Themis Efthymiadis, possibly a runaway, missing since 2000

Maria Efthymiadi, an ethnic Greek from the former Soviet Union, receives us at her home in Menidi on noon on October 28, a symbolic date for herself and her husband. She lost a child who was just four months old, and shortly afterward adopted a five-month-old boy. «Today is my son’s birthday. Do you think it’s a good omen that you’re here?» Themis was 15 in 2000 when he disappeared from home. He had run away before, in 1997, when he learned in the crudest possible fashion that he had been adopted. That’s when he started running away. «An elderly neighbor was scolding him about something and called him a bastard. He told him he wasn’t our biological child. After that he started having psychological problems. We took him to a psychologist. We talked to him. We had to tell him the whole truth, that we had got him from a foundation in Russia when he was a baby. But he was incredibly emotional and angry. He didn’t run away again for another year. He seemed calm, but he didn’t go to school much. Then on June 30, 2000, he disappeared for good. He went off to get a haircut and never came back. We all searched for him – the Smile of the Child organization, we ourselves. The police didn’t do much and I’m not happy about that.» The image of the handsome blond boy is everywhere in photographs: on the table in the sitting room, on his bedside table, his desk, the walls of his room. «He knew we really loved him. I don’t think he ran away as he had in the past. I think he either got caught up in something bad, or that someone is exploiting him or has killed him. As long as we have no evidence, we consider him to be alive. We had no problems with him except when he discovered he was adopted. His father may have been a bit strict but the boy was very close to me. He had a very good character. He liked everyone. He loved animals most of all and he had turned our place into a zoo. I’ve kept his clothes; I don’t dare give them to anyone. I only gave his toys to his cousins.» His mother often thinks of the television serial «Ioanna of the Heart.» «It’s not impossible that something similar has happened to Themis; that he is seeking his birth mother. But I have lost all hope of ever seeing him again.»

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