A group of Greek women adoptees, brought from Greece as infants and toddlers, met recently in Salem, New Hampshire to share their stories.
Most of them had not yet met each other face-to-face, but they had formed a bond that only these women could ever understand.
“It was a joyous reunion: stories to be told, hugs to be felt, and tears!” Stephanie Pazoles told Greek Reporter. “Lots of tears. See, these women were all born in some part of Greece and adopted to different parts of the United States.”
The nine women are on a mission, Pazoles says. They are not only trying to find their roots but trying to discover the true story of how they came to be known as the “Lost Children of Greece.”
“We call ourselves that because we are part of a group of children who were brought to the U.S., sometimes under dubious or illegal conditions,” she said.
“Many were born to women who after the Greek Civil War were very poor and had many mouths to feed,” Pazoles notes. “A few were born to greedy parents who thought it was okay to sell children. Most of us were given up by young unwed mothers, who had no other options, because heavy taboos rested on single motherhood.”
The group of Greek adoptees were left in orphanages or nurseries, or taken by a relative to be sent overseas for a “better life.”
The very etymology of the word “orphan” is Hellenic—from the word ὀρφανός, meaning a child whose parent(s) have died, are unknown, or have permanently abandoned them.
Greece’s many wars, genocides, economic problems, social chaos, and natural disasters caused this unwanted exodus, which has ended up enriching other nations and stripping Greece of many of her people over the centuries.
Many were left with “a note” declaring them to be illegitimate and often unbaptized. Others came with notes declaring their names and birthdates and with a plea for someone to care for them.
“Whichever the story, they all came from the same country of birth,” Pazoles says.
She adds that the women have been helping each other to pursue their documents, make contacts, read about their history, exchange their memoirs, and plan trips back to Greece—which was their first home.
Greek adoptees reunion
Back in August, another group of Greek adoptees seeking to know more about their roots and Greek families searching for their children lost to adoption had gathered in Nashville, Tennessee for what’s being billed as the first annual Greek adoptee reunion.
Families and individuals from across the United States and Greece took part in “Greek Adoptee Reunion,” organized by the Eftychia Project, a nonprofit organization that helps Greek adoptees find their birth families.
The Eftychia Project advocates “on behalf of all Greek-born adoptees with the Greek government concerning the issues of transparency about our adoptions, unfettered access to our adoption, and birth records, a DNA database for adoptees and their biological families and Greek citizenship for all Greek-born adoptees,” it claims.
While the project aids Greek-born adoptees from any era, it especially aims to assist the thousands of Greek children adopted by American parents in the scandal-ridden years between 1948 and 1962, as time is running out if there is any hope of finding birth parents still living.