“We’ve always been just one person away from each other.”

By: qwerty53

Nov 15 2009

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Category: People That Offer Us Inspiration, Poignant Portraits of Human Lives, Uncategorized

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Aperture:f/4
Focal Length:21mm
ISO:400
Shutter:1/59 sec
Camera:Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi

The long journey that Spyro Kazianis-Mitchenikos has been on for many of his 50 years, that of locating his birth mother in Greece, where he was adopted in Athens at the age of three, has recently reached an amazing and heart-tugging climax. His is a story that has been followed worldwide since the coming of the Internet and Facebook in particular.

Just a few days after his return, he sat down with me at La Reunion to relate the many twists and turns of his saga. “I am still reeling from all that has happened,” said Mitchenikos.

In early October, Mitchenikos was reunited with his biological mother on the island of Corfu for the first time in 47 years; able to hug the woman, who against her will, lost him, the first of her four sons.

“At the time of my conception, Greece was recovering from a civil war. As a young woman, amidst the backdrop of strife, my biological mother fell in love with a young man who promised her the moon. When he found out that she was pregnant with his child, he took the moon away,” Mitchenikos relates.

His adoptive parents, Jane and Chris Mitchell of Birmingham, were able to adopt him only because the orphanage smuggled him out of town after three years of having his birth mother and the man she eventually married try to adopt him and continue to block other adoption efforts. Because of their income level, the family would have required government assistance to raise him in addition to their firstborn son, Vasili.

“I credit my adoptive parents with always being completely up front with me after I was of an age to understand. My mother and I returned more than once to Corfu; on one trip we found the orphanage closed and all the records lost,” said Mitchenikos.

“It also took a lot of parental love on their part to let me continue my search, but they never saw it as a threat to our relationship.”

In Greece, lineage is traced through the mother and it is also the tradition that if one child is lost, usually to stillbirth or accident, a future child is given the same name. Thus Mitchenikos met not only his birth mother, but also three brothers, Vasili, Kostas and Christos Molinirs.

“When I walked off the plane and they greeted me, it was as if we had never been separated. It was like drowning in an overwhelming sea of love.”

One of the sad facts of this story is that his namesake brother, Spyro, was killed in a tragic car wreck eight years ago. Prior to that, he, too, for some ten years, had been trying to trace his brother in America.

Another ironic sideline is that a second cousin of Jane Mitchell (nee Nakos) in Greece, Maga, is married to his brother, Vasili. Another cousin, unknown to Mitchenikos, contacted him via Facebook under an assumed name (to protect the family) and was the one who ultimately gave him the telephone contact for his birth mother. His mother, Eftihya, speaks no English, although his two older brothers do, and it was they who answered his call last March.

“The Greek people are very traditional and spiritual in their way of thinking,” Mitchenikos explains. “My mother believed that when my brother Spyro arrived in heaven, he was given one wish and that one wish was that his lost brother would be found and reunited with his family.”

There is no terminology for half-brother in Greece. If you have the same mother, you are simply brothers.

“My mother, Eftihya, was completely convinced, when contact was made, that I was her missing child and that I had been sent to her at last. She was ironing when the confirming telephone call came and she said, ‘I don’t need any more proof. My heart tells me that this is him.’”

“I believe your family is who you make it and I am so blessed to have this enormously extended family,” Mitchenikos said.

Next Easter, Mitchenikos plans to return to Greece, and further hopes to bring his Greek family and cousins to visit Alabama next September. Meanwhile they chat by Facebook and Skype frequently.

A video of their reunion can be viewed on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9zyKf6b43g

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