Siblings reunited

17 May 2016 / 19:45 H.

DRIVEN by poverty, a mother made one of the toughest decisions of her life – to put her newborn twins up for adoption.
The girls were separately adopted from an orphanage in Semarang, Indonesia, in 1983, by two Swedish couples and taken to live thousands of miles away.
Nearly 30 years later, one of the twins attempts to retrace her roots and, almost by accident, finds her long-lost twin sister – on Facebook.
It may sound like a movie script, but this is as real as it gets for Emelie Falk and Lin Backman, the Swedish-Indonesian twins who made headlines around the world in 2011 with their incredible story.
Their story is now retold in a two-episode part of the documentary series, Separated at Birth, on Eve (Astro channel 733), which airs every Monday at 9.50pm.
In a phone interview with theSun, the fraternal twins, now 33, shared their amazing story and just how much their lives remarkably mirrored each other’s, living only 40 kilometres apart in southern Sweden.
Not only were both of them trained as teachers, they had gotten married on the same day just a year apart and even danced to the same wedding song!
They said the only clue they had of each other’s existence was a strange story related by Lin’s parents. When the Backmans left the orphanage with their new daughter all those years ago, the taxi driver had turned around and asked them: “What about the other one, the sister?”
Back in Sweden, the Backmans tracked down the Falks but upon inspection of the adoption papers, the families wrote off the idea of the girls being related due to many discrepancies and eventually lost touch.
But fate works in mysterious ways. When Emelie got married, she decided to look for the girl who might be her sister on the internet, with unexpected results.
“I started to search for Lin on Facebook and I think it took only a few weeks. I sent her a message and I received a reply pretty quickly, a day later,” Emelie recalled.
“We cried and laughed at the same time when we got the news (of our DNA test),” she said, adding that her first thought when she saw Lin was that she was beautiful.
Clearly, the sisters are now making up for lost time, bonding over similar interests like singing and home decorating. But their story didn’t end there.
Since being reunited almost five years ago, the girls discovered another shocking revelation after reconnecting with their biological family in Indonesia – they have two older brothers, also twins, who were adopted by two Dutch couples a few years earlier. According to family in Indonesia, only one brother, Heru, was alive.
Last year, the girls begun their search online once again and with the help of social media users, found not only Heru but twin brother Heri, both alive and well in the Netherlands, now going by the names Tim Dondorp and Mark van Weg, respectively.
An emotional reunion ensued, which the sisters say happened so fast they barely had time to let it sink in.
“We thought one of our brothers had died so it was amazing when we found out they were both alive. They came to Sweden to meet us a week later, so we didn’t have that much time to prepare ourselves,” Lin said.
All four siblings are planning a trip to Indonesia this summer to visit their biological parents and 11 other brothers and sisters.
“There is a lot of mixed feelings,” said Emelie. “We are looking forward to meeting all of them, especially our birth mother, since we have only spoken to her through Skype.
“Our family is planning a big party, I’m even taking my children along.”
Lin had, in 2013, made a personal trip to Indonesia to meet with their biological mother and family. But this time round, all four siblings and their families will be there.
They hope their children – Emelie’s three-year-old daughter and six-month-old baby, Lin’s two sons aged two and five, and Tim’s three-year-old daughter – will grow up knowing their cousins and extended family.
“We tell them they have a Swedish family, an Indonesian family, and a family in the Netherlands ... we hope that they will develop a natural relationship,” Lin said.
“It’s a private thing to search for your family ... but (I remember thinking) it’s me and Emilie and we’re doing this together, so it’s a good feeling.”
The first part of Emelie and Lin’s story appeared on May 16 on Eve with a repeat on May 17 at 4pm, and May 21 at 9pm. The second part appears on May 23 at 9.50pm.

thesundaily_my Sentifi Top 10 talked about stocks