Four Russian-born siblings separated after they lost their mother to illness have been reunited, thanks to an Auckland man.
Siblings Anastasiya Lubichenko, Maxim, who did not want his last name used, Ivan Telbezekov and Uriy Lubichenko had been apart for about 18 years before fellow adoptee Alex Gilbert helped them reconnect.
Anastasiya, 13, was too young to look after her brothers – aged 1, 9 and 11 – when their mother became unable to care for them and the boys were taken to a nearby orphanage.
In 2002, when Maxim was 3, he was adopted by a family from New Zealand.
Wanting to know if her younger brother was "fine" and "happy", Anastasiya Lubichenko reached out to Gilbert via his "I'm Adopted" page for his help.
Lubichenko, now 31, told Stuff she and her other brothers, who all still lived in Russia, had never forgotten about Maxim and always knew they would find him somehow.
Gilbert created the I'm Adopted project in 2015.
It helps hundreds of adoptees throughout the world to share their stories and talk with other adoptees.
The 27-year-old, who works in television as a camera operator and editor, founded the page after he was reunited with his own birth parents after finding them on social media.
On Sunday, Lubichenko's post searching for her brother went up on I'm Adopted, and, within 24 hours, Maxim, who lives in Auckland's Orewa, had been found.
Gilbert told Stuff he had reached out to Inter-Country Adoption New Zealand (I-CANZ) to find Maxim, who has never been back to Russia.
The very next day, Gilbert gave Maxim a call to tell him his siblings, originally from Novokuznetsk in south-western Siberia, Russia, wanted to get in touch with him.
"Everything fell into place very fast."
Maxim, 20, said when I-CANZ first got in touch, he was left questioning: "Is this real?"
But after talking to Gilbert and seeing his sister's story on I'm Adopted, it all began to sink in.
"We're messaging each other, sharing photos and building a strong connection – we're getting back to what it could have been at the start," he said.
Lubichenko said when she and her brothers reconnected with Maxim, they were both crying and laughing.
"I remember him so small, as a baby, and now he is a handsome man."
The long-lost siblings were talking via social media everyday, but were planning on meeting in person either in Russia or New Zealand in the very near future.