GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Sarah Finkelstein Waters was born with the first name, Cecilie, but it was taken from her at the age of 4.
“I was abducted in 1974. I had just turned 4,” Sarah, now 46, recounted to PIX11 News.
The person who snatched Cecilie from her home near Oslo, Norway was her biological, American father. He had separated from Cecilie’s mother but the family still spent time together.
“I remember being on an airplane, and looking down, and my dad saying we were going to New York,” Sarah said recently.
When the young Cecilie asked about her mother, “He told me we’d see her soon.”
Cecilie, who ended up at the Orthodox Jewish Lubavitcher headquarters on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, wouldn’t see her mother again for 14 years. She recalled to PIX11 News that her father, who was a chemist of Jewish faith, grew a long beard and became Orthodox “virtually overnight.”
Cecilie’s name was changed to Sarah, and her father would take the child to homes around the country, seeking to elude searches launched by Cecilie’s mother.
“She fell apart, at one point,” Sarah said of her biological mother, “after years of looking for me. She wound up in a psychiatric institution for just a couple of weeks.”
But Sarah’s mother, who was a kindergarten and special education teacher in Norway, rallied to regain emotional health.
It was a tougher road for Sarah, who finally met her mother again in her late teens, only to later struggle with severe eating disorders and depression.
Sarah is now happily married with two sons.
She is telling her remarkable story Sunday at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, located at 38 Old Country Rd. in Garden City. The event starts at 11 a.m.
PIX11 News is presenting a television interview with Sarah Tuesday night, Nov. 1, during the 10 p.m. news. You will hear about the demons Sarah battled and the people who helped her feel whole. You will learn how Sarah fared in building a relationship with her biological mother.