Woman’s journey to find birth parents leads to royal discovery
By LA Stories Staff Los Angeles
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Jun. 19, 2023
At a young age, Sarah Culberson was adopted into a loving family in West Virginia. She had a childhood full of joy and accomplishments, but as one of the few children of color in her hometown, she had a longing to find her roots.
Through a chance conversation with a friend, Culberson learned that her birth mother had died. Culberson waited a few years before trying to find her father. She was nervous at the idea of meeting him.
“I didn’t know I was really angry at my birth father,” she said. “I was terrified of being rejected, but I said, ‘I’m going to step into the unknown.’”
In the latest episode of “LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez, Culberson shares with host Giselle Fernandez how she found and contacted her birth father’s family.
Days later, she received a phone call from her birth aunt and uncle, who told her they had been looking for her and were delighted to know she was alright.
Then, her uncle shared the news that would change Culberson’s life forever: She was a part of a royal family from Sierra Leone. She was a princess.
With this new stunning discovery, Culberson flew to Sierra Leone, where she finally met her birth father. She was welcomed by the villagers singing and dancing for her.
“I was so overwhelmed… so much love and so much beauty,” she said. “I’ve never been welcomed like that. I can’t imagine anybody has. It was so special.”
While Culberson was excited and honored to be a part of this community, she noticed the destruction caused by the Civil War in Sierra Leone. The children had no school or electricity to do their work.
Culberson was so moved that she created a foundation called Sierra Leone Rising in order to help the community with things like public health, education, technology and women’s empowerment.
Through the foundation, she restored the school and helped the children receive solar powered lamps. They also worked on installing wells for clean water and a sanitary pad program for the girls.
Her adopted family supports her mission and continues to help her build the village back up. It is clear to Culberson that this was her life’s mission.
“This is my purpose. This is why I went,” she said. “It was great to meet my father, but it was so much more than that.”