Now that parents identified, fate of girl found with Roma couple uncertain

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Associated Press

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 2:00 PM

NIKOLAEVO, Bulgaria (AP) — The mystery is solved -- but the future of a young girl known only as Maria is still uncertain.

DNA tests confirm that a Bulgarian Roma, or Gypsy, couple living in an impoverished village with their nine other children are the biological parents of the girl found in Greece with another couple.

The mother of the children says she gave birth to a baby girl four years ago in Greece, where she was working as an olive picker, but gave the child away because she was too poor to care for her.

Maria has been in the care of a charity since authorities raided a Roma settlement in Greece last week and found she wasn't related to the Greek Roma couple she was living with.

Officials in Bulgaria and Greece are now trying to determine whether her biological mother agreed to sell the child.

The Greek Roma couple have been charged with abducting the girl and committing document fraud. Under Greek law, child abduction charges can include cases where a minor is voluntarily given away by the parents.

The lawyer for the Greek couple says they'll look to gain legal custody of the girl.

But a 14-year-old in Bulgaria who turns out to be one of Maria's nine siblings says she wants her back home. She says, "We will take care of her."

%@AP Links

147-c-19-(Nicholas Paphitis (nee-KOHL'-ahs pah-FEE'-tees), AP correspondent)-"being illicitly adopted"-AP correspondent Nicholas Paphitis reports the case of Maria has drawn global attention to the problem of illegal adoption. (25 Oct 2013)

<<CUT *147 (10/25/13)££ 00:19 "being illicitly adopted"

APPHOTO SOF102: Mother Sasha Ruseva holds two-year-old Penka, one of her ten children, whom she claims is albino talks to journalists in the town of Nikolaevo , Bulgaria, Thursday Oct. 24, 2013. DNA tests have confirmed that a Bulgarian Roma couple living in the impoverished village with their nine other children are the biological parents of the girl found in Greece with another Roma couple, authorities said Friday. Genetic profiles of Sasha Ruseva, 35, and her husband, Atanas, matched that of Maria, Interior Ministry official Svetlozar Lazarov said Friday. Ruseva says she gave birth to a baby girl four years ago in Greece while working as an olive picker but gave the child away because she was too poor to care for her. She since has had two more children after Maria. Maria has been in a charity's care since authorities raided a Roma settlement in Greece last week and found she was not related to the Greek Roma couple she was living with. (AP Photo/BGNES) BULGARIA OUT (24 Oct 2013)

<<APPHOTO SOF102 (10/24/13)££

APPHOTO ATH106: In this undated photo released by 'The Smile of the Child charity, a girl known as Maria who was discovered last week near Farsala in central Greece during a police raid on a Gypsy settlement. Bulgarian authorities said Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 that DNA tests have confirmed that a 35-year-old Roma woman is the mother of a mysterious girl in Greece known as Maria. (AP Photo/The Smile of the Child) (25 Oct 2013)

<<APPHOTO ATH106 (10/25/13)££

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