Bulgarian Roma Sasha Ruseva and Atanas Rusev speak to the media following the revelation that they are the parents of mystery girl "Maria," found last week in a Roma camp in Greece. (Image Source: Reuters)
International outrage occurred in Greece after prosecutors discovered a blonde-haired girl living with two Roma parents that did not seem to be her biological parents. Called "Maria" and the "blonde angel" by Greek and international media, the girl was the source of outrage towards the Roma parents, whose records claimed several different things, almost all but accusing them of kidnapping and trafficking the child. Now, the search for "Maria's" actual parents have turned up two things: One, that the girl is actually Roma herself, her parents coming from Bulgaria. The other, it is very likely that we have too soon jumped to conclusions about the nature of "Maria's" adopted parents.
The Greek charity currently housing "Maria" went on a search for her parents, fielding thousands upon thousands of phone calls from families who claimed to have missing children that resemble her. However, while the media trumpeted the case of "Maria," the charity actually figured out that the girl was in fact Roma. After narrowing a search to a specific couple in Bulgaria, they were able to determine the mother and father of Maria to be Sasha Ruseva and Antanas Rusev, who live in abject poverty in eastern Bulgaria.
While Bulgarian authorities are questioning whether Sasha Ruseva, who gave up the baby while working as an olive picker in Greece, sold her child a few years ago, it seems more plausible that Ruseva gave up her child while working because she could not afford to look after her. Given that Ruseva already had another child in between Maria and now, and she and her husband have eight other kids living in a ramshackle house in a poor village in Bulgaria, it made sense to give up the child, even then.
In this respect, the two adoptive Roma parents of the child should not be held accountable for what was essentially doing the right thing in this respect. The media have attacked the two parents, and subsequently the Roma in general, for being part of some heinous criminal scheme or another, which only just points out the struggles the Roma face on a regular basis.