26 October 2013

Birth parents of Greek ‘mystery girl’ Maria found

The story of a young girl who was taken from her Romani parents by the Greek authorities on suspicion that she wasn’t really their child has just taken an interesting twist: her actual birth parents have been found, confirmed through genetic testing. And they are Romani. To be completely frank, I am angered and disgusted that it needed to come to this.

This doesn’t really prove anything yet, of course. We still don’t know all the circumstances of little Maria’s case, and we should forbear from judging either her parents or her foster-parents. But the case has unmasked part of the depth of the race-based resentment, suspicion and phobias against the Romani that still undergirds a lot of European culture, including (to my chagrin as an Orthodox catechumen) Eastern European culture, even if it hides under a humanitarian gloss and pious opposition to child trafficking. (Always the rich and the settled blame the destitute and the outcast for the problems their avarice creates! How truly blinded do we have to be, to attribute the very real problem of child trafficking solely to the assumed moral failings of the Romani? Or of the poor generally?) Neither her birth parents nor her foster parents benefit at all from this sort of posturing, much less the young girl herself! As such, this resentment, suspicion and fear must be exposed, addressed and repented thoroughly. Thankfully, the facts of the case as they stand have gone some way toward discrediting the typical anti-Romani canards, and that is to the good. As Christians we are wayfarers (or, more accurately, Wayfarers), and if we are serious about following the words and example of Our Lord in all things, we are obligated to treat other wayfarers with generosity and hospitality, and not to cast them off, mistreat them or prejudge them.

Ultimately, though, we need to hear from little Maria, and from those who best know her and how to take care of her.

Most Holy and Ever-Virgin Theotokos, blessed among women, our sweet hope and source of our salvation, please hear and deliver our prayers to your Son our God, that he may for love of you save our souls. Watch over and protect this young girl who bears your most glorious and magnified name. Protect her from all who would do her harm or use her for their own selfish or hateful ends, and please see her delivered safe back to where she is loved and where she truly belongs.


  1. I don’t know much about this case but it seems possible that because Maria didn’t look like a “typical” Romani person, the Greek authorities assumed she was kidnapped from a non-Romani family. In my own experience, Romani people all look rather different, though, so a blond Romani child shouldn’t be too surprising.

  2. True, John, and thanks for the comment! I'm not from Europe, though, and haven't spent much time there - my contact with the Romani has been extremely limited. But from what I trust that I have read about them, they seem to suffer from the same problems poor and homeless people everywhere suffer, with the added stigma of socio-cultural and racial prejudice...