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Adoptee finds her heritage

Adoptee finds her heritage, identity

Posted: Sept. 30, 2005

When Rita Pyrillis was a child, others would hurl racial slurs at her, because they thought she was black. Or Latino. Or Asian. Pyrillis would generally stay quiet. But if pressed, she'd assert, "I'm Greek."

Never mind that Pyrillis never thought she was Greek - she just didn't know what else to say.
Pyrillis, 5-foot-9-inches, with freckles, full lips, large, almond-shaped eyes and wavy black hair, was adopted when she was 3 months old.

Now 44 and an adjunct faculty member of the communications department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Pyrillis grew up in Chicago's Jefferson Park, a working-class, Irish and Polish immigrant neighborhood. Her father owned a coffee shop in Wicker Park, and her mother was a waitress there.

At the time of Pyrillis' adoption in the 1960s, the process was closed.

"Children were a blank slate to imprint your culture on," she said.

Only after years of passionate searching would she discover that she was one of thousands of people like herself who were adopted or placed in foster homes between the 1950s and the 1970s....click here for story