Andreas Katsaniotis, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Diaspora, met with officials from The Eftychia Project (TEP), a group of Greek adoptees, this week, promising them action on granting them full citizenship.
As part of its effort to have Greek adoptees finally receive the citizenship that they are owed as their birthright, Linda Carol Trotter, a Greek adoptee herself, who is the founder of the group, met with Katsaniotis and MP Stathis K. Konstantinidis of Kozani at the Greek Parliament on Monday afternoon.
Representing The Eftychia Project — taken from her real name, which she only discovered after tracing her roots back to her birthplace in Greece — Trotter discussed the fight of Greek-born adoptees for their right to full Greek citizenship at the meeting.
Greek adoptees face uphill fight to get full recognition of Greek citizenship
Speaking on Wednesday with Greek Reporter, Trotter described the meeting as “the first concrete action” in her fight to establish full citizenship rights to those born in the country who were spirited abroad as infants.
She added that she very much believes that “it was a watershed moment,” because, as she says, “to my knowledge, this is the first time an actual adoptee representing an adoptee organization has been granted an opportunity to meet with someone at one of the highest levels of Greek government to discuss the birth and identity rights of Greek-born adoptees.”
Even though many of the adoptees do still have their original passports provided to them when they were taken out of the country, which is proof that they were born there, this is the only verification that they have, and many times their names were of course changed when they came to the US or other countries.
For all intents and purposes, they do not have full citizenship rights per se, and that is what drives Trotter and her organization to establish them for the Greek adoptees.
The TEP presented the Deputy Minister with a bound formal statement that included an introduction to the Greek adoption system, the four main issues for Greek-born adoptees (transparency, open records, Greek citizenship and a collaborative DNA database) and proposed solutions for each of these issues, Trotter says.
Many adoptees sent to US and Holland — without knowledge of parents
She states that “also included in the statement were emotional letters from multiple Greek adoptees in which they expressed their feelings about their Greek identity and why Greek citizenship was so important to them.”
As a Greek adoptee herself — whose adopted parents had been told that her mother had died after giving her birth — Trotter represents all those who were born in Greece but were adopted out, many times through devious means. Sometimes this even involved the outright selling of children.
Since tracing her origins back to her birth mother — who was in fact very much still alive — Trotter has made it her life’s mission to help others similarly estranged from their homeland of Greece to discover their own life stories.
Part of this process is of course the establishment of full Greek citizenship for these individuals, who should have received full Greek citizenship rights as a matter of course at birth. However, the paperwork surrounding their births is often very sketchy and the circumstances under which they were transported to waiting adoptive families is very murky.
“You have suffered long enough”
Trotter is doing what she can to streamline the process for Greek adoptees to receive the full benefits of citizenship to which they are entitled.
She says that the hour-long meeting on Monday covered all four of the aforementioned issues, “with particular emphasis on Greek citizenship, and that the proof of our citizenship is contained in the Greek passports with which we left Greece for our new adoptive homes,” she states.
Trotter adds that related political and legislative solutions to the citizenship issue were also discussed at the meeting in the Parliament building in Athens. “The Deputy Minister has pledged his support and now the work begins to determine how the Greek government can bring our hopes and dreams to fruition,” she says with hope.
“This is only the beginning of a collaboration with the Greek government for the justice that Greek-born adoptees have long-deserved but have been so long denied.
“As so aptly put by Mr. Margaritis, Director of the Diplomatic Cabinet, who was also present at the meeting, ‘You have suffered long enough.’ Yes, we have, Mr. Margaritis — yes, we have,” she declares.
Greek adoptees have whirlwind year regarding DNA research, citizenship push
“We not only detailed the issues confronting us, but also possible solutions for each one, she tells Greek Reporter, adding that “My best guess is that we are talking some months, maybe even a year, as some of these issues will likely be resolved legislatively. But we’ve waited six decades for something like this, so six months or a year is relatively short in comparison.”
Now full of hope for the future, Trotter notes that “I think one of the best moments of the meeting came when Mr. Margaritis and I discussed that we adoptees left Greece with Greek passports that declared we were born in Greece and that we were Greek citizens. And that most of us still had those passports in our possession. He agreed that if we had those passports, then, of course, we are Greek citizens. So, essentially, we never really lost our citizenship.
“But the devil is in the details, so to speak, because most of us do not have the same names now that were on those passports when we left Greece for our new adoptive homes. So there must be some procedure to establish that the named adoptee on the passport and the adoptee whose name has been changed are the same person. It’s one of those things that will have to be worked out.”
She then says that one of her hopes is also to meet with Prime Minister Mitsotakis and President Sakerellapoulou “and to speak directly to the Greek Parliament to gain their support for whatever legislation is finally crafted to give us the justice we have long deserved but have been so long denied.”
The indefatigable campaigner for the rights of Greek adoptees also has high praise for the Greek Ambassador to the United States, Alexandra Papadopoulou, “as she was the first to respond to the letters we wrote to various Greek government institutions and Greek-related organizations last spring asking for support of our cause,” Trotter tells Greek Reporter.
That was what led to The Eftychia Project officials’ meeting with the department head of Orphanages and Foster Care at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, resulting in a pledge to formulate a centralized system for adoptees to request and receive their records.
All in all, it has been a whirlwind couple of years for the group, and for Trotter, as she has crossed the Atlantic multiple times, making invaluable contacts and getting real results. Just last year one Greek adoptee, named Pitsa, found her birth family and surviving sisters with the help of a DNA kit provided by The Eftychia Project.
Trotter says that she would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their invaluable help and support on behalf of Greek-born adoptees everywhere, and that she has great hopes for the future of her effort.
As always, she would like the public to know that if they or someone they know is a Greek-born adoptee and would like to be actively involved in the adoptee-led initiative with the Greek government for birth and identity rights, that they should send her organization an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.