updated 10/24/2006 3:52:57 PM ET 2006-10-24T19:52:57

A woman who grew up in a Laotian orphanage in the turbulent 1960s and ’70s says she plans to donate part of a $55 million lottery jackpot she and her husband won to the people who raised her.

Xia Rattanakone said she also plans to return to Laos to search for her birth family.

“I don’t know my parents,” she said after the couple claimed their winnings on Monday. “That is my wish, to find them.”

Rattanakone, 44, came to the United States in 1979 after being adopted by an American family.

She and her husband, Sommay Rattanakone, 52, said they plan to retire from their jobs, his as an aide in the Seattle Public Schools and hers as a temporary worker at Nintendo of America, and travel.

Now able to make a trip home
Neither has been back to Laos since they moved to the United States, and returning for a visit is a top priority, they said. During that visit, they plan to donate some of the money to the Catholic orphanage where Xia Rattanakone was raised.

They also plan to buy a new home and car and put aside college money for their two sons, ages 20 and 14.

The couple bought the winning Mega Millions ticket last week at a supermarket and opted for a lump-sum payment. They stand to receive about $23 million after taxes.

Sommay Rattanakone picked up the list of winning numbers on Wednesday, a day after the drawing, but decided to take a nap before checking the ticket. His wife couldn’t wait.

“I heard her scream, ‘We won,”’ he recalled.

“We couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I prayed for this. It is a dream come true.”

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