By Marjan Golpira

Long quest to find her biological parents continues

December 24, 2017

Known as Eline Koning among her adopted family and friends in the Netherlands, and by Farideh in a children’s home in Iran years ago, this 41-year-old Iranian-Dutch woman is still on a mission to find her biological parents.

A documentary film, Finding Farideh, had its premiere in a film festival at the Cinema Verite on December 13th in Tehran. The film told the story of her struggles after she set out to discover her biological family.  

The story began on a hot June night in 1976, when a baby girl, estimated then to be about six months old, was found abandoned in the holy shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad.

The Dutch couple immediately fell in love with the baby Farideh. To everyone’s amazement, the day of the actual adoption fell on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.

The baby was soon taken to an orphanage in Mashhad and after 10 months, for ‘unknown reason(s)’, she was transferred to another orphanage in Tehran called Ameneh Orphanage.

Koning’s life changed suddenly when only after spending three days in Tehran’s orphanage a Dutch couple came to Tehran merely to visit a relative whose husband was working in Tehran.

The couple was eager to adopt a young child and heard about the orphanage.

Before the Islamic Revolution, or what is known as the “Shah’s time”, Iran observed international child adoption rules that allowed non-Iranian nationals to adopt abandoned Iranian children or orphans.

The Dutch couple immediately fell in love with the baby Farideh. To everyone’s amazement, the day of the actual adoption fell on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Two weeks later, off the couple went back to the Netherlands but this time with an additional member to their family. They renamed her Eline.

Eline was alone with no Iranian friends or family around in Holland, but as the cosmic world works undeniably in a miraculous way, another young couple, who happened to live on the same street as the Konings, heard about Eline’s adoption story, and they, too, soon traveled to Iran and adopted another baby girl, the 2.5-year-old grumpy and shy Faranak, from the same orphanage in Tehran.  

With much in common between the two girls, only six months apart, they bonded quickly until five years later when Eline’s family decided to move to a bigger village, Almere, where Eline’s father’s workplace was.   

To make matters worse, Eline’s relationship with her father began to grow cold and around age nine, Eline’s world began to fall apart when even children in the school would sometimes bully her for her different, Persian appearance.

Sad, she longed to connect to her roots and to enjoy warm hugs and cuddles in her real parents’ arms.  

She was always aware that she had connection with Iran. That was even clear from the inquiries she would receive in school about her nationality to which she would reply in a heartbeat, “I am very Dutch, but I was born in Iran.”  However, she would never introduce herself by her Iranian name ‘Farideh’.

“I felt stuck in life”, facing a “black horizon,” she recalls.

To fulfill her sense of belonging to Iran, she even once wrote a paper on Iran for her high school.

After high school, she held various jobs; since she was interested in exploring the world she tried her hand at commercial sales at a travel agency, camera assistance at a TV station and many other jobs.

At 29, she felt down in the dumps. “I felt stuck in life”, facing a “black horizon,” she recalls. She knew deep down that she had to start her quest to discover her biological parents.

Despite her adopted parents’ unwillingness, she hired a lawyer in Iran to look into her adoption case. Fortunately, her attorney was able to track down the date of her desertion, along with her physical description on that day. She was extremely pleased to learn some information about her very early childhood.

“I gained 10 months of my life back,” she smilingly said.  

Life went on until three months to her 38th birthday, when she decided to begin what she calls her “Big Search.”

She launched her blog at www.findfarideh.wordpress.com where she regularly wrote about her story. Then an idea struck her. She emailed her story to a Khorasan newspaper in Mashhad, and surprisingly two days later her story appeared in the paper.

“Total strangers who have either heard or seen my film offer me hugs and kisses.  I feel like I have 80 million people as my family.”

Soon, a family replied to her and happily they all went for a DNA test, but to their disappointment, the test came out negative. Still, she was determined to press on.
Another family responded in 2015 but this time she decided to fly to Iran to meet them and do the tests.  Despite her worries and anxiety, for the first time, she travelled to her homeland where she was once deserted. She met up with the family and again same test, same results.

In 2017, once again she flew to Iran to meet the third family and attended the premier of the documentary film about her.

To this day, Eline has gone through three DNA tests with three different families, but they all have failed, although she looks back on her trips to Iran as “healing journeys.”

“Total strangers who have either heard or seen my film offer me hugs and kisses.  I feel like I have 80 million people as my family.”

Today, she is back in Amsterdam, where she currently lives, and still hopes to find her family, although she has come to accept anything that happens.  

Eline’s story ends uncertain; however, she is certain of one thing. “I know now that I am Farideh Eline.”

Note:
The documentary film finding Farideh will be available in full next year.

Vidoe Caption:

Finding Farideh was selected for national and international competition sections in Cinema Verite Documentary Film Festival and was nominated for 7 awards and won 4 awards: Best Film in Art & Experience Section, best Editing,  best music and special Prize of Festival's Director.

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