Stealing Babies…REALLY???

stealing babies

by Kenneth Justice

~Okay, so I’m a tad bit more upset than usual this morning. How would you like it if the authorities came to your house and snatched away your child and then tossed you in jail……..and you hadn’t done anything wrong???

That is what is going on in Greece right now.

Last week authorities in Greece raided a Roma camp and snatched away a little girl from her parents; for my American friends who don’t know what Roma means it is short for ‘Romanian’; a group of often times transient people portrayed in Hollywood films as ‘Gypsies’, yet in real life the term Gypsy is considered to be a bit of a racial slur.

Well, the authorities raided a Roma camp and the first thing they do after they arrested all the families was to begin doing DNA testing on the children; apparently in Greece if you are Roma…you are guilty until proven innocent! One of the little girls, named Maria, was found to have different DNA than her Roma parents and that sent the Greek authorities into a tizzy…her Roma parents told the authorities that they did not steal the child, but that a poor mother gave her to them to raise.

The authorities didn’t give a crap about what the Roma parents had to say; they threw the mother and father in jail to await trial and then went on a nationwide search to find the ‘real’ mother and ‘prove’ the Roma parents were lying.

So how did the story end? The authorities DID find the biological mother and it turns out…..the Roma parents were not lying; A 35-year-old Bulgarian Roma woman named Sasha Ruseva was found to be the biological mother of the child and explained that she “gave birth to a baby girl four years ago in Greece while working as an olive picker, and gave the child away because she was too poor to care for her” (article).

This story sounds eerily similar to the way things are done here in the United States; too often people are treated as though they are guilty until they can be proven innocent. Working in the Human Service field I was privy to way too much injustice when it came to poorer families. Suburbanite Social Workers would go into the poor areas of my community and snatch the children away based on false premises.

One of my professors who has spent the last twenty five years of his life working as a lead Social Worker trainer for Inner Cities explained it this way; “If you grow up in the rich suburbs you experience a life where everyone has a mattress in their room and the mattress sits on a bed frame…..but in poorer communities families are simply happy to have a mattress sitting on the floor to sleep in. So a suburban social worker goes into a poor family’s house and they see the mattress sitting on the floor (with no bedframe) and they immediately think their is child abuse going on

Thus; we have to be careful not to enforce what we believe to be ‘normal’ on other cultures, people groups, etc. What we believe to be ‘normal’ isn’t necessarily normal for everyone. For instance, when it comes to sleeping situations many Asian families never use bedframes…..but rather, they roll out their beds onto the floor each night.

I don’t want to make it sound as though the Roma are a perfect people….they are not….but neither is any other people group. Yet, no matter what sins or faults your people group is guilty of; should that mean you are presumed guilty until proven innocent?

Perhaps I am merely guilty of hoisting up an American principle as something all cultures should adhere to; “Innocent until proven guilty” but isn’t this a principle that we can all get behind? After all, there are a few universal principles that all of humanity recognizes, we refer to them as natural law;

—) No slaying of the innocent

—) Tyranny is wrong

—) Cowards are not honored

There are some principles which are so embedded within our consciences that you’ll never meet a human being that doesn’t recognize them; for instance, even among the most remote tribal community cowards are never treated as hero’s.

Will the authorities in Greece give the child back to the Roma parents? I don’t know. I can’t imagine how scary it must be for the little girl to have been ripped away from the only parents she has ever known. I can’t imagine how sad the Roma mother is who has spent the last four years loving this child…..only to have her ripped from her arms.

My prayers go out to them both…….

My heart is heavy as I sit here at coffee this morning,


Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

29 replies

  1. The Roma aren’t Romanian, they’re Romani and gypsies; as an ethnicity, they are separate to the racial-slur. But this is an interesting story – 4a judge earlier this week…

    • “The Roma aren’t Romanian”

      Here is the definition that Wikipedia gives; “The Romani are an ethnic group living mostly in Europe and Americas. Romani are widely known in the English-speaking world by the exonym “Gypsies” (or Gipsies) and also as Romany, Romanies, Romanis, Roma or Roms; in their language, Romani, they are known collectively as Romane or Rromane (depending on the dialect”

    • Ethnically, they originate from Romania, but they aren’t called Romanians – We had a large contingent of Romani families in Nottingham, so part of the whole, effective teaching mandate, meant learning about their heritage. I wasn’t being critical – but culturally, they identify with being Romani, not Romanian. Much in the same I way I identify with being British, not English. They’re small markers, but they’re important to the individual. Of course I speak from my experience working with the Roma.

