Although only a DNA test will provide the truth, the family of the mysterious blond girl – found in a Roma settlement in Greece – may have been found.
A striking resemblance has been found between Maria and some of the blond children in a Bulgarian Roma family.
According to local media, police have questioned their parents who recognised Maria on television.
Amid speculation over the likeness, the mother, Sashka Ruseva, who lives with her family in central Bulgaria, admits leaving a child in Greece. But she denies taking any payment, saying she could not afford to feed her baby so she handed it over to another woman and then returned to Bulgaria to care for her other children.
“We worked with the woman and I was worried about the young ones,” she said. “My daughter had left to get married and they were on the street with no one to look after them. So the woman told me: ‘Give her to me. I will look after her. You can come and get her whenever you want’. But I gave birth to two other children and could not go. I did not take any money.”
Detained pending trial on child abduction charges, a couple living with Maria in Greece were found not to be her real parents. They deny the accusations, insisting the girl’s biological mother gave her up willingly because she could not bring her up.
At the Roma settlement in central Greece where Maria was found, one unidentified Roma woman claimed the child had been bought but was fine within the community.
“Children are bought for adoption,” she said. “If someone does not have children, that is what is done. This woman took this child to raise it. The mother that sold it….maybe she was poor, had problems and wanted to give it to a good family.”
With many questions over Maria still unanswered, a Roma couple on the Greek island of Lesbos have now, separately, been detained on suspicion of abducting a two- month-old baby.