A Mom Allegedly Left 1-Year-Old in Abandoned House and Made Tearful Discovery Upon Returning 10 Years Later


On Jan. 23, 2024, a Facebook page named Jesus Light Of My Life posted a picture of an infant sleeping in a hospital bed and a story about a mother who purportedly abandoned her 1-year-old child in a vacant house. According to the story, the mother came to see her several years later and made a discovery that drove her to tears.

The post read, “The mother left her 1-year-old child in an abandoned house, but after 10 years she returns there and discovers something that makes her cry: ‘It’s me, I want to talk to…’ What had happened to the child left an entire country without words.”

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From the outset, this story seemed like it might end up being an example of glurge – a sentimental or heart-rending story undermining its own inspirational message by distorting or ignoring the facts. Further, the photo begged the question of why the child would be photographed while sleeping in a hospital bed and not in a safe crib, to protect from falls.

However, Snopes found data indicating there seemed to be at least some truth to this story. Further, as detailed below, we were able to locate the origins of the picture of the infant lying in the bed.

The Viral Story

Upon beginning our research, Snopes quickly located a seemingly endless number of Facebook posts telling a similar tale, each instructing users to click on an article link in the comments. The article links led to different websites where users could read a longer story. Comedian and actor Karlous Miller – who has over 2.6 million followers – also once posted part of the story to his Facebook page.

The post on the Jesus Light Of My Life Facebook page led to an article on the barebones blog teknolojibura.com. The website – like all of the other websites leading from the other Facebook posts – had no author information and appeared to have been quickly created.

The article may have been translated to English from another language. It read as follows:

Mom Abandons 1 YO Baby In Derelict House, 10 Years Later, She Returns And Discovers The Unthinkable

This is the story of a one-year-old girl who her mother abandoned. Not all abandoned babies survive. The story took place in Yaroslavl, Russia 10 years ago. People can tell that this is a scary event and that it should not have happened.

Ten years ago, 1-year-old Liza was abandoned by her mother in an old vacant house. Nobody knew that. One day the neighbor heard some babies crying. This thing went on every day. So they called the police who came to investigate the incident.

Police began searching for the source. They found a one-year-old baby lying on the dirty floor of an abandoned house. Her mother had left her a few days ago. The house was cold and empty. Police managed to find out who the baby was.

But they did not find her parents. She was taken to the hospital and doctors took care of her. Liza stayed in the hospital for a few days.

There was also a woman named Inna. She was taking care of her son. One day Inna heard Liza crying. When she saw the baby, Inna felt that she loved [her] a lot. Every day Inna brought her food and toys.

One day, when Inna visited, Liza was no longer in the hospital. She had taken her to the orphanage.  So Inna decided to adopt her. The little girl was traumatized. But Inna cared a lot about her. She fed her, washed her, and loved her as if she were her daughter.

She sent Lisa to a ballet course and taught her not to be influenced by anyone’s words. Liza became a big and beautiful girl. Now she is a well-known model in Russia. She participated in many fashion shows and interviews.

At this time her biological mother heard about Liza’s success and wanted to meet her. But Liza refused to meet someone who had abandoned her.

Following an exhaustive search across a number of different Russian-language blogs, Snopes found what looked to possibly be the full and credible story on a Russian-language charity blog.

The Story of Lisa Verbitskaya

On April 18, 2018, the Russian-language website for the Change One Life Charitable Foundation published an interview with a woman named Inna Sovkova. According to the story, Sovkova, who once went by the name Inna Nika, truly had adopted a 1-year-old girl by the name of Lisa Verbitskaya (or “Liza”), after her biological mother had left her in an abandoned house. The story did not mention Lisa’s birth year but said she was 14 in 2018, perhaps placing her birth sometime in 2004.

The article started off by crediting the interview to “a correspondent of the ‘Change One Life’ foundation”:

Thirteen years ago, a one-year-old girl was found in one of the private houses in Yaroslavl. She was completely alone, crying bitterly from hunger and pain – her right leg was broken. The baby was taken to the hospital, where she met her future adoptive mother. Her adoptive mother told a correspondent of the “Change One Life” foundation about how a girl who was considered an “ugly duckling” became a children’s supermodel in Russia [and] what she now dreams of.

The story told of a time when Sovkova and her adopted daughter, Lisa, were invited to a TV show. Her biological mother, reportedly named Zhanna Verbitskaya, was also invited to participate during the show – a fact Sovkova and Lisa had not been informed of ahead of time. To be clear, the story did not say the biological mother returned to the abandoned house to find her daughter, as the Facebook posts may have led some users to believe:

For a long time Lisa did not know that she had been abandoned alone in an empty house. Journalists unearthed this information when the media began writing about the girl who won the children’s supermodel competition. At the same time, Lisa and Inna [Sovkova] were invited to a talk show.

“They told me that her relatives, brothers and sisters, want to meet with her,” says Inna. “That they had been looking for her for a long time. They asked permission to come to the show. At first I was against it, but then I agreed — I thought that my daughter would still want to find them, sooner or later.”

But Lisa’s blood mother was also invited to the filming of the show. Inna recalls that the appearance of a woman who, for vaguely explained reasons, left the baby in an empty house, was like a blow to the head – no one warned either the girl or her adoptive mother about this. After the transfer, family ties resumed, but not for long. Lisa’s blood mother did not [see her] again. Sisters and brothers rarely write to Lisa on social networks in the spirit of “how are you” – and that’s all for now.

“We haven’t talked to Lisa yet about what she found out, that she was found abandoned in an empty house, and not in a hospital, as she thought,” says Inna. “I didn’t ask her myself, I didn’t force her, I didn’t put pressure on her. I’m afraid that the unnecessary reminder may traumatize her more.”

Lisa writes poetry and sometimes reads it to her mother – and Inna feels that her daughter is experiencing an insult, trying to think it over, feel it, and forget it. So far she speaks about this only in poetry. But this is also a way out.

Snopes was unable to locate a video of the TV show but did find remnants of the appearance in the form of screenshots buried in an article on fb.ru. A YouTube video includes clips of Sovkova and Lisa apparently meant for a TV news report or documentary. Further, there exists on YouTube another video of Lisa winning a modeling competition. However, the video is not available to be viewed in some countries. Therefore, Snopes was unable to review this footage.

More photos purportedly showing Sovkova, Lisa and the house where she was abandoned by her biological mother can be viewed on Facebook and the Vietnamese-language website Soha.vn.

Snopes contacted the Change One Life Charitable Foundation to confirm the details about the interview that their correspondent was said to have conducted in 2018. This story will be updated if a response is received.

The Photo of the Baby in the Hospital Bed

After a bit of research, Snopes was able to track down the origins of the photo showing the baby in the hospital bed that had been included with the Facebook posts and the articles leading from them. The picture was completely unrelated to the story of Lisa’s abandonment and adoption.

A reverse-image search on TinEye.com displayed a result for the defunct website jpgmag.com. We found an archived version of the page on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. It provided a name: Vincent Bitaud. That archived page led to Bitaud’s archived bio page, also on jpgmag.com. It mentioned his website was once laritournelle.com. A Wayback Machine page capture of laritournelle.com showed a link to a Flickr profile for Bitaud. Buried in the more than 1,000 photos on his Flickr account was the picture of the baby in the hospital bed.

According to Bitaud’s Flickr account, the photo of the baby was taken on April 30, 2005. His location was last listed on the account as being in Paris, France.

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This picture appeared to have been nothing more than an attempt to capture an interesting view of a sleeping baby. Other photos on Bitaud’s Flickr account also showed what may have been the same child. Snopes reached out to Bitaud via Flickr to ask about the picture and will update this story if we receive a response.

Sources:

“A Child Supermodel from Yaroslavl Speaks about Her Pain in Poetry.” Change One Life Charitable Foundation, 18 Apr. 2018, https://changeonelife.ru/articles/detskaya-supermodel-iz-yaroslavlya-govorit-o-svoej-boli-v-stihah/.

“A Mom Abandoned Her 1 Year Old In An Empty House Then A Decade Later She Faced Up To Her Actions.” YouTube, watchJojo, 30 July 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KooO8VkH-gA.

“A woman adopted a girl abandoned by a gypsy. 10 years later the mother showed up.” FB.ru, 18 Apr. 2019, https://fb.ru/post/journalism/2019/4/18/87759.

Huberman, Bond, and David Emery. “Snopestionary: What Does ‘Glurge’ Mean?” Snopes, 21 Aug. 2021, https://www.snopes.com//articles/363643/what-does-glurge-mean/.

“Lisa Verbitskaya.” Kids-Models.ru, http://kids-models.ru/profile.php?id=4f70b19702c06.

TinEye Reverse Image Search. https://tineye.com/.

“Vincent Bitaud.” Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/chabusse/4204491430/.

“Yaroslavna Liza Verbytskaya Received the Grand Prize.” YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jkQM8Rq-vc.



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