The Italian Almanac


Racist Adoption

Italian couples only interested in adopting white kids are not fit to become parents, the country's highest appeals court said. The Court of Cassation said a lower court in Catania had been wrong to approve a couple's desire to request children that weren't black or non-European. It strongly indicated that couples making such requests should not be allowed to adopt at all.

"In such cases, the judge must not only eliminate any specifications relating to the child's ethnicity, he or she must seriously consider whether such a request is compatible with someone's suitability to adopt," said Cassation Judge Maria Rosaria San Giorgio, who wrote the opinion. The court similarly ruled out the option of requests for "certain genetic characteristics". It pointed out that all children awaiting adoption already had a "profoundly difficult" past and therefore had a greater need than other kids for parents of "particular sensitivity".

The case was raised at the Court of Cassation by a children's rights group, Amici dei Bambini (Ai.Bi, Friends of Children). The organization has been battling for ten years to open up adoptions to children of all races, ever since a court in the central city of Ancona court said it was acceptable for a couple to rule out black kids. Ai.Bi has long argued that couples treating kids as a "commodity" should not be allowed to adopt.

While countries such as Britain and the United States have a long history of dealing with in-country interracial adoption, in Italy the issue usually arises only in the course of international adoptions. Around 4,000 international adoptions take place each year in Italy, 60% of which involve kids from just five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Ethiopia and Brazil.