Sam Shanahan



Child Lost (2019 - Present) 


This project is a growing catalog of the 3,000 Greek children adopted by American families in the 1950s and 60s. Accelerated by the poor conditions of post-Civil War Greece and the anti-Communist movements of the Cold War, their experiences were a model for the first large-scale international adoptions but were largely undocumented.

Many adoptees have little memory of their homeland after growing up in non-Greek, American families hidden from their native culture.  
Archival materials such as letters, photographs, and government paperwork are often the only evidence adoptees have of their Greek identities.

With the rise of online Facebook groups and DNA services like 23andMe, adoptees have now begun to piece together the unknown: their birth place and the identities of their birth families. But the scattered paper trail sends adoptees on a decades-long search with few answers but many dead ends.

My photographs preserve each adoptee’s  experience despite Greece and the United States’ attempts to overwrite it. The clues hidden between the lines of each piece of evidence reveal a dependent relationship between the United States and post-war Greece, at the expense of its children. The multiplying nature of the catalog, with adoptees across the globe contributing their own puzzle pieces, speaks to the sheer scale of this understudied event.

After its completion, the catalog will serve as an essential resource for adoptees searching for answers to finally claim their Greek identities.  















 262.374.2949 — sam@samshanahan.com — available for assignment in WI