I TRAVELLED TO ROMANIA TO MEET MY BIRTH PARENTS BUT FOUND A HUSBAND

An adopted woman travelled 6,000 miles from California to Romania to track down her biological family - but ended up meeting the man she would marry instead. 

Ana Maria Bader, 24, had planned to find her birth mother who lives in Ploie*ti, Romania, after graduating from California State University in August 2022.

She decided to also download Tinder before the trip - setting her location to Bucharest - in the hopes of finding a summer fling while visiting her biological family.

Before the trip, Ana Maria's best friend presented her with a gift card for dating website Tinder, encouraging her to 'have some fun' while visiting her birth family. 

After downloading the app, Ana Maria started chatting to Kevin, 27, a software engineer living in Bucharest, and the pair arranged to go on a date when she flew over on July 8, 2022.

They hit it off and quickly became a couple - tying the knot exactly one month later, on August 8, 2022, after realising they were 'just the right people for each other'.

The couple 'married online' - acquiring a US marriage license while based in Romania, and are planning to hold a 'real' wedding in the future in LA. 

After the couple got together, Kevin helped Ana Maria to continue her mission to find her biological parents in Romania. 

While Ana Maria was ultimately 'disappointed' by the encounter with her birth mother, she says it was all worth it as she she met her soulmate in the process.

Ana Maria, an aesthetician, from Los Angeles, California, US, said: 'I came to Romania for the first time and we instantly fell in love. It was so quick, we got married exactly a month later.

'It was very hard meeting my biological family - a lot happened. It was uncomfortable and awkward.

'But it's been beautiful meeting Kevin, I finally feel like I have a forever home in him. I feel safe with him and we're incredibly close.'

Ana Maria was originally born in Ploie*ti, Romania, on March 5, 1999. Her biological mother was 17 when she gave birth - and her high school boyfriend had 'fled' to another town.

She was placed for adoption within the week - and adopted by her parents, Jack Ketchian, 69, and his wife, Mariana, 73, on January 3, 2000.

The couple owned a cosmetics business in LA, and had emigrated from Romania to the US in 1965 and 1975, respectively.

Mariana was unable to have children of her own and the couple decided to adopt a Romanian child so they could 'connect with them on a cultural level'.

They told Ana Maria when she was four that she was adopted - and throughout school, she was proud to have been 'chosen' by her parents.

She said: 'All throughout elementary school I'd share my secret with the kids. I'd be like, 'I'm adopted. Isn't that cool?'

'But as we got older, mean kids would say my parents weren't real, and I wasn't really wanted.

'My parents did everything for me - I took swimming classes, ballet, practiced all sorts of instruments, but I just didn't feel good enough.'

Mariana and Jack knew 'bits and pieces' about Ana Maria's biological mum through 'small town gossip' - and said she could go and find her as soon as she was old enough.

They told her about her grandfather, who worked at a petroleum refinery in Ploie*ti, and the fact she was 'abandoned by her birth dad'.

When she was 16, Ana made the decision to go and find her birth mum after she'd finished studying in the US and graduated from university.

In March 2022, while nearing the end of her degree in business admin and finance at California State University, she decided she was going to go that summer.

'I was wrapping up my degree and had this idea of graduating and going to my birth country,' she added.

'I suggested it to my best friend, Michelle, 22, who told me to have some fun with it, too. She gifted me a coupon for Tinder, and said I should put myself out there.'

On March 24, Ana Maria started using the dating app - and two days later, she matched with Kevin - the man she's now married to.

'I decided to use the gift card and set my location to Bucharest, which is where I got talking to Kevin,' Ana Maria continued. 

She got his number and deleted the app, and the pair texted for four months, before meeting in person on July 8.

Ana Maria flew to Romania to try and find her biological family in Ploie*ti - and stayed at Kevin's house the entire time.

'I just knew he was for me,' she said. 'We didn't want to wait. On July 27, we were in the car and he casually told me he wanted to marry me.'

Kevin drove Ana Maria to the petroleum refinery she knew her biological grandfather worked at - but was told he'd probably retired, and they had no record of him.

He then took her to a prim*ria - or town hall - in Ploie*ti, where he began asking around to see if anyone knew the name.

Ana Maria said: 'Within 10 minutes, three women said they knew him. They disappeared into a room on their phones - I was shaking uncontrollably.

 'I can only understand Romanian - I'm not very good at speaking it. Plus I was nervous, so Kevin had to do all the talking for me.

'They came back, and said to Kevin 'her uncle is on his way - he'll be here in five minutes'.

'And within five minutes, this man walked in, covered in oil and wearing a work uniform. He stared at me, and said I was '100 per cent my mum's daughter'.'

All three of them went back to her uncle's house - where Ana Maria's biological grandfather and mum were there to meet her.

She says she found it hard to click with her mum and the encounter was 'uncomfortable and awkward' - leaving with Kevin under an hour later.

'I told Kevin I wanted to leave, he said it was all going to be fine, and we can leave whenever we wanted,' Ana Maria said. 'It was a disappointment. But I had the wedding with Kevin to look forward to.'

Kevin and Ana Maria got married on August 8, and the pair returned to LA six days later. They began the process of getting Kevin a green card so they could live together in the US full-time.

On September 9, Ana Maria moved to Bucharest with Kevin while they await the outcome of their green card application. 

She said: 'Kevin is the most independent and strong man I know - he's really the only person I have in Romania.

'He encouraged me to keep in contact with my uncle - and we went on a day out to the Bu*teni mountains, and had dinner.

'I'm on relative talking terms with my mum now - but it didn't work out the way I imagined.'

On meeting and marrying Ana Maria, Kevin said: 'We met on Tinder - I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but it just happened.

'We got talking, we had good chemistry, and things just flowed naturally - which was as surprising to me as it was to her.

'It was a lot for her to fall in love and fly 6,000 miles across the ocean - but it was one of the highlights of my life.

'As soon as she came to Romania, it felt like it was meant to be. We got settled together and we weren't alone anymore.'

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2024-06-17T16:32:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd