Originally aired on: NBC
“Long Way Home” chronicles the story of Jessica Long, a world-class swimmer, 12-time Paralympic gold medalist, and 21-year old American from a Baltimore suburb, who was born in Russia and adopted by American parents. The feature tracks Long’s journey from the States to Siberia – Baltimore to Bratsk – to meet her birth family.
A double amputee and a Russian-born orphan, Jessica Long has grown up as two people simultaneously, a dedicated and determined young woman who has used that drive to become one of the most-decorated U.S. Paralympians and also someone who, from 13 months old at her adoption from a Russian orphanage, has longed to know who she really is.
Over the course of “Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story,” Long tells the remarkable story of how she discovered her first family, and eventually embarked on a journey through a past she never knew. Originally named Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova, Long retraces her adoption back to her orphanage in Irkutsk, Russia, and on to what would have been her hometown of Bratsk, deep in the heart of Siberia. It’s here that we see the overwhelming moment where she comes face-to-face for the first time, not only with her birth mother, but her biological father, brothers and sisters – the Russian family she had never met.
It’s an adventure that takes her more than 7,000 miles from the world and family she grew up knowing. The journey is a test for her physically and mentally, but through it all Long poignantly takes us through the process of coming to grips with her Russian roots. In the end it leads her to a profound personally discovery, her two half’s have helped make her the whole individual that she is – Jessica Tatiana Long.