Polish orphan Colleen Turzynski arrives in Singapore and meets relatives in person

Colleen Turzynski is reunited with her Singapore family members, aunt, Mdm Lee Say Moi (centre) and her uncle Mr Lee Tak Nyen at Changi Airport. Colleen arrived from Washinton DC in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Colleen Turzynski is reunited with her Singapore family members, aunt, Mdm Lee Say Moi (centre) and her uncle Mr Lee Tak Nyen at Changi Airport. Colleen arrived from Washinton DC in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Colleen Turzynski hugs her aunt, Mdm Lee Say Moi, at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Colleen arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to reunite with her Singapore family members. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Colleen Turzynski hugs her aunt, Mdm Lee Say Moi, at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Colleen arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to reunite with her Singapore family members. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Colleen Turzynski hugs her uncle, Mr Lee Tak Nyen, at Changi airport. Colleen has just flown from Washington DC to meet her family members in Singapore. Colleen's aunt, Mdm Lee Say Moi (seen in this photo) was at the airport to receive her niece too.
Colleen Turzynski hugs her uncle, Mr Lee Tak Nyen, at Changi airport. Colleen has just flown from Washington DC to meet her family members in Singapore. Colleen's aunt, Mdm Lee Say Moi (seen in this photo) was at the airport to receive her niece too. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
A tearful Mdm Lee Say Moi (centre) greets her long-lost niece, Colleen Turzynski. Colleen arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to be reunited with her Singapore family members. Mdm Lee and her brother, Mr Lee Tak Nyen was at the a
A tearful Mdm Lee Say Moi (centre) greets her long-lost niece, Colleen Turzynski. Colleen arrived in Singapore in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to be reunited with her Singapore family members. Mdm Lee and her brother, Mr Lee Tak Nyen was at the airport as well. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Colleen Turzynski meets her Singapore family members, her aunt, Madam Lee Say Moi (centre), and her uncle, Mr Lee Tak Nyen, for the first time ever in person at Changi Airport. Ms Turzynksi arrived from the United States in the wee hours of Tuesday m
Colleen Turzynski meets her Singapore family members, her aunt, Madam Lee Say Moi (centre), and her uncle, Mr Lee Tak Nyen, for the first time ever in person at Changi Airport. Ms Turzynksi arrived from the United States in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. -- PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - It was an anxious wait for Polish orphan Colleen Turzynski's relatives at Changi Airport early on Tuesday morning.

As the crowd at luggage collection belt 46 got smaller, her aunt Madam Lee Say Moi, 66, started to look at a gate nearby from which passengers could also exit. Five minutes later, she and her brother Lee Tak Nyen, 70, walked to that gate, hoping to make sure they did not miss Ms Turzynski, 26.

By then, there were very few people left at the luggage collection belt.

"Maybe she's stuck at the customs and filling up some information," said Madam Lee of her niece, who is deaf. She also browsed through photos of Ms Turzynski in her phone, trying to recall how she looks.

At about 1.20am - about 20 minutes after passengers had started collecting their luggage - Ms Turzynski finally appeared, walked quickly towards the luggage collection belt and out into the arrival hall. She hugged her aunt, then her uncle, then her aunt again. Both Madam Lee and Ms Turzynski were teary-eyed.

Ms Turzynski told The Straits Times through writing: "I was very excited about my reunion with my family. I couldn't believe I have a family here. I am very happy to find them but I feel bad (for coming) here without my parents."

She lost her mother as well as her Polish father and grandfather in a tragic murder in the United States 24 years ago. Having lived in Poland since her parents' death, she had lost all contact with her mother's family.

After the story of her search for her Singapore family was published by The Straits Times in April, three family members came forward, producing photos of her parents and her when she was a baby. The newspaper also set up a Skype chat in which she had a virtual meeting with some members of her mother's family for the first time.

She has since moved from Poland to Washington, where she is now taking a degree course in art and design. She is spending her winter break here, and will be in Singapore for about a month.

She had told The Sunday Times in an earlier interview that it is "most important" for her to visit her mother's niche.

Her mother's ashes are at Mount Vernon Columbarium. She is expected to go there to pay her respects soon.