Just like trying to conceive a child of your own, adopting a child comes with its share of immense concerns, hopes, logistics, and surprises.

This was certainly the case for Canadian couple Ron and Natalie Trecroce, who, in 1997, decided they wanted to bring a child into their home. Their search led them to Arad, Romania, where they met and fell in love with a one-year-old girl named Rodica Lavinia Farcas.

Rodica had some health issues, which sent Ron and Natalie on a quest to find some answers about her past—and that’s when they made a shocking recovery.

Many couples dream of starting their own families, but it’s not always an easy thing to do. Ron and Natalie Trecroce of Canada knew this better than anyone else. Despite some challenges, they knew they wanted to raise a child of their own—no matter what.

While they’d been devastated by the news that they wouldn’t be able to conceive on their own, Ron and Natalie were determined to become parents, and they had plenty of other options at their disposal. So, they began the process of adoption.

In 1997, the couple—hoping to find the right child for their little family—traveled to Arad, Romania, a city situated on the Mures River in the western part of the country. That’s where they first saw Rodica Lavinia Farcas. She was only one, yet she already had a mysterious past.

Ron and Natalie instantly knew that Rodica, with her ear-to-ear smile, would be the perfect addition to their home. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be a simple adoption. Before they could get started, the couple received some bad news…

Even though she was just a year old, Rodica was severely malnourished. She suffered from rickets and had weak bones from a lack of vitamin D. It was pretty obvious that she was in need of some serious help.

Unfortunately, cases like Rodica’s weren’t unique in Romania in 1990. The country was under the control of a dictator named Nicolae Ceauşescu, and he banned contraception of any kind throughout the country—with catastrophic results.

With so many poor people in the country at the time, it meant that a lot of parents conceived children they couldn’t afford, and they had to give them up. Fortunate children ended up in orphanages. The less-fortunate ones died from malnutrition or were abandoned.

Was this what had landed Rodica in the orphanage in the first place? Perhaps her mother couldn’t afford the care necessary to properly nourish her newborn child? Questions dominated this baby’s past, and Natalie and Ron wanted answers.

Ron and Natalie wanted to know everything they could about their new daughter’s background. The problem was that it was also notoriously hard to get hold of any documentation on orphans in Romania at that time. And so, the digging began.

Natalie and Ron clung to every bit of information they could find on Rodica, but in the pre-internet era, there wasn’t much to be found. Then, the couple uncovered Rodica’s family tree—and they found that the girl’s biological mother had actually given away more than one child.

See, somewhere out there, Rodica actually had an older sister! Strangely, this sister had been sent to an entirely different orphanage. From then on, Ron and Natalie recognized that they had a new mission…

As the saying goes, the more the merrier, and Natalie and Ron must have been thinking just that! From the moment they learned about Rodica’s sister, they were determined to find—and adopt—her, too.

After an exhaustive search, Ron and Natalie finally found Rodica’s older sister, whose name was Gianina. They were shocked at just how muck alike the sisters looked—they could have been twins! Without a second thought, the happy couple adopted her, too, making the Trecroces officially a family of four.

Back home in Canada with two new baby girls—sisters Rodica and Gianina—Ron and Natalie made yet another discovery about the young girls’ family tree: they had six other siblings! But of course, Natalie and Ron wouldn’t track them down, too… would they?

Ron and Natalie exhausted their resources trying to find those six other siblings, but without a paper trail from Romania, it was nearly impossible. Those siblings still remain a mystery to this day, but maybe that was better for the small family from Canada—eight kids would have been a handful!

Even though they weren’t able to find the other siblings, Ron and Natalie were determined to complete their dream. They changed their new daughters’ names, too: Gianina became Sophie, and Rodica was now Danielle. Something didn’t feel right about the change, though…

Taking two little girls from their home country and then erasing all signs of their heritage might have been the appropriate route for a band of conquerors, but not Ron and Natalie. To preserve the girls’ history and heritage, they turned Sophie and Danielle’s former Romanian names into the girls’ new middle names.

Sophie and Danielle’s story turned a lot of heads. How often do you learn about hopeful parents traveling halfway around the world and managing to adopt separated baby sisters? In fact, one documentary filmmaker who heard about their story made a film about it (though it’s been lost to time)…

Years later, as an adult, Sophie watched the film and decided to make it Internet-friendly. She edited the full film into a shorter version that she uploaded to YouTube (though it has since been taken down), where it reached a tremendous amount of people.

The edited video’s success inspired Sophie so much that she actually decided to pursue photography. When it came time for her to enroll at a university, she knew exactly what she wanted to claim as her major!

The documentary also inspired Sophie to find out more about her and her sister’s pasts. She planned a trip to Romania, and though she would’ve liked to find her birth mother, she didn’t count on it. Documentation was still scarce, even after all of those years.

As for Danielle, she planned to join Sophie on her trip to Romania sometime in 2018. In the meantime, she planned to study for her bachelor’s degree. In addition to her picture-perfect story, she still lived near her sister.

When Ron and Natalie flew to Romania hoping to adopt one child, they didn’t know that they’d be coming home with two. All they knew was that they wanted a family, and they went through great leaps to make that possible. Obviously, it paid off!

It was a good thing that Ron and Natalie were ready for all the trials and tribulations that came with starting a family, because they sure faced quite a few! Surely they were happy they did.

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