The little flaxen-haired, blue-eyed girl named "Maria" who was found in a "gypsy" camp in Greece has sparked an international hunt for the girl's real parents. One pair of parents hoping for the miracle that the little girl is theirs is Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, whose baby, Lisa, disappeared from her bedroom in Kansas City, Missouri on October 11, when she was 11 months old. Like Maria, Lisa was fair-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and cherubic looking. Deborah and Jeremy's claim is one of several being taken seriously by authorities.
When the Lisa Irwin case broke, suspicion centered on her parents -- especially her mother, Deborah. Deborah and Jeremy have always adamantly denied they had anything to do with the girl's disappearance.
While unfortunately there are parents who kill their children -- cases like that of the three women who were held captive for a decade in Ariel Castro's house of horrors and then escaped; the person-of-interest sketch that police have released in the Madeleine McCann case; and the reappearances of Jaycee Duggard and Elizabeth Smart have proven not only that stranger danger exists, but that children CAN survive being abducted, sometimes for years or even decades.
Maria's beautiful, haunted face has sparked hope in more than just Deborah and Jeremy -- police say there are at least eight leads being investigated.
Jeremy and Deborah believe that Maria resembled the girl that a sketch artist drew depicting what Lisa might look like now -- indeed there is a resemblance. However, authorities believe that Maria is around 4 years old, double what Lisa would be now.
However, whether or not Maria turns out to be Lisa, no doubt her appearance has given Jeremy and Deborah, and other parents of missing children, hope that somewhere their children are still out there, alive and at least fairly well.
While reports say that Maria may have been used as a "dancing monkey" by her fake parents, Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, in order to make money, she also had shoes, clothes, and a clean little room with princess-like decorations. We don't yet know what else Maria may have gone through -- but if she were treated even fairly decently, that will be a huge relief to her parents ... whoever they are.
Do you think Lisa could be Maria? Do you think Maria was kidnapped or was given to the Greek couple as they claim?
Image via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children/Greek Police