After WWII, a 'Greek Baby Trade' Was Born

'Politico Magazine' looks at how 'politically motivated adoptions' found its model
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2024 9:01 AM CDT
After WWII, US Welcomed a 'Greek Baby Trade'
   (Getty / Rattankun Thongbun)

Much has been written about the dark side of anti-communist fervor in America after World War II, but Jessica Bateman explores a little-known aspect at Politico Magazine—the ethically dubious adoption of thousands of Greek babies by American families. The phenomenon sprang up in the aftermath of the 1949 Greek Civil War, which left many children of leftist fighters orphaned or displaced. This "gave rise to the world's first inter-country adoption industry," writes Bateman. "Throughout the 1950s and '60s, around 4,000 Greek children were adopted abroad, mostly by Americans—and often in questionable circumstances." Initially, most of the children adopted were the children of detained or executed communists. However, things morphed in an even more disturbing way.

  • As the US economy "boomed in the 1950s, and the nuclear family became the suburban ideal, some Americans began to view Greece as an easy source of white, adoptable babies. An endeavor to home needy children eventually expanded to a broader population of the poor in Greece, growing into a full-on baby trafficking racket that is only now being fully understood."
This amounted to what Bateman describes as a "Greek baby trade," one that would serve as a model for "politically motivated adoptions" in other nations, even to this day. The story is framed through the efforts of families in the US trying to track down their ancestors, but the adoption process was so opaque, it often proves difficult. Read it here. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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