Lies, deception and secrecy: The untold story of a Greek Australian adoptee


“I wish I never knew. It’s turned my life upside down,” begins 49-year-old Andriana as we sit down for our exclusive chat. She’s referring to how she only recently discovered she was adopted – a fact her parents, who have passed away, never told her about.

“I will never get full closure because my parents took the answers with them. I was angry with them for a long time. Not because of the adoption but for the lie. It’s the lie that kills me.”

Andriana describes her life as ‘The Original Truman Show.’ She says she always felt she didn’t belong when she was younger. Not only was she always missing from family photos, but a routine blood test at age 21 showed Andriana had thalassemia minor, a genetic condition neither of her parents had. It just wasn’t adding up.

Until one day three years ago when all the missing pieces of the puzzle came together. Andriana and her family visited a family friend in Greece, who had reached out to her after her mother’s death, and as they were leaving her house she said the words which would change Andriana’s world forever.

Andriana being baptised. Photo supplied.

“She said, ‘wow you look so much like your mother.’ And I said, ‘No I look like my dad’ and I actually did look like my dad. And she said, ‘No. The mother who gave birth to you’,” Andriana tells The Greek Herald with tears in her eyes.

“I asked her to repeat herself and she said, ‘What? You didn’t know you were adopted?’ And my whole world fell apart. It just fell apart.

“I rang my nouna and I said, ‘I’ve learnt something. I want you to tell me the truth.’ She started screaming down the phone ‘why did she tell you?’ So the whole community I’ve grown up in, everybody knew. Everybody from the part of Greece my parents are from, to the neighbours of where I grew up, to family friends.”

Now although Andriana says she doesn’t blame these people for knowing and not telling her, it was still an important trigger which pushed her to find out more about the woman who gave birth to her.

“What if I’m not Greek?”:

As Andriana’s search for her biological mother began, she says not knowing whether she was Greek hugely affected her.

Andriana as a young girl. Photo supplied.

“I had this huge identity crisis. I said to my husband, ‘It doesn’t bother me that I’m adopted but what if I’m not Greek? What do I do then?’ I’m Greek. My kids are Greek, I look Greek, I cook Greek. Greek is who and what I am,” Andriana says.

Fortunately for her, her official birth certificate showed that her biological mother, Maria*, was in fact Greek and actually gave birth to her on May 15, 1970, in Sydney. It is here where the story, which has been pieced together from a file “three times bigger than the Bible,” becomes heartbreaking.

“On May 8, 1971, a few days before I turned one, my biological mother took me into children’s services and abandoned me. I became a ward of the state. The only thing she told the service workers was that she wanted me to go to a Greek family and that I had to be raised as Greek Orthodox,” Andriana says.

“So I was put in an orphanage for about three weeks, followed by emergency foster care for a week and a half, back to the orphanage and then my mum and dad adopted me.”

Finding out you were abandoned would have stopped anyone from searching for their biological mother. But the same can’t be said for Andriana.

Andriana was rarely in family photos. Photo supplied.

One small Facebook search later and the next thing she knew she was having a phone conversation with her biological mother. Over the phone, Maria not only told Andriana that she had a half-brother and sister, but she also confirmed that she did leave “a girl with blue eyes” behind when she left Australia for Greece.

This was the only confirmation Andriana needed to hop onto a flight to Greece in October 2019 to meet her biological mother once and for all.

“I get off the plane and she’s waiting at the airport… It was like I was looking in the mirror. A much older version than me but I look exactly like her,” Andriana explains.

“That first night we visited my half-sister, who I’m still really close with, and Maria and I were sitting on the couch and she says to me ‘are you happy that you found your mother?’ And I looked at her, I’ll never forget this, and said ‘You are the woman who gave birth to me. You’re not my mother. My mother has passed away.’ She responded with ‘maybe one day’.”

“I’m grateful she gave me up”:

It’s this fierce protectiveness over the parents who raised her which remains a constant throughout Andriana’s journey to find her biological mother.

Despite lying to her and keeping secrets all her life, Andriana takes any chance to defend their actions and protect them from criticism. In fact, her own father was still alive when she first found out she was adopted and instead of telling him she knew and asking for answers, she decided to not tell him.

“What am I going to tell him?” Andriana said rhetorically when I asked why she never told him. “It would’ve sent him to his grave earlier.”

“At the end of the day it doesn’t bother me that I was adopted because I had a fantastic upbringing. I had a loving set of parents. I was the apple of their eye… You couldn’t wish for better parents.

“Maria gave birth to me and that’s it. I can say that quite clearly. I have an affection for her. I don’t love her. Am I grateful she gave birth for me? Yes I am because I wouldn’t be here. But I’m also grateful she gave me up because I had my parents and they were bloody amazing.”

A tale of secrecy and lies which doesn’t even come close to breaking the strong bond between a daughter and her parents.

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.

The Greek version of this article can be found in print on July 8, 2020.




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