Linda Carol Trotter and her aunt Theodora Panagopoulou during the filming of The ‘Orphans’ from Greece. (Photo: The Eftychia Project)
FRANKLIN, TN – A new Vice TV special, Τα ‘Ορφανά’ Από Την Ελλάδα” (The ‘Orphans’ from Greece), aired nationwide recently on Antenna channel in Greece. This beautifully done film by acclaimed Greek journalist and author,Andreas Bousios explores the questionable adoptions of thousands of Greek children, primarily to the United States, in the dark Cold War decades of the 1950s and 1960s.
The film exposes this tragic period of Greek history as seen through the eyes of three different people: two Greek-born adoptees, Merrill Jenkins and Linda Carol Trotter; and a Greek biological family member, Bobby Kalogeropoulos. Their poignant and gripping stories, while different, are also the same — born in the aftermath of World War II and the Greek Civil War that gave rise to adoptions that were accomplished in a matter of a few weeks to a few months, with virtually no oversight by either the Greek or U.S. governments.
Merrill Jenkins was left on the steps of a church at approximately 15 days of age with a note that said he had been baptized with the name Mitsos. He was taken to the Vrefokomeio Patron (Patras Municipal Orphanage) by the Patras police and a few months later was adopted by American parents in St. Louis, Missouri, through the International Social Service. His orphanage, adoption and alien files contained no clues to his biological family. A clue from a DNA test in 2021 gave him reason to hope, but that, too, proved to be dead-end. Twelve years of fruitless searching came to an end in September 2022, when volunteers of The Eftychia Project found his biological family in the Achaean mountain village of Drosia. The Eftychia Project provided free DNA tests to Merrill’s potential first cousins, which confirmed the relationship and led to the discovery of the identity of his biological father. In November 2022, ‘Mitsos’ was welcomed to Greece by 50 members of his new-found family at a grand celebration at a local Patras taverna.
Linda Carol Trotter was born in the remote village of Stranoma, near Nafpaktos, Greece. At 45 days of age, she was taken from her biological mother’s arms and given to the Vrefokomeio Athinon (Athens Municipal Orphanage) by her own godmother. Baptized Eftychia by her biological mother, she was adopted by loving American parents from San Antonio, Texas, when she was 8 months old. Through a truly miraculous set of circumstances, she was reunited with her biological mother and her large extended Greek family in June 2017. The happiness, peace and closure she experienced at finding her roots, culture and heritage inspired her to found The Eftychia Project in May 2019 to help other Greek-born adoptees do the same. Today, Linda Carol is known to many by her original name of Eftychia and spends six months of every year in Greece, to be near her biological family and to continue the work of The Eftychia Project.
Bobby Kalogeropoulos grew up in the quaint Greek village of Christianoupoli, Filiatras, with the sadness of knowing that two of his older brothers had died as infants. The circumstances surrounding their alleged deaths were cloudy and when reports of black market babies surfaced in Greece once again in the 1990s, he wondered if perhaps his two older siblings had been victims of this unspeakable tragedy. After collecting as much information as possible, he was convinced that his siblings had been given away by the family doctor in an illicit adoption scheme. Although he has done DNA with all the major platforms, so far there have been no close matches. But he says stories like those of Mitsos and Eftychia give him hope.
The documentary also highlights the work of The Eftychia Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit that assists and supports, free of charge, Greek-born adoptees searching for their roots and Greek families searching for their children lost to adoption. To date, The Eftychia Project has facilitated the reconnections of 19 Greek adoptees and their biological families. In addition to their search and reunion program, The Eftychia Project also distributes free DNA kits to Greek adoptees and families and tirelessly advocates with the Greek government for the birth and identity rights of Greek-born adoptees, including transparency, unfettered access to their birth and adoption records and the restoration of their Greek citizenship.
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