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By Jessica Long
Jessica Long is taking a well-deserved break after winning five gold medals at the London Paralympics — and surviving a media frenzy surrounding her biological parents. Jessica blogged exclusively about her experiences with espnW.
It was day three of the Paralympics when I started getting messages from Russian reporters on Facebook and Twitter. "We've found your family!" one said, with a photo of a Russian-looking family attached. Another asked if I'd go to Russia straight from London to be on an "Oprah"-like TV show.
Is this a joke? I thought, my mind spinning. Are they just trying to write a good story?
My brother and I were adopted from Russia when I was 13 months old, and though I've always known the story of my adoption, I've never met my biological parents.
Little did I know, some reporters had taken it upon themselves to find them.
It was so much to handle right then, in the middle of the biggest meet of my life. Yes, that family in the photo had blond hair like me. But I look like a lot of Russian families, I'm sure. Half of the Russian Paralympic team has blond hair! How was I supposed to know what was real? I wasn't angry, but I couldn't quite process it all, and of course it made it very hard to focus on the races I had each day.
I kept getting messages and links to Russian newspaper articles, and on the final day of the Games, the USOC confirmed for me that it was definitely not a hoax. Since then, I've had all the articles and interviews translated into English and learned a lot about my Russian biological parents.