  2. people are very ignorant of gypsy culture and forget that until approx 60 years ago in the UK it was quite normal for a child to be born in a hospital, handed over outside by the nurses to someone who wanted the child. Paperwork trails didn’t exist. The child might be registered then when they were of an age to work and needed a card to pay tax and things. In the UK gypsies are often unable to read and write. Many are roma, many are travelers, many are tinks. They are persecuted if they attempt to move around the country as they have always done. If they stay on the sites though, the encampments, given to them by authorities,no local employer will employ them from that address. If they send their kids to school, the schools are more likely to expel their kids for fighting. Why are they fighting? Because other kids attack and abuse them. Often gypsies are illiterate, the older ones say the 40s to 60s age group, because it’s only recently social services have over ruled them, on keeping their kids out of school, so they don’t get attacked. There are many blonde children among the gypsy communities here. Its not unusual these days for teens and alternatives to join the camps. Tinks and Travelers married into Roma families here, so while black hair is dominant its not that uncommon. If that girl hadn’t been blue eyed and blonde, the authorities would have left them alone. Because she was, they decided a little white blue eyed, blonde girl was better than the other children. Gypsies do adopt the old way. Ie take in stray children. If they found an abandoned child, they’d take the child in because to them children are from God. They may have some ideas, I disagree with. I have kinship to some Roma and Gypsy families through my grandmother, but they get treated very badly. They have been driven out of society. Yet are judged by society for developing a very close knit community with a mission to survive. It’s good to see another person speaking out for the gypsies and roma. They were assumed guilty. Families in Ireland had their children taken, because of the assumption in Greece. Best part? Those kids were biologically the parents they were snatched from. They were blonde. How dare a gypsy produce a white skinned blonde child huh?

  3. Reblogged this on Making Ordinary, Extraordinary, daily. and commented:
    Another person with common sense.

  4. A good piece, about a group of people who love to roam but are forced to stay in place.It is like that in Greece, Uk and even Holland. Even among them there are differences. But a true Roma loves to travel and live of the lands. And what they get when helping people farm for example. It is sad that a blond blue eyed girl instantly is seen as stolen. As said above, they have a way of picking up strays and help them best they can. A simple rule we should all follow.Help those we can help

    • “about a group of people who love to roam but are forced to stay in place”

      I think it would be pretty exciting and fun to roam about the world….it would be nice to have a ‘home’ country where I could go every so often…but to roam around the world with a bunch of other fellow travelers, family and friends…wow, sounds like it could be a fascinating lifestyle.

  5. I have seen drug dealers that have kids at drug deals or sleeping on the couch while they are doing business in their bedroom and are never questioned about the living conditions or parenting practices and then mothers who swat their child for bad behavior hauled into court. WTH is this world coming too?

  6. The real loser in this tragedy is the little girl who has suddenly lost the only family she knew. I hope they get reunited.

  7. OK, even though I don’t watch the news, here is what my ear caught. The parents were caught and jailed for FRAUD, declaring that they had more than 15 children at various municipals, in order to get the social benefit for this number of children. The fact that a different story came up (this of abduction) revealed a problem, this of registering babies upon birth, when they are not born in a hospital. The procedure was standard and the same thing (but with less news coverage I admit) has happened many times before with families that have children without the adoption papers. I understand the fact that within their community the rules for giving a child for adoption without the paperwork is permitted and moral, (I like the idea as well, since adoption in Greece is a hard and painful maze of paperwork for the willing couples) but when it is used for obtaining benefits from the state, some proof is needed in order to rule out abductions and trafficing.
    Romas, Gypsies or Athigani (Tsigani) are living always with their own set rules and morals and distancing themselves from our society. It is immoral for me to sell drugs, steal, blackmail or killing someone for Vendetta. When our worlds collide these differences are somehow subdued by the force of our system upon them. But they are always there. And every time paths are crossed we have to decide with which rules, laws, morals, ethics to judge them. Please take into consideration that for example if a Roma steals from another Roma it is immoral. So they seperate their community from us as much and maybe even more than we seperate ours from them.

    • What’s strange about the news on this story is that half of the news articles I read reported on the fraud element (the multiple children they allegedly receive benefits for) and the other half of the articles didn’t say anything about it………then, later in the week a new article came out about a different Roma couple being charged with fraud.

      So after I read no less than twenty five different articles on the little girl I finally gave up as i couldn’t 100% verify whether the parents of the little blonde girl were being charged with fraud or if it is a different couple being charged.

      That’s why I left out that element of the story

      As to your comments I pretty much agree with all u wrote.

