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Maria S. Topalova for PROTAGON.GR exclusive

05 November 2013 / 17:11:53  

Current, diverse and delicate, the issue of adoption is back on the agenda in Greece. The Greek web site has published an article by our editor in chief and director of GRReporter Maria S. Topalova. Here we offer you the text of the article in English:

                              Maybe it is time to legalize "fast-track" adoptions

            Maria S. Topalova

            I do not like the term illegal adoptions and will explain why.

            I met Lidia and Dimitris 13 years ago when I came to work in Athens. They are foreigners like me, they were working in a multinational company, had a nice flat in the northern suburbs, a dog, they had everything except... a child. They tried different treatments, including several in-vitro procedures, but without success. Then they decided to take action. They are from a Balkan country like me. They had the right "connections" in their homeland and among the local "circles". A baby born two days earlier was brought in a basket to their house in Athens. They registered the baby in their home country and then left Greece and their highly paid jobs, settling in a Western European country. Lidia and Dimitris are graduates of UK universities and were very well aware of what they were getting involved in. They did it because it was their only chance to enjoy a child's smile at home. Hundreds of Greek families proceed in the same way.

            Many articles have been written, a lot of documentaries have been filmed, and many convictions have been announced since 2006, when the scheme of illegal adoption of babies, mostly Bulgarian Roma, was first revealed in Greece. The phenomenon, however, is flourishing because neither the public, nor the judicial and police authorities, are strong enough to look the problem in the eye. It is as follows:

            On the one hand, many families in Greece cannot have children. They want to adopt a child but there are no babies in the country which can be adopted. On the other hand, 325,000 Roma are living in neighbouring Bulgaria in whose families 10-12 children are being born sometimes. Their parents do not find it difficult to part with 1-2 of them with the official explanation that the money they will receive will help them feed the other children in the family. There is demand and there is supply to close the deal, only there is no mediator.

            And as the issue, i.e. the "fast track" adoption, is taboo for the government institutions and can only be convicted, enterprising doctors and lawyers from both sides of the border interfere and fill that gap.

            Alexandros is a fellow journalist. Several years ago, he and his wife adopted, under the "fast-track" procedure, a child from Bulgaria. The whole thing he had to go through to finalize the "deal" was very painful for him. "Every publication of a broken channel for babies only increases the price of the mediator but does not eliminate the phenomenon," he states. We know, from Brecht's "Threepenny Opera", that the exploitation of misery is a profitable business. Currently, the cost of a baby does not fall below 20,000 euro.

            Perhaps the time has come to legalize the "fast-track" adoption. Ultimately, it is not so bad. It is good for the children because they find themselves in families who love them and take care of them. It is good for the adoptive parents because their dream to have a child comes true. The biological parents are satisfied too because they have realized the only "good" they sometimes have available. The point is that there must be no coercion, victims of trafficking and exploitation of someone's misfortune. And just the state can ensure this.

            After the news about little blond Maria and the subsequent wave of revelations about children, DNA testing and identification of biological parents or not, I received a phone call from Lidia. "I feel safe nowhere," she said. Recently I spoke with Alexandros on business. "I'm afraid that if this hysteria about adoption grows, they will get to us and will take away our child," he confessed to me.

            As for the "wave of revelations”, it is our responsibility too, of journalists, and we should not become like the bull which has accidentally found itself in a china shop.

            * The names used in the article are fictitious but the people behind them are real.

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