Haywood County couple meet granddaughter for first time
It was a reunion decades in the making.
"We didn't ever think it would happen," Joseph Cook said.
Thursday evening, Joseph and Lydia Cook sat anxiously in their living room in Waynesville, surrounded by camera crews, waiting to meet their granddaughter, Nikita Volkova, for the first time.
"She's been traveling about 30-some hours," Joseph Cook said.
However, that's nothing compared to the decades they've all waited for this moment.
Volkova traveled from Vancouver, Canada, just to get to Waynesville, but the entire journey leading up to this hasn't been an easy road.
After a warm, welcoming embrace, it's now a new beginning for a woman filled with a sad and difficult past, just trying to find her place in the world.
"I've never come to a place and had somebody be waiting for me," said Volkova, who was born prematurely in Canada.
Her mother was an American citizen and homeless at the time. Volkova's mother was told her baby, born at 22 weeks, had died. Her mother, who was deported, lived the rest of her life believing her child had died.
Volkova, on a search to find her family, discovered her mother had passed away before the two of them ever got the chance to meet.
"I just screamed and cried, and cried, and cried, because I thought that was it. There was nobody who would want me. I was gonna be alone," Volkova said.
After some time, Volkova got a match on MyHeritage DNA with a woman named Lydia Cook, who turned out to be her grandmother.
"It's strange to have nobody and then finally have people that are concerned," Volkova said.
It's all thanks to a DNA test and a family that refused to give up.
Right now, the Cooks are trying to raise enough money so Volkova can move to the U.S. and they can hire an immigration attorney.
They've started a GoFundMe page where you can donate.
"Finding my grandparents and the rest of mum's family had been a dream come true -- one that has been decades in the making," Volkova said in a news release.