When a little blonde girl was found living with in a roma gypsy camp in Greece, speculation mounted that she had been kidnapped. Tips poured in from all over the world, and one set of parents who hoped that Maria belonged to them was those of little Lisa Irwin, who disappeared from her bedroom in Missouri at 11 months old. But DNA tests have now confirmed that Maria belongs to a pair of Bulgarians, who also live in a gypsy camp and have 10 other children. Maria's mother, 35-year-old-Sasha Ruseva, said she was working in Greece as an olive picker at the time she gave birth to Maria, and gave her away because she couldn't afford to care for her.
Authorities are still looking into whether Maria was sold to the gypsy camp in Greece -- but it seems rather unlikely that another pair of extremely poor "gypsies" would have enough money to buy a child. Sasha claims she now wants Maria home with her in Bulgaria.
Sasha told a Bulgarian TV station:
I didn't take any money. I just didn't have enough money to feed her. I intended to go back and take my child home, but meanwhile I gave birth to two more kids, so I was not able to go.
Sasha apparently has an albino gene in her family, which accounts for Maria's light complexion, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She has four other blonde-haired, blue-eyed children, and one with bright red hair.
It's unclear what will happen to Maria now.
Should she be returned to the original parents in Greece? They may have gotten her illegally, but this is the only home she's ever known. Put her up for adoption, where she will no doubt be given to a wealthy couple? What is parenthood? Do parents have to have money?
Maria would certainly have a better life with a family of means, but the reality is that children all over the world live the way Maria and her siblings do. One can't go around plucking out certain children from poverty because they have light skin and blue eyes. If you're going to save one child because of horrible conditions, then save them all!
One thing is for certain, Maria is not the first child to be abandoned this way, nor will she be the last. The heartbreaking reality is that there are Marias everywhere.
What do you think should happen to Maria?
Image via ABC News