Teenager sees girl who looks just like her on TikTok… and discovers they are identical twins who were among 120,000 babies stolen from their parents in Georgia and sold to adoptive parents

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Georgian student Elene Deisadze was browsing TikTok successful 2022 erstwhile she stumbled crossed nan floor plan of a girl, Anna Panchulidze, who looked precisely for illustration her.

Months later, aft chatting and becoming friends, they some separately learnt they were adopted, and past twelvemonth decided to return a DNA test. 

It revealed they were not only related, but identical twins.

'I had a happy childhood, but now my full past felt for illustration a deception,' said Anna, an English student astatine university.

Far from an guiltless lawsuit of separation astatine birth, nan sisters are among tens of thousands of Georgian children who were illegally sold successful a decades-long babe trafficking scandal.

The scheme, uncovered by journalists and families searching for mislaid relatives, saw babies stolen from their mothers - galore of whom were told they had died - and past sold to adoptive parents successful Georgia and abroad.

Georgian student Elene Deisadze (L) was browsing TikTok successful 2022 erstwhile she stumbled crossed nan floor plan of a girl, Anna Panchulidze (R) who looked precisely for illustration her

Anna Panchulidze (L), Elene Deisadze (R) and Elene's adoptive mother, Lia Korkotadze

Elene and Anna, now 19, began unravelling their hidden past 2 years ago

Journalists person recovered that nan forbidden adoptions took spot complete much than 50 years, orchestrated by a web of maternity hospitals, nurseries and take agencies that colluded to return nan children from their parents, falsify commencement records, and spot them pinch caller families successful speech for cash.

Elene and Anna, now 19, began unravelling their hidden past 2 years ago.

'We became friends without suspecting we mightiness beryllium sisters, but some of america felt location was immoderate typical enslaved betwixt us,' Elene, a psychology student, told AFP.

Last summer, some of their parents independently told nan girls they had been adopted - revelations they had agelong planned to make.

It was past that nan brace decided to return nan familial trial that would uncover they were identical twins.

'I struggled to process nan information, to judge nan caller reality - nan group who had raised maine for 18 years are not my parents,' said Anna.

'But I consciousness nary anger whatsoever, only immense gratitude to nan group who raised me, and joyousness astatine uncovering my soma and blood,' she added.

The trial for Elene and Anna was arranged pinch nan thief of Georgian journalist Tamuna Museridze, who runs a Facebook group dedicated to reuniting babies stolen from their parents.

It has complete 200,000 members - including mothers who were told by infirmary unit that their babies had died soon aft being born, but past discovered years later they mightiness beryllium alive.

Georgian copy sisters Anna Panchulidze (L), an English student astatine university, and Elene Deisadze (R), a psychology student, and Elene's adoptive mother, Lia Korkotadze

Elene and Anna discovered they were copy sisters aft a chance brushwood connected societal networks, later learning they were among tens of thousands of Georgian children illegally sold to adoptive parents

Georgian copy sisters Anna Panchulidze and Elene Deisadze clasp aft being reunited

Georgian journalist Tamuna Museridze, who runs a Facebook group dedicated to reuniting babies stolen from their parents, speaks during an question and reply pinch AFP successful Tbilisi

Museridze group up nan group successful 2021 successful a bid to find her ain family aft learning she had been adopted.

She soon uncovered nan wide baby-selling operation.

'Mothers were told their babies had died soon aft commencement and were buried astatine a infirmary cemetery,' Museridze said.

'In fact, hospitals had nary cemeteries, and babies were being secretly whisked distant and sold to adoptive parents.'

The caller parents were often unaware nan adoptions were forbidden and told fabricated stories astir nan circumstances.

'Some people, however, consciously chose to circumvent nan rule and bargain a baby' to debar decade-long waiting lists, Museridze told AFP.

She says she has grounds that astatine slightest 120,000 babies 'were stolen from their parents and sold' betwixt 1950 and 2006, erstwhile anti-trafficking measures by reformist president Mikheil Saakashvili yet quashed nan scheme.

In Georgia, caller parents would salary nan balanced of galore months' net to put nan adoption, while babies trafficked overseas were sold for up to $30,000, Museridze said.

Elene's adoptive mother, Lia Korkotadze, decided pinch her hubby to adopt aft learning they couldn't person children a twelvemonth into their marriage.

'But adopting from an orphanage seemed virtually intolerable owed to incredibly agelong waiting lists,' nan 61-year-old economist told AFP.

Georgian copy sisters Anna Panchulidze (L), an English student astatine university, and Elene Deisadze, a psychology student, be an question and reply pinch AFP successful Tbilisi connected March 23, 2024

Georgian journalist Tamuna Museridze, who runs a Facebook group dedicated to reuniting babies stolen from their parents

Museridze said she has grounds that astatine slightest 120,000 babies 'were stolen from their parents and sold' betwixt 1950 and 2006

In 2005, an acquaintance told her astir a six-month-old babe disposable for take from a section infirmary - for a fee.

Korkotadze said she 'realised that was my chance,' and agreed.

'They brought Elene correct to my house,' Korkotadze said, ne'er suspecting location was 'anything illegal.'

'It took months of excruciating bureaucratic delays to formalise nan take done court,' she said.

The communicative of Anna and Elene mirrors that of different group of copy sisters - Anna Sartania and Tako Khvitia.

They were separated astatine commencement and sold to different parents, managing to reunite years later aft uncovering each different connected societal media.

More than 800 families person been reunited acknowledgment to Museridze's Facebook group.

Successive Georgian governments person made aggregate attempts to analyse nan strategy and person made a fistful of arrests complete nan past 20 years.

Interior ministry spokesman, Tato Kuchava, told AFP that an 'investigation is underway' into Museridze's revelations, but declined to supply further details.

Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said past week successful parliament that Tbilisi is among nan world leaders successful combating trafficking.

But Museridze says nan state's consequence has been lacking.

'The authorities did thing tangible to thief our efforts.'


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