  8. The worst part is…what can we do as individuals to actually stop these sorts of inhumane acts?

    ~ A Fellow Heavy Heart

  9. My heart is also grateful that you publish here, every day.

  10. It is incredibly inhumane and it’s totally wrong on so many levels, especially when it comes to children. It’s amazing to me how social services works because there are times when they seem to neglect the cases that need to be followed tightly and follow too tightly the ones that aren’t actually issues. I have not one but two friends right now where quite frankly, social services is screwing up and the children are in more harms way than not because of parental rights. I understand what you’re upset about Kenneth but it does actually sometimes happen that parents who are accused of truly ugly things get away with heinous things because of parental rights. Where are the children’s rights we so fight so hard for when it comes to abortion but don’t seem to exist once they’re actually born? “Kids lie, they don’t know what they’re talking about,” etc. I am, of course, referring to various abuses, particularly sexual abuse. I agree that it’s not fair to judge someone guilty before actually being proven as such, however, in some ways I’d rather err on the side of the children when it comes to abuse cases. Protect and keep them out of harms way until the parent(s) are truly proven innocent. I say this because abuse (in whatever form) has long last effects and just waiting for that proof (which can be difficult particularly in sex abuse cases) can truly be damaging and even end up perpetuating the cycle. I hate to see that happen. However, I see that as much different than the case you are describing. In the Greece case, it’s about racism plain and simple. That’s not okay. There are times when it isn’t what it seems and social services overreacts. As I said before, they can’t seem to be genuinely consistent – overreact in one case and neglect another that needs attention. It’s unbelievable.

    • You make so many good points I’m not sure what to respond to…..ultimately, social services is a program that needs a major overhaul because I think a lot of people agree its not working the way it should

    • Just a little comment. I do have an opinion similar to the one you share about children abuse. But the lines are not clear. A lot of gray area. Is it OK to announce the name of a man before he is proven guilty of an abuse? Is it OK to decide without proof or knowledge about a case, just in order to protect the seemingly weaker part? Destroying a man’s life at the front pages, and apologizing days or weeks after in the inside pages does not seem fair to me.
      I also have little faith or trust on the social services. Not because they don’t work OK most of the times. Simply because the times they don’t work their mistakes cost lives. So I just wait for an outcome. And I always remember the social services rarely go to the media for help, simply because they want to avoid such results. In Greece social services only in rare and extreme cases seperate the child from his parents. It is so uncommon that usually such things end up in news. But this is not the case!
      Racism in Greece and racism as I have read and seen about in the USA are two completely different things. And unless you have seen and lived close to Roma, you can’t understand the racism they feel and radiate through their behaviour and actions. Of course I will first admit that it is part of their culture. Does this make it right or wrong? Is their racism justified over the supposedly racism of our society towards them? I would describe it as merely a phobia of the unexpected nature and the unknown set of ethics and customs of Roma. And of the knowledge of previous behaviour derived from these ethics. But this is a whole different discussion.

    • I never said anything about going to the media proclaiming someone is guilty or not. I think it’s shamefully wrong to just put something like that in the media when guilt hasn’t been proven. It will have a profound impact on a person’s life forever, especially in a situation when someone is NOT guilty and have to carry that stigma. That’s not what I was talking about though. I was only talking in terms of how social services should proceed – even then they shouldn’t necessarily assume that person is guilty but certainly AT LEAST with a procedure the protects the child. I have seen too many incidents where in order to protect parental rights, the kid is continually in danger (particularly when it comes to light the adult really was guilty but that damage can’t be undone because it’s emotional and mental- victims, regardless of age, carry that burden forever). I understand and agree the lines are blurred but the risk is high.
      I suppose I should back down a bit from my stance on the Roma portion of this because I don’t know the situation as well and I don’t know the culture of it all as well. However, You said it – racism really is at it’s root a phobia of unexpected nature and unknown set of ethics. Fear and anger end up coming out as hate. Maybe it’s not as strong as racism in this instance, but it’s certainly a prejudice. If this exact situation happened to a Greek family and it’s KNOWN that family doesn’t have Roma blood, then perhaps I’d be more willing to believe racism/prejudice isn’t a factor. I haven’t followed all things Roma, but I do know that there are prejudices against that group and I’m aware of “gypsy” being considered a racial slur or at least a derogatory term. When things like this happen, it tends to be race based and that goes for any country. These types of things have happened in the US also. Humans are flawed and prejudice (at minimum) impact our decisions and actions.

    • No, no, in my first paragraph were only examples of cases that poped in my head, not implying that you said something wrong. The child here was used by the media to get ratings and the social services probably went along, thinking that the real parents might be found faster. Another case of illegal adoption was heard but it wasn’t a strong subject because the couple admitted and confessed right away. If the society was healthy, such social services would only have an advisory role.

