Home | National | US Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long reunited with Siberian parents

US Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long reunited with Siberian parents

By
Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
  • 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

0

View
comments

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.

U.S. Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long

'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.’ 

Jessica Long
Jessica Long

'Life changing moments': Long shared her excitement about her family reunion on Twitter with her 11,400 followers

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

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.

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

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

One of the most successful American Paralympians: Long (pictured at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics) has won 12 gold medals at three Paralympic Games

Jessica Long
Jessica Long

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

Jessica Long's biological father Oleg Valtysheva

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.

Read more:

MOST WATCHED NEWS VIDEOS

MOST READ NEWS

 

 
 

Colorado News

Get the latest Colorado news, sports, weather, entertainment, business & political news and more from Colorado Newsday.
 
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Rate this article

0
 
 

Photo Galleries

PHOTOS: Plastic Surgery Celebrity Awkward family photos 
 
UPDATED: Faces of Meth PHOTOS: Celebrities all a-Twitter

More galleries ››

 
 
 
  1. Drunk tractor driver decapitates three people in head-on crash (1.00)

  2. Spoiled’ teen takes parents to court (1.00)

  3. Could the menopause be eliminated in 20 years? Scientist predicts ageing process could be halted or reversed through stem cell therapies  (1.00)

  4. Terms of Service (0)

  5. Colorado Newsday Privacy Policy (0)

  6. Kim Kardashian denied access to Vanity Fair party (0)

  7. Russian troops threaten to shoot Ukrainian soldiers in tense stand-off (0)

  8. Boxer vows to fight on – after 51st defeat in row (0)

  9. Forbes rich list names world’s youngest billionaires (0)

  10. Pregnant woman drives kids into ocean in Florida (0)

  11. Oprah Winfrey tells Lindsay Lohan to ‘cut the bull****’ in trailer for new reality show Lindsay (0)

  12. Denver Man Michael McGinley threatened to kill wife in phone call at DA’s office (0)

  13. Couple stole little girl's iPod in Aurora (0)

  14. Former director of Breckenridge Film Festival Dawna Foxx given 5 years for embezzling $300K (0)

  15. Knee injury to sideline Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan 6-8 weeks (0)

  16. Sweet homecoming: Pennsylvania pooch Gidget, who mysteriously wound up in Oregon, will fly home to be reunited with her owner (0)

  17. Tiny humanoid robots are now advanced enough to FLY A PLANE, claim researchers, who think their five-inch machine could even meet Government safety guidelines (0)

  18. What's spoiling your skin? From eczema to acne, cold sores to cancer, read our expert guide to the causes and best treatments... (0)

  19. Single mother with terminal cancer has dying wish granted as her nurse agrees to raise her son   (0)

  20. Texas Game of Thrones fan staves off an intruder with a MEDIEVAL SWORD instead of a gun because he is a christian who doesn't believe in killing (0)

  21. New York store owner accused of 'recruiting for ISIS and funding the terror group' pleads not guilty (0)

  22. MySpace Tom Andersonis now a landscape photographer (0)

  23. Greg Mortenson who lied about being kidnapped by Taliban returns as figurehead (0)

  24. Jennifer Lopez unveils new 'Booty' clip ft. Iggy Azalea (0)

  25. Kendra Wilkinson confronts Hank Baskett about cheating scandal (0)

  26. American man admits killing his girlfriend's mother in Bali and stuffing her in a suitcase (0)

  27. Bruce Springsteen and wife Patricia Scialfa watches daughter Jessica compete in Central Park equestrian competition (0)

  28. Thrillseekers pictured sleeping thousands of feet above Alps in HAMMOCKS ... and they tightrope walk to get there (0)

  29. Police were called to gun incident at San Francisco 49er Ray McDonald's house three months before he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence (0)

  30. Angelina Jolie effect caused surge in women going for breast cancer checks (0)

  31. Anything Apple can do...Google's Android L software will be encrypted by default - just like iOS 8 (0)

  32. Francois Hollande vows to rise above his 'ordeals and pain' as he finally deals with ex-partner's book about him (0)

  33. Standing seats, fat tax and no life jackets: The seven predictions for the future of plane travel that look set to become a reality (0)

  34. Laverne Cox to unveil new documentary 'The T Word' in October (0)

  35. Prince Harry reportedly back together with Cressida Bonas (0)

  36. Wal-Mart store in Mexico could face closure after hosting promotional cock fight... as children watched the two birds 'tearing each other apart in the middle of the aisles' (0)

  37. Marriott virtual reality 'teleporter' booth lets travellers see, feel and smell holiday locations without booking a flight (0)

  38. Watch the video of the moment a crocodile attacks Mark Evans with a ferocious 'headbutt' (0)

  39. John Cantlie was 'itching' to return to Syria after being released from capture two years ago  (0)

  40. Natalie Dormer reveals her travel essentials (0)

  41. Passenger wearing oxygen mask films dramatic moment JetBlue plane engine 'explodes' and cabin fills with smoke forcing pilot to make emergency landing (0)

  42. Victor Voronov sues husband Johnny Weir 'for spreading lies about attempted rape and herpes' (0)

  43. Can Scotland heal bitter divisions exposed by independence campaign? (0)

  44. £11k electric Radinn 'surfboard' lets you glide along the sea - and even rivers (0)

  45. British fighter jets execute 'flawless' scramble to intercept two Russian 'Bear' aircraft flying in international airspace (0)

  46. CBS executive's wife left brain dead after being hit by 'speeding' cyclist in Central Park while out shopping for daughter's birthday present  (0)

  47. Fox sets Feb. 2015 release date for 'Deadpool,' Ryan Reynolds 'X-Men' spinoff (0)

  48. Jenny McCarthy details her wedding to Donnie Wahlberg (0)

  49. Amy Adams stars in Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' trailer (0)

  50. Antidepressants can affect the brain in just three HOURS - not weeks, as previously thought   (0)