Second Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion

Builing upon the amazing success of The First Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion, held in August 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee, the Second Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion 2023, held in our homeland of Greece, not only gave Greek adoptees from America the chance to visit their home country, but also gave those Greek adoptees and families in Greece, all of Europe and elsewhere the opportunity to attend and connect with each other. The Reunion, held October 14-19, 2023 was the first time this many Greek adoptees gathered together in Greece since they were babies and young children in their orphanages in Greece. It was truly a magical time of bonding, sharing and support, with several adoptees visiting Greece for the first time since being adopted some six decades ago and others meeting Greek biological family for the very first time.  Photos coming soon! Follow the links below for articles and videos about the Reunion: 

From The National Herald
From the Greek Reporter
From the Greek Press Service (APE-MPE)
From Star channel (national Greek TV) popular morning show "Alithies me tin Zina"
From SKAI TV (national Greek TV) popular weekend show "Oi Dekatianoi"
From Alpha TV (national Greek TV) weekend news with Manesis:

Our thanks to our speakers, sponsors and advertisers: 

Gregory Kontos, genealogist and founder of Greek Ancestry, whose presentation unraveled the mysteries of DNA and genealogy for Greek adoptees and Greek families, and described how to make use ofthese powerful tools in searching for family. Gregory was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1996. Heholds degrees in history from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and theUniversity of Leiden, with a specialization in the history of migration, nationalism and religion.He currently is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Athens, studying the history of theHill School founders, John and Francis Hill, American Protestant Missionaries in the early 19thcentury. In 2020, Gregory founded Greek Ancestry, a Greek genealogy business based in Patras,Greece. Greek Ancestry’s goal is twofold: on the one hand, it aims at contributing to recordspreservation and accessibility through digitization and indexing projects, while on the otherhand, it also focuses on educational initiatives, such as the International Greek AncestryConference, webinars, articles and more. Gregory has led all the Greek projects run byMyHeritage, and has a long list of co-operations with international genealogy companies andprojects, including, among others, AncestryProGenealogists,, Legacy TreeGenealogists, the PBS show “Finding your Roots”, and the BBC show “A House ThroughTime”. Gregory and Greek Ancestry are currently involved with a digitization project for ISSGreece,digitizing several thousand adoption files from the 1950’s and 1960’s. 

Despina Oikonomou, BA, MSc, is the director of the International Social Service - Hellenic Branch since September, 2020, the only accredited NGO to carry out intercountry adoptions in Greece, and gave us insight into the history of the organization, its role in the Greek adoptions of the 1950's and 1960's, and demographics and statistics from the ISS' recent digitization project of thousands of adoption records. Despoina Oikonomou is a Social Worker with basic educationin Greece and postgraduate studies at the University of London, LSE, in Social Policy andPlanning. With a Fulbright Foundation scholarship, she participated in an exchange program ofsocial scientists at Adelphi University, Long Island, NY, USA and at the Salzburg Seminars,Austria. She worked for 11 years for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) as a National Programs Officer and was responsible for the integration of Vietnameserefugees in Greece. She designed and supervised the implementation of reception andpsychosocial support programs for asylum seekers and refugees implemented by NGOs with funding from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. For 12 years she was the Director of theCONTACT Family Counseling Centre, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which provided counseling services to families and individuals as well as training and supervision of Counselors. She dealt with issues of counseling and support for HIV-positive adults, children and teenagers as well aswith the support of sexually abused children and their family environment. Upon her return to Greece, she worked in an NGO as a Coordinator of Social Services for asylum seekers and refugees and unaccompanied minors. She has taught at Schools of Social Work both in Greece and at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe and has takenpart in Conferences in Greece, France, Norway, USA.

Renowned journalists Andreas Bousios, Christos Vassilopoulos and Kostas Hardavellas provided a fascinating panel discussion, "Adoption and Scandal", detailing various scandals associated with Greek adoptions, including the notorious Agios Stylianos scandal.

- Andreas Bousios, Moderator                                                                                 Andreas was born and raised in Peristeri. He says with a smile that he studied Agriculture andmanaged to get the degree after 37 years, 4 months and 23 days. Professionally he has beenworking as a journalist since 1989, with stints in radio, television, newspapers, websites... he has done almost everything from almost all positions, with an emphasis, he says, on...almost.He has shot many documentaries, with the one he shot in North Korea very strongly in his mind,living for 15 days in a country he wanted to see from the inside to have a personal opinion, notthe image that others convey. His most recent documentary, Τα «Ορφανά» από την Ελλάδα (The“Orphans” from Greece), a poignant and powerful look at the adoptions from Greece in the1950’s and 1960’s, won several major awards at the recent Digital Media Awards in Greece. Andreas is married and has one son.

- Christos Vassilopoulos                                                                                           Christos was born in Athens. He finished the 1st Gymnasium of Athens and graduated from theN. Erythraia High School. He studied Public Health at the TEI of Athens (Department of HealthVisitors) and worked as a journalist in electronic media. He started at ERT in 1987 andcontinued on SKAI radio and TV as a reporter and presenter of news shows. He worked in staffpositions at MEGA and ALREA, as editor-in-chief and news presenter, while at the same time16he was responsible and presented the show "Time Machine". He collaborated with radio stations,newspapers, magazines and is a member of ESIEA.

- Kostas Hardevellas                                                                                                    Kostas was born in Piraeus and studied journalism in Athens. He began his illustrious career atthe age of 18, and first appeared as a journalist during the Junta period, when he was hired forthe Ethnos newspaper. His first television appearance was in 1977, with the presentation of theshow "Invitation to the Studio" on ERT. He gained great popularity quickly due to the originalityof his shows. Together with the journalists Yiannis Dimaras and Giorgos Lianis, he presented thesuccessful and much-discussed show of that time, Reporters, on YENED in 1982 and later onERT2. With these two journalists, he also participated in the anniversary broadcast of ERT2 forthe anniversary of 20 years since the creation of Greek television.In 1993, after the opening of private television, he left state television and worked for Mega,SKAI, STAR and ANT1. In 2001, he returned to state television on ET1, and later worked forAlter, GR TV, Epsilon and Extra 3. Since 2011, he has been writing articles for Real News andNewsbomb, while on the weekends he presents an informational show on Real FM 97.8. He iscurrently the host of “In the Arena of Life” on Blue Sky TV, and recently interviewed the president and vice president of The Eftychia Project on the show. Kostas is married to fellow TVjournalist, Maria Panagopoulou, of Alithies me tin Zina, and together they have one son.

- Olympia Selekou, well-known historian and sociologist, provided a glimpse into the past with her presentation, "Cold War Greece: Hard Times, Hard Lives and the Plight of Women",with a focus on village life and the treatment of women dictated by the social mores of the time period. Olympia is the Director of Research at the Institute for Political Research(IPE)/ National Center for Social Research (EKKE). Her scientific and research interests:Historical sociology, political social history and history of cultures; interdisciplinary approachesto the phenomenon of the modern Greek diaspora with emphasis on its presence in the Russianworld; Russian philhellenism, revolutionary circles-organizations and ideas in RussianEmpire; aspects of contemporary political, social, cultural history in the countries of the BlackSea and the Balkans; social transformations of modern Greek society (social stratification,typology of the migration phenomenon, social factors exclusion); oral testimonies and historicalcollectivememory; and Art and History. Olympia is deeply interested in the history andcircumstances surrounding Greek adoption phenomenon.