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Russian adoption: Kiwi woman in search of her birth parents

Families can be complicated and not everyone has a close relationship with theirs, but for most of us they are fundamentally important to our identities.


It helps your sense of who you are and how you fit in the world when you recognise your eyebrows come from granddad, your knees are shaped the same as your mum’s.



Emma was adopted to New Zealand from Russia in the 1990s. She’s a workmate of ours at Stuff, and came to us wondering if we could help her find her Russian family. The result is the latest documentary from Stuff Circuit, Emma.


She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, not that her adoptive mother, Jan Halvorsen, knew that when she collected her from a Russian orphanage. And Emma’s chance at a new, fairytale life in New Zealand was interrupted before it really began: Emma hadn’t been here long when Jan committed suicide, meaning Emma eventually ended up in the care of her adoptive father, Terry Barrett.”


Read further from Stuff (New Zealand, 2020)


Watch the interactive documentary :



Full documentary also available as Youtube video:


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