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General News

Greek Adoptees Have Voice at United Nations for First Time

FRANKLIN, TN – Greek adoptees are historically one of the oldest cohorts of foreign-adopted children, yet their story has remained buried in obscurity for decades. Thousands of Greek children were sent abroad for adoption, primarily to the United States, in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of these adoptions were illicit and illegal, yet many Greeks and most Americans know nothing of this dark page in Greece’s past.

Thanks to the invitation of Lynelle Long, President of Intercountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV), an organization that brings together intercountry adoptees from across the globe, Greek adoptees were given a voice for the first time at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on September 20. Linda Carol Trotter, a Greek adoptee and President of The Eftychia Project, a nonprofit that assists Greek adoptees searching for their roots and Greek families searching for their children lost to adoption, was invited by Ms. Long to give her testimony before the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances on the first anniversary of the Joint Statement on Illegal Intercountry Adoption.

“It was an honor to be asked to speak at the United Nations,” says Trotter. “I was especially proud to be able to speak on behalf of all Greek-born adoptees, especially those whose adoptions were illicit and illegal in nature. And it was especially significant to do so on the first anniversary of the Joint Statement.”

Eftychia/Linda Carol Trotter speaks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: The Eftychia Project

The Joint Statement on Illegal Intercountry Adoption, issued by the UN on September 28, 2022, was the result of the collaboration of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED), the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-recurrence, the Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. According to the statement, it was issued “in order to promote a human rights-based and gender sensitive approach to preventing and eradicating illegal intercountry – sometimes referred to as ‘international’ – adoptions, by identifying the rights which are violated through illegal intercountry adoptions and clarifying States’ obligations in this respect under international human rights law.”

On the first anniversary of the release of the statement, both intercountry adoptees from across the globe, as well as biological parents, spoke out about the injustices and illegalities of intercountry adoption, as well as the impact it has had on their lives. Each was given five minutes to present their testimony. But as Trotter says, that was not nearly enough for the committee or the public to grasp the depth of the nightmare that intercountry adoption can be for all concerned.

“How do you condense decades of injustice into five minutes?” she asks. “I gave my personal testimony detailing the illegal nature of my own adoption, like that of so many other Greek adoptees. I called upon the Greek government to acknowledge our existence and the travesty of our adoptions, to give us unfettered access to our records and to restore our Greek identity and citizenship. I called upon the United States government to give all adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates and automatic U.S. citizenship upon adoption. And I called upon the UN to pressure both the Greek and United States governments to not only act upon these issues, but to also allow independent investigations into our adoptions.”

Whether or not any of that happens remains to be seen. While the Eftychia Project has met with all the relevant Greek ministries over the past several years, there hasn’t been any real progress toward Greek adoptees reclaiming their birth and identity rights. But Trotter is optimistic now that Greek adoptees have been heard on an international level and looks forward to working further with ICAV and the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances through the Eftychia Project.

“It was sobering to meet other intercountry adoptees from around the globe and to discover through their testimonies, many of which brought me to tears, that history repeats itself in intercountry adoption. We have all been victims of the same illicit and illegal adoption schemes, no matter what country we come from. And that is indeed a shame on both the sending and receiving countries, and a sad commentary on the state of intercountry adoptions.”

Greek adoptees and families will discuss the Joint Statement and its impact on intercountry adoption when they gather in Greece October 14-19 for the Second Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion, the first international event of its kind for Greek-born adoptees and biological families.

Video of the UN meeting in its entirety is available online on UN TV: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k16/k16z33p1uc. Trotter’s powerful speech begins at the 1:38:14 mark. The text of her speech is also available online: https://shorturl.at/iGMV2.

For more information, contact The Eftychia Project via email: [email protected].

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