Finding their Heru

Fraternal twins Emelie Falk and Lin Backlund made headlines all over the world in 2012 when they were reunited after being separated at birth.

They were adopted more than three decades ago from an orphanage in Semarang, Indonesia, by different Swedish parents.

In a remarkable turn of events, both ended up living just 70km apart, less than an hour's drive from each other, in Helsingborg, Sweden.

Before their reunion, the women, who are both teachers, got married on the same day, a year apart, and even danced to the same wedding song, You And Me, by US rock band Lifehouse.

More revelations were to come to Ms Falk and Ms Backlund, as captured in the new documentary series, Separated At Birth, which airs on Eve (StarHub TV Ch 425) every Monday at 9.50pm.

The pair appear in tonight's episode and next week's, which document their journey in finding their long-lost 37-year-old brother, who had also been given up as a baby.

Falk told The New Paper over the phone from Sweden: "We decided to do the show because we thought maybe we could get some help in finding (him). I'm glad we're in this together. It's a good feeling."

Ms Backlund, who is married to a Swedish school principal with whom she has two sons, aged five and two, visited Semarang in 2013.

"Nothing could prepare me for (going back) to Indonesia. There are a lot of people in this family," she said, adding that she found out that her biological mother had 15 children, 11 of whom were in Indonesia.

While Ms Backlund was there, another discovery awaited. She was told that somewhere in the world, the sisters had an older brother who had been adopted a few years before them.


Ms Falk, who has two daughters, aged two and six months with her self-employed Swedish husband, said: "They were also a pair of twins, but I was told one of them died while the other one was really sick and (our parents) couldn't take care of him because they didn't have a lot of money.".

Armed with just the birth certificates of their brother Heru and the presumed dead Hero Seriawan, and a rumour that Heru had been adopted in the Netherlands, and knowing only the boys' year of birth (1979), the sisters began their quest to find him.

They chose to do it through social media.

The sisters uploaded a photo of themselves to Facebook on Aug 15 last year with the hashtag #Hunt4Heru.

Within 24 hours, their post received more than 6,000 shares and 460,000 views and messages started pouring in from people claiming to be or to know Heru.

The more messages they got, however, the more confusing the search became.

Eventually, a man named Tim messaged them that he was Heru. He had the correct birth date and place of birth and even mentioned the names of their oldest brother and sister, which had not been made public.

Shortly after, they received another message, from a man named Mark who claimed to be Hero.

Within a week of their original Facebook post, the sisters had found both their brothers.

The men, who were both living in the Netherlands and work in IT, immediately flew to Sweden.

Recalled Ms Backlund of their tearful first meeting - captured on Separated At Birth - where they took turns to embrace each other: "It was amazing when we found out there were two of them...

"We didn't have much time to prepare ourselves, but when I saw them, it was the same feeling as when I had met Emelie. We knew we were connected."

Since then, the siblings have met up once more, when the brothers went to Sweden for the second time to be a part of Ms Backlund's son's baptism.

When they are not physically in the same place, the foursome keep in touch via text message and Skype almost daily.

Tim is married to a Dutch woman and they have a three-year-old daughter, while Mark is single.

Said Ms Backlund: "The Netherlands is about a half-day drive (from Sweden) so I hope we can meet more often... we have a great time whenever we meet so hopefully we can develop a greater relationship."

The quartet will be heading to Semarang this summer with their families for about two weeks to reconnect with their biological family.

And although there is no anger or resentment, the sisters still have "mixed feelings".

Said Ms Falk: "Of course I am excited to meet my family, especially my biological mother. I have spoken to her through Skype so I know that she is very emotional as well and it hurts me that she is sad about this situation and it's very hard for her.

"We know that the family is throwing a big party and we're planning to just hang out with everyone and have fun. I hope this journey will bring (the four of us) much closer too."

This article was first published on May 16, 2016.
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