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Smile of a Child Gains Custody of Roma Maria

The 5-year-old Roma girl "Maria", who was identified in a Farsala Roma camp has been given to Smile of the Child organization for full legal custody, as determined by the Larisa court system.

Last October, the child was taken by authorities from a couple who were raising her as one of their own. Her light complexion and blue eyes attracted the attention of enforcers, as she stood out in the Roma settlement and did not look like either of her caretakers.

Since Maria was removed, she has been cared for by Smile of a Child. Her story gained international media attention, after law enforcers administered a global search to find her biological parents. DNA analysis proved she was not related to the man and women caring for her.

During the active worldwide quest, Smile of a Child stated that Maria was, "either sold at maternity, or later abducted, for other ... begging, they use these children for begging, or later for prostitution, or, even worse, for selling for other purposes", according to Parikiaki.

Later, it was determined that Maria was given to the Roma couple by her Bulgarian Roma biological parents. The Larisa court dismissed a custody request by Bulgaria's state child protection agency, who felt the child should remain in the nation where her real parents originate from.

The Greek court claimed it was in Maria's best interest to stay in a familiar atmosphere, while her parents have not declared any interest in raising her. The adoptive couple remain behind bars, on abduction and false documentation charges.