Testimony of Greek Adoptee at United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on First Anniversary of UN Joint Statement on Illegal Intercountry Adoption

My name is Linda Carol Trotter, the president of the adoptee-led organization The Eftychia Project, but my original name is Eftychia Noula. I am just one of some 4,000 Greek children adopted abroad, mainly to the United States, in the Cold War decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s. My adoption to the United States, like that of many others during this period, was by proxy and illegal, encouraged by a climate in which there was virtually no oversight by either the Greek or the United States governments and in which proxy adoptions were freely allowed. My adoption involved bribery, my biological mother was coerced into giving me up, my orphanage and adoption records are fraught with falsified documents, forged signatures, and inconsistencies, and the Greek lawyer deliberately lied to my adoptive parents that my biological mother had died in childbirth. Lawyers, doctors, nurses, priests, orphanage directors and Greek government officials all profited from these adoptions, as did lawyers and baby brokers in the United States. Despite indictments on baby-selling charges in both countries, no one was ever held accountable in either. While I was fortunate to be adopted by kind and loving parents, many of my fellow adoptees were not so lucky. Large numbers of them suffered neglect and psychological, physical and sexual abuse, and the scars from this trauma have never healed. The lack of pre-adoption screening by the Greek government and the lack of post-adoption follow-up by the United States government are solely responsible for this travesty. The Greek state has apparently neither read the Joint Statement on Illegal Intercountry Adoption nor intends to implement any of its recommendations. It continues to obstruct Greek-born adoptees’ rights to their identity, flouting both Greek and European Union laws in the process, in the following ways: 

  • There is a lack of transparency, as the Greek state refuses to acknowledge our existence, the circumstances surrounding our adoptions and their own complicity, and they refuse to facilitate our searches and reunions.
  • Greek adoptees’ attempts to obtain copies of their birth, orphanage and adoption records are consistently stonewalled by a variety of mechanisms, including the refusal of agencies and institutions to answer letters, emails and telephone calls, improper interpretations of the GDPR privacy law, and insisting that adoptees either hire a Greek lawyer or appear themselves in person in order to obtain their records.
  • The Greek state refuses to recognize and restore our Greek citizenship and supply Greek identity cards and passports, even though the relevant government ministries with which we have met all agree that we never lost our Greek citizenship, as evidenced by the Greek passports with which we left Greece for our adoptive homes.
  • The Greek state has no interest in establishing a DNA database to facilitate reconnections between Greek adoptees and their biological families, and it is left to adoptee-led organizations like the Eftychia Project to provide DNA testing for adoptees and families searching.
  • The Greek state has neither an interest in allowing an independent investigation into the illicit and illegal nature of these adoptions, nor in providing timely remediations and reparations to those affected.

 As to the role of the United States in these adoptions, there are three primary issues that should be rectified as soon as humanly possible: 

  • An adoptee’s right of unrestricted access to their original birth certificate should be the norm, but only 13 states have implemented laws allowing such access, and only for US-born adoptees. There are many intercountry adoptees who have US birth certificates listing their adoptive parents. The right to an original birth certificate should be universal, regardless of their country of origin.
  • United States citizenship should be automatic for any intercountry adoptee upon their adoption, regardless of their country of origin. There are many Greek adoptees and many more of their fellow intercountry adoptees who were threatened with deportation or deported in adulthood because their adoptive parents failed to submit the proper paperwork and fees for their naturalization.
  • The United States, as the largest receiving country of intercountry adoptees from all over the globe, should agree to an independent investigation into the illicit and illegal nature of these Greek adoptions, as well as the illicit and illegal adoptions of our fellow intercountry adoptees from other countries.

As adoptees, our right to identity is a basic human right that non-adopted persons take for granted. It is time for the veil to be stripped away and the secrets to be exposed. I urge the United Nations to exert pressure on the Greek government and the US government to give us the justice we have so long deserved but have been so long denied. Thank you.