian denied access to Vanity Fair party
- Russian troops threaten to shoot Ukrainian soldiers in tense stand-off
- Pimp my Instagram: How suspected sex trafficker used social media to document his luxury lifestyle with Louis Vuitton bags and lobster dinners
- Florida pageant mom fed teenager daughter TAPEWORMS to lose weight
- Flatpack holiday! Ikea offers sleepovers in store for £6.20 per night, staying in the bedroom display (but you won't have to build your furniture first)
- Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy dazzles on the red carpet as she proudly bares her prosthetic legs in stylish mini dress
- Idaho mom is struck by lightning and daughter captures it on camera
- Live CNN interview with rapper Talib Kweli almost ends in a storm-off when host Don Lemon disagrees about media coverage of Ferguson
- British baby learns to feed herself at just three days old
- Data breach at Homeland Security contractor that compromised 25,000 employees 'was the work of a foreign government'
- Drunk tractor driver decapitates three people in head-on crash
- Russian student worker missing at Grand Teton
- Email sent to James Foley's parents 'may have been written by working-class Briton'
- Giant fissure splits the earth open in rural northwest Mexico
- David Cameron hits Cornish surf after interrupting holiday following James Foley execution
- Chinese crowd told hostage-taker to 'get on with it' when he held knife to his throat
- Oprah Winfrey tells Lindsay Lohan to ‘cut the bull****’ in trailer for new reality show Lindsay
- Denver Man Michael McGinley threatened to kill wife in phone call at DA’s office
- Lauren Bacall leaves $26.6M estate to her family ... but $10,000 was set aside for her dog Sophie and $15,000 for her loyal maid
- I believe I can fly! Stunning split-second snapshots of birds, bats and even mice and frogs in mid-air
- Google wants to prove its driverless cars are safe in virtual reality BEFORE testing them on real roads, report claims
- Does NHS Dr Shajul Islam hold the key to identifying 'Jihadi John'?
- Mo'ne Davis out of the Little League World Series: First girl to pitch a no-hitter won't progress to final after team loses to Chicago
- Zac Efron pretends to puff on a joint as he films scenes for DJ movie We Are Your Friends
- Beluga whale plays with children during aquarium visit
- Revealed, why James Foley was an ISIS 'whipping boy': Terrorist captors discovered pictures of his U.S. Air Force officer brother on his laptop and made him suffer mock executions including being 'crucified against a wall'