      As for prejudices, fear of the unknown, I can say that it is a very big discussion. Fear of the unknown is something that raises the defences of people in order to prevent them from harm. Racism is hating the other. But this is hardly the case with Roma. I really admire their way of life (minus the interweaved crimes ) because it is a carefree life, without feeling obligations towards a central government. The land they roam is just a stage of their never ending journey and even in cases where they have lived for more than a generation in the same place, they show the same signs of indifference about the place. If someone read this, he could either consider it good or bad. I say it is beyond that, that it is their way. But then our worlds collide. And the prisons are full of Roma,for various crimes.

      By the way Gypsy wasn’t a derogatory term and for me it still isn’t. It was actually a word indicating the believed place of their origin (Egypt-Egyptian-gypsy). I don’t see the use changing the name of a person/race/tribe once the name used gets a derogative sense. After all a name is hollow of meanings. A new name will just carry the same sense immediatelly. (Some say it is the conscience of people that change and by changing the name they prove the other change as well)

      The fact is that a nomadic race, that feels no obligation towards the land (call it a country) that accepts them and provides them with benefits, and in return they just try to get as much as they can and in any way they can to sustain their way of life, will justifiably cause friction at the points where it touches the rest of the society. Greeks have always been hospitable and understanding, even at severe cases tolerant, so I can only say that since there is not even an effort from the part of the Roma people to come closer, I feel the blame is not one sided and that racism is too heavy a word to use.

      Thank you for your POV.

  11. This story reminds me of others in the US where children who have beeen raised by a set of adoptive parents, are ripped out of the homes and lives of the only parents they have ever known when biological parents decide they want their child back. Too many hearts broken, but the only one that should matter is the child.

  12. The Rom, as they call themselves, go back to India, actually. In Europe the politically correct term is Roma. They are not ethnically Romanian, Greek, etc. They are Roma who live wherever they happen to live and many do not have the nationality of where they live.

    The Romanians are NOT the same thing, and they get pretty damned angry when that mistake is made. Roma is derived from ROMAN, not Romania.

    And gypsy is a perjorative.

  13. My reaction to this was the same as yours. I’d say over-zelous, possibly racist bureaucratic minions with little to no genuine compassion/empathy for Maria are to blame. This is a lose/lose situation for everyone, and a pointless piece of mindless, inhumane, kneejerk, petty bureaucracy. What I couldn’t help noticing was the pictures of Maria’s home… there was nothing wrong with it! It was clean, she had a bed, toys, clothes. Her ‘real’ mother, meanwhile, has 10 (?) kids already, and the pictures of them and their home were of people in genuine poverty. They need another child, torn from obviously loving parents, like they need a hole in the head. What really annoyed me about this was that the authorities, once they realised their fantasy story about child abduction wouldn’t stick, changed it to say that Maria’s parents planned to sell her when she was 12!
    No crime, other than creative records, which are apparently endemic in Greece, was committed here. Now, everyone loses. So, yeah, grrrr!

  14. I’ve had LOTS of bad experiences with CPS– lots of them were regarding my son and our struggles with him. We just barely only now got a formal medical diagnosis of autism for him. At least two incidents were because he wandered and put himself in danger. I really disliked their ham-fistedness about it, although they backed off when his school and pediatrician confirmed his special needs. Fortunately, the last social worker we dealt with was one of the best and not… well… the rest of the crap they handed to us. There was so much, “hey, I know, I’m trying to keep up!” They seemed deaf to my struggles with community mental health.

    The city police department was much more sanguine, but even then I had to sort out database information with the sergeant. I don’t like that the information is categorized as “at-risk”, but with that info, the force will know how to respond appropriately if they are summoned again because of him.

    No question there is harsher treatment when poverty is a factor. Most of my growing up years were not in poverty, but raising a family of my own, we are definitely in poverty. CPS and law enforcement seem to be more of a wolf at the door since I really started to learn what that poverty meant. People are surprised to find my wife and I are well-educated and well-read… our poverty leads many to assume we aren’t. They do not understand poverty in the U.S. has changed, much less that we are the exception to such outdated stereotypes.

  15. I’ve been to Greece and seen the prejudice against the Romani there. Our hosts even told us in deadly earnest that they were petitioning our (Canadian) government to get us to block them from immigrating, because Greece didn’t want their Gypsy affliction to spread to other parts of the world!

    What sickens me is that none of these people think of the poor child. Even if she was stolen as a baby, these people are now her family. And study after study shows the damage that can be done by ripping a child away from her primary attachment figures. It’s not a matter to be engaged upon lightly.

  16. I would love to share a cup of Java with you one day…you have a beautiful spirit and your writing is pure. I love this post 🙂


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