Between 1998 and 2001, about 350 Romanian children were adopted by Greek couples but at present Greece has no bilateral agreement with any other state regarding adoptions. «However, interstate adoptions are carried out through private initiative,» said Ariadne Marangaki, head of the Athens Prefecture’s welfare department. «In 2003, for example, 59 of the 137 private adoptions in Attica were from abroad. The countries which prospective adoptive parents apply to mostly, usually through their embassies in Athens, are Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The authorities in those countries apply to welfare departments in the prefectures to which the couple belong, asking for an evaluation of their suitability as adoptive parents. «We do the same for these adoptions as we do for those carried out within Greece,» said Marangaki. «Social workers meet with the prospective parents and prepare a file that includes medical records. This process begins as a result of an application from the prospective parents, at least three months before the birth of the child. However, what usually happens is that the child’s mother hands over the baby directly after its birth. This makes it very difficult if there are any doubts as to their suitability. The law requires that all adoption procedures be completed within six months.» There are far more private than state adoptions as these entail less bureaucracy, as well as the fact that these are usually for very young, healthy infants, handed over directly to the adoptive parents by a mediator or the natural mother herself (usually women from Eastern and Central Europe). There is the distinct possibility that a lot of money is being made, and that baby-trading rings are operating.