US-Italian gay couple in adoption court battle

An Italian woman who adopted her female partner’s daughter in the US is locked in a court battle to get the adoption recognized in Italy, where adoption by gay people is illegal.

US-Italian gay couple in adoption court battle
Couple photo: Shutterstock

The women, who married in 2013, both gave birth following anonymous donor fertility treatment in the US. 

The Italian woman gave birth to a boy and the American to a girl, and both were granted adoption rights of the other’s child under US law.

In 2013 the couple relocated to Bologna where the Italian woman, a university lecturer, was granted citizenship because of her Italian ancestry. 

Now the Italian mother is fighting for the right to get her adoption of her partner's biological daughter recognized in Italy, where gay adoption and marriage is illegal. 

On Thursday, however, the prosecution at a juvenile court stated its opposition to her application.

Quoted by Ansa, the Italian woman’s lawyer Claudio Pezzi said that the woman’s case was based on “the need to protect the right of the daughter, who from birth has lived in a situation characterized by the stability of an affectionate family relationship in a parent-child relationship with both mothers (the biological mother and the adoptive mother) and in a relationship with the brother, who is a few months younger”. 

While the son was granted Italian citizenship through his biological mother, the other mother and daughter only have a European residence permit granted in 2013 for family reasons.

By refusing the Italian woman the right to adopt her partner’s daughter “she would be deprived of the right of Italian and European citizenship that comes as the daughter of an Italian citizen, with all that that implies culturally, socially as well as legally,” Pezzi said.

Not only would the girl be denied the opportunity to study and work in Europe in the future, this would also lead to “incomprehensible discrimination” between her and her brother, he added.

While gay adoption in itself is illegal in Italy, there has been one recent case of step-parent adoption involving a gay couple in the country.

In August a woman in Rome whose partner gave birth was allowed to adopt the child in the first case of stepchild adoption involving a same-sex couple in Italy.

In this particular case, the non-biological parent was allowed to adopt the child due to a clause in Article 44 of Italy’s adoption law of 1983, which prioritizes the best interest of the child in order to maintain the emotional relationship and cohabitation with the ‘social’ parent, such as the person who has raised the child other than the biological parent.

A stepchild adoption law for same-sex couples forms part of a draft bill on civil unions by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government.

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