Greek Adoptee Finds Biological Father and Two Sisters After 63 Years

When Steven Graeter attended the First Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion in Nashville, Tennessee on August 4, 2022, he had no idea that exactly one year later, he’d be held in the arms of his 84 year-old biological father in Greece. 

“My biggest expectation in attending the Reunion was that I’d meet other Greek-born adoptees like myself and maybe learn a thing or two about searching for biological family in Greece,” Graeter said of the 3-day event. “Clearly, I set my expectations too low!” 

Steven Graeter and sister, Lisbeth, at the First Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion - photo by The Eftychia Project

Graeter was accompanied to the Reunion by his sister, Lisbeth. Both were just two of the dozens of Greek adoptees from across the USA who attended the Reunion, hosted by the Eftychia Project, a nonprofit organization that assists and supports, free of charge, Greek adoptees searching for their roots and Greek families searching for their children lost to adoption. In addition to their Search and Reunion and Education programs, the Eftychia Project, in collaboration with MyHeritage, distributes DNA kits for free to Greek adoptees and Greek families searching for each other. One such MyHeritage DNA kit was given to Graeter at the Reunion. 

“When the results came back, I didn’t think any of them were significant,” Graeter confessed. “But after discussing them with Eftychia, she pointed out that my best match was a second cousin and that meant that one of the second cousin’s parents and one of my parents were first cousins.” 

Eftychia is the original Greek name of Linda Carol Trotter, also a Greek-born adoptee and the founder of the Eftychia Project. After finding her Greek biological family six years ago, she wanted to help other Greek adoptees experience the same joy in reconnecting with her roots, as well as the peace, closure and healing that comes with finding identity and belonging. So, the Eftychia Project was born. 

Eftychia advised Graeter on how to approach his DNA second cousin and he messaged her. Weeks went by with no response. In the meantime, Eftychia and the volunteers at the Eftychia Project were hard at work attempting to track down Steven’s biological mother. Steve provided them with copies of all his adoption-related documents and the personal research he had compiled on his own over 20 years.               

Their hard work paid off. In January of this 2023, in what Steven deems “a miraculous set of circumstances”, the Eftychia Project located a first cousin from his biological mother’s family on the island of Spetses, who agreed to take a MyHeritage DNA test to confirm the relationship. But even before the results were in, his biological mother’s family had welcomed him with open hearts. None of them were surprised when the DNA confirmed what they had already known, that Steven belonged to them. Unfortunately, Steven’s biological mother had passed away tragically young, some four years after his birth and giving him up to an orphanage in Greece. 

But something his first cousin said gave Eftychia and Steven pause: Steven’s biological father was from Northern Greece – and so was his second cousin MyHeritage match. And none of his biological mother’s relatives were familiar with the name of the DNA match. Steven and Eftychia were convinced that the DNA match had to be someone from his biological father’s family.               

While navigating establishing a relationship with his biological mother’s family, Steven redoubled his efforts to contact his second cousin, who still had not responded to his messages. His efforts were rewarded when she replied in late April to a letter he had sent. After speaking with her father and relating Steve’s story, her father remarked, “That sounds like my first cousin. I’ll speak with him.”               

The rest, as they say, is history. Steven’s father WAS the first cousin and had been looking for his missing son for sixty years! What’s more, Steven had two half-sisters who were overjoyed that he had been found at last. 

Steven raises a glass with fellow adoptees at the Second Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion in Nafpaktos, Greece - photo by The Eftychis Project 

The Eftychia Project journeyed to Northern Greece to collect a sample with a MyHeritage DNA kit for confirmation, but as Eftychia says, “When I arrived and took one look at Steven’s father, I thought that we don’t need a DNA test, because this is Steven in 20 years!.” Within a few weeks, DNA confirmed that they were father and son.

In August, Steven journeyed to Greece and on August 4, 2023, one year to the day that he had attended the First Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion, he was held in the arms of his biological father for the very first time, the arms of a man who had searched in vain for 60 years for the son he knew he had but had never known. They cried, they laughed, they tried to make up for lost time. And Steven left with the promise to return after the Second Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion in October in Greece. Steven had no way of knowing that the October visit would be the last with his 84-year-old father. Sadly, his father passed away in November after a surgical procedure.               

“I wish we’d had more time,” says Steven wistfully. “But I am eternally grateful to God for what we did have together. It brought peace, closure and healing to both of us. And there is no denying the divine hand that led me on this journey, directed me to the Eftychia Project and restored both sides of my biological family to me. I am blessed.”