‘I deserve my Greek citizenship’

To the editor,

My name is Michael Schwandt and I live in Durham NC, USA. I am writing in response to Nikos Konstandaras’ article, “The difficult homecoming of Greece’s lost children,” in Kathimerini on April 2, 2023.

I was born Constantine Tsoukalas in Amaliada in November of 1956. At the age of 2 I was adopted through private arrangements but with the knowledge and assistance of social services in Patra.

I have been trying now for many many years to have my birthright restored to be granted my full Greek citizenship.

I have spent thousands of dollars on attorneys after years of trying to accomplish my quest for my rightful claim on my own through embassies and consulate offices.

I have a Greek birth certificate, I am on the male registry, I have various adoption forms, I have my petition for naturalization that has been apostatized stating my birth name and the name my adoptive parents gave me, I have the naturalization document, I have my original Greek passport, I have my application for immigration, I have an affidavit for the adoption in which “witnesses” attested that my birth mother, who was illiterate, understood what she was consenting to, and I have press clippings from the front pages of major newspapers.

I have been stymied in my efforts due to translation errors, filing errors or other inconsistencies. It’s as if they expect that record keepers in post-WWII and post-Greek Civil War local government offices were able to translate correctly between English and Greek, where the alphabets do not even match. So you have an illiterate mother, an American businessman arranging the private adoption, American adoptive parents and Greek officials all making their own translated versions of the various documents and records. There is no way these would ever match up exactly.

The indisputable facts are there, however, and reasonably well documented.

I was born in Greece, immigrated to America, where in my petition for naturalization it clearly states my birth name and my current name, verifying in no uncertain terms that I am one and the same person.

When I pass on from this world I want it to be as the Greek I was born. It is my heritage, I am proud of it and I deserve to have back what was taken from me 64 years ago, my Greek citizenship.

I pray articles like yours can help to make my dreams come true one day.


Michael Schwandt

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