DNA tests confirm Sasha Ruseva is Maria’s mother, leaving officials with conundrum

Bulgarian authorities confirmed on Friday that a local Roma woman is the biological mother of the blond girl, known as Maria, who was discovered at a Gypsy encampment in Farsala, central Greece.

Maria was removed from the camp after DNA tests showed that her supposed mother and father were not her real parents. The results of a DNA test on Sasha Ruseva in Bulgaria show that she is Maria’s actual mother. However, this appears to at least partly confirm the explanation given by the Roma couple in Greece, who claimed that Maria was given to them by her Bulgarian Roma parents because they could not afford to bring her up. The Greek couple had been facing abduction charges until Friday.

The test results leave Greek and Bulgarian authorities, who are still investigating whether Ruseva sold the child, with a difficult decision to make with regard to Maria’s future. The child, thought to be at least 4, is currently being looked after by the Smile of the Child charity but officials have to decide whether she will be returned to her parents in Bulgaria, the family she lived with in Greece or whether another option should be sought.

Also on Friday, Greece’s citizens’ advocate issued a scathing assessment of the way authorities and the media had handled Maria’s case.

The Ombudsman said that the case had highlighted the poor provisions for protecting minors in Greece and called on the government to make this “a priority of national policy.” The watchdog said authorities also needed to urgently examine the adoption process in Greece.