SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Most of us know where we come from and from whom. But there are millions of adoptees from around the world, who do not know who their own parents are, let alone their ancestors. On March 12, National Genealogy Day, it is important to remember that there must be restorative justice in all matters of identity, including access to any and all records related to the birth and/or adoption of a child.
Four thousand Greek-born adoptees were among the first group of children in history to be systematically exported from their country of origin for adoption after two wars in their own country. All were stripped of their Greek citizenship, hundreds were separated from parents, not orphans at all, some were stolen, some were illegally trafficked. Most of them search for kin and are still trying to put together the pieces of their lives through the paperwork that is either being kept from them or cannot yet be found. They seek Nostos for Greek Adoptees, a symbolic return to their homeland, with the restoration of their Greek citizenship, which legitimizes who they are.
Dr. Mary Cardaras, one of these adoptees, along with many others is asking the Greek government leaders Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Katerina Sakellaropoulou to pave the way so that each adoptee can locate and secure all the necessary paperwork that further cements, not only who they are, where they come from, but most importantly, whom they belong to. Dr. Cardaras knows this and says it proudly: “I was born Greek, I am Greek today and I will be Greek forever. I know this is a fact. But this is not enough, we need to know the rest. Who am I? This question is fundamental to every human being and it is everyone’s right to know.”
Dr. Cardaras was adopted from Greece to the United States in the 1950s. She holds a PhD in Public and International Affairs and is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication where she teaches Political Communication, Journalism and Documentary Film at California State University, East Bay. She is an adoptee advocate and has recorded a message for Child Identity Protection in a YouTube video: https://youtu.be/ApPboMlswkA.
Dr. Cardaras is also an Emmy award-winning documentary film producer who is currently working on a number of short films about the effects of the environment on public health. She is also building The Demos Center, for the study of democracy and citizenship, at the American College of Greece in Athens. The author of Ripped at the Root, the extraordinary, true adoption story of a stolen baby from Greece, Dr. Cardaras has just finished editing and writing for an anthology written by Greek born adoptees with fourteen essayists on board for Voices of the Lost Children of Greece. The stories, including her own, strike home the experience of international adoption, whose impact is lifelong, but is not properly measured, let alone acknowledged. This book will be published in 2022.
To make sure all adoptees are accounted for as the citizenship initiative is moved forward, contact Dr. Cardaras at the following email: marycardaras19 at gmail dot com.